Tag Archive | Christopher Bennett

Glitter – Chapter 23 – Must be Nice

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.

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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.”

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“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.”

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“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?”

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“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.

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“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.

***

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

***

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“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.”

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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.

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“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.”

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“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

***

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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.

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“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….”

Chapter 22 – Crossroads /

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Glitter – Chapter 18 – Waves

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“Why did he have to press the issue” Benjamin mumbled to himself as he got out of his truck. Slamming the door he stopped abruptly as the sound of someone laughing reached his ears.

“Hate to be the guy who caused that foul mood” a chuckled stepping away from the restaurant wall.

“What make you think it was a guy” Benjamin demanded.

“It doesn’t” the man shrugged “but you did say he. I heard it with my very own ears.”

Scowling at the stranger Benjamin found his lips twitching. The guy was cute. “I’m Ben” he said holding his hand out.

“Nice to meet you Ben” the guy smirked taking his hand giving it a squeeze.

“Err” he tugged his hand away “usually when someone introduces themselves you reciprocate.”

Shrugging he grinned “I’m not like most people. Normal is so boring.”

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Leaning on his truck Benjamin gave the stranger an appraising look. “I don’t know about that. Normal can be kind of nice sometimes.”

“Boring” he yawned rolling his eyes.

“I’d at least know the guys name” Benjamin pointed out turning to retrieve his laptop from the passenger seat.

“I prefer to think it gives me an air of mystery” the said moving in close rubbing shoulders with Benjamin as he passed. “Wouldn’t you like to have a little bit of anonymous fun” he whispered in the younger man’s ear.

Closing the door Benjamin couldn’t hide the befuddled grin that spread across his face as he bumped into the stranger. His eyes were bright with interest even if a little unsure. “It does hold a certain amount of allure but….”

“No buts” the man grinned “I’ll pick you up here tonight at 9:00.”

Benjamin watched as the stranger walked away. “Hey” he called out “what do I call you?”

“How about Mr Anonymous” he tossed back with a wave before getting into his car and speeding off.

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“This could be interesting” Benjamin mumbled staring after the car.

“Do you even know who he is” a familiar voice asked from behind him.

“Haven’t got a clue” he chuckled to himself turning to find Jonas standing behind him with a disapproving expression on his face. “Do you?”

“He’s bad news” he said eyes staring at the car disappearing around a corner.

“Speaking from experience “ he asked watching Jonas carefully. “He seemed nice enough.”

“You’re interest in him, does that mean you’re going out with him” Jonas asked. His voice sounded half strangled like he was having trouble breathing.

“Shrugging Benjamin said “I’m thinking about it.” Walking towards the resort he missed the look of disappointment that crossed Jonas’s face. Stopping when he realized his companion wasn’t following he said “are you coming? We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

“Huh oh… yeah” Jonas sighed ungluing his feet from the tarmac to follow Benjamin into the resort.

***

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Christopher sat outside the familiar resort waiting. He had mixed feelings about his date tonight. He was grateful for the guys help but … blowing air through his nose he swung a leg over his bike. Maybe it’ll be better than he thinks.

“Hey” someone called out to him. Turning Christopher saw a familiar long-haired male rushing towards him. This time it was tied back “I was hoping to catch you before you went inside.” He was barely breathing hard despite having sprinted across the parking lot.

“You caught me” Christopher said looking around unsure with the entire situation.

Taking a step back Brandon gave his date an appraising look. Whistling softly he said “you clean up nice.”

“Err thanks” his heartbeat raced pounding in his ears. “So do you” he added not sure what else to say. His stomach felt jittery, an uncommon feeling for him. He was usually more confident than this. He didn’t know what it was but for some reason Brandon made him uncomfortable.

“I was hoping we could take walk along the beach before we eat” Brandon suggested his voice smooth as silk.

“Um” Christopher stared at his feet hoping his shoes would inspire him with what to say. “If you think we have time. The restaurant usually fills up fast…”

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“We could always go afterwards” Brandon nodded as if that settled it. “Maybe by then you’ll have relaxed enough to enjoy my company.”

“That implies I’m uncomfortable now” he raised an eyebrow.

“Aren’t you” he asked. Without waiting for an answer he walked past to hold the door open for him. “See I’m a perfect gentleman” he said with a wink as Christopher walked past him.

“I never said you weren’t” Christopher protested “If anything you’re the type to rescue damsels in distress.”

Brandon’s lips twitched “are you a damsel in distress? Do you need rescuing?”

“Well…” his eyes darted around the busy foyer as if afraid someone might overhear them. “You did help me out of a sticky situation not long ago.”

“Oh yeah I did” he smirked “so you are a damsel in distress.”

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Feeling as if every eye were on him Christopher wished he was turtle. Having a shell to hide in would come in handy in situations like this. “Am not” he hissed “I could have gotten out of that situation on my own.”

“With or without a black eye” Brandon asked grinning from ear to ear obviously enjoying teasing the younger man.

“You think you’re such a smart ass” Christopher mumbled turning his back on him.

“I may be a smart ass but you definitely have a fine ass” leaned in close whispering “I’d like take it for a ride.”

Gulping audibly Christopher admonished “we’re in public” he hissed eyes wide wishing he had not agreed to this date. What had he been thinking?

Letting his hand graze across his date’s tight jeans before stepping back. “Alright I’ll be on my best behavior. I promise. No monkey business until later. On the beach.”

“I never said I was going” Christopher reminded him.

“You will” Brandon nodded confidently.

***

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Temperance stared at her phone. Her stomach twisting into knots. She had expected to hear from Unity by now but it had been days since she’d received a text message from her best friend. Unity always replied back regardless of what she was doing or where she was at.

Looking at the time she sighed. She could feel the eyes of her parents on her watching her like she was about to explode or something. She scrambled to her feet. She wasn’t in the mood for family movie night especially when her brothers were all out enjoying themselves.

“Temperance” her dad called shutting the TV off before she could make good on her escape.

“We need to talk” her mother’s gentle voice added making her anxiety grow.

Reluctantly she turned around “I really should start getting ready for bed. I have to work early in the morning. With Unity gone we’re all working extra shifts.”

“That’s what we need to talk about” Donovan said patting the spot next to him on the couch.

Moving slowly across the room she sat between her parents. Glancing between them she said “I’m sure it’ll only be temporary. Once Unity comes back my hours will go back to normal.”

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“She may not be going back to work” Hannah said reaching for her daughter’s hand.

“Of course she is” Temperance cried. “She’s going to get better. You’ll see….” She bit back the angry hurtful words she wanted to say. Unity had to get better. They had so many things they had to do yet. College. Tour across Europe. The Summer Social. All the things they’d dreamed about doing since they were little kids. She had to get better!

“Sweetie” her dad’s voice cut through her thoughts. “We hope she does get better.” He looked across at his wife with anguish in his blue eyes.

“Mom” she turned “Unity is getting better isn’t she?” The unanswered messages took on an ominous note. What if she couldn’t return them? What if she was sicker than they thought? What if she was dying?

“She’s not responding as well as they hoped to the treatment” Hannah explained.

Tears swelled in her eyes, rolling down her cheeks. “She has to get better” Temperance insisted. “She just has to” she turned to her dad burying her face into him. Her cries turned into sobs as his arms wrapped around hr holding her tight. “I want to see her” she sniffed once she was able to speak again.

“You will” Hannah said rubbing her daughter’s back.

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“When” she demanded clinging to her dad.

“Just as soon as we can arrange it” Hannah said. “We have to wait until after your grandparents come….”

“I want to go now” she cried turning red rimmed eyes towards her mother.

“It’ll just be a couple of extra days” Hannah explained.

“What if something happens between now and then” she cried “I need to see her now before it’s too late.”

“We understand that” Donovan interceded between his wife and daughter. “Right now it isn’t possible. Unity can’t have visitors right now. In a few days that’ll change. Have patience.”

Temperance pulled away from him. Why couldn’t they understand that she had to see Unity now. Not days from now. Standing she ran from the room. She heard them calling her but she ignored them. She had to get away. To think. To plan.

***

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It had been the longest day ever at work. Usually working at the boutique was therapeutic. It was something that made here feel closer to her best friend, Unity. Today her thoughts kept going back to what her parents told her. Her friend might not ever come back. Might not get better. It filled her with a sense of dread. Unity was going to die. Those terrifying words kept repeating themselves throughout the day.

She kept seeing Mindy’s scowl of disapproval as she let another customer go without a purchase. Her commissions for the day was going to be the lowest ever. The other girls tried to cover for her. To help but nothing could ease the frantic racing of her thoughts.

She sat on one of the benches outside the boutique after her shift. “Aren’t you coming with us” London asked.

Shaking her head Temperance waved her friends away. “You go on without me. I don’t feel much like the beach today.”

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“If you need someone to talk to” London offered before joining the others.

“That’s nice of you” Temperance gave her a small smile. “I’ll be okay. I’m not feeling sociable is all.”

Frowning at the unusual admission London asked “are you worried about Unity? I’m sure she’ll be good as new in no time.”

Temperance felt a surge of anger sweep through her at the words. “I’m sure she will be” she lied not wanting to destroy the girl’s hopes like her’s had been shattered.

London gave her a doubtful look before letting others drag her off with them. Alone Temperance glanced at her phone. Still nothing. A sense of foreboding filled her. She couldn’t imagine not having her best friend by her side.

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“Hey” a familiar voice said beside her “what’s up?”

His overly cheery voice grated on her nerves. “My best friend is dying” she growled needing to vent on someone.

“You’re joking” he laughed. When she didn’t join him he lost his smile “you’re not joking are you?”

“No” she shook her head as tears spilled out.

“I’m sorry” he apologized moving to sit next to her on the bench. “I didn’t know.”

“No one does” she sniffed wiping at the wetness on her cheeks. “I just found out she wasn’t responding to treatment.”

“That doesn’t mean she’s dying” he said wanting to give her something to hope in.

“But she will” she said doggedly holding onto her dark thoughts.

“Not necessarily” he insisted “it just means they haven’t found the right treatment yet.”

“What if they never do” she demanded glaring at him. “She’s my best friend. I should be with her.”

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Will was silent for several minutes contemplating her words. He needed to help her. To show her he wasn’t the jerk he was when they first met. “What if I take you” he asked holding his breath hoping that would be something she’d let him do for her.

“How” she sniffed “she’s not on the island. She’s on the main island. We don’t have enough money to fly or take the ferry across.”

“I’ve got an idea” he smiled at her “meet me at the pier tonight at ten.” He stood up with renewed energy and purpose.

“What… why” she cried looking up at him with the first flicker of hope she’d had all day.

“I know someone whose going across to the main island tonight on the midnight ferry. We can stow away in his car. Bring snacks and drinks because we won’t be able to buy anything once we’re on board.”

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“Isn’t that illegal” she asked frowning.

Smiling “yeah but you want to see your friend don’t you?” Shaking her head he continued “then this is the only way.”

Biting her lip thinking over his suggestion. “I suppose so” she said hesitantly. She didn’t want to worry her parents but she needed to see Unity. “I’ll do it” she said nodded firmly.

“Great” he gave her his best charming smile “I’ll make the arrangements then.”

Watching him go she felt herself becoming excited over this adventure. She couldn’t wait to tell Unity all about it when she saw her. With a burst of energy she caught the bus home making a list of things she would need to take on the trip.

Chapter 17 – Ocean Blue /

Glitter – Chapter 11 – Free Spirit

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“Come on I’ll take you home” Royce suggested helping Christopher from the bike.

“No way” he pushed Royce away “my parents will kill me if I show up like this.”

“Then you’ll have to come over to my place” Royce said.

Rolling his eyes Christopher allowed him to help him towards his car. “Fine” he muttered.

Smothering a grin he sympathized with his friends feelings. “This time will be different. Jason has friends over so he won’t be bugging you.”

“Good” his voice betrayed his relief the he wouldn’t be asked for information on his brother. “It’s not that I don’t like him” he tried to smooth over the offense.

“Don’t worry about it” Royce waved his apology away. “I’ve talked to him about it. Told him if he liked the guy that much he ought to just tell him.”

“That’s asking for trouble” Christopher sighed “Ben isn’t interested.”

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“I know but the only way Jason will accept it is if he hears it from Benjamin” Royce went around to the driver’s side of the car. “I don’t look forward to picking up the pieces when it happens.”

“Maybe he’ll meet someone else before it does” Christopher suggested.

“Well there is someone….” Royce paused at the sound of someone tapping on his window. “Can I help you?”

“You no” he shook his head “your friend definitely.” He handing Royce a folded piece of paper. Then before anyone could react he turned and walked away. “I think this is for you” he tossed the paper over to his friend.

“What is it” he mumbled staring at the folded piece of paper on his lap like it might bite.

“Open it and find out” Royce said as he backed out of his parking space. “If I were to hazard a guess I’d say it was his phone number.”

The silence from the passenger seat had him glancing across at Christopher. Curious he asked “so am I right? Is it his number?” When Christopher nodded he asked “so will you call him?”

“I don’t know” he sighed thinking back at how they met. “Do you think I should?”

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“If he has you at a loss for words I’d say go for it” Royce chuckled “who knows what might happen.”

“But I was so wasted” he put a hand over his eyes embarrassed at how he was acting.

“You said he helped you” Royce reminded him “obviously he likes playing hero.”

“Yeah maybe” he mumbled fumbling with his phone. “I’ll think about it.” To change the subject he asked “so what was so important you wanted to talk to me alone?”

“Well there’s this girl…”

“And you’re hoping I can give you some pointers” Christopher asked filling in the blanks.

“Well yeah” he shrugged “I’ve seen you pick up girls in the past.”

“”I have but I’m better with guys” they both laughed “do you know the girl?”

“Of course I know her” he huffed “It’s one of Jason’s friends.”

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“In that case I’d say relax and by yourself” he suggested “be casual about it and see if she looks for ways to be alone with you.”

“Then what do I do” he asked.

“You really like her don’t you” Christopher asked. He had yet to meet someone he couldn’t walk away from. He felt somehow jealous of the younger man.

“I do” he sighed a goofy grin on his face “she’s perfect.”

“I sincerely doubt that” Christopher laughed getting out of the car. “How about I meet her then I’ll give you some pointers if you still need them.”

“Just don’t go getting any ideas” Royce warned.

“I won’t. I promise” he waved his phone around “besides I have the hero from the bar to occupy me.”

They were both laughing as they entered the houseboat.

***

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“Hey you’re just in time to light the grill” January announced when Royce entered the room.

Glancing up Jason seemed to be searching for someone beyond his brother. His smile faltered when he realized it was only Christopher who had come. “Glad you join us” he mumbled attempting to appear happy to see him. Disappointment gnawed at his stomach that someone else wasn’t there.

He caught Royce staring at him. Plastering a grin on his face he said “Jace could use some help with the grill.”

Clapping a hand on Jason’s back Christopher said in jovial manner “point me in the direction of the grill and I’ll get it going for you.”

“It’s on the deck” Jason mumbled pointing in the general direction of the grill.

“You ok bro” Royce asked beneath his breath. He had seen the disappointment in his twin’s eyes.

“Fine” he lied “why wouldn’t I be?”

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Royce knew Jason was pretending not to be hurting and valiantly trying to hide his feelings. Maybe for the others he was successful but Royce knew. “Sorry I should have called first” he apologized.

“It’s your house too, invite who you want” Jason said turning away. “January have you met my brother yet?”

Her eyes moved up down checking him out. “I’ve seen him around” she said in an overly bored voice.

“I’ve been around a lot” Royce tried to appear casual and unaffected. He knew he was failing by the look Jason was giving him. His voice always took on a quiver when he got nervous. It wasn’t real noticeable but it was there. Jason knew him better than anyone and had picked up on it.

“Guess I haven’t noticed” she yawned taking out her phone she directed all of her attention to it.

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“Um” Royce strained his mind for something else to say to get her attention. “I’m in a band” he squeaked earning himself a concerned glance from his twin.

“Oh yeah” she raised her face from her phone. “I haven’t seen you play anywhere. What’s your band’s name?”

“Um well…” he groped for words “it’s still being put together.” He glared across at his twin daring him to say anything.

“Too bad” January said returning her attention to her phone “you were almost interesting.”

Feeling like he just received a mortal blow Royce wandered off. He couldn’t help but wonder if this was how Jason felt each time Benjamin failed to notice him. If it was he had a new found respect for him for being able to persist. He was distracted from his thoughts by the sound of Christopher’s laughter.

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“You’ll never get it lighted like that” Christopher’s laugh was boisterous causing the younger boy to jump back.

“I don’t like fire” Jace stammered taking shelter behind Christopher when flames shot upwards from the grill.

“Watch it” Christopher yelled as Jace jostled his hand sending it perilously close to the flames. “What’s the matter with you? You almost got me burned.”

“Sorry” he took a step backwards “I didn’t mean to. I guess I kind of freaked out.” His eyes were glued to the flames watching them as if they were a living breathing thing.

“It’s ok kid” Christopher said deciding to give the guy a break. “We can’t all be brave like me.”

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“You can be brave for both of us” Jace mumbled.

Shrugging Christopher decided to drop the subject. “Where’s the steak” he asked instead.

“Err” Jace pointed towards some tofu burgers and hot dogs. “January’s a vegetarian” he explained.

Shaking his head Christopher arranged the tofu on the grill. He could feel Jace’s eyes following every move he made. It filled him with a warm fuzzy feeling deep inside. Something he hadn’t felt since Lindsey dumped him.

***

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“Where do you think you’re going” she asked as her son ran past her to the door.

“I’ve got things to do” Aaron said without stopping.

“Like Raven” Riley snickered from the table where he was helping himself to another stack of pancakes.

“Shut it” Aaron glared at his younger brother.

“K I S S I N G” he sing songed ignoring the murderous glare his brother directed at him.

“Have you gotten the balls to ask Unity out yet” Aaron challenged.

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“Leave her out of this” Riley shouted getting to his feet.

“Boys” Erika yelled putting her hands up as if to referee between them “enough.”

Her son’s glared at each other. Neither one wanting to back down or apologize.

“I’m out of here” Aaron announced turning towards the door.

“No you’re not” Erika called after him “I need your help today.”

The slamming of the door was the only response she received from her departing son. “What was that all about?” she asked her youngest.

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Sitting back down at the table he stuffed his mouth full of pancakes. Riley shook his head shrugging his shoulders.

“Who is this Raven” she asked when the plate was empty.

“Just some guy” he mumbled getting up to wash his plate. “You might want to talk to Aaron about it.”

“I’ll do that” she agreed “so you like Unity?”

“Mom don’t” he begged running up the stairs to his room.

Shaking her head she cleared the rest of the dishes up from breakfast. Afterwards she went outside to collect the mail. Walking outside she noticed a moving van outside the house next door. Shuffling through the mail she didn’t notice the dark-haired man approaching her.

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“Hello” his voice was deep and pleasant “I’m Malcolm.”

Glancing up she felt her face flush with heat. He was as good-looking as his voice indicated he would be. “I’m Erika O’hare” she squealed internally as he took her hand. She felt like a teenager again facing her crush instead of a thirty-six year old single mother of two teen boys.

“It’s nice to meet you” he said with a debonair smile that resembled more of a smirk.

“Dad” a young girl called “the dork is refusing to help.”

“I’ve got to go” he said a look of regret in his eyes.

Erika sighed watching him go “pity he’s married” she muttered to herself.

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Keli glared at her father as he hurried towards her. “You can chase skirts after we’ve moved in.”

“She’s a nice lady” he said winking at his daughter. “If you want to ask her out for drinks and a nightcap that’s none of your business.”

“Whatever” she rolled her eyes at him. Grabbing a box she stomped towards the house.

“You like that lady” his son asked pointing towards the neighbor’s house.

Malcolm could see the troubled expression in his son’s eyes “she’s nice” he said.

“I don’t want another mother” the boy said before turning and running towards the house leaving his father alone beside a pile of boxes.

***

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It was generally a bad idea to walk with your head down watching your feet. Yet that’s exactly what Kyle was doing after his interview. He let his nerves get the best of him. He completely bombed the interview. He was so distracted by his failure that he collided with someone as they were entering the resort.

“Excuse me” the mild mid range voice said “I should have been paying attention to where I was going.”

Kyle looked up in time to see a pair of gorgeous eyes. He was struck dumb as his mouth moved but no sound was produced. His mind was mush.

“Are you alright” the man voice asked with a note of concern.

Shaking his head Kyle managed to single stammered “yyyesss.” He tried to stand p but found his limbs to weak to support him. Closing his eyes Kyle counted to ten willing himself to pull himself together.

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“Here let me help you” the guy with the gorgeous eyes offered taking Kyle’s hand and pulling him to his feet.

Kyle blinked wondering how they guy could be so casual like he had no idea how he affected others. “Thanks” he mumbled leaning against the door frame.

A frown creased his perfect skin as he observed Kyle. “Should I get a doctor? They have one on call here. I can get him.”

“No really I’m alright” Kyle took a deep breath. He stood tall and straight “see? I’m fine.”

“That’s good to know” the blonde flashed Kyle a boyish grin that would have diffused a bomb. “I’m Douglas Bennett. My friends call me Doug.”

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“It’s nice to meet you” Kyle took his hand giving it a shake as an electrical charge surged between them. “I’m sorry for running into you” he started to apologize.

“Don’t worry about it. It was my fault for not paying attention” Douglas assured him.

“We’re two peas in a pod then” Kyle said laughing a bit “I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going either.” For some reason he found himself telling Douglas about his interview and how bad it was.

“We all have off days” Douglas commiserated “don’t let it get you down.”

“I won’t after all it led me to you” Kyle could feel heat warming his cheeks “err I mean if we were paying attention we wouldn’t have met.” He couldn’t seem to stop the words as the dribbled from his mouth. No matter what he did the dribble continued.

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Douglas for his part didn’t seem to notice. “Are you new to the island” he asked once Kyle’s ramblings ceased.

Instead of replying Kyle simply nodded hoping that would keep him from saying anything else embarrassing.

“My sister is having a party tomorrow” Douglas continued as if he didn’t notice Kyle’s lack of response. “It’s just a small group of friends really but it’ll give you a chance to meet some people.”

Kyle met Douglas’s eyes. There was an anxious hopeful look in them. It made Kyle think he might be afraid Kyle would tell him no. “I’d like to come if it’s alright with your sister. I don’t want to intrude.”

“Sandi won’t mind. She said I could invite a friend.” Douglas seemed to relax and the anxious look in his eyes disappeared. “Give me your number and I’ll send you the details.”

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“Only if I can have yours” Kyle teased pulling his phone out his nervousness abating.

“No problem” Douglas said “you’d have had it anyway once I sent you text.”

Kyle paused a moment to wonder if Douglas was really as innocent as he appeared. “I’ll text you later” he promised.

“Great” Douglas grinned “I have to go or I’ll be late.” He turned to walk away. Halfway to his car he turned to wave relieved to find Kyle still standing there.

Kyle smiled to himself. What seemed to be a lousy day was suddenly not so bad. He was looking forward to seeing Douglas again.

Chapter 10 – Beauty Finds Me / Chapter 12 – Energized

Glitter – Chapter 10 – Beauty Finds Me

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With a feeling of trepidation making if feet feel like lead weights and his heart race in his chest Will trudged up the stairs towards the intimidating door. He stood at the top gathering the courage to bring his hand up to knock on the same door to summon from inside the house.

The door opened while he was still coaxing himself into knocking. “What are you doing here” a girls unfriendly voice demanded.

His eyes lifted to find Temperance scowling at him holding the door like a shield between them. He dropped his eyes to her feet where he could see small scratches going down her legs ending at an ace bandage around her ankle. “Did I do that” he asked his voice coming out in a squeak.

“What do you want” she repeated moving the door like she was about to close it in his face.

“Temperance who is at the door” Hannah called coming up behind her.

“Just some idiot” she pointed in the direction of Will’s shocked face.

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Hannah frowned “isn’t that Unity’s cousin?”

“Yeah the loser” Temperance said emphasizing loser rolling her eyes.

“Temp” her mother’s voice rose in reproof “ask your guest inside. Honestly where’s your manners?”

“I don’t think that’s wise” Temperance objected “Dad might kill him.”

“Whatever for” she exclaimed shocked.

“He’s the one who did this” she waved a hand towards her wounds.

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“Let him in” Hannah insisted “maybe he came to apologize.”

“But Mom” Temperance whined.

“Invite him in” Hannah insisted giving Will an apologetic smile.

“It’s your funeral” Temperance mumbled stepping aside and motioning Will inside.

Will gulped loudly as he was met by an older red-haired male. He took the offered hand “I’m Donovan” the man smiled introducing himself.

The ice blue of the man’s eyes made Will think of the iceberg that sank the Titanic. “I’m sorry” he yelped “I should have stayed to help. I’m sorry I didn’t.”

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Donovan stared at him noticing how the boy fidgeted under his glare. “Just don’t do it again. We all make mistakes. I trust you’ve learned something from this.”

“Yes sir” Will nodded his head feeling the anxious knots release from inside his stomach.

“That being said I’m not the one you should be apologizing to” Donovan nodded towards his daughter. She was leaning against the door giving her visitor a nasty look.

“Err” Will murmured tongue-tied at the prospect of facing her. It was worse than facing her parents. Taking a hesitant step forward he said “I’m sorry.”

“You should be” she snapped unwilling to give him an inch much less to forgive him.

“I should have helped you get home” he continued “I’ll do anything to make it up to you.”

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“Anything” she asked her eyes brightening.

Nodding he felt he had somehow walked into a trap. “I guess” he said with some trepidation.

“Take me to the end of summer social at the resort” she said.

“Temperance” her mother scolded “you can’t use his apology to get a date.”

“But mom” she cried “ how else am I supposed to know he’s sincere?”

“You know better than that” Donovan’s voice was stern making her sigh and gave him a penitent look.

“I’m sorry” she said turning to face Will giving him a sweet smile. “I accept your apology. No strings attached. You don’t have to take me to the summer social.”

***

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Benjamin hopped out of his truck hurrying towards the hood where steam was coming from beneath it. In his head he could hear his dad rebuking him. He had been warned to have the radiator checked. He thought it would be okay. It’s not like his dad was a mechanic or anything. He knew computers not cars. No doubt his mom would use this as an example of why he should follow the recommended maintenance schedule. Sure he received the email alerts from On Star every month. It’s not like he read them all. Who had time for that?

He reached for the hood release only to jerk his hand away with a muttered curse. “Shit” he shouted waving his hand around attempting to cool it off.

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to open the hood when there’s steam coming out of it” a voice asked behind him.

Scowling he turned around “mind your own damn business.”

“Whoa” the boy raised his hands up in mock surrender. “Whatever your issue is I didn’t do it.”

A low rumbling growl from the dalmatian standing at attention beside the stranger had Benjamin taking a few steps backwards. “Call your mutt off” Benjamin snapped eyeing the dog uneasily.

“He’s not a mutt” the boy cried defensively his hands rubbing the dog’s head as if to reassure it. “He’s a purebred dalmatian.”

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Rolling his eyes he stretched his neck. “Whatever” he mumbled. The last thing he wanted to do was get into a discussion about dog breeds.

“You should get your hand looked at” the boy observed “I live just over there. If you wanted to follow me I could put something on it.”

“It’s not that bad” Benjamin lied wincing as he forced his fingers to bend.

“Suit yourself” he shrugged turning to leave. “Whatever you do better make it quick before infection sets in and you can use that hand anymore.”

Benjamin scowled watching at the boy walked away with his dog in tow. He looked at his hand and the painful red blisters stretching his skin. “Wait” he called hoping the boy was still willing to help him.

Stopping the boy turned “change your mind” he asked giving him a doe eyed innocent look.

“Yeah” he shrugged “give me a sec while I get my stuff from the truck.”

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Reaching inside the cab he grabbed his duffel bag and laptop case. He could feel the curious gaze of his benefactor watching him. Catching his reflection in the rear view mirror he hastily finger combed his hair.

“Do you always have a laptop with you” the boy asked eyeing the case with distaste.

“Only when I have work to do” Benjamin shrugged “currently I’m redesigning the web page for a friend’s resort.”

“Oh” his eyes lifted with interest “that’s ok then.”

“You have a problem with gamers or something” he asked unable to contain his curiosity.

“Not especially” he shrugged “it’s a long story.”

“Maybe one day you’ll tell me about it” Benjamin flashed him a boyish grin. “For now I’ll settle for your name.”

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“Oh” the boy seemed somewhat flustered “I’m Jonas Matthews.”

“It’s nice to meet you Jonas. I’m Benjamin Bennett” he said introducing himself. “If you haven’t guessed yet I work for the best resort on the island.”

“I kind of guessed that” he smiled. As they entered to houseboat Jonas asked “do you need any help with your redesign? I have a lot of ideas on how you can improve their site and get the most from social media.”

“You may have just saved my life” Benjamin announced “I’ve been stuck on how best to redesign it. The last guy really botched the job and made a royal mess.”

“Let me fix up your hand and you can show me what you’ve got” Jonas suggested.

“Aren’t you curious how much you’ll get paid? It won’t be much. This is pretty much pro bono for me” Benjamin lost his smile becoming serious.

“How about we get the job done” Jonas suggested “When it’s done you pay me what you think it’s worth. I just really want to get my name out there. If I do a good enough job on this maybe it’ll lead to something else.”

***

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Christopher swung a leg over his motorcycle as his eyes swept the parking lot. He had arrived early just as Royal requested. “Typical” he muttered beneath his breath. He had only agreed to come because Royal said it was super important. Royal’s words not his. Everything to Royce was super important. With an irritated huff Christopher stood from his motorcycle, striding towards the bar.

The bar was fairly empty. The bar man nodded, a knowing grin on his rugged face. “The usual” the barman asked.

“Yeah” Christopher sat at the end of the bar closest to the speaker. The music so loud and the base so high it vibrated through his chest. Lifting the drink to his lips he gasped as the whiskey burned it’s way down his throat. His eyes watered blurring his vision. Blowing fumes from his nostrils it felt like he had snorted gasoline. “What the hell” he croaked.

Despite the ringing in his ears he knew the bartender was laughing at him. Someone slapped him on the back sending him reeling.

“Hey leave the kid alone” someone said moving to help Christopher up. “Here let me help you.”

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Feeling like an idiot he jerked his arm away falling completely off the bar stool to the floor. The gales of laughter making his face burn.

The bartender nonchalantly leaned over the bar “next time you come into my bar pup, order a man’s drink.”

“Leave the kid alone” Christopher’s self appointed protector repeated.

“The kid shouldn’t be in here” the bartender growled mopping up the spilled drink.

“You’ve obviously served him in the past,” the man pointed out.

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“Always coming in here ordering coke” the man muttered.

“Good thing too” the man said “you could have your liquor licence pulled if anyone found out you were serving minors.”

“Hey now” the bartender scowled “I was just having a little bit of fun.”

“You had your fun” the guy growled “now leave the kid alone.”

Christopher pulled his feet beneath him. With flushed face he staggered to the exit. Bumping into someone on his way inside. Looking up he found his Royal staring at him in shock. Growling he snarled at Royal as he pushed past him to the outside.

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“Hey” Royal shouted after him.

“What do you want” he demanded sitting on his motorcycle revving the engine.

Running up to him Royal yelled over the noise “I thought we were going in for a few drinks.”

“Change of plans” he breathed heavily into Royal’s face.

“Have you been drinking” he asked waving a hand in front of his face. “Should you be driving?”

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“Who the fuck cares” Christopher shouted back revving the engine louder.

Reaching for the kill switch Royal said “I care for one. Your parents for another.”

Somewhere the words sunk into his brain making inroads into his anger. “Sorry” he sighed “I don’t know what got into me.”

Nodding towards the entrance Royal asked “anything to do with that guy?”

“Naw” shaking his head Christopher said “he tried to help.”

***

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Talia leaned into her date as they walked along the shoreline. It felt nice to have someone hold her hand and treat her like she were special. A small contented sigh escaped her.

Jeremy looked down smiling “I be I know what that was for.”

“What was what” she asked wishing she could pretend everything was alright.

“You’re wishing Will liked it here” he stopped gazing at the ocean. The seagulls calling to each other was the only sound besides the lapping of the waves.

“That would help” she agreed.

“But…” he looked at her expectantly.

“But he doesn’t like you either” she admitted.

“Do you want him to like me” he asked.

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“Of course” she agree a little too loudly and without meeting his eyes.

“Then why haven’t you introduced us” he asked “I don’t mean the incidental introduction either. Let us get to know each other.”

“I guess” she said somewhat hesitantly as if she had something else on her mind.

“What” he prompted. He half suspected what she was about to say.

“Do I get to meet your kids” she asked “I gather from the frowns your daughter gives me she  doesn’t like me anymore than Will likes you.”

“It’s not that bad” he protested laughing softly. “She just wants to make sure you’re not some sort of nut job.”

“This weekend” she said “we do something as a family. You me and the kids.”

“This weekend won’t work” he shook his head “it’s my weekend rotation at the E.R.”

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“I thought you were an oncologist” she frowned up at him.

“I am but the E.R. is short-staffed so everyone is taking turns to cover the E.R.” he explained.

“That’s nice of you” she said.

“It is but I’d save any emergencies for another weekend” He chuckled at the shocked look she gave him “I’m a little out of practice on skinned knees and flu bugs.”

“That’s not the only emergencies the E.R. gets” she chided him.

“I know but those are the ones I’m hoping for” he said. “How about the following weekend? We could have a family picnic at the beach.”

“Sounds like a plan” she smiled up at him not exactly hiding her concern how the kids were going to react to their plans.

“Don’t worry so much” he put a gentle arm around her shoulder “it’ll be great.” He chuckled at the image of Tony the Tiger that entered his mind. He could only shake his head at Talia when she gave him a baffled look. Instead of explaining he kissed her cheek instead.

Chapter 9 – Seek Beauty / Chapter 11 – Free Spirit

Glitter – Chapter 4 – Sugar and Spice

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“Mommy” Aubrey called from the kitchen table.

Glancing up from the computer screen Trinity frowned. “Mommy’s busy right now” she said turning back to her work and the two columns that refused to balance. She had been at it for several hours and she still couldn’t balance the books of her biggest account.

“But mommy” Aubrey’s voice was small and insignificant compared to the problems she was having.

“Not now” she said going back to her sums that refused to make sense.

Aubrey sat with her head down, teas trickling down her cheeks. Silently she scooted her chair out and methodically began to put her colors away. Carefully she tore the page she had been coloring from her book. With deliberate strokes she printed her name at the bottom. It was the way the famous artist did at the museum her daddy took her to.

Taking her picture she tiptoed over to where her mother was muttering over her computer. A slight rustle of paper alerted Trinity to the little girls presence. “Aubrey” she sighed “I said not now.”

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Startled Aubrey let her drawing slip through her fingers and flutter to her mother’s desk. She squeaked turning and ran to her room.

Trinity’s eyes fell upon the drawing her daughter had been working on. It was very good for a five-year old. Picking it up from her desk she wondered when she had turned into her mother. She had spent most of her childhood trying to get her mom’s attention.

Saving her non-progress she stood up. Avoiding Vincent’s eyes as she walked across the room towards her daughter’s bedroom door. Knocking softly she opened the door to find her daughter curled up on her bed shoulders shaking. “Aubrey” she called softly crossing the room. Sitting on the edge of the bed she stroked her daughters fluffy head “I’m sorry.”

There was no perceptible change in the small figure lying with her back turned. “Sweetie I’m sorry” Trinity tried again. “I like the picture you colored for me.”

Sniffling Aubrey sat up rubbing her eyes. “You do” she asked her voice low uncertain.

“Of course I do” Trinity nodded “I’m going to have it framed so I can have it on my desk all the time.”

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The corners of Aubrey’s mouth quirked upwards. “You really like it that much” her eyes were round with surprise. “I could make you another one. One that’s even better. I mean I got out of the lines there. The color isn’t quite right.” Her small hands reached for the picture to take it from her mother’s hands.

Gently Trinity kept the picture from her daughter’s reach. “It’s perfect the way it is.”

“It’s not good enough” Aubrey insisted “I can do better.”

It hurt hearing her daughter’s words. Trinity never saw herself being a mother and she found out she was expecting she had cried for a week. Her biggest fear was coming to reality. She was becoming her own mother. Demanding perfection. Lifting her daughter’s quivering chin up she smiled down into her daughter’s eyes. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. You made it for me. That’s all that matters. I love it because you made it for me.”

“I’m sorry mommy” Aubrey leaned into her.

“For what sweetie” she asked

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“For disturbing you while you worked” she mumbled looking at the floor.

“I’m sorry for getting upset with you” Trinity said kissing the top of her daughter’s head.

“Now that you’ve apologized to each other” a deep voice said from the door “maybe we could all go out for dinner and a movie.”

“Yeah” Aubrey cried running to hug her father.

Smiling Trinity joined them moving a little slower but with no less excitement than her daughter. “It sounds like a date.”

***

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“Daddy watch” Aubrey called trying to get his attention.

Smiling Vincent turned from Trinity “I’m watching.”

“You sure” she demanded hands on hips.

“Positive” he got his phone out ready to capture her latest feat.

“Alright here goes” she poised herself in the sand. Her feet spaced evenly apart as she took off to make the best cart-wheel ever. Halfway through she lost her balance causing her to fall to her knees in the loose sand.

“That was awesome” Vincent clapped.

“I didn’t do it right” she complained crossing her arms.

“It was a very good attempt” Trinity said coming up beside her daughter. “Next time you’ll do better.”

“But I wanted it to be perfect now” she pouted.

“You can’t be perfect at everything” Vincent said putting his phone away. “Let’s go for a swim” he suggested.

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“No” Aubrey shook her head “I don’t want to.”

Kneeling in front of his daughter he asked “what do you want to do then?”

Thinking for a moment Aubrey smiled. “I want to build a sand castle.”

“Ok” he grinned sitting in the sand with her.

“Not with you Daddy” she objected “I want to do it by myself.”

Vincent stood up watching his five-year old daughter select a different spot in the sand to build her sand castle. Looking down as a hand landed on his forearm “my little girl doesn’t need me anymore.” He was half-joking despite the ache in his heart.

“She’s growing up” Trinity said moving to the blanket where they had their picnic lunch a couple of hours ago.

“She’s five” Vincent protested joining her.

“Don’t worry she still loves you” she assured him.

“I hope so” he muttered tossing a handful of sand in the air.

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“I love you” Trinity said reaching for his hand eyes sparkling in the sunshine.

“That’s not the same” he pouted.

“What am I old cheese” she demanded moving to get up.

Grabbing her hand he pulled her down to him. “That’s not what I’m saying. I love you to the moon and back.”

“I love you too even though your still as sappy as ever.” She giggled as his hands went around her waist slipping lower to her hips. “Not here” she warned “people are watching.”

“Let them watch” he nuzzled his nose into the side of her neck placing soft kisses along her collar-bone.

“What about Aubrey” she asked trying not to give in to her growing desire.

“She’s seen us kiss before” he tilted his head back “we’re on vacation. Relax.”

“I’m trying” Trinity muttered leaning into him.

“You know what our problem is don’t you” Vincent asked after a moment or two of silence.

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Trinity scowled up at her husband “what is our problem?”

“We don’t take near as many vacations as we should” he gave her a bland innocent look “we don’t know how to act while on vacation.”

“I’m not the only one who works too much” she grumbled taking offense.

Making hand dampening motions Vincent sighed. “I didn’t mean it that way” his eyes glancing towards their daughter making sure she was still occupied with building sand castles.

“You implied it” she huffed. Sitting up she pulled her knees to her chest. Her eyes looked out of the ocean waves. “I’m sorry” she apologized a moment later “I’m never any fun anymore.”

“That could change” Vincent said making sure to keep his tone light.

“Not anytime soon” she retorted “I have the Brockhaven case to review next. You know how awful their books are.”

“Do you like your job” he asked her.

“What” she blinked at him like she didn’t quite understand his question.

“Do you like your job” he repeated enunciating each word carefully.

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“Of course I do” she flipped her hand dismissively.

“It’s not what you had wanted to do in college” he pointed out.

Her shoulders rose and fell as she dropped her gaze to the sand. Her fingers drew circles. “We need the money” she said it like that was all there was to it.

Reaching for her hand Vincent stilled her idle circle drawing. “It’s not your fault” he said gently.

Staring at his hand, his thumb gently rubbing the top of her hand. “I keep thinking if I hadn’t been so caught up in my career things would be different now. If I hadn’t forgotten about our dinner date. If I had left earlier, even a minute sooner things would have been different.”

“Honey it’s not your fault” his voice cracked as he battled the emotions that were bubbling up inside him.

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Jerking her hand away “it was my fault don’t you get it? I was driving. I was rushing. My mind was on all the things I left unfinished. I was thinking of my job, my career instead of paying attention to the road. Maybe if I hadn’t been distracted I could have seen what was going to happen. I keep thinking I could have prevented it.”

She stumbled to her feet Vincent following her. “Don’t do this to yourself. It wasn’t your fault. It was an accident. A terrible accident.”

Her left hand reached out to him while her right hand softly traced the scars on his once unmarred handsome face. “If I had been going slower it would have been you who had died that night. Instead it was a little boy.” Her face crumpled as she remembered the screeching of tires and crunching of metal as the truck tore into their car as it ran the stop light that night almost 2 years ago.

Pulling her close Vincent held her as the memories tore her apart. He rubbed her back whispering soothing words as she cried into his shoulder. The accident had been the reason she quit her job despite his protests. He knew even if she didn’t at the time it was her way of punishing herself for the accident. An accident that was out of her control.

***

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“Daddy” Aubrey tugged on his pants leg “Is Mommy ok.”

“She’s a little sad” he smiled down at his wild haired little girl.

“Is she missing Toby” she asked.

He felt Trinity shiver in his arms at the mention of their son’s name. “Yes she is sweetie.”

“Mommy” Aubrey waited a moment looking up waiting for her mom to look down at her. “It’s alright if you still miss him. I do too… a lot.”

“Thank you sweetie” she sniffed moving from her husband’s arms. “I didn’t mean to make you sad too thinking about Toby on day like today.”

“I’m not sad” Aubrey insisted shaking her head. “Toby wouldn’t want me to be sad. So I made up my mind to be sad.”

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“You’re right” Trinity agreed shocked when her daughter threw her arms around her in imitation of her father.

“Love you Mommy” she murmured. Pulling back Aubrey asked “can we go see my friends now?”

“Are you down playing already” Trinity asked glancing at the half-finished sand castle.
Shrugging Aubrey shuffled over to it. “It wasn’t very good anyway” she kicked at the walls with her feet until it caved onto itself.

Vincent exchanged glances with his wife before squatting down beside his daughter. “Sweetie not everything has to be perfect.”

“I know” she mumbled.

“Then why” he gestured towards the ruined castle.

Shrugging she crossed his arms “I didn’t like it anymore.” She looked up her chin set in a stubborn line “can we go now?”

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“As soon as you pick up your things” Vincent told her. It worried him that since the accident Aubrey had become obsessed with the idea that she had to be perfect in everything she did. Any little mistake had her either quitting or sulking.

Joining Trinity at the picnic he sighed “maybe we should reconsider family counseling.”

Nodding she glanced towards the ocean. A far away look in her dark eyes. “You’re right we should” she said putting the last remnants of their picnic away.

Turning her towards him “I’m sorry” he murmured “this wasn’t a very good idea coming here.”

Looking up at him, her eyes moist, she shook her head. “It was a wonderful idea. We needed this. Our family needed this.”

“But…” he looked away to watch Aubrey picking up seashells along the beach. Every time the waves washed up on the sand around her ankles she’d giggle.

“Do you hear that” Trinity asked “that’s our little girl. No matter what that giggle was worth it.” She drew his head down to hers placing her lips over his to shush his next comments. “We’ll get through this. Maybe not today but sometime we will be a family again.”

***

 

 

By the time they made it back to the resort everyone was outside by the pool. Aubrey squealed in delight running to join her friends. “Jason, Royal you made it” she shouted.

“We’ve been here for hours” Royal informed her.

“Have not” Jason contradicted.

“Have too” Royal insisted glaring at his twin.

“Whatever” Jason muttered wandering off as his twin and Aubrey started to whispering into each other’s ears. “Benji can I join you guys?”

Benjamin looked up with a ready grin “sure Jason. We’re about to start the races.”

“What races” he asked confused.

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“Wheelbarrow races” Christopher said “it’s me and Justice. Noble and Loyal. You and Ben.”

“All we need now is a judge” Justice said eyeing the adults to see which one they could rope into their little game.

“Grandpa will do it” Noble assured everyone.

Loyal shook his head “I doubt it.”

“How come” Noble persisted brows knitting together.

“Derek is here” Loyal giggled “they’re in love.” He made kissy faces to the amusement of the other boys in the group.

“Eew gross” Benjamin scrunched up his nose like he smelled something bad.

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“You mean they kiss and stuff” Jason asked.

“Yeah gross” Benjamin affirmed.

“That’s not gross” Jason protested “I kiss my mommies all the time.”

“That’s different” Benjamin insisted.

Perplexed Jason asked “why?”

“It just is” his friend insisted.

“Ask him anyway” Christopher said to Loyal “I bet he’ll do it for us.”

 

Glancing over at his Grandpa Loyal shrugged. “He looks preoccupied” using a word he heard his parents use when he and his brothers were in the middle of some game or movie.

“You don’t even know what that means” Christopher objected.

“I do too” Loyal snapped “it means he’s busy.”

Glancing at Graham he shrugged “doing what? Holding hands? He can do that while he’s judging the race. Just ask him. We can’t have a race without a judge.”

“I’ll do it” Noble volunteered marching off towards the adults. “Grandpa will you be our judge?”

Graham smiled down at his grandson “a judge? For what?”

“For the race” Noble pointed towards the others who waved back “we’re having a wheelbarrow race and we need a judge.”

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“Can’t I just watch” Graham asked reluctant to leave Derek by himself.

Derek nudged him “go ahead. The kids need a judge. I’ll watch.”

“You don’t mind” Graham asked taking his grandson’s hand to the excited clapping of the others.

“Why would I mind” Derek smirked “I have a much better view from here.”

“No mushy stuff” Noble warned “a judge has to keep his eyes on the race.”

“No mushy stuff” Derek promised eyes on Graham’s face.

 

 

Graham’s cheeks held a slight blush as he allowed his grandson to guide him to the finish line and explain his duties as judge. He could feel Derek’s eyes watching him giving him a peculiar warm feeling inside his stomach. It was nice to feel desirable again he thought as he waited for the kids organize themselves for the race. He waved at Derek while he waited. It had been too long since anyone had made him feel this way. He caught Charity watching him, a knowing grin on her face. He may not have much to be thankful from the years he had been with Zane but their daughter was of the good things. He wouldn’t regret that or the grand kids that resulted from it for anything.

Chapter 3 – Puppy Dog Tails / Chapter 5 – Everything Nice

Glitter – Chapter 3 – Puppy Dog Tails

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Renee opened the door. The interior room was dark. The curtains were drawn giving the room a perpetual gloominess. “Divia” she called. The house seemed to swallow her words. Heart lurching as her feet carried her deeper into the house. Opening their bedroom door. Looking around. Empty. Leaving the door ajar she moved towards the nursery. Heart beating painfully against her chest walls. She knew without a doubt she’d find her wife inside the nursery. The room they had decorated for their little girl. The one they never to got see or hold. The bright pink broke her heart a little more each time she went inside.

The agonizing moment when they received the call. The adoption agency had declined their application. Blinking back the stinging tear as her mind played back the impersonal voice telling them they had been declined upon further investigation. The same voice informing them they were unfit parents and would not be considered for further adoption opportunities. Just like that their hopes and dreams were gone.

Renee’s hand shook a she turned the door knob. The soft muffled sobs of her wife reached her ears the moment she opened the door. “Honey” he called out moving towards the sound. Dropping to her knees she pulled Divia into her arms. “It’s going to be ok” she whispered wondering if she really believed that anymore herself.

“No it wont” Divia cried body shaking.

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“We just started invitro” Renee knew she was treading on thin ice but she had to try something. “We need to be patient.”

“It didn’t work” Divia wailed.

“It’ll work next time” Renee assured her.

“What if it doesn’t” Divia persisted.

Stroking her wifes long blue hair Renee remained silent. There was no good answer to that. They couldn’t adopt not after what happened with their little girl. She’d like to find out who had informed the adoption agency of their so-called issues that made them unfit candidates. She had a few things to say to them. “I don’t know” she admitted softly. “What I do know is we can’t continue to mope around like we have been.”

“But” Divia stirred in her arms.

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“No” Renee brushed her finger tips over Divia’s cheeks. “Hear me out. We can’t go on like this. We need a change. The doctor even suggested we get away for a while. What better place than Isla Paradiso? Charity offered to let us stay at the resort.”

Indecision shone bright in Divia’s amber eyes “I don’t know.” Her hand rested on the pink crib gently caressing it. “It’s time” she sighed. “Do you think” she inhaled a deep breath. Held it a moment before continuing “can we have someone come in while we’re gone and get rid of all this?”

“Are you sure” Renee asked holding Divia’s face between her hands and peering intently into her eyes.

“No” Divia’s voice was small and shaky “but it needs to be done. I can’t hold onto something we never even had.”

“Alright” Renee squeezed her tight “I’ll make arrangements.”

“Thank you” Divia said in a voice barely audible.

***

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Walking along the beach Divia leaned into Renee. “Thank you for being so patient with me.”

Draping an arm around her trim waste Renee smiled down at Divia. “Anything for you darling.”

Smiling up at her Divia giggled “that’s so sappy.” Before Renee knew what she was doing Divia took off running along the sand.

Giving chase Renee caught up to her. Tripping on the loose sand she sent both of them sprawling to the ground. Laughing she glanced down into Divia’s eyes that were shining happily up at her. Trying not to think of the months that the same beautiful eyes had been dull and lifeless orbs Renee murmured “I love you.” She nuzzled Divia’s neck bringing her lips closer to her full soft lips. Their lips locked in a mutual sensual dance brushing lightly across each others melding their souls together.

When their lips lost contact with each other they became aware of the sounds around them. The cat calls from a group of teen boys ogling them. “I think we have an audience” Renee whispered to Divia helping her up from the sand.

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“I don’t care” Divia giggled glancing over her wife’s shoulder at the young boys. “Let them watch” she said situating herself into her wife’s lap. “I’m tired of worrying about what other’s think. I want to be happy.” Leaning back her long hair flowing across her bare back “are you happy” Renee asked holding her breath.

Lifting her hands to Renee’s cheeks she peered deep into her eyes. Her lips twitched “you know I think I am.” Her smile grew encompassing her entire face. “I didn’t think I would be but I am.”

“You have no idea how that makes me feel” Renee sighed pressing her forehead to Divia’s.

“I’m sorry” she murmured “I’ve been so absorbed in how I felt I never stopped to think you were hurting too.”

“Its alright” Renee assured her.

“No it’s not” Divia shook her head “I was selfish feeling I was the only one hurting.”

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“It’s ok” Renee closed her eyes absorbing  the peace of the moment. The raucous call of sea gulls, the roar of the waves crashing onto the shoreline, the gentle hum of subdued conversations of others on the beach. It was a moment she’d treasure. “Don’t go” she protested when Divia moved to get up.

“We have just enough time to change before meeting up with Hannah and Charity” she said holding her hand out to help Renee up.

“I forgot” she groaned “can’t we postpone it.” She wrapped her arms around her wife drawing her close.

“I wish we could” Divia giggled as Renee’s fingers traveled up her spine. Stepping back she took Renee’ hand and started walking towards the resort. “It’s the last chance we have to see Hannah and the kid before they fly back to Brooklyn Heights.”

“But we can see them there” Renee pouted.

“Don’t whine” Divia advised squeezing her hand “we have more time together before we  have to go home. Plenty of time to pursue those naughty little thoughts in your head.”

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“Who said they were naughty” Renee protested.

“I know you” Divia giggled “that look in your pretty blue eyes tells me what you’re thinking.” Stopping just outside the resort door “if you want any of them to come true you’ll quit complaining.”

“I’m not complaining” she raised her hand “scouts honor.”

“You’re not a scout” she laughed pushing the door open. “Hi Mr Hollis” she waved at the pink haired male at the hotel front desk. He waved at her in a somewhat distracted manner. “What’s up with that” she asked perplexed

“Don’t tell me you didn’t notice the hottie” Renee giggled.

Frowning she looked around the lobby “what hottie?”

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Nodding towards an older male in shorts talking to a couple of teenagers. “Him” Renee said keeping her voice low.

“No way” Divia protested “he’s old. He has to be close to my parent’s age.”

“I didn’t say I thought he was hot” Renee laughed “but the way Mr Hollis was looking at him he thought so.”

“Eew gross” Divia scrunched up her face.

“Act your age” Renee rolled her eyes “he’s a single good-looking guy. Why shouldn’t he be interested in someone?”

“I don’t know” Divia frowned “it’s just weird. I’ve known him since I was five years old. I don’t see him as anything but Charity’s dad not some sexual being.”

***

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Renee kept a cautious eye on Divia as she knelt to play with three toddlers at once. “Mama” one of them called launching himself at Hannah’s knees. “There’s my little man” she laughed picking him up. “You know who this is” she asked pointing at Renee.

Shaking his head snuggling her close “no” he whispered in her ear.

“Of course you do” she encouraged.

“Rae” he murmured between his chubby little fingers. “Down” he demanded after a moment trying to wriggle out of his mother’s arms.

“Christopher” she chastised him. “What do you say?”

“Peas” he giggled “down peas.”

Setting him down he made tracks for Charity’s twin boys Loyal and Noble. One of the boys took Divia’s hand tugging with determination to get her to follow them.

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“How is she doing” Hannah asked her voice low.

Dragging her eyes from her wife Renee smiled “better. Much better.”

“That’s good” she put a comforting hand on the woman’s shoulder. “I can’t imagine how difficult this has been for the both of you.”

“It wasn’t so bad until the adoption fell through” Renee sighed.

“What happened with that” Charity asked joining them.

Keeping a wary eye on Divia she said “the agency said there were inconsistencies in our application.”

“That’s kind of vague” Hannah said sitting down on the nearby couch. “Didn’t they say anything else?”

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“Go ahead and tell them” Divia encouraged joining them of the boys in her arms. “Charity deserves to know.”

“What do mean I need to know” Charity asked looking confused.

“The adoption agency Zane gave us as a referral was bogus” Divia explained.

“Evidently they only ever made one adoption before they closed” Renee added “otherwise it was a house where young girls could go to have their babies.”

“My adoption was legal though” Charity insisted.

“It would seem so otherwise you would have run into problems before now. Yours evidently was the only one. Your’s being legal made it easy to use a front for other less legal things.”

“I’m so sorry” Divia moved to sit beside her friend “it’s awful you had to find out this way.”

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Wiping at the tears she sniffed “that doesn’t mean Zane knew anything about the illegal stuff. I doubt he would have offered it as a referral if he had known.”

Hannah moved over to her side “I’m sure you’re right. Zane’s a lot of things but not even he would do something like that. Donnie Hollis on the other hand might. I wonder if he had anything to do with your adoption?”

“I hope not” Charity lifted horrified eyes to her friends “please don’t mention any of this to my dad. He’s been through too much as it is.”

“We promise” they assured her.

“Mama” Loyal said coming up to her putting a small hand on her knee “sad”.

“Yes mama’s sad” she sniffed “but not anymore.” She said tickling the little boy making him squeal with delight. After he toddled off satisfied that his mama was alright she said “thanks. He’s so fragile right now.”

“Is Zane still coming around” Hannah asked.

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“Yeah he doesn’t seem to understand it’s over” she blinked back more tears. “He doesn’t see the damage he’s done. The betrayal.”

“What your dad needs is to find someone new” Renee said filling the silence.

“He’s been hurt enough” Charity protested.

“They do say you need to get back on the horse after you fall off” Hannah said raising an eyebrow at her. “Are there any eligible men we could set him up with?”

“I saw one in the lobby” Renee giggled “Graham could hardly take his eyes off him.”

“Do you mean the new maintenance man” Charity asked.

“So you have noticed  the way your dad looks at him” Renee giggled causing them all to laugh.

***

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Three months later Renee opened the door to her house. It had been a difficult day. Her thoughts kept going back to the fairly recent announcements from Hannah and Charity that they pregnant again. She tried share in their joy. To be happy for them. She just couldn’t. She expected to come home to find the house dark and Divia huddled on the floor crying.

With a sinking heart she knew today was that day. The house was dark. Silent. She could hear the ticking of the kitchen clock. “Divia” she called knowing there’d be no response. For a moment she wanted to turn around and run. Run as far away as she could. She couldn’t go through this again. The crushing depression. The debilitating hour of lying awake for hours wondering why. Why were they destined to be childless? Why them? The questions ever ceased. Neither did the hollow empty feeling in the pit of your stomach. She was tired of pretending to be happy watching your friends families grow while yours stayed the same. Stagnant

Worst of all was the jealousy. It ate you up inside. Se put a hand over her mouth to muffle the anguished cries choking her. She leaned on the wall almost hoping it would topple over and crush her.

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Gulping a lungful of air she held it. Counting to ten closing her eyes and repeating to herself she had to be strong. Divia needed her to be strong. Pushing off the wall she continued through the house. “Divia” she called again fearing the worst.

She opened the old nursery door, empty ow of all remnants of the pink fantasy they had created for their little girl to come home to. It was dark. Sad. Shivering she closed the door on their hopes and dreams. Opening the room she shared with Divia expecting to find the blue haired girl sobbing into her pillow.

A frown creased her forehead as that room too was empty. Where was she? Her heart ached in her chest as her mind imagined a hundred awful scenarios. Had Divia wandered off? Had she down something awful to herself in her depressed state of mind? She knew how easily depression could affect your thoughts and entertain ideas you wouldn’t normally. She hadn’t thought it was that bad? What if he had been wrong? Had she missed the warning signs?

There was one more door to try. If Divia wasn’t in there she’d have to call everyone they knew. She wouldn’t leave a rock unturned until she found her. The door knob clicked as she opened it. Her breath whistled out of her as Divia looked up at her from the floor a stunned expression upon her face. Renee’s eyes focused on a stick the girl held between her fingers. Taking a deep breath she met her wife’s eyes “I thought we agree to wait…”

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“We did …. I ….” a large beautiful radiant smile spread across her face. “I hadn’t felt well for days. I thought it was the flu. I mentioned it to Hannah who laughed at me saying it sounded more like morning sickness.”

“So you took a test” Renee’s voice was flat tinged with fear. “What does it say?”

Holding it out for her to see Divia giggled “positive. It says positive.”

Staring at the positive test result Renee felt the fear, the anxiety drain from her body. “Pregnant” she whispered as she let Divia pull her into a hug. “I can’t believe it” she mumbled crying softly.

“Neither can I” Divia squeezed her tight “I hope it’s a boy.”

“I thought you wanted a girl Renee said looking into her wife’s happy face.

“I want a boy” she said firmly “Dad would love to teach him how to ride. To be a cool dude like him.”

Chapter 2 – Snips and Snails / Chapter 4 – Sugar and Spice