Tag Archive | Jace Marstone

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 26 – Disturbing News

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Douglas sat on the opposite end of the couch from where Kyle sat. He could feel Kyle giving him quick little glances like he wanted to say something. “What?”

“Are you still mad at me?”

Without taking his eyes from the TV Douglas asked “what makes you think I’m mad?”

“Oh I don’t know” he moved his hand indicating the space between them. “Maybe the fact you refuse to sit by me.”

“Maybe you stink” Douglas said trying to keep his face straight but his lips twitched.

Making a production of smelling his pits Kyle shook his head. “I don’t. So what’s up?”

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“You can’t be that dense” Douglas complained.

“I know I was getting on your nerves at the store. I thought you’d have gotten over that by now.” He heaved a sigh “I’m sorry.”

“Really” he asked laying the pillow he’d been hugging to himself between them. “Are you really sorry or are you just saying that because you think it’s what I want to hear?”

Grinning Kyle scooted closer “both.”

“Figures” he chuckled putting a hand on Kyle’s face before he could lean in and give him a kiss. “You’re not that charming to get away with such a lame apology.”

Rolling over onto the floor Kyle got on his knees in front of Douglas. A mischievous glint in his eyes “do you want a demonstration of how sorry I am?”

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Running his tongue across his bottom lip anticipating whatever Kyle had in mind. “A demonstration would be most welcome. He leaned back, eyes closed. The movie playing in the background all but forgotten as Kyle released his zipper. The discordant sound of his phone a jarring interruption.

Groaning he brought the phone up “hello.”

“Are you alright” his sister asked in his ear.

“I’m fine” he tried to get Kyle to quit to no avail. “What do you want?” he asked trying to keep his voice normal.

“Do you think you could stay with Kyle for a few days?”

“I don’t see that being a problem” he bit down on his lip to keep from moaning.

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“Are you sure?” she asked, “I don’t want to put him out?”

“Sis I’ve got to go” he disconnected letting his phone fall from his fingers. Moaning loudly as Kyle worked his magic on him.

Grinning Kyle crawled into his lap “what did your sister want?” he asked between kisses.

“She wanted to see if I could stay here for a few days” he managed to say between kisses that were becoming more and more heated. “I hope that’s alright with you.”

“Depends”

“On what” he asked as if he didn’t already know.

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“I’ll need plenty of hugs and kisses” he tugged on Douglas’s shirt “among other things.”

“What would those other things entail?”

“Let me demonstrate” he said grinding against him.

“What if I wanted to watch a movie” he asked not really caring if Kyle had wanted to cuff him to the bed for days.

“There’s plenty of time for that later” he stood up taking Douglas’s hand and leading him to the bedroom. “Right now there’s more pressing needs.”

“I know exactly what you need to relieve that pressure” he grinned reaching for his boyfriend.

***

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“Jace what’s so urgent that I had to drop everything to come over here” Jason demanded walking into his best friends place.

Pointing towards Christopher sitting like a statue on the couch as silent tears rolled down his cheeks. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Jason gasped seeing his childhood friend in such a state. He wondered how Jace had been able to function so far being more of a scardy cat who jumped at his own shadow. “Do you know what happened?” he asked even though he doubted he knew.

“I….” taking a deep breath as the reality of the moment came crashing down upon him. “I found him like that. On the beach crying. I barely got him here.”

“Should have called the police or an ambulance” Jason said frowning at his friends almost catatonic state.

“No” Christopher moaned shaking his head “no police.”

“Well” scratching his head “at least let us take you to the hospital to get checked out.”

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“No police” he repeated looking away.

“No police” Jason promised “just a doctor to fix you up.”

“Okay” he whispered letting Jason pull him to his feet. “I should have known better. Done something.”

“Don’t worry about that now,” he said “let’s get you fixed up.”

Turning to Jace he said “call his parents.”

Staring at his phone like it had grown a head “what do I say?”

He could hear the panic in his friend’s voice. He obviously had reached his limit. “Tell them that your a friend of Christopher’s and that he’s been hurt and to meet you at the hospital.”

“What if they start asking questions” his face blanched.

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“Just do it Jace” he snapped losing his patience as he struggled to keep Christopher upright.

Staring into space a moment before calling out “wait for me. I’m coming with you.” Pulling Christopher’s other arm over his shoulder “I’ll call from the car.”

Jason cringed listening to Jace’s conversation. Maybe he should have called himself but he couldn’t do it and drive too.

“They’ll meet us there” Jace said breathing hard. “I hope I never have to do that again.”

“You and me both” Jason agreed.

By the time they’d gotten Christopher inside and being looked at by an overworked doctor his parents arrived. “What happened?” Hannah demanded as soon as she saw Jason.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m hoping the doctor will be able to tell us something.”

***

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Glancing at her husband Teasha could see he had the same worried expression on his face as she did. “You’re worried too aren’t you?”

Nodding he tried to force a smile on his face. “I wonder if we forced her to grow up too fast. Too soon. She never got to be a child.”

Reaching for his hand “this isn’t your fault. Every teenager rebels against responsibility at some point.

“This is more than the average teen rebellion” he persisted “we’ve pushed her beyond her tolerance.”

“You still think she’s the one taking your pain meds, don’t you?”

“I do” squeezing her hand “I know you think it’s me not remembering taking them but I know it’s not me.”

“Alright let’s say you’re right” Teasha said. “Why is she taking them? I haven’t noticed any drastic changes in her attitude or behavior.”

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“Neither have I accept for her reluctance to help out around the house.” Shaking his head “all I know is she looks guilty every time we bring up the pills.”

“I’ve noticed that too” sighing “I don’t know what to do. Why didn’t she tell us she was having a problem?”

“I don’t know” Phoenix shook his head “maybe she was afraid of disappointing us.”

“We need to sit her down and have a good long talk with her” she said.

“The last time we tried that she refused to talk” Phoenix reminded her. “We don’t want her feeling cornered.”

“Then what” she cried.

“Let me think about it” he said “maybe a little father daughter time will help.”

“If that doesn’t work I’ll give it a try” she said giving him a tearful sniff. “I hope we’re not too late though.”

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The ringing of her phone interrupted them. “Hello” Teasha said “OMG. Is she alright?” Looking at Phoenix eyes wide with shock. “We’ll be there as soon as we can.”

“What’s happened” Phoenix demanded watching as tears slid down his wife’s porcelain cheeks. “Teasha tell what’s happened.”

“London…she’s being taken to the hospital.” She gulped “she was at a party. Several of the kids had gotten ill.”

Blinking as he absorbed her words “is she alright?” He struggled to breath through lungs that felt as if they’d been flattened by a steam roller.

“We need to go to the hospital,” she repeated. “That’s all I know. They wouldn’t tell me anything else.”

“Okay go” he said as much as he wanted to be there to support his wife and daughter he knew it would take less time if Teasha went alone.

“I can’t do this alone” she cried pushing him towards the door. “I need you there with me.”

***

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“How long have you known Micah has been going to these parties?” Quentin demanded his voice rising bouncing off the walls.

“I didn’t know for sure. At least not until tonight” he glanced towards Cassidy as if asking for help.

“You suspected” Quinten yelled “you should have told me.”

“Yeah right” he scoffed, “the only thing on your mind has been your new wife. You didn’t care how we felt about you getting married. If you had, maybe Micah wouldn’t have needed to turn to drugs and parties.”

“Don’t blame this on me or your step mother” he thundered.

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“Of course not” Dante rolled his eyes “blame me for not telling you. Don’t accept responsibility for the fact you weren’t paying attention. Maybe if you had noticed ….”

“I’ve had just about enough of your smart mouth.” His nostrils flared breathing hard. The chime of his phone distracted him enough to pull it out. “What” he shouted “he’s what? Where? Is he alright?”

He sat heavily on the couch holding his head in his hands. Cassidy moved towards him touching his shoulder “what happened? Was it Micah? Is he alright?”

“That was the police” he said wrapping his arms around her waist. “Micah’s been taken to the hospital. Evidently several kids have been taken to the hospital.” He raised angry accusing eyes towards his son.

“Quentin” his wife warned “whatever you’re about to say don’t.”

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“But he” he jerked to his feet.

Tugging on his hand “don’t say it. You’re upset. You’re not thinking straight. Don’t say something you’ll regret later.”

Taking several deep breaths he nodded. “You’re right. I’m sorry. We need to get to the hospital. They wouldn’t tell me how he was doing.”

“He’s going to be alright” Cassidy assured him. “We have to think positively.”

Getting up Quintin headed towards the door like a man on a mission or possibly living his worst nightmare. He could only hope his son was alright. He just couldn’t lose him.

Chapter 25 – Running / Chapter 27 – Parents Worst Nightmare

Glitter – Chapter 23 – Must be Nice

Author’s note: This chapter comes with a trigger warning due to mentions of assault and drugs. Due to the sensitive nature of these subjects it may make some readers uncomfortable. Please stop reading if you do not wish to continue beyond this point. The title of the chapter comes from a Nickelback song that seemed to fit the chapter.

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Cassidy joined her husband on the couch. The worried frown on his handsome face prompted her to ask “is something wrong?”

“I don’t know” he shook his head “it’s more a feeling than anything else.”

“Micah right” she asked taking his hand.

Nodding he sighed. “I wish he’d talk to me.”

She could hear his frustration rising in his voice. “Have you tried going to him” she asked.

He started to nod than stopped. “I was hoping he’d come to me.”

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“Honey I love you but that’s a bit naive” she kindly rebuked him. “He’s a teen boy who feels his dad committed the biggest sin there is by marrying someone closer to his age than his dad’s age.”

Running his fingers through his hair Quentin groaned. “I really didn’t think this through.”

Frowning Cassidy pulled away from him. “Are you saying you regret marrying me?”

Reaching for her hand Quentin attempted to apologize. “No sweetie. That’s not what I’m saying.”

Stepping back she crossed her arms. “That’s what it sounds like.”

Going to her he tried to put his arms around her. “Sweetie please understand. I don’t regret marrying you. Not ever. I just wish we did it another way. One that didn’t alienate my kids.”

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“That….” she stepped closer. “I understand.”

Leaning forward he wrapped her in his arms. “What I want is a way to go back to the way things were before they felt I betrayed them. I hate feeling like I don’t have any part in their lives.”

“If we give them time I think they’ll come around” Cassidy said.

“How much time” he asked “too much and they’ll think I don’t care. Too little they’ll think I’m pushing them.”

“I don’t know” she tried to swallow her growing frustration. Sometimes she felt he expected her to be an expert in raising kids. She wasn’t even close. It wasn’t until she met Quentin’s sons that she ever had to deal with kids in any way.

“Dad” Dante’s voice interrupted them “Can I talk to you?”

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“Son you’re step mother and I are in the middle of something” Quentin said. Looking down when Cassidy squeezed his hand “what” he asked.

“Don’t push him away” she urged “you just got done saying how much you missed them coming to you. Now when they do you tell him to go away.”

“That’s not….fine” turning to his son “what do you want?”

“I’ll come back later” Dante said retreating towards the stairs.

“No” Cassidy said with a smile towards the teenager. “Talk to your dad.” Leaving the room she gave them no choice but to talk to each other.

“What do you need” he asked resigning himself.

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“Um” Dante looked around the room “are you sure you want to talk?”

Quentin could hear the uncertainty in his voice making him regret his earlier rebuff. “No we can talk. What’s on your mind?” He was expecting girlfriend troubles not anything of real importance.

“I think Micah needs help” Dante blurted out in one breath “the party’s he’s been going to are known for their drugs…..”

“What” Quentin asked not understanding what his son was telling him.

“You know” he shrugged “a what the media calls a pharm party. Everyone brings some prescription drug and everyone’s contribution is put into a community bowl. Everyone helps themselves to whatever’s in it.”

“Are you saying your brother is doing drugs” his voice rose exploding in the room.

***

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The room was warm, bordering on uncomfortable. The loud music vibrated through her body. Someone’s hand slid up her thigh as they ground against her. “I need to sit down” she shouted above the music.

Nodding Micah led her to a small love seat. “I’ll get you something to drink” he offered.

“No” she tugged on his hand “I want you to stay.”

Her pull on his hand wasn’t great but it was enough to convince him to stay. Sitting on the cushion beside her he grinned. “This is nice” he said clumsily dragging his arm across her shoulders.

His elbow hitting the side of her face almost giving her a black eye. “Hey watch it” she warned rubbing her cheek.

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“Sorry” he mumbled.

“You better be” she yawned “I really should go home.”

“But the party’s just getting started” he whined.

“But I’m tired” she yawned again. “I have to get up early tomorrow.”

“But it’s summer” he protested “no one has to get up early in the summer.”

“Thy do if they have a job” she pushed him away from her.

“I know what you need” he said getting up almost knocking her off the love seat in his haste.

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Glaring after him she fixed her hair while she waited. She really should leave but she didn’t want to be rude. She was sure no one would notice except Micah and even he wouldn’t care for long.

“Here” he said holding his hand out.

She looked dubiously at the little pills in the palm of his hand. Shaking her head “what are they?”

“They’ll pep you up” he assured her.

“I don’t know” she said doubtfully.

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“Come on. Just try it” he begged “I want to party and you never do anything fun.”

Hesitantly she reached for the pills. “Maybe I try one. See how it affects me.”

“What are you worried about” he asked blinking at her his eyes glazing over.

“Well” she remembered all the meds and painkillers her dad was on. All the side effects were bad to awful.

“Take the plunge” he encouraged “no one’s gotten hurt from taking pills. Doctors prescribe them to people all the time.”

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Closing her eyes to popped the pills into her mouth. For once she wanted to be like everyone else. Not the girl who couldn’t do anything because she had to hurry home to take care of her dad.

An hour later the room spinning around her. “I need to sit” she yelled but she wasn’t sure who she wanted to hear her. Reaching for the wall she fell forward onto her knees. Her insides felt as if they were on fire. Her stomach heaved spilling all its contents onto the floor but it didn’t make her feel much better. Others around her were moaning and clutching their stomachs. Micah lay on the floor his eyes closed his face a chalky white.

The room tilted and swam before her eyes. Jerkily she pulled her phone out with unsteady fingers she pressed the numbers to summon help. She passed out before she heard the emergency dispatcher speak in her ear.

***

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“What’s up with every teenager tonight” Malcolm demanded as he walked into the break room. Jeremy was already sipping a lukewarm cup of coffee.

Looking up from reading the newspaper spread out in front of him Jeremy said “it feels like every kid is on a death wish tonight.”

“What’s it been? Two fatal car accidents and a suicide so far” Malcolm asked sitting down across the table.

“So far and the nights not over yet” he sighed. “Night’s like this I hate being a doctor.”

“Be thankful you don’t have to work in the ER every weekend” Malcolm said.

“Believe me I am” Jeremy agreed grimacing at the now cold coffee in his cup. “It’s bad enough having to work it once every couple of months.”

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A nurse stuck her head inside the room. “Heads up doctors. We’re getting more casualties.”

“Another car accident” Malcolm groaned knocking back his coffee.

“Multiple overdoses” the nurse said “a bunch of kids decided to throw themselves a party.”

“Stupid kids” Jeremy complained getting up and tossing the remnants of his coffee in the trash.

To the nurse Malcolm said “make sure we have a large supply of activated charcoal on hand. We may be needing that tonight.”

“Already done” she said as the emergency doors whisked open and the first victims were rolled inside.

Jeremy turned around shock freezing him in place.

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“Daddy” his daughter’s voice breaking him from his trance. “I’m sorry daddy.”

“It’s going to be alright sweetie” he blinked back the hot tears stinging his eyes. Turning to the nurse “go get another doctor in here stat.”

“Right” she left at a near run.

“Sweetie” he pressed down on her abdomen “does this hurt?” His heart shattered when she shrieked in pain. “Do you know what and how much of it you took?”

Shaking her head crying “it really hurts daddy. Please make it stop.”

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“We’re going to do everything we can sweetie” he stepped back to allow the other doctor room to work. A tug on his arm caused him to look down at a nurse.

“ Doctor you’re needed in exam room one” she said.

He wanted to scream at her he couldn’t be bothered but he knew there was nothing he could do in here. His little girl was in the best hands possible and he would be better off helping someone else.

Following the nurse to exam room one he took a deep breath forcing the sense of dread filling his stomach away. He looked down at another teenager writhing in pain. “Someone find out what these kids were talking” he shouted at anyone within earshot.

It was going to be a long hard night before things calmed down. He later found out that out of the twenty kids that had been brought in there had been two fatalities. Six in critical condition. The rest were resting comfortably

***

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Jace walked along the quiet beach. Seagulls called at each other occasionally swooping down to inspect the lone figure walking below them. Jace hated their raucous calls and the way it make him feel they were about to attack. It stirred up uncomfortable feelings he was reenacting a scene from an old movie he’d seen once and thoroughly expected a whole flock of birds to swoop down and peck him to death.

Stopping, he turned wishing he weren’t alone. It was his own fault. It was his decision to go for a walk thus separating himself from his friends. The fact that no one had noticed convinced him that he really was invisible. A feeling he’d had more and more lately. Not that he blamed Jason. If anyone deserved to be lost in a world all his own it was him. It was good to see him happy not to mention that Damian was hot!

A soft mewling sound caught his attention. Looking around he tried to make out where the sound was coming from. His first instinct was to run. Anything making that sound couldn’t be good. Taking a deep breath he tried to calm himself as he searched for the source of the sound. “OMG” he muttered recognizing a nearby figure.

The man’s eyes fluttered open, red from tears. He moaned trying to curl into a tight ball as if he were afraid of Jace coming towards him. His arms were wrapped tightly around his middle holding his shirt closed.

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“Are you alright” Jace asked reaching out to touch the man’s shoulder.

Flinching at his touch the man attempted to scurry further into the bush behind him.

Raising his hands up holding his palms out “I’m not going hurt you” Jace assured him.

“I want to go home” he whispered in response to Jace’s words.

Frowning Jace knelt beside him. He could tell from the bruises on the man’s face and the lack of buttons and tears in his clothing that something horrible had happened. “Would you like me to call someone to come help you” he offered as he scanned the darkening beach.

Tears running down his cheeks “I want to go home.”

 

“Where did you park” Jace asked wondering how he’d gotten there.

“The resort” the words were spoken from swollen lips.

“Can you walk” Jace asked. When the man almost fell flat on his face in his attempt to gather his feet beneath him Jace reached out to help him. “Perhaps it’s better if I take you to my place. It’s not too far away. Probably closer than the resort.”

From the blank look on the guy’s face he doubted his words even registered. It was a longer walk than usual as Jace kept having to stop and rest. He wasn’t built to carry someone larger than he was. The whole process was an awkward experience. Upon reaching his little bungalow on the beach Jace helped him to the couch frowning as he curled up on the couch in a catatonic state.

Nibbling on his bottom lip Jace pulled his phone out. He needed help and the only person he knew well enough to call for help was the one he’d left on the beach with his new boyfriend. With trembling fingers he pulled up his contacts and waited for Jason to answer. “Hey I know this is a bad timing but I could really use your help. I found Christopher on the beach and I think he’s been beaten pretty bad….”

Chapter 22 – Crossroads / Chapter 24 – A Family Affair

Glitter – Chapter 11 – Free Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well there’s this girl…”

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

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

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

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

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

“Then what do I do” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

They were both laughing as they entered the houseboat.

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fine” he lied “why wouldn’t I be?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

“Shut it” Aaron glared at his younger brother.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 10 – Beauty Finds Me / Chapter 12 – Energized