Tag Archive | Dante Reid

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 22 – Crossroads

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Kaia approached the clothing rack where Aubrey was working to organize. It was a slow day. A small rush in the morning followed by clean up. They were short handed with Unity in the hospital and Temperance gone. Having both girls absent had put Mindy in a bad mood. “Do you think they’ll come back” she asked her friend.

Aubrey looked up a momentary look of confusion on her face. “Unity wants to return when she’s better. I don’t know if Temperance will be allowed to.” Her eyes moved upwards where they both knew Mindy was working.

Rubbing her arms Kaia nodding “I’ve never seen Mindy this upset before.”

Shrugging Aubrey mumbled “I have. It’s not pretty.”

Giving her a curious look Karen asked “really? How come?”

“It was…”

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“Is this a private meeting” a familiar bubbly voice asked “or can anyone join?”

“Oh hi Olivia” Aubrey stammered almost dropping the garment she’d been putting back into the rack.

“We were just discussing work stuff” Kaia explained moving away trying to give her friend some privacy.

“Just as long as you’re not trying to steal my girl” Olivia warned in what was meant to be a teasing tone but was anything bu.

“You’re girl” Aubrey questioned glancing towards Kaia clearly asking for help. “We only ever went out once…”

“And you’re going to a party with me tomorrow night” Olivia stated. “Which is why I’m here” she looked at the rack of clothing “I need a new outfit.”

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Kaia stepped forward “I can help you with that. What are you looking for…”

“Nothing you have to show me” she wrinkled her nose at the girl. “Aubrey is the only one who can help me.”

“It’s not my turn” she stammered “besides I need to organize this rack.”

Grabbing the garment from her hands Olivia tossed it at Kaia. “She can do that” taking Aubrey’s hand she pulled her away “the customer is always right and I’m the customer.”

“Err” Aubrey looked back at Kaia unsure what to do.

“Go” Kaia urged “I’ll cover for you.”

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Nodding Aubrey turned her attention to Olivia. “We have some new outfits over here.”

“Nope” she turned her nose up at them in disgust. “None of those will work” looking towards the stairs “what do you have up there?”

“That area is off limits today” Aubrey hurried to block her. “Mindy is working on a new design not ready for display yet.”

“Sounds like something I need” Olivia said pushing her way past the girl.

“You can’t go up there” she cried desperate to stop the girl. “You’re going to get me fired.”

“Oh” the girl’s eyes lit up “that sounds like a good thing. Then you’d be available whenever I wanted you.”

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“Please don’t go up there” Aubrey pleaded as the girl took several steps up. “I’ll do anything.”

“Anything” Olivia asked coming down a couple steps “You’ll come with me to the party tomorrow night?”

“I can’t” she shook her head “it’s a school night. My parents.”

“It’s either that or I” she looked up the stairs her intent clear.

“Fine” she resigned herself “I’ll think of something.”

Clapping her hands Olivia giggled like a delighted little girl. Walking past Aubrey she whispered “wear something provocative.”

***

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“This is what I get for hiring teenagers” Mindy huffed upon seeing Aubrey’s ineffectual attempts to keep the customer from coming up the stairs and into the VIP area.

Coral frowned “I don’t think it was Aubrey’s fault. That girl was obviously up to no good.”

“You’re too soft” Mindy retorted tossing her scissors onto her work table.

“I’m not” she objected getting and placing her hands on Mindy’s shoulder’s massaging them. “You’re working too hard trying to run the store with so few employees not to mention designing. You need a break.”

“I can’t afford to take a break” she protested as she moaned as Coral’s fingers dug into tense muscles. “I have too much to do and deadline to meet.”

Kissing the back of her neck Coral asked “didn’t you tell me once that you work better when you’ve taken time out to do something out of the norm?”

Sighing Mindy stepped away. “I wish I could. I just don’t see how I can.” Crossing her arms she walked towards the mannequin wearing the design she just couldn’t get right.”

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“You could if…” Coral bit her bottom lip. When the other woman turned to glare at her she added “I have an idea. One I know you’re not going to like.”

Mindy rolled her eyes “I already don’t like it and I haven’t even heard it.”

“Forget it then” Coral said moving towards the chair she’d left her tablet at.

“Alright tell me” Mindy huffed.

“Promise not to yell” she requested unsure she should continue or not. She knew how demanding Mindy could be regarding work and the store.

“I’m already grumpy. You may as well tell me” she said watching the girl closely. She had yet to convince her to wear anything more fashionable than her frumpy sweatshirt.

“Close the store….”

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“Absolutely not” Mindy all but shouted at her.

“You said you wouldn’t yell” Coral pulled her knees into her chest where she sat her tablet laying forgotten on her lap.

“I can’t close the store” she protested.

“Why not” she cried “is making money the only thing that matters to you? The girls are wore out. You’re wore out. I’m tired of being your doormat.”

“My what” Mindy asked astonished.

“You heard me. You just take your frustrations out on me…”

“I don’t” she humphed at a loss for words. After a moment or two of silence she asked “have I really gotten that bad?”

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“Yes” Coral nodded “you need a break. We all do. Your work is suffering.”

Glancing at her mediocre designs. “You’re right. It’s not the money” Mindy explained “I just don’t know how to just relax. All I know how to do is work.”

“Well” Coral smiled unfolding herself from the chair. “I can help you with that.”

A smile tugged at her lips “your the best thing that has happened to me this summer.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment although the summer has just begun” standing up she joined Mindy as her work station. “Let’s take a look at the books and see where we can cut some hours.”

“Alright” she agreed on a sigh.

***

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“Are you going to the party tomorrow night” Keli asked as she flipped through the channels on the big screen TV.

“No way” Dante said “I know what happens at those parties.”

“Come on. It’ll be fun” Keli cajoled.

“Don’t tell me you’re into those kinds of parties” he frowned into the phone he was speaking into. “It’s bad enough seeing my brother come home wasted.”

“Not everyone does drugs although I don’t see the harm in it” shrugging she sat up to yell at at her bratty little brother. “Tristan get out of my room. You know you’re not supposed to be in here.”

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“You should be nicer to him” Dante said wincing at the way she talked to the kid.

“Why” she demanded “he isn’t nice to me.”

“Maybe he would be if you were nice to him” he suggested knowing he was wasting his time.

“You’re not my father” she retorted “if the little brat stayed out of my room we’d get along fine.”

“He just wants attention” Dante attempted again “he misses his mom.”

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“So” she demanded.

“Nevermind” he sighed knowing it was pointless.

“Ugh” she cried “you think I should play nursemaid to him.”

“No” he denied “I think you should just be nice to him.”

“I’m not the brat’s mother” she growled “besides Dad will take care of it. He’s dating someone so I have no doubt wife number three is just around the corner.”

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Dante shivered. As much as he didn’t like his new stepmom he hoped he wasn’t that mean. He just wished his dad had told them he was getting married. “Do you think Micah is going to those parties because he wants to get back at my dad for marrying Cassidy?”

“What” she grunted not really listening. “I thought we were talking about my bratty brother not yours.”

“We never not talk about him” he shook his head wondering why he was even dating her. She was pretty but she wasn’t the most caring person in the world. Things tended to be one sided in their relationship.

“Sounds like a conversation you should have with him not me” she scolded throwing a book across the room at her brother. “We should send all bratty brothers to Siberia or something.”

“I should probably let you go” he said knowing he wasn’t going to get any help from her.

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“So you’ll come to the party tomorrow” she asked going back to the original question.

“No I think I’ll pass” he said.

“You don’t know what you’ll be missing” she said getting up to slam her bedroom door shut.

“I think I do” he smirked “a big headache.”

“Your loss” she said obviously unconcerned with his opinion.

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Dante lay on his bed staring at the ceiling. He wasn’t any wiser than he was before. He wondered what he saw in her other than she knew how to make him feel good. They didn’t have anything else in common. He didn’t like the idea of going back to being the invisible kid at school but he didn’t want to keep seeing her either.

Thinking of his brother he wondered if he should tell their dad he suspected Micah of doing drugs. Maybe he should wait and give him a pass this time. See what happens. Like Keli said not everyone did drugs at those parties. Plus he’s going out with London. She was the last person who’d ever do drugs.

His decision made he rolled over and fell asleep.

***

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Tristan scurried beneath his bed just as Keli stomped into his room. “Come out from beneath there” she demanded.

Giggling he pressed himself tight against the wall where he knew she couldn’t reach him to drag him out.

“Ugh” she screamed “don’t ever come into my room again.”

“I’ll do whatever I want” he taunted from beneath the safety of the bed “or I’ll tell daddy what you and Dante do when he’s not home.”

“You wouldn’t dare” she growled her hands clenched in fists.

“Maybe” he said “depends on what you’ll give me to keep me quiet.”

“You’ve been talking Maura again haven’t you” she asked.

“She has good ideas” he giggled again “what’s it worth to you?”

Sitting on his bed she asked “what do you want? A new toy? Video game? What?” She had money saved up to buy a new outfit for the summer forma but at the rate she was going she may have to go with a used one.

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Standing she walked to the door. “You better make up your mind before I walk out this door.

“A new game” he shouted “you know the one.”

“Yeah I know. The one dad said would give you nightmares.”

“Yeah that one” she stuck his face out from beneath the bed ready to duck back without hesitation if she came close to him. “Maura said it’s great!”

She hesitated a moment a flicker of concern for her bratty little brother crossed her mind then it was gone. “Don’t come running to me when you wake up in the middle of the night from bad dreams.”

“I won’t” he promised. The both knew he would but that was a discussion to be had later.

Once she left he hurried from beneath the bed. Pulling his phone out he called the familiar number. “It worked” he said grinning like he’d just won an award.

“See I told you it’d work” she gloated.

“I guess” he sighed.

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“What’s wrong” she asked “isn’t this what you wanted?”

“Yeah but” he sat on the floor “it doesn’t feel right somehow.”

“Trust me that’ll pass” Maura assured him with a knowing air.

“I don’t know…”

“You said she’d get into a lot of trouble if your dad ever found out what she and Dante do together, right?”

“Yeah” was his unconvinced response.

“You’re doing her a favor” Maura said “she won’t get in trouble and you get the game you want.”

“I heard something tonight” he said unsure if he should tell her.

“About someone we all know” she asked eagerly.

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“Do you know Dante’s brother” he asked.

“Not really” frowning she thought for a moment. “He goes to those parties Olivia organizes.”

“So you know about the party” he asked disappointed that he wasn’t about to share something new and interesting.

“Everybody who’s anybody knows about the party” she said.

“Did you know they do drugs at these parties” he wanted to know. “Drugs make people do bad things. Some even die.”

Not these drugs” she assured him “these are drugs doctors give people to take. They’re safe.”

“How do you know they’re safe” he asked remembering his dad talking about side effects and overdoses.

“Olivia says they don’t do any drugs that’ll hurt you. My sister knows. She knows everything.”

Tristan frowned but decided to let it slide. He didn’t know anything about drugs so he didn’t know if that were true or not.

Chapter 21 – Crossroads / Chapter 23 – Must be Nice

Glitter – Chapter 14 – Rare Expressions

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“Why do you insist on driving this direction when you know it’ll upset you” Fawn asked.

Driving past the huge house built like an ancient castle Lee growled. The sound came from deep inside him. “Why should they get to flaunt their wealth when we live in a shack” he complained.

“We don’t live a in a shack” she corrected “it’s a very nice houseboat situated on a tropical island most people would die to visit lead alone live on.”

Glaring at her in silence he eventually said “don’t you think we’re entitled to some of that money?” He waved a hand towards the ostentatious house.

Fawn stared out her window. The simple answer was no she didn’t. That response she knew wasn’t the one Lee wanted to hear. Reaching across the center console she took his hand. “I think you need to let it go. Your mother didn’t feel she was being cheated so why should you?”

His cheeks turned red as he absorbed her words. “Your taking their side” the words seemed to explode from him.

“I’m not taking anyone’s side” she reached from the door handle. “Stop the car.”

“What” he shouted staring at her.

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“Stop. The. Car” she said each word in a firm clipped tone.

“What for” he blinked at her as if he was trying to translate what she was saying into a language he could understand.

“I’m getting out” she opened the door. They weren’t going very fast. She doubted she’d get hurt if she decided to jump out. She hated to ruin her outfit though. It was new.

“No you’re not” he reached across the seat attempting to shut the door. The car swerved.

“Watch out” Fawn cried as they narrowly missed the trees on the side of the road.

Slamming on the brakes Lee threw the car into park. “Fawn don’t do this” he pleaded.

The door opened an slammed shut a moment later. Shaking she leaned against the side of the car. “You need help she cried when he joined her.

“Me” he growled “I’m not the one trying to jump out of a moving car.”

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“No you’re the one obsessed about what you think is yours.” She pushed away from the car “I’m tired of hearing about how unfair you think it is.”

“It is unfair” he insisted.

“Have you ever stopped to think how it makes your mom feel?” She could see by his surprised expression it never entered his mind. “She’s the one who never go to live with her dad because of her psycho mother. Maybe she doesn’t want his money because it hurts too much.”

“I don’t see what that has to do with this” he said. “Why wouldn’t she want what’s hers?”

“You are so thick headed sometimes” she threw her hands in the air. “To her Eddie Bennett isn’t her father. She was raised by Casey. Her grandfather. That’s her dad.”

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“Biologically….”

“Stop. Just stop” she cried “Lee I hate it when you get like this. You need help.” She turned and started walking.

“Where are you going” he demanded.

“I’m going home” she called back to him.

“I’m drive you home” he said “just get in the car.”

“I’m not going there” she turned to look at him. “I’ll come get my things later when your at work. I love you but I can’t deal with this obsession of yours anymore.”

***

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“Slow down” Francesca yelled lifting her head rubbing the top where it had bumped into the glove compartment.

“Sorry” he chuckled “the road’s bumpy.”

“It’s more like the guy driving” she swatted is shoulder.

“Did you find them” Peter asked flashing her his pearly whites in a devil may care smile.

“Nope” she shook her head putting her feet up on the dashboard.

“You shouldn’t do that” he said taking a sharp left turn.

“What” she frowned at him “put my feet on the dash? Why?”

“If we got into an accident” he explained “I wouldn’t want you getting hurt.”

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“I’m wearing a seat belt” she pointed out as if that would save her.

“You know what they say….”

Rolling her eyes “myth busters proved you won’t die just because your feet are on the dash in an accident. You’ll get mangled pretty good and probably lose your feet but not die.”

Giving her a sideways glance Peter said “how do you know these things?”

Shrugging unconcerned she said “I like knowing stuff. I’m a random font of information.”

“What time do you have to be at work” he asked dropping the subject.

“Five” she leaned back closing her eyes. “I’m taking a group out to do some night fishing.”

“Sounds like fun” he teased.

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Glaring at him “then you take them out. I can think of a hundred other things I’d rather be doing then taking three overweight old guys out on a boat to fish.”

“Put like that I can see why it doesn’t appeal to you” he chuckled a little. “Hey who’s that?”

Sitting up Francesca frowned “that looks like Lee’s girlfriend Fawn.”

“What is she doing out here alone” he slowed the truck down stopping behind the walking girl.

Francesca hopped out. “Fawn” she called the girl’s name.

Fawn looked up tears streaking her face “oh it’s you.”

“You sound relieved” Francesca teased “come on let us give you ride.”

Nodding she got into the truck while Francesca scooted to the middle next to Peter. “Thanks” she murmured taking the tissue Francesca handed her to dry her eyes.

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“Where to milady” Peter asked waggling his eyebrows at her.

“To Macy’s” she said firmly “I can’t handle seeing Lee at the moment.”

Peter and Francesca exchanged glances. Peter lived close enough to know when things weren’t going well between the two. Neither one of them had much control with their tempers flared. Stopping in front of Macy’s house Peter turned to Fawn. “If you need anything don’t hesitate to ask” he offered.

“I might need help getting my things when Lee is at work” she sniffed.

“Do you want us to talk to Lee for you” Francesca offered ignoring Peter’s shaking head.

“That’s awfully nice of you to offer” Fawn sighed “but no. Lee has to make a few decisions. I can’t make him change.”

“Alright” Francesca gave her a hug “let me know if you want to talk. I’m always available.”

“I’ll do that” Fawn mumbled moving towards the house she shared with Macy. She seldom stayed here anymore, at least not since she got engaged to Lee. That was beginning to feel like a terrible decision on the whole.

***

547

“It’s about time you got here” Keli grumbled as a boy joined her on the bench.

“Hey it’s not my fault you got roped into babysitting your bratty little brother” Dante scowled down at her. “I can leave. I get enough to crabby moody people at home.”

“It’s just we had plans” she pouted glaring across the playground at her brother.

“Did you tell your dad you had plans” Dante asked sitting back.

“Eew” she scrunched up her nose “why would I do that?”

“It might make things easier” he suggested.

“Like he cares” she crossed her arms. “All he cares about is the next skirt he can bag.”

“Is he still seeing your neighbor” he asked.

“Who else” she rolled her eyes “they were going on a date tonight which is why our plans went to shit.”

“She could be nice….”

546

“Like your step mom” she asked rolling her eyes.

“She is nice. I just wish I had a say in whether or not they got married” he mumbled “it’s like he brought home a complete stranger to replace mom.”

“I suppose Erika would be a step up from Helena” she giggled. “That woman was the epitome of the blonde bimbo. Tristan and I made short work of her. She left screaming.”

“Did your dad like her” he asked imagining how his dad would feel if he and his brother did that to their new step mom.

“Hell no” shaking her head she said “he liked the way she made his dick feel. He didn’t love her. He was out the next night looking for a replacement.”

Wow….just …. Wow” shaking his head.

“What” she demanded “I thought you like it when I say it like it is.”

“Yeah but…” he looked away mumbling “that was really crude.”

“I meant it as a compliment” Keli said “it’s one of the few things I learned from Helena.” Reaching across she rubbed her hand across his package. “I could give you a demonstration…”

545

Jumping to his feet Dante shook her hand off him. “I huh….not here….” he glanced nervously around the almost empty park.

“No one will know” she moved up close to him.

“What about your little brother” he said feeling like his brain was turning to mush while other parts were coming to life.

“It’s nothing he hasn’t seen before” she said.

“Ugh that’s just gross” he said all desire draining from him like being tossed into a pool of cold water.

“I was joking” she laughed “Tristen doesn’t know anything. Dad’s always somewhat discreet when he’s around.”

Walking away from her “that’s not something to joke about” reproof think in his words.

“You’re right I’m sorry” she followed after him “please don’t be mad at me.”

“I’m not mad” he lied “more grossed out.”

543

“What’s up with them” Maura asked watching the two teenagers.

“Who knows” Tristen shrugged “it’s my sister. She’s probably being gross.”

“I have a sister her age” Maura nodded knowingly “she’s cool though.”

“I wish I had a cool sister” Tristen said “I’m jealous.”

“Don’t be” Maura shrugged “Olivia can be gross too.”

“How can she be gross and cool at the same time” he asked.

“It’s gross when she’s kissing on girls” Maura said scrunching up her face.

“My sister kisses boys and that’s gross” he said.

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“Olivia says kissing girls is better than boys” Maura added “I don’t know what makes it different though. I’ve never kissed anyone except my dad and he doesn’t count.”

“You want to try it” Tristen asked.

“You mean like now” she asked looking around.

“No” he shook his head “when we’re older.”

“Oh” she smiled relieved “I’d rather wait too.”

Nodding he pointed “want to swing?”

“Last one there is a rotten egg” Maura challenged.

“No fair” he cried chasing after her.

***

550

“Have you had a chance to talk to Raven yet” Hazel asked sitting beside her husband on the couch.

Absently Traz lifted his eyes from the magazine he was reading. “Talk? About what?”

Sitting up Hazel glared at him. “Don’t tell me you forgot about what we discussed.”

Blinking he looked away from her “I uh…”

“You did forget” she accused shaking her head.

“Not exactly” he said slowly meeting her eyes “I just don’t know where to begin.”

“How about in the same place you would if you caught him kissing a girl” she suggested.

548

“But it wasn’t a girl he was kissing” he objected. “Don’t you think it’d be less awkward if you talked to him?”

“Less awkward for whom? You? Him” she asked raising an eyebrow at him.

“Yes to all of it” he said “I don’t know what to say to him.”

Hazel silently contemplated what he said before asking “are you embarrassed that your son is into guys?”

“What” he cried shocked “no of course not. Love is love regardless of sex.”

“Then what’s your problem” she demanded watching him closely.

Squirming beneath her gaze he said “it’s different. I don’t know why but it is. I can’t relate to him wanting to be with a guy when I’ve never even considered it.”

549

“Is that all” she laughed “honey it’s no different. He likes boys. He has the same urges and desires you do except for it’s girls.”

“I guess it’s me who is making more of this then I should” he admitted.

“Yeah just a little” she agreed “I just want to make sure he knows we’re here for him and that he’s using protection.”

“We did have the sex talk with him…”

“I know” she gazed into her husband’s eyes “but I also remember the way we were when we were his age. I’m not ready to be a grandma yet.”

“Raven has a good head on his shoulders” Traz objected “I’m sure he’s doing the responsible thing.”

Raising an eyebrow she said “uh huh I’m sure my parents thought the same thing. It won’t hurt to remind him of a few things especially since he likes boys. He may not even be thinking they could get pregnant.”

Chapter 13 – Unique / Chapter 15 – Paint a Picture

Glitter – Chapter 9 – Seek Beauty

399

It had been a day since London had announced she needed a break from all the responsibility she was under. Teasha couldn’t help but wonder if she had really put that much stress on her daughter. That had never been her intention. A tear rolled down her cheeks “what have I done” she cried.

Tugging on her hand Phoenix gave her a worried look. “Don’t blame yourself. I should have let you hire the live in help you suggested. Maybe if you had this could have been avoided.”

“It’s not your fault” she protested giving his hand a squeeze.

“Than whose is it” he asked “London is reacting like any normal teenager would. She’s tired of taking care of me.”

“No” she gently lowered herself onto his lap. “Don’t do this. London loves you. Sure she gets upset because she doesn’t have the average life other kids her age have. That doesn’t mean she loves you any less. In time she’ll learn that her friends have problems she doesn’t have. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

“I know” he sighed running his hands up her arms. “I just can’t help but wonder if we expect too much from her. She shouldn’t have to take care of me on top of getting good grades and keeping a jog.”

398

“If it makes you feel better” Teasha nodded with determination “I’ll call the agency and arrange to have someone come over during the day.”

“Oh” he murmured glancing away.

“Hey” she gently moved his face towards her “don’t shut me out. I thought that’s what you wanted. Tell me it’s not and I won’t call.”

“It’s not that” he leaned forward resting his forehead against her. “It’s just suddenly real. I won’t be even remotely independent.”

“They’re not going to keep you from doing what you want” she protested “they’re just going to help you when you need it.”

“It feels different when it’s not your family” he lifted sad eyes to meet hers. “It doesn’t make sense I know. It’s just how I feel.”

397

“It’ll take time to adjust” she lifted his chin up “if it doesn’t work out we’ll try something else.”

“Alright” he agreed letting her kiss his lips. On his worst days he often wondered if he should have told Teasha to forget all about him. Maybe things would have been better for all of them if he had.

“Don’t” she cautioned.

“Don’t what” he grumbled wishing he had legs that worked so he could easily go some place on his own to think.

“Shut me out” Teasha stroked his face “I love you. London loves you. You know she does.”

He chuckled a little “I know I just worry I’m the reason she’s like this.”

396

Teasha gave him a smile “I’ll talk to  her. I promise.” Snuggling into him she rested her cheek on his shoulder. She didn’t want him to see the worry in her eyes. She was afraid this was more than their daughter rebelling against the rigors of taking care of her dad or the rigid rules of that were in place to insure Phoenix received the best care they could provide him. There was something more.

Phoenix stroked her long dark hair that was just beginning to show strands of gray. He hadn’t missed the hooded looked in her eyes. He knew she was trying to hide her concern from him. He hated being trapped in this chair. At times he felt more of an invalid when his wife and daughter tried to shield him from the problem. He wished she would allow him to help. “You know you can tell me anything, right?”

395

“I know” she whispered softly “sometimes I forget. I’m sorry.”

“Something’s bothering you about London” he said watching her closely.

“Yes” she sighed leaning into him “I think there’s more to it then her wanting a break.”

“The pain meds” he asked.

“Yeah if you didn’t take them…” she let her half formed thought fade.

“Then she did” he finished for her.

Nodding she sniffed a little “it’s a dangerous slope she’s on and I’m scared.”

“So am I” she squeezed her tight “what do we do about it?”

“I don’t know” she admitted” but we have to do something.”

***

415416

“You’re late” Dante stated the moment he heard his brother come home.

“Look who learned to tell time” Micah clapped his hands scowling at his older brother. “Where’s Dad?”

“Upstairs” Dante rolled his eyes “where else would they be?”

“Then why all all the attitude over me being a little late” he demanded flopping into a chair.

“I’ve had to listen to them” Dante whined “they’re not exactly quiet.”

“You’ve got a point” Micah conceded “but you could have gone outside or something.”

“It’s my house too” Dante protested “why can’t they be considerate of us?”

Shrugging Micah shook his head. There was no answer to that. It was a complaint he’d heard before. Deciding not to add fuel to his brother’s complaints he asked “what’s the emergency?”

Before Dante could respond their father came into the room. “Nice of you to join us” Quentin groused adjusting his clothes. Cassidy followed close behind her new husband sitting beside Dante on the couch.

Micah glared at his father. “It’s not like you were waiting for me” he gave Cassidy a sideways glance his lips thinning at the irritating sound of her repressed giggles.

414413

“That’s beside the point” Quentin glared “you were supposed to be home an hour ago. Where were you?”

“I’ve got things to do and places to go” Micah shrugged nonchalantly.

“Cut the crap” Quentin snapped crossing his arms.

“Why don’t you act your age” Micah demanded jumping to his feet.

“Sit down” his father ordered.

“I’m not a dog” he growled intent on leaving the room.

“Get back here” Quentin called “we’re not done.”

Ignoring him Micah walked from the house. The pictures on the living room wall vibrated from the force of the slamming door.

“Do you know what’s up with your brother” Quentin demanded.

Shrugging Dante shook his head. If Micah wanted him to know then he’d have told them. Until then he wasn’t going to be the one to squeal on him.

412411

“You must know something” Cassidy tried to persuade him.

Flinching from her touch Dante jumped to his feet. “Maybe it’s you” he shouted running from the room and up the stairs to his room.

Sitting beside his wife Quentin sighed taking her hand “I don’t know what’s gotten into them.”

“I think it’s obvious” Cassidy spoke softly her hair falling into her eyes. “They don’t want a new mother.”

“They’ll adjust. Just give it time” he brushed her hair back “I promise things will get better.”

“I’m not so sure about that” she tried to smile up at him despite the tears floating in her eyes.

“Maybe this wasn’t a good idea” she murmured.

“This isn’t your fault” he insisted “the boys will grow to like you. They just need time to get to know you.”

The expression in her eyes showed she wasn’t convinced. “I think we were to wrapped up in how we felt that we didn’t stop to consider how it would affect them.”

***

410

Raven came to a skidding halt a few feet from where Will sat glumly staring into space. “Hey what’s up” he asked letting his bike fall to the ground without attempting to use the kickstand.

“I hate this place” he complained holding his head in his hand.

“We can go someplace else” he offered.

“I didn’t mean this place I meant here in general” Will grumbled “I want to go home.”

“This is your home now” Raven said sitting on the ground beside his friend.

“You don’t understand” he snapped “your parents are still together. Your mom didn’t drag you halfway across the world from everyone and everything you know.”

“True” Raven acknowledged “I don’t know what that feels like. I imagine it’s terrible. But I thought you said your Dad was a jerk and that’s why you moved.”

“He is” he mumbled “that doesn’t mean I want to be here or see mom dating someone else.”

“Ah that’s it then” Raven said as if a light had just went off inside his head. “Afraid your mom will fall in love again….”

“I already have a dad” he growled “I don’t need another.”

401

“Still that no excuse for the way you’ve been acting” Raven pointed out.

“I haven’t been that bad” he protested getting to his feet.

“Wanna bet” Raven challenged.

“Alright” Will stuck his chin out stubbornly refusing to accept what Raven was hinting at. “Tell me one time where I’ve been a jerk to someone. I mean without a reason.”

Considering the challenge Raven knew how to wipe the insufferable smirk from Wills face. “How about the time you knocked Temperance Bennett down and refused to help her home?” He knew he had him when Will looked away kicking at the loose gravel. “I may not like the girl but even I know that was a jerk move.”

“You don’t like any girl” Will said as if that was reason enough to dismiss his friends words.

“That’s beside the point” he said in a stern almost angry tone. “A jerk move is a jerk move no matter the gender involved. I also recall how a few weeks ago how you told me how much you liked the girl.” He could see he was getting to his friend by the way the color in Will’s cheeks deepened. “You even went so far as to say you thought she was beautiful. A goddess among girls.”

409

“I did not” Will protested “I never said she was a goddess.” He looked away the wind blowing his already messy hair. Releasing an aggravated sigh he asked “was I really that bad?”

“What do you think” Raven asked.

Kicking at some loose pebbles Will’s shoulders rose and fell “I guess I ought to apologize.”

“That would be a step in the right direction” he agreed.

“Her dad’s going to kill me” Will mumbled.

“If her brothers don’t beat him to it” Raven said clapping him firmly on his back “at least you’ll have the satisfaction of seeing her face again before you die.”

“Ha ha very funny” Will snapped without amusement. A goofy grin replaced the sour expression he had been wearing when he said “but at least I’ll die happy. I mean who wouldn’t want to see her pretty face right before they died?”

402

“Ugh” Raven moaned “spare me the details.”

Smiling at his friend Will asked “have you told Mr Wonderful yet?”

It was Raven’s turn to look away “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Uh huh” he nodded enjoying himself “you’re about to get your chance.”

Turning Raven groaned closing his eyes as if he were in pain “that’s not who I think it is, is it?”

“Depends on who you think it is” Will laughed out loud at his friend as he looked around desperately for someplace to hide.

***

403

“Hey” Will waved at the approaching boys. “What’s up” he asked as they waved back.

“Not much” Aaron shrugged.

“Says you” Riley grumbled at his older brother.

“I’m not the one working myself up into a coronary” Aaron rolled his eyes. “Casanova here has been rehearsing what to say when he asks a girl out.”

“There’s a first time for everything” Raven mumbled staring at the ground.

“Tell me how it’s done” Riley begged eager to have someone else’s input other than his brothers.

“You’re asking the wrong person” Will snorted.

“Shut it” Raven warned glaring at him.

“I’ll take any advice” Riley said desperate for help.

“He can’t help you” Will insisted.

404

“Can’t or won’t” Riley eyed Raven suspiciously.

“Can’t” Will said “he’s never asked a girl out either.”

“Oh” air escaped him in a defeated sigh. “I guess I’m doomed then.”

“Just tell her you like her” Aaron urged “what’s so hard about that?”

“It sounds easy enough” Riley agreed uncertainly “it’s not like you know. You’ve never asked a girl out either.”

“Doesn’t matter” Aaron shrugged glaring at his brother “it’ll work regardless of gender.”

“Why don’t you demonstrate how it’s done” Will suggested pushing Raven forward “ask Raven out.”

“Um” Raven gave Will a desperate look that somehow conveyed his need for help and the wish to kill at the same time. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

Shrugging Aaron stepped forward “I don’t see why not. It’s not like I’m actually asking you out or anything.”

“Yeah right” Raven agreed. Hesitantly he stepped forward struggling to breath. He looked up at the boy who occupied a place in his most erotic dreams.

405

Smiling nonchalantly Aaron winked at him. A small smirk spread across his face as if he knew exactly the effect he was having on the other boy. “I’ve been meaning to ask you  something for a long time now.”

Raven squeaked when Will nudged him forward reminding him he was supposed to say something. “Um yeah what’s that” he gave Aaron an almost pleading look.

“I like you a lot and would like to know if you’d like to go out with me sometime” Aaron stepped forward staring into the other boys eyes.

406407

Panic flashed in Raven’s eyes a moment before he too stepped forward. The next thing he knew he was smashing his lips into Aaron’s. A dream come true except Aaron wasn’t reciprocating. He was standing there frozen. Thinking it was from disgust Raven broke free and fled the area as fast as his feet could carry him.

408

“Is that a yes” Aaron yelled after him laughing hard at the retreating boy.

“Don’t be mean” Riley cautioned “he’s embarrassed enough.”

“He has nothing to be embarrassed about” Aaron smiled “that kiss was nice” turning to Will “does he like me?”

“That’s fairly obvious don’t you think” he shook his head “you’re not going to beat him up are you?”

Riley knew that despite the bland look Aaron wore his eyes were bright with excitement. “You like him too don’t you?”

400

Shrugging Aaron said “I didn’t say that. All I did was give you a demonstration of how to ask someone out. Hope you learned something from it.” Turning he walked away in the opposite direction that Raven had disappeared into.

“What do you think just happened here” Riley asked Will confusion making his voice squeaky.

“I think if I wasn’t already a dead man walking Raven would kill me” Will said with a devil may care grin.

“You set them up” Riley laughed enjoying the moment someone was able to get something over on his older brother.

“Maybe” he shrugged “I’ll never tell.”

Chapter 8 – Style of Wisdom / Chapter 10 – Beauty Finds Me