Tag Archive | Hannah Bennett

Chapter 38 – Little Steps

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“Was that Temperance” Talia asked looking up from where she was making mac and cheese for lunch.

“Yeah” he stared at his phone a perplexed look on his face.

“What’s the matter” she asked setting her spoon down. “She didn’t call to break up with you, did she?”

“Mom” he groaned “we’re not dating.”

“Uh huh” she turned to dish up the plates.

“She called to apologize” he explained taking the plate she handed him.

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“That’s nice of her” she said taking a seat at the table.

“It was my idea” he protested “I talked her into it because I wanted to impress her.”

“Will I know you” she looked up “you wanted to help. You knew how much she wanted to see her friend. You made it happen. Don’t make your gesture less than it was.”

“I guess” he mumbled not sure if it was a noble as his mom was making out to be. “I mainly wanted a way to show her I wasn’t the jerk she thought I was when we first met.”

“You really like her don’t you?” she asked.

Rolling his eyes “don’t go and plan our wedding.”

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“I’m not.”

“Yeah right” he mumbled taking a bite of his mac and cheese. “I saw that look in your eyes.” Pausing he ate in silence for a minute or so “we’re just friends.”

“You want to be more though” she prompted.

Squirming beneath her gaze, he nodded. “I know we’re too young. I really like her though. I want her to be happy.”

“Then what’s the problem” she asked getting up to wash her dish.

“I don’t know if she likes me” sighing he stared glumly into his plate.

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“Of course she does.”

“You’re just saying that” he mumbled.

“I’m not” she protested taking her seat across from him at the table. “She did just call to apologize, didn’t she?”

“Yeah” picking at his food he pushed it away from him.

“It seems to me she cares about you” she waited for him to respond before adding “if she didn’t she wouldn’t have felt the need to apologize. She must feel bad that you might have gotten in trouble.”

“I didn’t though” he said meeting her gaze.

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“Not because you didn’t deserve it” she gave him a brief smile. “However I understand why you did it.”

“I know” he sighed, “what do I do now? He’s totally out of my league.”

“Stop” she raised a hand “I don’t want to hear you talking like that. No one is out of your league.”

Giving her a disbelieving look he stood up “what should I do?”

“First of all you’re going to stop thinking you’re not good enough.” Standing up she ruffled his hair like she’d done since he was little. “Second you’re going to ask her to the summer social.”

Jerking his chin up “do you think she’ll say yes?”

“I’m positive” she winked at him before turning to finish the dishes.

***

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“Christopher” Hannah called through her son’s bedroom door. “You have a visitor.”

“Tell them to go away” he shouted from where he sat inside his dark room.

“That’s not very nice considering he came all the way here to see you.” She called refusing to let him push anyone else away. “You can’t stay in your forever.”

Donovan approached her “I’ll take care of this” he offered. “Go keep his visitor company. He looks like he could use some calming down.”

Nodding she walked away tears in her eyes. She resisted the urge to turn around and caution Donovan to be gentle and not to push him too hard.

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“Christopher if you don’t come out I’m coming in” he called through the door. “You have until I count to ten.” Paused hoping his son wouldn’t force his hand. When there was no response he started counting “one…two…” the door clicked and his son peeked through the crack.

“I don’t want to see anyone” he mumbled eyes a mixture of fear and anger.

“I know you don’t” Donovan acknowledged “but sooner or later you’re going to have to come out. It’ll only get harder the longer you seclude yourself.”

Hesitantly Christopher opened his door wider, eyes darting from side to side. His chest moved rapidly up and down as he started to hyperventilate.

Putting an arm around his son’s shoulder’s Donovan walked with him to the room where his visitor waited. Opening the door they found another young man nervously tapping his toes on the floor while he waited. “Jace” Christopher mumbled in greeting. He was somewhat disappointed that his first visitor wasn’t one of his childhood friends.

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Standing up Jace clearly looked like he was about to run from the room. “I wanted to see how you were doing” he stammered staring at Christopher’s feet instead of his face.

Frowning Christopher found himself wondering what made his visitor so timid. “Thanks” he grunted.

Shoving his hands in his pockets he took a step back almost falling back into the couch he’d been sitting in before. “Yeah um I…” he stammered his breaths coming out in a wheeze.

“Are you alright” Christopher found himself asking somewhat concerned.

“I’m” he nodded pulling out an inhaler “my asthma always acts up the more nervous I get.”

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Frowning Christopher sat on the far end of the couch. “Sorry…I’m not good company” he looked across at the young man. His breath caught in his throat. Maybe it was the angle “it was you. That night. You helped me.”

Nodding his eyes darted towards Donovan seeking reassurance. “I didn’t mean to bring that up. I needed to know how you were.” Standing he moved towards the door “I should go.”

“Hey” Christopher called him back “thank you.” He stood reaching out and touching the boy’s hand causing Jace to flinch “sorry. I….I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay” he mumbled taking a step back “I don’t like … you know …being touched. People think I’m weird but Jason understood.”

“Jason’s a good friend” he smiled softly “I um” he stopped unsure what else he wanted to say but not wanting Jace to leave either. “Would you like to stay? Maybe we could watch a movie or something?”

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There was a moment of shock in the timid eyes “um yeah I’d like that.”

Grinning in relief he asked “what do you want to watch? We have a big movie collection.”

Cheeks turning a soft pink Jace mumbled “comedies. Romantic comedies.”

“You’re in luck” Christopher said over his shoulder as he went to where they kept the movies. “My little sister likes those too.”

Neither one of them noticed when Donovan left the room smiling as he watched both young men discuss what movie to watch.

***

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Benjamin finished setting up the resorts website. He was proud of the design he and Jonahs has come up with. He couldn’t wait for Ryan and Charity to see it when they got home. He sucked in his bottom lip as he concentrated on his task. Why wait? He could email the link to them. Give them something to look at while they deal with Unity’s health issues. His fingers flew across the keyboard as he typed up an email so he could wait for their feedback.

“Hey” Kade called as he approached the front desk. “Fancy meeting you here.”

“Oh hi” he glanced up frowning “do we know each other?”

“Wow I must have made a poor impression the first time we met” he joked. Leaning on the front desk “we met here at the resort a few nights ago. Sed was giving you a hard time.”

“Oh yeah” he blinked as he recalled that night. “Sorry I hope I didn’t offend you.”

Shrugging “don’t worry about it. However you can make it up to me by suggesting places I could visit while I’m here.”

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“There’s a whole section on our website that lists all the places to visit while you’re on the island.” He moved the monitor so that Kade could see it. “I could print a copy for you you” he offered when Kade made to copy a couple of interesting places.

“That would be great” he grinned. When Benjamin returned with the printout he asked “have you been to all of these places?”

“Most of them.”

“Does the resort offer guided tours” he asked a hopeful gleam in his eyes.

“That’s a good idea” he enthused “I’ll have to suggest that to the owners. Unfortunately at this time the resort doesn’t offer tours yet.”

“Oh” he sighed pushing off the desk.

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“If you could wait a day” Benjamin suggested “I could show you around. I have the day off tomorrow.”

A huge grin spread like sunshine across Kade’s face. “That would be wonderful. I can move all my meetings around so we can spend the day together.”

“If that works for you” he nodded “I can meet you here say at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning. I can arrange for a picnic lunch to be packed by the resort restaurant.”

“I think it’s a date” Kade said taking a step back “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“You won’t regret it” Benjamin assured him looking forward to spending a day away from the resort and from his family.

***

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“Sucks to be you” Sed hissed in Jonah’s ear as he came up behind him.

Jumping Jonahs turned to find the man he most despised gloating behind him. “What’s that supposed to mean” he hoped his wasn’t as squeaking as it sounded. The smirk on the Sed’s face told him it was.

“It’s obvious you like him” he leaned in close crossing his arms. “That poppy dog look is unmistakable.” Tsking “too bad he doesn’t feel the same way about you.”

Swallowing hard Jonas’ blinked back tears. He had no reason to be upset. He never had a claim on Benjamin. “What do you want” he forced his tone to be cold, distant, firm.

“I’m here to watch the show” he stood up straight closing the gap between them. His eyes flashed with malicious delight “when he realizes that website design you made falls flat I want to see his face. I want to see your face when he realizes that you’re a failure.”

Taking a step backwards Jonas brought his hands up like he was trying to protect himself. “Why do you hate me so much” his voice hoarse.

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“I don’t hate you” he laughed “I just don’t think you deserve to have anything.”

An indistinct groan came out as his eyes moved around seeking escape. He looked across the room towards the front desk. Benjamin was still talking to Kade. Why did both of his ex’s have to show up here? “Leave me alone” he almost pleaded as he turned away.

“Not gonna happen” Sed said behind him causing him to freeze in place. Laughing at the hurt bewildered expression on Jonas’s face reminiscent to a fly trapped in a spider’s web.

“Is this guy bothering you” Benjamin asked coming over to them.

“Um” he tried to come up with something to say that didn’t make him look like a loser.

Benjamin gave him an appraising look before deciding to ignore Sed standing nearby. “The website you designed is getting a lot of buzz. I can’t believe it.”

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“You helped” Jonas stammered.

“You’re the genius behind its success” he enthused “we should go out to celebrate. Tomorrow night. Dinner. I’ll pick you up.”

“Okay” he accepted feeling his knees go weak.

When Benjamin walked away Sed stepped in close whispering “enjoy it while you can. It won’t last long.”

Before Jonas could respond Sed walked away like a man on a mission. Watching him Jonas wondered what he’d done to deserve the man’s hatred. Surely it couldn’t be so simple or as petty as him being jealous of the affection he gave to his dog? He shivered wondering what Sed would do next.

Chapter 37 – Be There for You /

Chapter 37 – Be There for You

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Riley stepped out of his room when he heard an unusual sound coming from his brother’s room. Knocking softly he called “Aaron are you alright?”

“Go away” he sniffed.

Turning he took a couple of steps towards the stairs before stopping and retracing his steps. “Not until I’m sure you’re alright.” After a moment of silence and what sounded like muffled sobs the door opened.

“I said to go away” he shouted in Riley’s face.

Any other time Riley would have backed off but his brother’s red swollen eyes had him stepping forward. “You’ve been crying, what happened?”

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Ducking his head Aaron squeezed his eyes shut. “Raven broke up with me” his sentence ended on a sob.

“What? Why” he demanded forcing his way into his brother’s room and sitting on the bed. It was strange to see his older brother in such a state. He always thought of him as too tough to cry. He looked up to him, kind of like a dad figure since their father walked out on them.

“I’m pregnant” he sobbed, “I told him and he accused me of cheating.”

Pulling him close Riley just held him unsure what else he could do. It felt strange being the one comforting his brother in such a way. He couldn’t remember the last time Aaron had been this vulnerable. He was a little blown away with the idea that his older brother was pregnant. “Does mom know” he asked.

Sniffing his head moving against Riley’s shoulder. “She walked in on me taking the test. I hadn’t thought I was. I mean I’d been feeling sick and moody but I didn’t really believe I was.”

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Rubbing his back Riley let him talk. “Did you know it was a possibility that you could get pregnant?”

He shrugged “I guess. I mean I haven’t had the test to know for sure. It’s not like we have the money for that. I thought we were being careful.”

“I thought you always topped.”

Grunting in surprise he nodded “usually except once. I guess that was enough.”

“You know you can count on me and mom to help you” he said “you’re not in this alone.”

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“I know” he sniffed “all my plans are ruined now.”

“What plans” Riley asked curious. “It’s not like you were going to college. You just wanted off the island.”

“You think you’re pretty smart” he sniffed wiping his eyes dry.

“I have my moments” he chuckled softly getting up. “You can always go to the community college on the island. Me and mom could watch the baby.”

“I guess” he sighed “I wish…”

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“That Raven hadn’t reacted the way he did to the news” Riley finished for him. “I bet he apologizes in a day or two. I’m sure it was just shock and he’ll regret what he said.”

“You think so” he asked hope lighting up his eyes.

“Yeah” he nodded hoping he wasn’t giving him false hope. “You’re my brother. I know you’d never cheat on him.”

“Enough about me” he said trying to smile “have you asked Unity to the summer social yet?”

“Do you think I should” he asked “she’s pretty sick…”

“I think it’ll give her something to look forward to” he assured him.

***

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Temperance bounced a little on the bed causing Unity to smile up at her. “Since when did you become a morning person she grumbled sitting up.

“It’s not morning” Temperance corrected “it’s almost noon.”

“Did my mom send you in her to wake me up” she asked covering her mouth to muffle a yawn.

“You missed breakfast,” she said as if that explained everything.

“I’m not hungry” she said curling up on her side

“You have to eat if you want to get better” Temperance said pretending not to notice her best friend close closer her eyes and ignore her.

“I’m not going to get better” she mumbled hugging her herself.

“Not talking like that” she huffed.

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“How else am I supposed to talk” she demanded, glaring at her friend. “I’m dying. I’m never going to college or go on a date. I’ll never know what it feels like to be kissed.”

“What about Riley” Temperance demanded “I bet he’d kiss you.”

“I don’t want a pity kiss” she mumbled.

“It wouldn’t be a pity kiss” she insisted adjusting her position on the bed.

The door opened as a nurse walked in carrying a tra. “Make sure she eats” the nurse admonished Temperance.

“Yes ma’am” she said with mock seriousness making Unity giggle. Turning she made a face at the tray “I’d be on a permanent diet if I had to eat this.”

“Hey! How is that supposed to encourage me to eat if you’re not willing to eat it” Unity demanded.

“Sorry” she pushed the tray towards her friend. “Eat. It’s more edible than it looks.”

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Taking a tentative bite “eew if anything it’s less edible than it looks.”

“Really” Temperance asked.

“Yeah” she giggled “want a taste?”

“No thanks” she wrinkled her nose at it.

After several minutes of silence Unity let her spoon drop onto the tray. “I don’t think the nurse meant you had to watch me eat and count how many times I chewed.”

“I wasn’t” she protested “I was just thinking.”

“Good to know you can” Unity teased “want to share?”

“I was thinking about the summer social. It’d be nice if you were home in time for that.”

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“I…don’t…know” she pushed the plate away “It’d be nice to see everyone.”

“It’s the highlight of the summer” Temperance enthused. “It wouldn’t be the same without you.”

“Every dance needs an awkward wallflower” she said picking at her fingers.

“That won’t be you” she assured her friend.

“Stuck in here it’s not like I’d be able to get a date. That is if I was able to go at all.”

“Of course you will” Temperance enthused “you’ll probably have a date before me.”

“Not likely” she lay down eyes growing heavy “you should call him. Ask him if he doesn’t ask you first. Will’s crazy about you.”

“You think so” she asked cheeks burning.

Before Unity could think of something else to say the door opened and her parents walked in. Her dad inspected the partially eaten food before sitting down in the chair next to the bed. While her mother stood awkwardly by the door like she wasn’t sure what to say.

***

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Smiling at the girls Charity sighed “Temperance I need to tell you something.”

“Are my parents mad at me” she asked expecting this conversation sooner or later.

“What do you think” Charity have her a stern look.

“Yes” she mumbled. Taking Unity’s hand “I had to come though.”

Putting a gentle hand the girls shoulder she nodded “I know. What you did was dangerous. You have to see why your parents are upset right? So many things could have gone wrong.”

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“I know I’ll be grounded for life when I get home.” Hanging her head she sighed mournfully. She hated when her parents were mad at her.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about that” Charity said motioning for her to sit down. “They’re glad that you’re helping cheer Unity up. She’s less depressed now. With any disease attitude is everything. She’s starting to respond to treatments again.”

“But I have to go home, don’t I,” she asked.

Taking her hand Charity took a deep breath. “No they want you to stay here for the rest of the summer.” She watched as a brilliant smile spread across her face. Now she had to extinguish it.

“I knew there was a catch” she sighed noticing the expression on the older woman’s face. “I guess I won’t be going to the summer social now.”

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Shaking her head Charity couldn’t help but smile at the woeful look of regret in the girls eyes. “I wish that was it.”

Giving her a curious look Temperance asked “did something happen to my grandparents? I know they’re old … they’re both in their sixties.”

“They’re disappointed not to be seeing you” Charity said “but that’s not what I have to tell you. Something did happen while you were gone.” Squeezing her hand finding it difficult to find the words.

“My parents” asked voice quivering “they didn’t get into an accident did they? They’re not putting Christopher in charge are they? He’s great and all but he’s super bossy….”

Charity let her ramble for a bit as she figured out what to say next. When her words dwindled Charity squeezed her hand again “Christopher isn’t in charge. He’s” her voice faltered blinking back tears.

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“What happened” she demanded “is he alright?” She got up fumbling for her phone.

Gently Charity reached for the phone taking it from her. “You can call later.”

“So he’s alright” she asked.

“He’s” she inhaled deeply “was assaulted on the beach.”

“What” she jumped to the feet “who would do something like that to him?” She ran from the room crying.

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Following her Charity sat her down, telling her everything she knew. “He’s alright physically but he’s not himself.”

“I should have been there” she cried “I could help.”

“No sweetie” she pulled the girl close stroking her hair. “You’re right where you below. Right now your parents need to focus on Christopher and helping him through this.”

Nodding Temperance drew in a ragged breath. “Have they caught the guy yet?”

“Not yet” she hugged the girl close “the police are still looking for him.”

***

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Several minutes later Charity left her sitting staring at her feet. Once she left Temperance pulled her phone out. It felt like an uncomfortable weight in her hand. How many times had she ignored Benjamin’s calls? It all made sense now why he’d been calling. She was the worst daughter / sister ever sitting here thinking everything was fine and it wasn’t.

How could she be so heartless? When did she become so self absorbed? She had always scoffed at anyone who said she was. Maybe they were right? Starting from now on she was going to be more observant and aware of others.

Looking at her phone she’d start now. She owed someone an apology. Well tow actually one to Riley and one to Will. She knew Will had talked Riley into going to the mainland. No doubt bribing him with the knowledge that it would impress Unity. There was no doubt he had feelings for her. They were probably both in trouble because of her now too.

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Taking a deep breath she made her first call. “Will” she said when someone answered. “Please don’t hang up” she cried fearing that he wouldn’t want to talk to her.

“Why would I do that?” he asked curiously.

“Because you should be mad at me.”

“Why” he asked increasing her confusion.

“Well because” her free hand curled into a tight fist. “I got you and Riley in trouble. Of course you’d be mad at me.”

“You did no such thing” he protested “I’m the one who suggested it.”

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“You wouldn’t have gone to the mainland if it weren’t for me” she insisted.

He laughed in her ear “Riley and I had been planning on going anyway. You should be mad at me. I’m the one who convinced Riley into taking you. I was the one who suggested it.”

“Oh” she giggled “that does make a difference.”

“I hope you’re not mad at me though” he enthused “I kind of like you.”

“You do” she asked astonished

“Why else would I do all of that for you?”

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“Well … um … I guess it’s true then. Love makes you crazy.”

“I never said I love you” he protested.

“Like then” she corrected herself.

“We’re too young to know if we’re in love” he protested.

“I know” she rolled her eyes “you don’t have to spell it out. It was just an expression.”

“Sorry” he mumbled.

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“Hey I was wondering if you’d do me a favor” she cried changing the subject.

“What kind of favor” he asked somewhat guarded.

“Would you send me anything you can about what happened to my brother” she asked “no one is telling me much and they won’t let me come home.”

“I’ll see what I can find,” he promised. “It’s kind of scary that something like that could happen here on the island; especially to your brother. He looks like he can take care of himself.

“I know” she agreed. It was the culmination of all of her parents fears. “I better go before Unity starts wondering what happened to me. Tell everyone hi for me and tell Riley I’m sorry.”

He was going to say it wasn’t necessary but she had already disconnected before he could get the words out. Shrugging he decided to see what he could find out about that night Christopher was assaulted. It had been the hot topic for days but now it had died down because of no news on the Police finding the guy who did it.

Chapter 36 – Contentions and Compromise/

Chapter 31 – Uneasiness

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Donovan hugged Hannah from behind. She’d been standing in front of their son’s bedroom door for several minutes “Give him time” he whispered.

Turning in his arms she leaned against him. “He can’t hide in his room forever.”

“It’s been a couple of days” he kissed her forehead. “It’s not like he fell off his bike.”

“I know it’s just….” she wrung her hands. “I want to make it right. To kiss it and make it better and I can’t.”

“All we can do is be here for him” he said guiding her away from their son’s door. “We can’t hover in the hallway waiting for him to come out. We need to continue living too.”

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“How am I supposed to do that” she demanded. “My baby is hurting. I can’t just wait around….”

“Yes you can” Donovan asserted “he needs to know that life continues. That he’s hurting but it doesn’t define him.”

Snorting a little she shook her head. “You make it sound so simple.”

“Because I want it to be that simple” he said. “I want to hunt down the bastard who did this my boy.” As he spoke his tone became deeper as his anger took over.

Hannah took a step backwards “you’re not thinking of trying to find him yourself are you?”

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“I wish I could” he grunted.

She gripped his arm “you’re not thinking of hacking into the police are you? As much as I want justice for him I don’t want to lose you either.”

Donovan averted his eyes “you know I can do it.”

“Maybe” she shook her head “a lot of things have changed since you gave it up. Please Donovan don’t do it. Please.”

A muscle ticked in his jaw. “What i that guy is never found? What if he gets away with what he did?”

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“It’s not worth losing you too” she held his face between her hands. “Please Donovan don’t do it. We need you. Your son needs you here not in jail. How do you think he’ll feel if you find that bastard only to lose you. We can’t do that to him. He needs all of us. He needs all of our support.”

“You’re right” he agreed breathing deeply. “I hate feeling so helpless.”

“I know” she pulled him close.

“Has he come out at all today” he asked changing the subject.

Shaking her head sighing “I don’t know what to do. I don’t think leaving him alone is helping. I don’t want to force him to do anything he isn’t ready for.”

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“Talk to your dad” Donovan suggested “I’m sure he’ll be able to help.”

“He’s done a lot already” she leaned into him drawing strength from him. “What about Temperance? Should we let her stay with Unity?”

Grunting he nodded. “I think for now it’s better she’s there instead of here. She has enough to deal with without having to see her brother like this.”

“I agree” she dabbed at he eyes “I just hate letting her feel she’s being rewarded for what she’s done.”

“Don’t worry about that now” he suggested “I’ll have a long talk with her when she comes home.”

***

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“This is so cool” she bounced on the bed unable to contain her happiness as being able to stay. “I thought for sure I’d be in big trouble.”

Unity gave her a concerned look from where she lay on her pillow, wishing she had the energy to bounce like her friend. “I wonder why you’re not. Sneaking off the island is huge.”

At her friends words Temperance lost her smile. Shaking her head “I don’t know. Do you think something happened they don’t want me know about?”

“I don’t know. I’m sure it’s nothing” Unity assured her gripping her hand. “I’m sure they’re waiting until you go home before punishing you. Like they know why you came here. I’m sick and you’re worried.”

“I suppose” she picked at the blanket “I saw on the news there’s a man hunt for some guy. I wonder if that has anything to do with why they’re letting me stay.”

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“Did you watch on the broadcast” Unity asked biting her bottom lip. She’d been unable to sleep and watched it.

Shaking her head Temperance sighed “Will sent me a text….” She turned away hoping her hair would hide the heat on her cheeks.

“You like him” Unity teased nudging her friend’s knee. The last thing she wanted was for Temperance to know what happened on the island while she was gone. Temperance looked up to her older brother like he was some kind of superhero.

The color in her cheeks deepened. “Can I tell you something” she asked looking up to see Unity watching her.

“You can tell me anything” she said leaning into her nest of pillows unwilling to admit how tired she was. “I want to know everything” she pouted like she was hurt that her friend even had to ask.

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Leaning closer she whispered “he kissed me.”

“He what” she screeched staring at her friend.

“Shh” looking around to make sure they were alone.

“What was it like” she asked once she was over her initial shock.

Leaning back “it was wonderful.” Her voice took on a dreamy quality as she continued to speak “it was totally not what I expected. At first I thought it was gross then it was magical. I never wanted it to end.”

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Unity let out a little squeak “I wish it was me. I’ll probably never know what it feels like to be kissed.”

“Don’t say that” Temperance protested. “I know someone who would do anything for a chance to kiss you.” She giggled at the face Unity gave her.

“Who”she demanded sure it was the class nerd who had a crush on her since the second grade.

“Guess.”

“I hate guessing” she groaned “just tell me.”

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“Come on you have to guess” she squealed as she ducked the flying pillow that Unity directed at her face. “He drove Will and I from island,” sitting up she raised a finger “that’s the only hint you’re getting.”

“Riley” she gasped “he wants to kiss me.”

She could hear the doubt in her words “why else would he help us sneak off the island? He likes you.”

“Well” she thought a moment before shrugging “he probably likes you.”

“No way” she shook her head “he’s totally into you.”

***

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Benjamin sat across the table from Sed. He almost wished he had cancelled the date. He took a swallow from the drink in front of him stifling the retort he wanted to make to the criticism Sed made of the web design he and Jonas had worked on together. “As I said before the website is under construction. It’s going to be awesome once we have it complete.”

“We” Sed asked raising a quizzical eyebrow.

“Yeah” he couldn’t help but smile remembering the time he’d spent with the quiet young man. “Jonas has some great ideas.”

“Jonas Matthews” Sed asked managing to sound astonished instead of outraged. “I suppose you could have done worse” his eyes simmered behind the thin veneer.

Frowning Benjamin asked “what’s wrong with his work?”

“Well for one he’s not me” he tapped his chest “I’m the best. Plus I’m a qualified web designer and not an simstragram poser.” Pushing his chair back with a loud scraping sound “the guy takes pictures of his dog. He’s not a web designer.”

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“I’ve seen his work” Benjamin protested unsure why he felt the need to defend Jonas to this guy. “He’s good. He has talent. He just needs a break.”

“Do you really want to risk the reputation of the resort on an unknown? Someone who could make or break the resort? Is it worth the risk?” Sed sat back taking a swig from his bottle a cocky expression in his eyes. Anything that Jonas could do he could do better. He’d even make a better boyfriend and given time he was sure Benjamin would realize it himself. “Enough shop talk” he grinned “this is supposed to be a date.”

“Uh yeah” he looked around hoping to see Noble so he could use him as an excuse to end the date.

“Hey I’m sorry” Sed stood from the table sensing he may have gone a step too far. “I shouldn’t have brought up the subject. I know you and Jonas are friends. Jonas always had the ability to make friends quickly.” Grinning he held his hand out “just one work of warning though…Jonas doesn’t seem to keep his friends for very long. Sooner or later they all realize what I already know. He lacks substance.”

“I don’t want to talk about him” he tossed his napkin onto the table, ignoring Sed’s hand he stood up and strode rapidly towards the exit.

Sed shrugged tossing money on the table to pay the bill wishing he hadn’t felt the need to make the last couple of jabs at Jonas. At least he knew he had hit a nerve. With luck all he had to do was add a little more pressure and he’d not only have a new job but a new boyfriend. Jonas didn’t deserve either one one.

***

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Benjamin stood outside the resort breathing deeply. “Jerk” he muttered to himself. He wasn’t sure why the guy’s words upset him so much. He hardly knew either young man but he instinctively he liked Jonas more. Liked his idea. Liked his stupid dog too.

“Excuse me” a deep voice said behind him. Looking up he found himself looking into a pair of blue eyes topped by a mop of blond hair. “Sorry” he mumbled moving away from the door he was blocking.

“No problem” the guy smiled moving towards the door on his way inside the resort. The door opened as he approached and Sed walked out. “What the hell are you doing here” the blond demanded.

Smirking Sed motioned towards Benjamin. “I see you’re still into picking up my left overs.” Moving towards Benjamin “I knew you weren’t really mad at me. I told you the truth. Kade here will vouch for me.”

Holding his hands up he took several steps back as Sed reached for him. “The date is over. Don’t touch me.”

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“It’s not over until I see you to your car” he insisted.

“I don’t need you to escort me to my car” he moved around the two men to go back inside the resort. He felt somewhat foolish taking his phone out but after what happened to his older brother he wasn’t taking any chances.

“If Sed’s bothering you I can wait here with you until he leaves” Kade offered. “I’m staying at the resort for a business convention. I don’t mind waiting.”

Hesitating Benjamin nodded “alright. Just give me a moment to make my call.” He turned to Sed who had followed them inside. “I think you should go.”

“What about the web designs I suggested” his tone growing more belligerent. “You know my ideas are better than whatever Jonas came up with.”

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“Give it a rest why don’t you” he sighed shaking his head. “My decision is made. None of this was necessary. I’m not interested in you or your ideas.”

Sed stared at him as if he couldn’t believe his ears. Anger blazed in his eyes as he turned storming out of the resort.

Watching him go Benjamin felt his stomach churning as he spoke into his phone. “Hey dad can you do me a favor?”

“I take it the date isn’t going well” Donovan asked.

“Nope” he blew air through his nose “I’m probably overreacting but ….”

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“Don’t worry about it” Donovan cut him off “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

“Thanks I’ll be waiting in the lobby” he disconnected feeling somewhat easier about the direction his evening was going.

“Is everything alright” Kade asked from where he was scrolling through his phone.

“It’s much better than it was” he sighed sitting down.

“Did Sed leave” Kade asked looking out the window.

“I hope so” he sighed hoping his dad would hurry up.

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“Sed can be kind of a jerk” his companion said.

“He seemed to be more interested in making Jonas look bad than in me.” He just didn’t get it. He somehow had the overall feeling of having been used.

“Makes sense” Kade grunted. “Sed and Jonas used to date. Ever since they broke up Sed’s been trying to outdo him. It’s some sort of twisted one sided competition.”

“How do you know so much” he asked curiosity getting the better of him.

“I used to date Jonas” he shrugged. “Jonas is a good guy even if he is a bit obsessed with his dog.” Laughing a little “I’d like to think we could have had something special if Sed hadn’t wrecked it.”

Chapter 28 – Shattered

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Hannah jumped to her feet. “Teasha” she cried running towards one of her oldest friends. “Is Phoenix alright” she asked thinking that she was there due to his declining health.

“He’s fine” she sniffed returning her friends hug “it’s London.”

“London” she gasped “did she have an accident?”

“I wish” she shook her head “that would be so much easier if it were that simple.”

Hannah had been in the waiting room when the kids had flooded the ER from the party. Her mouth dropped open as she realized what Teasha was saying. “Oh no! She was at that party” pulled her friend into another hug. She could feel the stiffness in her body.

Stepping back she wiped her eyes dry. “Yeah. I can’t believe it. I keep thinking not my baby. Not my little girl. She’s too smart to do something so stupid. Too level headed. She wouldn’t do it.”

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“I’m so sorry” Hannah turned motioning towards the chairs “sit with me.”

Nodding Teasha let her guide her to the empty chairs. Taking tissue from her purse Hannah handed them to her. “Thank you” she sniffed after blowing her nose. “I’m still in shock. You can’t imagine how I felt getting that phone call telling you your baby is in the hospital.”

“I think I can” she murmured scanning the waiting room for her husband. Donovan had gone in search of someone to tell them something about their son.

“What” Teasha blinked up at her. “Why are you here? Don’t tell me. Temperance was there.”

“No thankfully she wasn’t” she chuckled a little “she’s done something equally as stupid though.” At Teasha’s blank look she continued. “She and two boys decided to go to the mainland to see Unity. If she would have waited I’d have brought her myself. But she couldn’t wait until I could do it. My dad’s are coming. Should be here already.” Sighing she shook her head “must be something in the water that’s making our kids do stupid things.”

“It may have been reckless but at least her heart was in the right place.” Teasha smiled at her. “Imagine how you’d have felt if it were Charity. You’d have done the same thing.”

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“Of course I would have” she cried “no questions asked. As a parent I’m forced to think of all the things that could have gone wrong. I’m scared. She’s so young and naive about a lot of things that could happen. Living on the island is isolating compared to the mainland.”

“Yet it hasn’t protected our children from the harshness of reality” she murmured, leaning her head on her friend’s shoulder.

“Reality sucks” Hannah enthused.

“You never did say why you are here” Teasha said returning to her earlier question. “If it’s not Temperance one of the boys?”

“Christopher” she said his name quickly. “We got a call to come here. That he was found on the beach. Hurt.” She turned to the other woman, “why is this happening? First Unity gets sick then London, now Christopher. What’s next?”

“I don’t know” Teasha almost felt ill. Nothing had prepared her for the fears that came along with being a parent. It never got easier no matter how old they got. “He’ll be okay” she whispered offering what little comfort she could.

“Donovan” Hannah cried breaking the hug Teasha was giving her to run to her husband. “How is he” she demanded not liking the blank glossy expression in his eyes.

***

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“Did you talk to the doctor,” she asked taking his hand knowing that whatever he found out wasn’t good. “Please tell me” she cried “I can take anything but this silence.”

“He…he” lifting his eyes to meet hers “he was raped. Someone violated our son and left him on the beach.”

Trembling in his arms as red hot tears formed behind her lids. “Who…was it that boy he went out with?” She had so many questions needing answers.

“I didn’t know he had a date” he mumbled. “If I ever get my hands on him. I’ll kill him.”

“I’ll help” she offered to angry to offer an alternative. Anyone hurting one of her kids was going to pay for it.

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“Do you know who he had a date with” he asked “the police are asking questions.”

“Can’t Christopher tell them” she asked confused.

“He’s refusing to answer their questions.” He ran his fingers through his thick red hair. “I can only imagine what’s going through his head right now.”

“Maybe I should talk to him” Hannah suggested.

“It’s worth a shot” he agreed “I just want this guy brought to justice. I’d think Chris would too.”

“He’s upset and scared right now” she reminded him. “Where is his room?”

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“I’ll show you” he took her hand leading the way down a corridor. Stopping in front of a closed door “he’s in there.”

Hannah could tell by his tone he didn’t want to go inside. “It’s alright. Wait out here. No I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you go home and see if my dad’s have arrived. I don’t want them thinking we forgot about them.”

Kissing her cheek he gave her a thin lipped smile. “I’ll do that. What do you think about your dad talking to Christopher? He’s gone through something similar when he was younger. Maybe he can get through to him where we can’t.”

“That’s a good idea” she agreed “I’m sure Christopher is wanting to pretend nothing happened and ashamed that it did happen.”

“He has nothing to be ashamed of” Donovan growled.

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“We know that but he doesn’t. He probably feels he should have done more to protect himself.” Hannah looked towards the door “I’ve heard a lot of excuses people tell themselves.”

“From your volunteer work at the shelter,” he said.

“Yeah. You know how I feel about this. I’ve seen the way it affected my dad throughout his entire life.” Putting a hand out she reached for the door handle. She never expected to put her training to use on her own son though.

The police officers looked up as she entered the room. They’d worked with her before on similar cases. She was good at getting victims to open up. “He’s all yours” the officer in charge said.

“I’ll do my best” she blinked back tears. “You might want to call someone else from the office though.”

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“Aren’t you hear from the office” he asked.

“No” she inhaled deeply taking her son’s hand. “I’m here for my son.”

Her words struck the officers speechless. “We’re sorry. We didn’t know.”

“That’s little Christopher” the older officer said “he used to come with you to the precinct full of smiles.”

“Yeah” she said somewhat distracted pushing his hair from his face. “Hopefully he’ll be that way again” she spoke with determination as if she said it enough it’d come true.

***

824

“Mom” he whispered, “can you make them leave. Please.”

She ran her fingers through his long hair. It was limp and brittle like it needed to be brushed. “You know I can’t do that. They’ll leave when you tell them who did this to you.”

Moaning he buried his face in his pillow. “Nothing happened” he shouted “why won’t anyone believe me?”

“We both know that’s not true” she sat in a chair stroking his hair. She wanted nothing more than to pull him into her arms like she did when he was a little boy waking from a nightmare.

“I don’t care what they believe” his voice muffled by the pillow. “It’s what i want to have happened.”

“I know baby. I know” she talked in a calm soothing voice trying to keep both of them calm. “I wish that were true. The physical evidence …”

“Mom don’t” it was a plaintive cry “leave it alone.”

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“I can’t” she combed her fingers through his tangles. “I want to find the person who did this. Help me find him.”

“I should have been able to fight him off” he insisted on trying to turn away from her. “I thought I was able to take care of myself like I always protected everyone else.”

“Sometimes bad things happen” she soothed quoting platitudes. “Sometimes we find ourselves needing protection. You don’t have to be ashamed…”

“I should have done something” he protested.

”Why?” she demanded making him look up at her. “Is it because you’re a man? Because men are supposed to be able to take care of themselves?”

“Yes” he sobbed “I put myself in that situation. I didn’t want to go but I did anyway. I knew better.”

“Honey there’s no way you could have predicted your date would attack you. You couldn’t have known. It’s not your fault. I don’t care if you wanted to go with him. The moment you said no was when it should have stopped.” She moved to sit on the edge of the bed stroking his back. She’d done this countless times in the past when he’d woken from a bad dream or a thunderstorm. “You won’t believe it now but it will get better.”

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Nodding he accepted her words for what they were. Sighing he sat up too tired to resist. “It was Brandon.”

“The guy who helped you that one time” she asked shocked.

He leaned into her like he had as a little boy “I was uneasy all night. I only meant to have supper with him. I meant to leave right after.”

“Why didn’t you” she asked hoping she didn’t sound like she was blaming him.

“He wouldn’t take no for an answer. I didn’t know how to leave without offending him.” Wiping his eyes on the backs of his hands he continued “it was okay at first. He was handsy but nothing I couldn’t handle. Then he started to put hands places I didn’t like. He got angry when he tried to kiss me and I refused.”

“It’s alright” she whispered putting an arm around his trembling shoulders. “I’m here. He can’t hurt you now.”

Taking a deep breathe he said “he kept saying I should be grateful to him. That I owed him a kiss. It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to react. He kicked my feet out from beneath me. Pinning me to the ground.” Tears flowed down his cheeks as memories flooded his mind. “I tried to fight him. He just kept hitting me until I couldn’t.”.

***

827

“Hey grandpa” Benjamin greeted giving each of them a hug. “No one’s home right now but I’m sure they’ll be here soon.”

“Not even little Tempe” Rory frowned looking around. “Isn’t it getting late for her to be out.”

“Yeah well” he shrugging “she decided to hitch a ride to the mainland to visit Unity.”

Rory shook his head as Eddie leaped on what their grandson said. “What do you mean she hitched a ride? Didn’t someone go with her?”

“She was told to wait” he shrugged unconcerned. “She got impatient. Went with a couple of her friends.”

“I take it she went without permission” Rory stated a touch of pride in his voice.

“You know it” Benjamin chuckled. “You should have seen mom and dad. I’ve never seen them so mad, at least at their darling little girl.”

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“I’m sure she’ll be alright” Rory moved to assure his husband. “You and I both know Ryan and Charity will take good care of her.”

“That’s not the point” Eddie groused “she could have gotten hurt or worse….”

“She was with friends” Benjamin repeated grinning.

“Aubrey and London” Eddie asked hopefully.

“Nope a couple of boys” chuckling at the look they both gave him. “Will has been mooning over her for weeks now. I’m sure he saw this as an opportunity to play the hero.”

“Son” Donovan’s voice interrupted him “invite your grandparents inside.”

“Dad” he cried “where have you been?”

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“I’ll explain when we have your grandparents settled” Donovan said picking up a couple of bags and motioning for his son to take the rest.

Once they were inside and sitting in the living room with fresh brewed tea Eddie turned to his son in law. “What’s wrong? Where’s Hannah?”

Giving him a sad smile “never could pull anything past you.”

“It’s just unusual that Hannah isn’t here,” Eddie said.

“Nothings happened to Temperance on her little excursion I hope” Rory gave him a worried look.

“No Charity called to let us know the kids are safe and at the hospital. For now it’s best she stays there.”

“Where’s Christopher” Benjamin asked coming into the room “I wanted to ask him if I could borrow his bike tomorrow.”

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“I’m sure that’ll be okay. I doubt he’ll be wanting to go out.

Frowning Benjamin asked “what’s going on? Mom’s never out this late unless she’s been called out to help with a victim…”

Resting his elbows on his knees Donovan leaned forward kneading his neck. “Something happened this evening to your brother. He’s going to need all of us to help him through it.” Looking towards Eddie “we’re hoping you’ll be able to help us cope with this.”

Understanding and terror flashed in the older man’s eyes. He took Rory’s hand squeezing it hard “I’ll do what I can.”

Benjamin looked from one man to the next confusion prompting him to ask “what’s going on?”

Gulping loudly Donovan repeated everything he learned from the police. How Jace had found him on the beach beaten and almost catatonic. “He’s in a vulnerable state right now. We need to create a safe area for him to come home to.”

“It was that guy wasn’t it? Brendan?” Benjamin paced around the room unable to sit still. “It’s my fault. I convinced him to go out with him. If I hadn’t none of this would have happened.”

Chapter 27 – Parents Worst Nightmare /

Glitter – Chapter 19 – The Plan

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“Your dad saw us kissing” Aaron asked sitting next to Raven on the floor in his bedroom.

“Don’t laugh” Raven said hiding his face between his hands and knees. “It was embarrassing. I had to endure the sex talk all over again.”

“Worried about becoming grandparents I bet” he chuckled despite Raven’s protests.

“Don’t you start” he cried “once was enough.”

“Well” he caused considering his words “it is something to be concerned with. You know … if we were …. To um.” He licked his lips looking at his hands.

“If we were to what” Raven asked watching the older boy.

“You know” he glanced up meeting Raven’s eyes then looked down just as quickly “made out, had sex.”

“Have you ever done it” Rave asked in a way that sounded like he was holding his breath.

“Have you” Aaron asked instead of answering the question.

Shaking his head from side to side Raven sighed. “I’ve never had a boyfriend before.”

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“There’s a first time for everything” Aaron said leaving forward brushing his lips across Raven’s. Using his weight he pressed Raven down onto the floor pinning him beneath him. “We’ll go slow” he murmured running his hands down Raven’s chest and back up again. “Do you want to continue” he asked in a husky voice.

Nodding Raven couldn’t hide his excitement from the older boy even if he wanted to. “I want you to be my first” he whispered watching as Aaron’s eyes smoldered with desire.

“Let’s get on the bed” he suggested “it’ll be more comfortable.” Shifting his weight he allowed Raven to slide out from beneath him and sat on the edge of the bed. Taking Raven’s hands he guided him to sit on his lap. Kissing the boy again he ran his hands down his torso stopping when he reached the bottom of his shirt. With a swift tug he pulled it loose from his pants and up and over his head. His breath caught in his throat as he gazed upon the boy. “Perfect” he whispered pressing his lips to his neck where is pulse beat rapidly. His fingers sliding lightly down the boys back following his spine causing Raven to make small whimper like noises.

Raven arched his back as Aaron’s mouth traveled down his neck and chest leaving a trail of super-heated sensitive skin in its wake. His brain was overloading after one sensation after another invaded his body. He was sure his heart was going to beat right out of his chest. Rocking back and forth on Aaron’s lap only their jeans separating them as the passions grew.

***

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“Aaron can I borrow…” Riley opened the door leading into his brother’s room. His eyes round with shock when he took in what was happening. “Oh shit” he gasped.

“Get out” Aaron shouted at him throwing a pillow at his disappearing figure.

Raven snatched up his shirt with trembling hands. Shoving his head and arms into it he ran from the room as if a horde of angry bees were after him.

“Raven don’t go” even as the words came out he knew it was no use. Groaning he go up and charged across the hall to his brother’s room. “What the hell” he growled “have you ever heard of knocking?”

Riley gulped facing his brother. He’d never seen him that intimate with anyone before. “I’m sorry. I don’t know” he gulped “mom said Raven wasn’t allowed up here.”

Blowing air through his nose Aaron rolled his eyes. “What mom doesn’t know won’t kill her.”

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“How much is it worth” Riley asked with a smirk.

“How much is what worth” Aaron asked slightly confused.

“How much are you willing to pay for me to keep my mouth shut” Riley asked “mom would love to know what you and Raven were doing in your room.”

“You wouldn’t” Aaron took a menacing step forward. The reminder of what his brother had interrupted more than he could bear.

“I would” Riley confirmed keeping his place despite the desire to take a step backwards. He’d always found his older brother to be somewhat intimidating. Crossing his arms he continued “there’s only one thing that’ll keep my mouth shut.”

Aaron regarded him with interest “I’m listening.”

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“I need to use your car” he said keeping his eyes focused on his brother’s face.

“No way in hell” he growled.

Shrugging nonchalantly he said “you won’t be needing it for at least a month once mom finds out about Raven….”

“Fine” he agreed holding his keys out “take it.”

Snatching them from his brothers fingers Riley moved towards the door. “Thanks bro. I appreciate it.”

“Yeah yeah” Aaron grumbled “just be sure to get it back without any scratches and a full tank of gas.”

“Sure sure” Riley assured him as he ran down the stairs. He needed to be gone before his mom got home. Glancing at the time he had twenty minutes to spare.

***

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Driving up to Wills house Riley came to a stop. Letting the engine idle while he waited for Will to join him. Ten minutes later Will opened the passenger side door and got in. “I didn’t think your brother would let you take his car to the main island.”

Putting the car into gear Riley said “he doesn’t exactly know.”

“Then how….”

“I caught him and Riley….in his room.” At Wills confused look he elaborated. “Raven’s shirt was off and they were kissing….”

“Oh” Will’s eyes were round “I didn’t know they were that serious.”

“Neither did I” Riley chuckled “it did come in handy though. He probably would have said no otherwise.”

They fell silent as Riley made his way to the pier to wait his turn to drive onto the ferry.

“Ever been to the main island” he asked.

“Nope” he shook his head “but um I know someone who has. She’ll be here at 10:00.”

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Giving his friend a sideways glance Riley asked “who?”

“Temperance” Will said turning to look at his friend. “Don’t say anything.”

“You promised you wouldn’t tell anyone” Riley complained.

“I know but” he looked out his window. “I had to do something. She was crying…

“And you like her” Riley hit the steering wheel.

“She’s bringing snacks” Will added as if that would make Riley like her.

“That’s an added bonus” he grumbled not unwilling yet to accept the change in plans yet.

“She’s also Unity’s best friend” Will dangled that out to his friend knowing how much Riley liked her. “She could be your in with her.”

Riley drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. “Fine. She can come.”

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At 10:00 Temperance walked up to Will who was standing outside next to the pier sign. He took her bag as he led the way to Riley’s car.

Getting into the car Riley nodded at her. “I’m glad your on time. It gives us more time to hide the two of you.”

Shaking her head she eyed the open trunk with undisguised disgust. “You don’t expect me to get in there, do you? With him?” She pointed towards Will.

“How else did you think I was going to sneak you on the ferry” Riley stomped his feet his frustration beginning to take over.

“I don’t know” she sighed deflecting as the fight drained from her. Turning to Will “keep your hands off me.”

Raising his hands Will backed up “don’t worry I wouldn’t even think of it.”

“Alright then” she peered into the depths of the trunk. Backing up she motioned towards Will. “You first.”

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He cast a dubious look inside the trunk then at his friend silently asking if it was really necessary.

“Get in” Riley urged “we don’t have all night.”

“Alright” he mumbled crawling inside glad that Aaron drove an older car that gave them a little more room.

Crawling in after him Temperance warned “remember what you said. Keep your hands to yourself.”

“Don’t worry I will” he promised “if I wanted to cop a feel it wouldn’t be while trapped inside a smelly old trunk. Dude what is that smell?”

“Probably Aaron’s gym bag” Riley said “I’m hoping the smell will keep the inspectors from looking too closely. He draped a blanket over the pair and moved things around inside the trunk to look normal. Closing the trunk he rapped his knuckles on the top “keep quiet in there the inspector is coming.”

***

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Erika looked up from the book she was reading. Frowning as she saw her oldest son coming down the stairs. “I thought you were out” she said.

Shrugging Aaron slumped into a chair. “Raven had to go home early” he mumbled avoiding her eyes as he started to flip through the channels on the TV.

Picking up her book she read a line or two before putting it down again. “Where’s your brother?”

“Don’t know” he shrugged eyes on the screen.

Glancing at the time she said asked “did he go over to Will’s?”

“Sounded like he had a date or something” he said “he borrowed my car.”

“And you let him” she sounded dubious.

Shrugging Aaron smirked “anything to help my lil bro out. He has no game so he needs all the help he can get.”

Nodding Erika let the comment slide. After a couple of minutes she asked “did he say when he’d be home?”

“Who knows” Aaron grumbled “I’m not his keeper.”

***

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“Who could be calling so late” Talia moaned reaching for her phone lying on the side table next to the bed. “Hello” she moaned into it.

The tired half asleep voice reminded Erika how late it was. “I’m sorry for calling so late but is Riley there?”

Rubbing the sleep from her eyes Talia sat up instantly alert. “Will said he was going over there. Something about a school project….”

“Riley hasn’t been here all evening” Erika said clenching the phone in her hand. “He borrowed Aaron’s car….” Images of the two boys on the side of the road, hurt shot through her mind.

Getting up Talia walked to her son’s room. Knocking softy before opening it. “Maybe they went on a double date and lost track of time.” She was grasping at straws she knew. She’d rather think that than any of the hundred other things running through her mind.

“The only girl Riley has shown any interest in is that girl with leukemia” Erika mused.

“Maybe they went to see her” Talia suggested.

“I’ll call the hospital” Erika said disconnecting the call.

***

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Staring at her phone Talia decided to call Temperance’s parents on the off chance he was over there. “Hello Mrs Bennett. I apologize for calling so late.”

Hannah listened in silence for several minutes. “No Temperance hasn’t gone out.”

Turning to her husband “go check her room. See if she knows anything about Will.”

When he returned to the room the look of dismay he was wearing wall all the answer Hannah needed. “Temperance is gone too.”

“Erika is calling the hospital to see if they’re visiting that sick girl” Talia said attempting to keep calm.

Hannah closed her eyes. She could hear the anxiety in the other woman’s voice. “Unity is in the hospital on the main island. If they went to visit her they would have needed to go by ferry.”

“I’m calling the police Donovan said “if those kids are up to something we’ll find them.” Hannah relayed that to Talia who said she’d call Riley’s mother to let her know.

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Once Donovan was done talking to the police Hannah leaned into him. “What could they be thinking?”

“They’re not” he mumbled kissing the top of her head.

Sniffling Hannah took a deep breath. “I’ll call Charity just in case they slip past the police and actually make it to the hospital.”

“Good idea” he squeezed her tight before releasing her. “That’ll be the cops” he said at the sound of someone knocking. “Don’t worry sweetheart we’ll find them.”

Chapter 18 – Waves / Chapter 20 – Learning to Cope

Metamorphosis – Chapter 15 – Sous Chef

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The next morning Faye woke early. She moved carefully so not to wake Tom. She wanted to show her appreciation both to Eddie and Tom for showing her what a family should be like and that she didn’t have to be afraid of it or push it aside as something she didn’t need.

Silently she moved around the room gathering clothes to wear. “What are you doing up so early” Tom asked rubbing sleep from his eyes.

“I’m just going to start breakfast” she said with a smile “Eddie’s been getting up early every morning and I thought for a change I’d do it.”

Excitement filled his eyes “are we going to tell them we’re going to have a baby?”

She smiled at his obvious excitement. It reminded her of a puppy wagging its tail because he’s just so happy to see you. “Don’t you think we should wait” she asked even though she knew Eddie already knew and possibly Rory by now.

“But I don’t want to wait” he pouted “why can’t we tell them now?”

She tilted her head to the side pretending to consider his question. She shook her head “I think we should wait.”

 

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Tom tossed backed the blanket and walked towards Faye. Taking her hands he kissed their palms. “Are you still worried about what your dad might do” his voice and and eyes were full of concern.

Leaning into him she breathed deeply. “No Tom I’m not worried about that. I know that whatever happens we can face it together.” Smiling up at him she said “I’ve changed my mind. I want to tell them now. At breakfast.

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“You were teasing me!” Tom cried in exasperation. “Of course you were.”

She let out a small giggle. “What does that mean?”

“Nothing.” He grinned. “Can I help with breakfast?”

“No,” She replied, shaking her head. “Distract your brother and Rory. I don’t want them to know so easily. Well, Eddie already knows but Rory….” She frowned. “Do you think he’ll be accepting?”

“Why wouldn’t he be?” Tom asked. “Rory is a great guy.”

“I practically ran away from his daughter and all she wanted to do was play with me,” Faye pointed out. “That’s not what a good mother would do.”

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“Rory knows that’s not you,” Tom said.

“Does he?” Faye frowned. “I think he’s going to be hard to please.”

“He was only acting that way because he thought you were being rude to his husband. Now, it’s nothing like that at all. He knows how Eddie feels about you and that’s enough. Rory will forever be on your side now.”

“You guys are too nice,” Faye murmured under her breath.

“What? Do you want us all to hate you or something? I told you a million times, that’s not what you deserve. No matter what anyone tells you, this family loves you. I love you!” He held her hands tightly. “So please stop worrying. Rory will be happy.”

“He’ll be happy,” She said with a determined nod. “Okay, I can do this then.”

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She finished getting dressed and hurried to the kitchen. To her surprise she found Hannah in her pajamas dragging a chair across the floor. “What do you think you’re doing” she asked the little girl.

Hannah let out a little squeak before pointing towards the cabinet. “Crackers” she said moving the chair forward.

“Are you hungry” Faye asked wondering how the toddler had gotten out of her crib. Moving towards the cabinet she turned to Hannah “I’ll give you a cracker but first you need to put the chair away.”

“Cracker” Hannah insisted crawling into the chair.

“No” Faye shook her head determined to get the girl to mind her.

“Cracker” she whined her voice rising.

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Worried that the girls whining would wake her parents Faye gave in and gave her a cracker.

“Tank you” Hannah grinned up at her mouth full of crackers.

“I can see now who will be the strict disciplinarian in the family” Tom laughed as he came into the kitchen swooping Hannah up into his arms.

“I was afraid she’d wake Eddie” she explained turning to the refrigerator to get her ingredients for the the grand breakfast she wanted make for them all.

“Down” Hannah insisted kicking her legs out “me help.”

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“No, absolutely not. You can’t help,” Faye began, watching the water form in the little girl’s eyes. “Oh! Gosh, okay. Don’t cry. You can help.”

Tom let out another laugh. “This is never going to get old.”

“Oh, hush!” Faye patted her dress down. “Hannah, darling. Uncle Tom is a big meanie, isn’t he?”

The little girl stuck her tongue out and pointed at Tom. “Big meanie!”

“Faye, don’t do that!” Tom cried, shaking his head. Uncle Tom is the best Uncle.”

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Hannah toddled over to him and hugged his legs. “Yes, but big meanie too.”

“Go, shoo!” Faye shooed him out of the kitchen so she and Hannah could work. “Okay, honey. Let’s see where do we start? Oh, eggs. You can’t crack an egg right?  Oh, but!” Faye’s eyes lit up. She gathered the eggs, cracked them into the bowl and slid it over to the little girl. “Mix,” She instructed.

Hannah did as she was told, struggling with the big wooden spoon. “Like this?”

“So awesome!” Faye coaxed, noting to remix the batter when Hannah wasn’t looking. “Did you learn to cook from your dad?”

Hannah nodded enthusiastically, causing a shiver to run down Faye’s spine. Would this be her and her child? Tom sitting at the kitchen table awaiting a meal cooked from mother and daughter? She couldn’t wait to raise a child, but it also terrified her. Yet, being with Hannah confirmed something for her. She wanted to be a mom, more than anything.

Chapter 14 – Baby Talk /

 

Metamorphosis – Chapter 13 – Confirmation

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Tom bounced up from the couch where he and Rory had been discussing the restaurant. For some reason he felt somewhat guilty about discussing it with someone else other than Faye first. “Do you need any help” he offered as he watched Eddie and Faye come in with bags of groceries each.

“Nope we’ve got it” Eddie said kicking the door shut behind him.

“Daddy” Hannah cried running into the room arms spread wide.

Putting the bags down Eddie bent to pick up his little angel. “Did you miss me” he asked her.

Hannah nodded her head like a bobble doll. “Missed you” she mumbled pressing little kisses on his cheek.

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“I guess you did” Eddie laughed squeezing her tight. He was going to enjoy this moment because he knew it wouldn’t last long.

“Down daddy” she whimpered a little before struggling in his arms.

“Alright down you go” he said kissing her round little cheek before setting on on the ground. He looked up to find Faye watching him, a gleam in her eyes that hadn’t been there before. “What” he asked feeling a self-conscious under her scrutiny.

“You” she waved a hand at him “you’re amazing.” She had never known either of her parents ever dropping what they were doing to pick her up or talk to her when she came running to them for attention. They had always put her off in preference to what they were doing. She had always known something else was more important than her.

Shrugging his shoulders he started to put the groceries away. “Hannah knows that no matter what she’s free to come to either Rory or I when she wants. Now that she’s discovered she can run it’s never for long.” He sighed a little “they don’t stay little for long.”

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“Little girls always need their dads” Faye said “even when they wish they didn’t.” She looked up as Tom put a comforting arm around her. She leaned into him taking what he had to offer instead of brushing him off.

“So this is where the party’s at” Rory said joining them. He bent to help Eddie put the food away. “Did you tell her yet” he asked.

“Tell me what” Faye asked moving enough to look up Tom.

“Did you call Uncle Gene” Eddie asked turning from the refrigerator.

“Yeah I did” he said. He could feel all of them watching him. “The restaurant can be ours if we want it. There’s just one problem” he looked down at Faye “Gino is also interested in buying the restaurant. Uncle Gene will never sell it to him but …..”

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“But he has enough power and influence to make sure no one ever goes there. He could shun us from the culinary world for good,” Faye cried.

“I wasn’t even thinking of that!” Tom exclaimed, hitting his forehead with the palm of his hand. “That complicates things further. I was going to say that Uncle Gene doesn’t mind selling us the restaurant. There’s a clause in the contract that says he can sell it to us for any price, even a $1.”

“That’s great news,” Eddie said. “Isn’t it? Uncle Gene will help you fight off Gino.”

“It’s not that. I feel bad not giving him anything for it. It’s like he’s handing down the business to me, without me really earning it,” Tom said with a frown. “That’s not how Faye and I want to do it.”

“We’ll purchase it at the going price,” Faye said in a determined fashion. “I have a stash of money saved up and it is pretty sizable. I’m sure your Uncle could use the extra money too. Not to imply anything.”

“He’d never let us buy it for asking price,” Tom said. “There’s not only that, but you’re right. Your dad hates the Bennett’s. This whole thing puts a target on us.”

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“So?” Rory asked, raising a brow. “Just because you shoot the target, doesn’t mean that you’ll hit it. I think you can call your celebrity friends and stand in solidarity against Gino and people who try to ostracize you from the industry.”

“He’s my dad,” Faye surmised. “Is there no way to….” Her voice trailed off. “I know there is no way to keep his pride in tact and mine as well.”

“He’s fighting you too hard, Faye. I know you love him, but he’s toxic. He’s only hurting you, and I’m tired of seeing that man make you cry. I won’t stand back and let him do it anymore,” Tom said. “So, you tell me what to do. I’ll do anything.”

“Can we sleep on it?” Faye asked, with a forced smile. “I uh…there’s something I need to do first. If you don’t mind.”

“Of course I don’t mind,” Tom said. “Do what you need to, but please. I beg of you, don’t keep secrets. Alright?”

“I’m not,” Faye replied, shaking her head. “I don’t want you to get hurt either.”

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Faye left the room taking the small brown bag Eddie had given her earlier. She had to know. She couldn’t put if off any longer. Closing the door behind her she leaned against it taking in several deep breaths. Too much was happening at once. It was hard to imagine that it had just been yesterday they had gotten off the plane.

Her hands shook as she took the pregnancy test out of the package. Reading the directions carefully she made sure to follow them precisely, not that she didn’t already know how it worked, she just needed the mind numbing task. Something to focus her mind on besides her dad, the restaurant and even what she was doing right at that moment.

She splashed water over her face. She couldn’t be pregnant. She just couldn’t be. They had been careful. She scowled at the test and it’s positive results. She couldn’t deny it anymore. She was pregnant. She was going to be a parent. A mom. She was going to be sick. She rushed to the toilet and emptied her stomach. Rinsing her mouth out she pinched some color back into her cheeks.

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She joined Eddie in the kitchen. He was busy chopping the veggies they needed for the recipe she wanted to try. He looked up “are you ok?”

“I’m fine” she sighed picking up a knife joining him “nothing that nine months won’t cure.”

“So you are” he didn’t finish his question “When are you going to tell him?”

“I….”

“Tell me what” Tom asked walking into the kitchen.

“That we should take your uncle up on his offer” she said giving Eddie a warning look not to say anything.

“I thought you wanted the night to think about it” Tom said sounding as confused as he looked.

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“I changed my mind” she turned back to her task explaining to Eddie what she wanted to do and the adjustments she wanted to make to the recipe. “There’s a lot of things we need to discuss first before like what kind of cuisine to serve. The clientele the restaurant already has. I’ll want to see the existing kitchen and sous chefs before we make any definite decisions.”

“Great” the worry in Tom’s eyes vanished as he listened to her “I’ll arrange all that with Uncle Gene. I’m sure he can arrange for us to see the restaurant before we make any decisions.” Sniffing the air he said “that smells good, what is it?”

“Just a little recipe I’ve wanted to try” she said evasively.

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Eddie lifted an eyebrow at her but didn’t say anything until Tom wandered out of the kitchen. “I recognize this recipe. It’s one of your dads. I think your dad’s worried that you’re going to be the next great chef and he’s doing everything he can to make you think you’ll always be in his shadow.” He stirred the contents on the stove “my advice to you is don’t let  him. Let him know you’re someone to be reckoned with.”

“Do you think I can” she asked an unusual not of vulnerability in her tone.

“I know you can” Eddie said giving her a reassuring grin. “Besides you have us cheering you on.”

Chapter 12 – Preparations / Chapter 14 – Baby Talk