Tag Archive | Hannah Bennett

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

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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

Metamorphosis – Chapter 9 – Pressure

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The sun shone on Tom’s face, making him groan. “Close those curtains babe,” He murmured burying his face into his pillow. He didn’t even know if they were open at all, and he didn’t feel the bed beside him shift. Turning over, he noticed Faye standing by the window with the curtain pulled back and her phone up to her ear.

“Oh shut up, dad! You have no right to even make such claims. I will not be coming back to Sim Star Chef so go and bank on someone else,” Faye said angrily. “Ok, fine. Sim Star Whatever. Doesn’t matter to me regardless. I’m not going back to some television show that you produce… You’ve got some nerve saying that…”

Tom watched with interest as Faye curled the floral print curtains into her hands. She hadn’t even heard him before, had she? She was enraptured into her own world. Her father’s world. He frowned. What the hell did Gino want now?

“Yeah, so what? Tom did change me. Do you have a problem with that? Because I don’t care what you have to say… Oh? Do whatever, I don’t care!” Faye hung up the phone angrily and tossed it at the wall, an unbound anger rising within her.

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“What’s wrong?” Tom’s soft voice broke her from her reverie of violent thoughts. “Your dad wants you to be on TV again?”

“Sim Star is all that’s ever on his mind these days. He wants me to be on some reality show with him. A camera following me and him around everywhere we go.” She frowned, trying not to show Tom the tears forming in the corner of her eyes. “He said that if I don’t do the show with him and basically abandon you and the Bennett family that he will take away my restaurant in Monte Vista.”

Tom’s brows furrowed. “He can’t do that. It’s your restaurant. You worked to make it what it is today.”

“Sure he can. The lease is under his name. He bought it and signed for it. I didn’t do anything but cook in it,” Faye said. “I built that place up from the ground. When I got it, there wasn’t even a stable menu! The decorations were gaudy and the staff was terrible.”

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“Let him take it,” Tom said. “People who are a fan of your food will follow you anywhere.”

“Follow me where?” Faye asked. “Anyone worth anything in the culinary industry knows not to go against my father and hire me somewhere. Besides it’s not the same as running my own business.”

“I’m not saying that,” Tom said, waving her off. “I’m saying we open a new restaurant for you. You have some money separate from your father, right? I have some money set aside. I’m sure Eddie has some insight on this. He’s really business savvy now that his books are getting popular.” Tom was sitting up on his knees chatting excitedly. “We can do this, Faye.”

She shook her head. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I don’t want you to have to invest any money into this and my father will no doubt slander our business. He’s be doing it to your family for awhile now.”

“Like we’re scared,” Tom said. “My family isn’t afraid of anything. Let that man come, and watch what happens. We’ll kill him with kindness and take all of his business.”

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A knock on the door stopped Tom short. “Er…I don’t want to barge in, but I made breakfast…” Came Eddie’s nervous voice through the door. “I would really appreciate it if you guys ate with us this morning. If Faye is feeling better that is.”

“I’m going to ask him about it,” Tom muttered, standing up to get the door. “At the breakfast table.”

“Tom, no!” Faye shook her head. She had never had to ask for help before from anyone besides her father and it was embarrassing.

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Tom quickly threw some clothes on before taking Faye’s hand. “I know this is difficult for you. Your father didn’t make asking for help easy but it’s time you see what a real family can do for each other.” He pulled her close gently kissing her forehead “trust me we can do this.”

Faye clutched at his shirt, her fingers stretching the material as it balled in her fists. Leaning forward breathing deeply she nodded. “I’ll try” she murmured.

“That’s all I ask” he rubbed her back trying to reassure her that no matter what she could rely on him. “Come on babe let’s go eat.”

Smiling to she took his hand allowing him to escort her to the breakfast table. “It smells delicious” she gave Eddie a grin as the entered the dining room. She could see by the way he relaxed his almost ramrod posture that her words had reassured him enough to relax.

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“Thank you” he waved a hand towards the table “I hope you like crepes.”

Sitting at the table she turned to Eddie “you didn’t have to go to all this trouble.”

“It wasn’t any trouble” Eddie sat down beside her as Rory walked into the room carrying Hannah.

“Eddie is being modest” he said putting Hannah in her highchair. “He’s worried over the menu for weeks. Probably from the day he found out you and Tom were coming to visit.” He leaned over kissing the top of Eddie’s head “don’t let him fool you into thinking this was all thrown together at the last minute.” His voice and eyes was full of the pride he felt for his husband’s accomplishments.

“You shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble” Faye murmured.

“I just hope it tastes as good as it looks” Eddie gave her a self-deprecating smile watching as she took her first bite.

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“It’s delicious” she said “I couldn’t have done better myself. You’ll have to give me the recipe.”

After everyone had started eating Tom looked over at Faye before asking “Eddie do you know whatever happened to Grandpa’s restaurant?”

“I’m not exactly sure, why?” Eddie asked wiping strawberry remnants from Hannah’s face.

“Well Faye and I were discussing the idea of opening our own restaurant” Tom informed him.

“As a chain to the restaurant Faye has in Monte Vista” Rorya asked.

“Not exactly” Faye looked down at her plate “I may not have the restaurant much longer. It’s..”

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“Let’s just say Gino is making ultimatums and we’re looking for alternatives” Tom explained.

Faye looked up at him eyes full of gratitude that he hadn’t ripped her father apart, not that Gino didn’t deserve it. “We were hoping that you might be able to give us some business advice.”

“Me” Eddie asked eyes growing large at the idea anyone would think he had business smarts.

“Yes you” Tom nodded “you have a successful business as a writer. I’m sure you can help us. At least get us going in the right direction.”

“Alright” Eddie nodded “is that why you were asking about Grandpa’s restaurant?”

“Yeah” Tom nodded “I thought if it was still in the family that we’d have a firm foundation to start from.” Taking Faye’s hand he continued “I was thinking it might be something Gino wouldn’t be able to slander or run into the ground.”

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“I think Uncle Gene might know more about the restaurant” Eddie said “I could give him a call he should at least be able to point us in the direction.”

Faye’s eyes widened. “Dad hates Gene Bennett. Something about Sim Star Idol.”

“You didn’t watch it?” Tom mused. “I figured it’d have been part of the family business.”

“Ha! Leisure activities? Not for a Ferrari. Mom let me watch it sometimes but I never watched it completely through. But I know my father hates him and Caleb Gray.”

“The Grays…” Eddie mused. “Ah, Gene talked a lot about Caleb Gray. I think they’re still friends. Maybe he’s the celebrity endorsement you need.”

“Oh! That’s right!” Tom nodded enthusiastically. “We see if grandpa’s restaurant is still in the family and then we rebuild it to fit our new brand. When that’s complete, we get some celebrity endorsements!”

Chapter 8 – Apology / Chapter 10 – Denial

Metamorphosis – Chapter 4 – Heartbreak

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As soon as the car came to a stop Hannah unbuckled herself from her car seat eager to get out and meet their visitors. “Sweetie be patient and let Daddy help you,” Eddie admonished her.

“Want out” she cried finding her parents too slow for her tastes.

Laughing Rory shrugged “she’s your daughter.”

Eddie gave him a look but kept his mouth shut. He hopped out of the car and hurried to open the back door. As soon as he did Hannah had gotten herself out of her seat and climbed from the car.  “Wait for Daddy” Eddie called after her but he may as well have been speaking to himself. Hannah was making a beeline towards their guests on the porch.

“Hi” she called waving her hands at the people on the porch.

“Hi Hannah” Tom knelt down to be on level with his niece “you remember me?”

Nodding she touched his nose with an index finger “Tom” she announced proudly.

“That’s right I’m Uncle Tom” he smiled glad for the temporary respite in his and Faye’s conversation.

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Hannah turned towards Faye pointing “pretty”.

Nodding Tom grinned “yes she is. This is Faye,” he told the toddler.

“Faye” Hannah patted the girl’s knee “pretty. Come play.” She reached up grabbing Faye’s hand intent on dragging her inside the house to play dolls with her.

Faye glanced at the little girl tugging on her hand than up to Tom. She gave him a half desperate look as if pleading with him for help. What was she supposed to do now? While she was trying to decide what to do a yellow taxi cab drove up. “Um that’s my ride” she stood up “I need to go.”  Breaking the hand hold Hannah had on her she hurried down the steps followed by the cries of an upset toddler.

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Eddie looked on, horrified at Faye’s departure. “Wait!” He called out weakly.

She looked up at him, a frown marring her features. She almost wanted to apologize, but couldn’t bring herself to do it.

“Where to, ma’am?” The driver asked as she closed the door of the back seat. She was too frazzled to even open the trunk, having thrown her luggage onto the seat beside her. He looked at her luggage. “A hotel? Or an airport perhaps?”

She shook her head. “No. I know someone nearby. Can you take me to 467 Lights Blvd?” She tapped her hand on her knee nervously. She watched Tom approach the car. She tapped on the class. “Quickly please. I don’t want to see his face.”

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“Breakup?” The driver asked, turning the steering wheel.

“You’d do well to mind your own business,” She nearly snapped. “I’ll leave a terrible review on your website and I’ll…” She dropped her voice.

“Ok, I get it lady,” The man said. “I’ll take you to your destination. Just calm down.”

She couldn’t calm down. Calm was for the cameras. Now, she was off screen and the person who was supposed to calm her down was getting smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror. But that was her own fault. She picked up her phone and shot a text to her dad. “I’ll think about it.” And then to the person she was going to see. It had been awhile and it was better she not show up unannounced.

Tom ran out into the street intent on catching the taxi before it took off. He was too late. It was already speeding down the road by the time he got there. He bent over breathing hard. He couldn’t believe this was happening. How could she leave like that? He loved her but the ache in his heart felt like he was being stabbed a hundred time in succession.

Eddie watched in horror as all this played out in front of him. He could hear his little girl screaming behind him yet his eyes were riveted on towards his little brother. Torn he didn’t know who to go to first.

Rory gently touched his shoulder “go to him. I’ll take care of Hannah.”

Eddie looked up at him “are you sure?” Eddie had always been better at soothing Hannah when she became upset. Rory had less patience for her whining.

“I’m sure” he insisted “your brother needs you. Hannah and I will be just fine.”

“You may need to play dolls with her” Eddie said with a hint of a smile. Dolls had become Hannah’s favorite toys recently thanks to the new dollhouse her Grandfather had given her for 2nd birthday.

“I’m aware of that” Rory said over his shoulder.

Eddie took a deep breath before moving towards his brother who was still standing in the middle of the road looking lost and forlorn. “Tom” he said his voice low not wanting to alarm him.

“What?” he growled his hands curled into fists as he stared helplessly down the empty street.

“Why don’t you come inside?” Eddie said gently put an arm around his  brother’s shoulders. He could feel Tom’s shoulders begin to shake beneath his hand.

“She left me” he whispered “I thought she loved me.” He turned and fell into Eddie’s arms “I can’t believe she left.”

Chapter 3 – Disagreement / Chapter 5 – Awakening

Metamorphosis – Chapter 3 – Disagreement

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All the way to Gayle’s house Eddie had been silent. Faye’s disappointed face haunted him. He should have known his quaint little house wouldn’t be good enough for her. He wasn’t good enough for her. He could see it in her eyes and in her body language she didn’t want to be there. In some relief he slid out of the passenger seat when Rory parked the car.

“Daddy,” a high-pitched excited voice cried as the front door flew open. He bent on down opening his arms wide to catch his daughter as she ran to him. At least someone was glad to see him. Her uncomplicated joy at seeing him was a soothing balm to the ache in his heart.

Gayle approached Rory. “I didn’t expect you quite so soon.” Glancing over at Eddie she asked “things not going well with Faye and Tom?”

Grunting Rory nodded “she’s less than impressed with our house. I half expect her to be gone before we get back.”

“Oh no” she gasped putting a hand on his forearm. “That would devastate Eddie.”

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“I know” he could feel anger boiling up inside him. He had hoped, for Eddie’s sake that the girl would have at least tried to curb her opinions just a little bit. “Maybe Tom didn’t tell her how sensitive Eddie is about things….”

“I doubt that” Gayle shook her head “from what I’ve seen of this Faye character she’s a hard one to please.”

“You’re telling me” Rory grunted crossing his arms. “Thanks for watching Hannah for us. Eddie and I really appreciate it.”

“Any time” Gayle assured him “now hurry home before they leave. You have to make sure she doesn’t leave otherwise things will always be strained for you guys whenever they come to visit in the future.”

“We were planning on going to the park” Rory said walking towards the car “let Hannah run off some energy first.”

“We’ve already been to the park” she said “just go home.”

He gave her a doubtful look but said no more. “Eddie you ready?” he asked instead.

Glancing over the top of Hannah’s head Eddie nodded. Some of the worry and anxiety had left his eyes as he smiled up at his husband. “Just give a moment to put Hannah in her car seat and we’ll be ready to go.”

His light-hearted tone was reassuring to Rory. Maybe things weren’t as bad as he thought. They got into the car “what do you say we go home and give it another shot with Faye” he suggested.

“Um” Eddie looked out his window before answering. “Ok” he said softly his voice didn’t sound positive but he was at least open to the idea.

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“What am I going to do with her?” Tom muttered to himself. He ran his fingers through his blonde hair, before resolving to leave the house. He would go after Faye. Running wasn’t the answer to everything. In fact, it was hardly the answer to anything.

He didn’t know where he expected to find her, but when he had opened the door to leave, he found Faye on her phone sitting on the porch. “Faye…”

She looked up at him, quickly closing her phone and holding it tightly in her hand. “I’m waiting on a taxi.”

“Cancel it,” Tom replied calmly. “My brother and his husband would love to have you stay. I know things aren’t going as you planned, but that doesn’t mean you have to shut down. How are you so composed on television but break down in real life?” He regretted saying it as soon as he saw the look of distaste on her face. “Faye, I didn’t mean anything by that. I’m just trying to get you to see-”

“My dad,” She started calmly, standing up.

Tom shook his head. He didn’t want to hear her finish that statement. “Your dad what? He ruined your life Faye. He tried to ruin the lives of so many other people on his shows. What could he possibly add to this conversation? I thought you were done with him.”

“He’s my dad,” She said, as if it was obvious. “And he invited me to cook with him on Chef Star Battles. Father and daughter pairs face off this episode and the pay is pretty substantial. I should be there. That’s my world.”

Tom couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “After all that you want to just crawl back into the Ferrari trap? Faye, I love you and I can’t bear to see you sucked back into the fame game.”

“It’s really not up to you,” Faye replied. “I love cooking. It makes me happy. People like my food, and there’s something about seeing the smile on someone’s face after they’ve tasted my dish that is satisfying to me. Is the options you’re presenting me to never cook on television again? Let me fade into the background and become some sort of housewife?”

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Faye pulled her arm back forcefully. She wanted to yell at him, but was broken from her thoughts by a car driving up to the house. Eddie and Rory were back.

“Housewife? Faye, what are you even talking about?” Tom demanded. “This has to do with Eddie picking up his daughter, doesn’t it?”

“I…yes!” She cried, glaring at him. “I am not here to cater to some child. I see what you’re doing, you want me to see what it’s like to live the domestic life.”

“I want you to see how it’s like to have a family who cares about you!” Tom shouted at her, grabbing her hand. “I want you to see that you don’t have to go crawling back to your dad all the time!”

Chapter 2 – Disappointment / Chapter 4 – Heartbreak

Glitter – Chapter 18 – Waves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Boring” he yawned rolling his eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You will” Brandon nodded confidently.

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“When” she demanded clinging to her dad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Isn’t that illegal” she asked frowning.

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

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

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

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

Chapter 17 – Ocean Blue /