Tag Archive | Peter Fowler

Chapter 35 – A Day Out

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Fawn watched the gathering dark clouds with a worried frown. A raindrop splattered on her forehead “looks like it’s going storm.”

Frowning Peter glanced at his phone pulling up his weather app. “According to this it should blow over.”

“Are you sure that app is accurate” Francesca asked a worried tone in her voice

“As accurate as any weather man I guess” shrugging he couldn’t help but laugh as the clouds chose that moment to deluge them with water. “Girls you should probably go below until this blows over” he shouted over the wind and rain.

“What about you” Francesca demanded letting the rain pelt down on her.

“I’ll be fine,” he assured her with a quick kiss on the cheek “go”.

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Meanwhile Fawn was already climbing down the ladder when a large wave splashed over the side of the boat causing her to swallow water. Her hands were losing the grip on the metal rungs as she tried to catch her breath. Another wave lapped up against the boat causing her to lose what little strength she had.

“Fawn” Francesca screamed running for the side of the boat as she swayed with the bucking of the boat. Once the boat settled down after the wave she leaned over the side catching a quick glimpse of her friend before the girl was lost beneath another wave.

Strong arms pulled her from the side of the boat. “Put this on” Peter shouted thrusting a life jacket into her arms.

She tried to push it away struggling to see where her friend was. His persistence paid off as she finally allowed him to slip it over her head. “What about you” she shouted as the rain pelted them

“I’m an expert swimmer” he assured her like that would make a difference if he was knocked overboard.

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She made to pull it over her head, “I’m not wearing it if you’re not.”

“Ugh fine” he grunted slipping one over his head “better?”

“Much” she turned to lean over the side of the boat once more. “There” she pointed at a spec in the distance.

Nodding Peter lifted binoculars to his eyes. Grimly he moved back to the helm to turn the boat around. “Keep an eye on her,” he handed her the binoculars “I’m going to radio for help.”

Worry gnawed at the inside of her stomach. She should have insisted she wear a life jacket. Maybe they should have double checked the weather before setting out. There had to have been something they should have done that should have prevented this from happening.

Her hands clamped around the binoculars keeping an eye on the girl in the water, wincing each time a wave washed over her. Each time the head went under she held her breath waiting, hoping to see it come up again. In the distance she could see another boat. Were they coming to help? Would they see her in time?

***

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“Sorry guys” Lee pointed towards the darkening sky “we’re going to have to turn back.”

“But the weatherman said it’s going to pass” Edelle pouted. “Can’t we just wait it out?”

“I think the weatherman is wrong” Lee shrugged “I don’t want to chance it.”

The wind was picking up, whipping her long blonde hair around her face. He was right of course. She was just a little disappointed. Once he suggested going out on his boat she had to admit she was looking forward to it. It had been a spur of the moment decision and Prisha had been willing to watch Avery for the weekend. Glancing over at Castel she could tell he was nervous. “Looks like we’ve been rained out” she smiled at him “Lee thinks it’s best that we turn back.”

Nodding Castel breathed a sigh of relief, “do you have any rain gear” he asked.

“I don’t think umbrella’s are going to do much good” she shouted back as the wind picked up.

“No not that” he shook his head “raincoats?”

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“Here” Lee approached them handing them each a life jacket. “Put these on.”

“Is it going to get that bad” Castel asked putting the life jacket on.

“Better safe than sorry” he said with a grin. “We probably won’t need them.”

They were all wearing life jackets by the time the first drops of rain began to fall. “Is that another boat” Edelle asked pointing ahead of them.

“Looks like it” Lee nodded “we’ll want to keep our distance. We don’t want to run into them if the wind picks up. Handing Castel a pair of binoculars “keep an eye on them for me.”

“Oh no” he groaned “I think someone fell overboard.”

Lee’s muscles tensed as his jaw ticked as he absorbed the news. His knuckles turned white as he steered the boat towards the other. “Keep an eye on them and warn me if I’m overtaking them to quick.”

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“What about the girl” Castel asked “Shouldn’t we try to rescue her?”

Reaching for the radio he called the coast guard giving them their coordinates. “That’s all we can do for now. Keep watch on that boat. I bet anything they’re turning around. The last thing we need is for them to collide with us.”

“Right” Castel nodded pressing the binoculars to his eyes. “I see her” pointed “she’s struggling to stay above water.”

“Must have fallen in before putting on a life jacket” Lee muttered. “I’m going to lay anchor. The current will bring the girl towards us.” He took off his life jacket, then his shirt and shoes.

“What are you doing” Edelle demanded of her cousin.

“I’m the best swimmer here” he shrugged “that girl doesn’t stand a chance if we don’t do something quick.”

“But” she snapped her mouth shut. “Do what you need to do but wear this” she handed him his life jacket.”

***

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Turning the weather channel off Mindy turned to Coral. “We can’t go out with that storm coming in.”

“It’s going to be that bad” Coral asked setting her tablet aside.

“It’s not so much the storm as it’s my limited boating skills” she admitted. “Maybe if I knew more this little storm wouldn’t be so bad.”

“It’s okay” she smiled looking relieved “I didn’t really want to leave dock.”

“Why is that” Mindy asked sitting beside her.

Sighing she stared at her hands “it’s hard to explain. I mean I never had a near drowning experience or anything. I just don’t like water.”

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“Is that why you never go swimming” Mindy asked curious now that it wasn’t some dramatic event in her girlfriends life.

“I guess” shrugging unable to look up. “When I was a kid I had this fear that my shoes would fall in the water and soon everything else would follow.”

“Why didn’t you just wear the shoes” she asked reasonably.

“I don’t know” she huffed “I know it’s stupid. I don’t even know why I was so worried about losing my shoes”

This time Mindy didn’t even try to hide her amusement. “I’m sorry it’s just so funny.”

“I know it’s stupid she covered her burning cheeks behind her hands.

“We’ll have to work on that” Mindy said once she’d quit laughing.

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“Now that you know my unreasonable fear you have to tell me something.”

“What do you want to know” Mindy asked.

“Hmm” she thought for a moment. Turning to look at the woman beside her “why do you work so much? It’s like you never relax and enjoy life.”

“Relaxing means I’m not accomplishing anything” she said “since we’re not going out I really should go back to work.”

“Do you measure your success by how much work you do” Coral asked keeping her from retreating to her drafting room. “What about family and friends? Having fun?”

“I really don’t have family or many friends” pausing she took Coral’s hand “except for you. I don’t really need anything else.”

***

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Grant hadn’t heard from January since the night she left with her brother. How could she not see the guy was no good? He could understand it though. He wouldn’t be able to believe his brother Rex being that way. Not that Rex would ever be like that.

A feeling of restlessness came over him causing him to pry himself from the bed he’d been glued to for the past week. Had it really been that long? He’d ever been that messed up over a girl before or anyone for that matter.

The house was silent as he made his way outside. He was sure Rex and Sandy were asleep. From the sounds from their room the night before they’d been up all night. Breathing deeply, he filled his lungs with the early morning breeze coming in over the ocean. Humming softly he began walking along the road. A casual stroll to the beach would do him good.

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He needed to get back into a routine. He had no reason to feel guilty over what happened. He hadn’t done anything wrong. He had tried to stop them from leaving. He’d been hit over the head while they left him behind. His only hope was that January didn’t waste her life trying to help someone who didn’t deserve it. Unfortunately that’s exactly what it looked like she was doing.

A blast from a car horn scattered his thoughts as he jumped grabbing his chest in surprise. The car came to a screeching halt inches from him. Shaking his head he wondered how he’d managed to wander out into the road.

The driver got out “what the hell’s wrong with you?”

Flinching at the man’s angry words Grant shrunk back. “Sorry. I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”

The anger in the man’s eyes faded “are you alright? Do you need help?”

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“I’m okay thanks” he turned around “I should probably go back.”

Nodding the man watched him “I’m on my way to the Hollis Resort. I’m attending a business convention.” He paused “I could skip the meeting if you’d like to join me. I could use a relaxing day on the beach.”

“Um I” Grant stumbled over his words but nodding at the offer. “I’d like that. I could use some fresh air.”

“Hop in” he motioned towards the car. “I’m Kade by the way.”

“Grant” he introduced himself “what kind of business are you in” he asked as he got into the car.

Chapter 34 – Pleasant Encounters /

Chapter 34 – Pleasant Encounters

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Francesca walked onto Peter’s houseboat. “Nice” she greeted him as he walked towards her.

“Is that everything” he asked eager to set sail.

Sucking in her breath a wave of guilt sweeping through her “not exactly.”

Putting his hands on her hips he pulled her close. “What do you mean? Not exactly.”

“I sort of invited Fawn” she held her breath expecting the worst.

Leaning forward he rested his forehead on hers. “She’s going to have to learn to be on her own sooner or later. You know that don’t you?”

Nodding she looked at the deck. The floor was easier to concentrate on than his disappointed expression in his eyes. “I feel so bad for her,” she explained.

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“So do I” he sighed stepping back. Grinning he winked at her “I guess spending the weekend without any clothes on is out of the question.”

“As if that was going to happen anyway” she snorted returning his grin.

“Hey a guy can dream can’t he” he chuckled walking towards the ladder leading to the upper deck. “I got everything on your list. You might want to store your stuff and check to make sure. Once we set sail I’d hate to have to make a detour to get supplies.”

“Whatever we don’t have we’ll do without” she said, shaking her head at him. She knew by the stiffness of his movements that he was disappointed with the change of plans. She couldn’t blame him. They’d been planning this for months. They’d had to change the date several times already and they needed the break.

With a sigh, she turned to do as was requested. She stored her things in their room making sure they were well packed. When she was done she glanced at the time wondering if Fawn was coming or not. The girl was ditsy at the best of times but not irresponsible enough to not at least call if she wasn’t coming.

Walking onto the deck, she scanned the nearby road. Sighing in relief when a familiar car drove up and parked. A pink haired girl got out and pulled several bags from the car.

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Walking out to help her Francesca said “I don’t think you’ll need all of that stuff.”

“I didn’t know what to bring” she explained “will it get cold at night on the ocean? Will we go into town?” She glanced up to where Peter was watching them “I ruined your plans didn’t I?” Shaking her head she looked away “maybe I shouldn’t go. I don’t want to intrude.”

“You’re not intruding” she insisted waving up at Peter “he’s just grumpy because we’re late.”

“Need help” he called down to them.

“Now we’ve got it” Francesa called up to him. “We better hurry before our captain gets any grumpier.” When Fawn still hung back she smiled “come on. He’s just a little disappointed his plans were changed. He’s not upset or mad at you.”

Giving her an uncertain look “are you sure?” She took a hesitant step forward as if making up her mind “it’s better than being at home alone.”

***

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“Achoman” Avery cried jumping out at Castel as he walked onto the porch.

“Hey buddie” Castel greeted the little boy picking him up.

Avery giggled pressing sticky kisses to his cheeks “missed you.”

“I know bud. I’m sorry” he apologized. He’d been away for a week visiting his parents. “Where’s mommy” he asked.

Pointing towards the house “in there.” He cuddled into Castel laying his head on his shoulder refusing to be put down.

Frowning Castel couldn’t rid himself from the feeling that something was wrong. It wasn’t like Edelle to let Avery outside alone. Not to mention Avery usually wasn’t one to cling to anyone. Opening the door he could hear the sound of raised voices “Edelle” he called waiting for her to come.

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A few seconds later Edelle walked into the kitchen. “Castel you’re back” she greeted him with a lackluster smile. “Avery” she frowned “you were supposed to be napping.”

She moved to take her son from Castel’s arms. “No mama no” he cried grabbing hold of Castel’s shirt refusing to let go.

“It’s alright” Castel said “I don’t mind holding him.”

“As much as I appreciate the offer” Edelle said “this little guy needs to have his nap.” Glancing over her shoulder “besides I could use a little help.”

“Is it your ex” she asked ready to punch the guys lights out for leaving her.

“No. It’s my cousin Lee. He and Fawn broke up.” She gave him a sad smile, “I know it’s a lot to ask but will you talk to him?”

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“I can try” he said a little unsure what he could do to help.

“That’s all I ask” she stretched to give him a peck on the cheek before taking her son from his arms.

Walking into the living room Castel found the same young man that had made his first date with Edelle so miserable. “Edelle asked me to talk to you” Lee grunted in response “what exactly should we be talking about?”

“She thinks I’m being unreasonable” he snapped at him.

“And are you” he asked leaning against the wall. Lee was a few years younger than him. He remembered being that stubborn and sure of himself at that age. It had ruined a lot of relationships for him.

“Maybe” Lee mumbled. He threw himself on the couch in a dejected heap.

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“You still obsessed about the inheritance you think you should have had” he asked knowing that had been a hot topic last time. “Believe me having money doesn’t solve your problems. I spent several years trying to pretend I didn’t have any. I lied about my family to my fiance and let’s just say things didn’t work out well for me.

Grunting Lee met his gaze “you’re referring to Blair Gray aren’t you?”

“Yeah my biggest regret” he shrugged. “It no longer hurts. I’m at a place where I can see what I did wrong. If I had done things differently been less afraid to be myself, things might have turned out differently. I might even have won the girl.” He stared at the younger man a moment longer before asking “are you ready to be yourself?”

“I am being myself” he snapped.

“So you want to be a jerk” he observed shaking his head. Don’t let your obsession ruin something you want. Don’t give it that much control. That’s the past. Don’t let it destroy your future.”

“What do I do” he cried “I don’t know anymore.”

***

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“Hey” Macy reached across the table touching Dakota’s hand “what’s wrong?”

“Nothing” she mumbled shaking her head and giving her a vacant smile.

“Don’t give me that” Macy insisted. “I can tell something is bothering you.” Squeezing her hand “tell me. Please.”

“My parents are coming to visit” she informed her.

“That’s a good thing right” Macy asked her nose crinkling in concern. “You’ve told them about us right?”

“Oh sure that’s not an issue” she waved the girls concerns away. “But I don’t know if Montana has told them about Tanner.”

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“And he’s going to be a problem” Macy asked.

“Oh, he’s going to be a big problem, a huge problem,” she extended her arms wide. “Waylon is cool but Zach….” she sighed.

“Tanner is a nice guy. A little rough on the outside” Macy observed “your dad’s will like him.”

“Not if Zach dies of shock first” she muttered “you don’t know my dad. He’s a big ol cinnamon roll. Afraid of his own shadow most of the time.”

“I think you’re worrying about nothing” Macy assured her “I bet Zach will like him.”

“I hope so” she gave her an uncertain look.

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“Trust me Tanner wouldn’t hurt a fly” she laughed causing several heads to turn in their direction. “Trust me. He’s an old teddy bear. It’s why he can put up with all those awful kid who want to go home from vacation bragging they learned how to surf.”

“Even if my dad does freak out it won’t be my fault” Dakota pushed her half eaten meal aside. “Do you think I should give Waylon a heads up? Warn him that dad might freak?”

“You know what I think” she asked fingers tapping the table to the music “let’s dance.”

“What” she demanded confused.

“Dance” she stood up taking her girlfriends hand “we’re on a date. Your date wants to dance.”

“But I…” when she couldn’t come up with a good enough excuse she allowed Macy to pull her towards the dancing floor.

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“Every guy here is wishing they were me right now” Macy grinned at the woman swaying in her arms.

“They do not” she protested “they wish they were me.” Pulling Macy close “because you’re absolutely stunning.” She brushed her lips across Macy’s wishing she could do more. “We should probably go….”

“You must be reading minds again” she laughed as they left the dance floor. “We could go back to my place. I have it all to myself. Fawn is gone for the weekend.”

Eyes sparkling Dakota tugged on her hand “sounds perfect.” When they got to the car she said “mind if we go to the house first. I need to let Montana know and check on Sophie.

“Can do” she her laughter crystal clear “You might want to pack a few things. Unless you’re planning on spending the entire time in bed.”

“Now that’s an inviting idea” she giggled “a very pleasant idea.”

***

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Montana leaned into Tanner as they strolled down the beach. She used to like the beach because of all the hot surfers she used to watch. Now she liked it for one particular hot surfer. A happy little sigh escaped her drawing the attention of her companion.

“What was that for” Tanner asked smiling as he turned towards her his fingers tangling in her long fiery hair.

“Nothing” she looked away only to have him move into her field of vision.

“That wasn’t nothing” he observed his voice low caressing her with it’s warm tones.

“I’m so happy” she grinned at him “I keep expecting something happen. Like I’ll wake up to find that this is just a dream.”

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“It’s not a dream” he said stepping closer.

“I know” she scarcely breathed “I keep pinching myself to make sure.”

“I’m no dream” he leaned in close “there is something I’ve been dreaming of.” Tilting her chin up he bent down brushing her lips with his. He felt her move against him. Her motions innocent, clumsy,exploratory as she sought to intensify the kiss. Pulling away before he gave into the fire growing within him he rested his forehead on hers.

Closing her eyes she felt his heat surrounding her like he was the only person other than herself in existence. Stretching she wrapped her arms around him “wow” she squeaked causing him to smile down at her.

Chapter 33 – Accepting Advice /

Glitter – Chapter 21 – Crossroads

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Lee slumped against the door as the girl walked towards him.

“You weren’t supposed to be here” she scowled at him stopping several feet away.

Shrugging he pushed himself from the door. “Can we talk. Please.” The entreaty in his tone was surprising to both of them.

“Don’t you think you’ve said enough” she asked glancing behind her.

“I’m not going to hurt you” he shoved his hands in his pockets. “I only wanted to understand why?”

“You know why” she crossed her arms her nostrils flaring.

“I’ll get help” he promised stepping towards her.

Taking several steps backwards “you’ve said that before. You never change.”

“This time I will” he cried hands reaching out to her. “Please I don’t want to lose you too.”

“What do you mean, lose me too” she asked her resolution slipping.

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Stopping he snapped his mouth shut. “Fuck” he slammed his fist into a nearby wall. Turning he walked down to the water. He needed to get away. To think. Maybe he really did need help. He heard her call his name but he kept on going. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her anymore than he already had.

Fawn watched him go. She took a tentative step to follow then stopped. What good would it do? They’d been down this road before. She’d always when after him. He always promised to get help and never did. It was time to end the cycle. It was in his ball park now to decide what he wanted.

Walking into the silent boathouse she let her hand run along the wall. They’d had so many good times here. All marred with the idea that it could have been better if he only had the money he’d been cheated out of. Shaking her head she never understood his obsession. It wasn’t like he was living paycheck to paycheck. He had everything he needed and more.

Wiping at a tear on her cheek she went to the bedroom to get her things. Things would have been better if he hadn’t been here at all. Moving to the closet she took the few items she’d left there out laying them on the bed. The empty space her things left behind made her sick inside. The door behind her opened. Without looking she barked “go away.”

***

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“Thought you might need some help” a girls voice said behind her.

“Francesca” she cried running to give her a hug “I’m sorry.”

“Hey” Francesca rubbed Fawn’s back “it’s going to be okay.”

Fawn leaned into her crying little “am I doing the right thing?”

“Of course you are” she soothed patting her back. “If you don’t leave he’ll continue this behavior.”

“I know” she lifted red rimmed eyes “but is it really so bad? I mean he’s not abusive or anything. Maybe I’m making too much of this.”

Lifting the girls chin up Francesca shook her head. “He left you on the side of the road. No one does that.”

“He was upset” she tried to cover for him “and I told him to leave me there.”

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“What if something had happened to you” she asked.

“Nothing did.”

“Thankfully” Francesca sighed sitting on the side of the bed. “What do you want to do?”

Looking around the room Fawn shook her head. “I don’t know. I thought I did but I don’t.”

“Sweetie” she patted the bedspread beside her “let me ask you one thing. How does he make you feel?”

Sitting beside her Fawn shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Of course you do” she prompted.

“Insignificant” she mumbled “like I don’t matter. Like the only thing he cares about is money.”

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“Do you see that changing if you stay” she asked.

Tears rolled down her cheeks “no” her voice was small and sad.

“Then it’s time for a change” Francesca said “it doesn’t have to forever. If he changes you can come back.”

“I know it’s just….” sniffing a little “I don’t want to hurt him.”

“Sometimes that’s the only way people realize they have to change” she said “sometimes it has to hurt.”

“I know” she mumbled. Standing up she asked “did you bring any boxes?”

“They’re in the truck” Francesca said “I’ll go get them.”

Walking outside she noticed Peter was down by the water’s edge talking to Lee. She hoped he was talking some sense into the guy.

***

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Peter didn’t know what to say. He thought Lee was being an idiot for being here when he said he wouldn’t be. With effort he restrained himself from saying so. “How are you holding up” he asked instead.

“I messed up” he said.

“You did” he nodded without offering sympathy.

“What do I do” he asked looking up at the other man.

“Get help like you’ve promised a hundred times before” he suggested “talk to someone.”

“She doesn’t want to hear about it….”

“Not her you idiot” Peter cut him off. “A professional. Fawn doesn’t want to hear about your hang ups about money anymore.”

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“I’m not crazy” was his first knee jerk reaction.

Grunting Peter ran a hand through his hair. “If you want my opinion you are.” That got Lee climbing to his feet, anger flashing in his eyes.

“You’re letting a beautiful girl slip through your fingers because of your obsession. If that isn’t crazy I don’t know what is.”

Sagging like wilted lettuce he whined “you don’t understand….”

“And I don’t want to” Peter cut him off. “Look I think you’re a nice guy but if you continue the way you are you’re going to lose the best thing you have going for you.” Pausing he walked a few steps away “get help.”

Lee stared out across the water. The idea he needed help running through his mind again. He didn’t know anymore.

***

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Edelle leaned into Castel as they watched Minions with the boys. “Not exactly the romantic evening you envisioned is it” she whispered in his ear.

Smiling he shook his head. “No it’s..” pausing he searched for the right words.

“It’s alright to say you’re bored” she chided him. “Most guys I’ve dated since having Avery haven’t even gotten this far.”

“I wasn’t going to say boring” he protested despite his lips quivering.

“Liar” she giggled as his fingers tried to tickle her sides.

“Mama shhh” Avery put a finger to his lips which was instantly mimicked by Neel.

“I guess you were told” Castel chuckled earning himself a shush from Neel.

“So were you” she whispered taking his hand. “Next time I promise I’ll get a babysitter.”

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“No this is fine” he protested “I’m enjoying it.”

She gave him a long considering look. “I’m not sure if I should believe you. It’s nice of you to say so though.”

He could see the uncertainty in her eyes. Probably because most men run in the opposite direction with they find out the woman they’re interested in is pregnant or has kids. He’d done it himself in the past. Maybe this was a sign he was ready to settle down. Ready to stop running from the past and what might have been beens. There was no point holding on to the anger he had surrounding a lot of his memories. Blair had made the right decision. He all but forced her into it. He had acted like an ass.

“What was that look for” Edelle asked lifting a hand to soothe his frown from his forehead.

“Mama” Avery complained “shhhh.”

“Sorry baby” she whispered to her son. Turning to Castel she took his hand and led him into the other room where they could talk.

Looking at his feet instead of into her eyes “I’m sorry” he murmured.

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“For what” she asked motioning for him to sit. When he was situated she sat in his lap wrapping her arms around his neck. “Something’s bothering you. I can see it in your eyes.” She didn’t add that the frown marks were a dead give away as she let her fingers trace the lines. “You were thinking of her again, weren’t you?”

Meeting her gaze he nodded. “It’s been over for years and I still can’t forgive myself for the things I did to her.”

She could hear the regret in his voice. Leaning her head on his shoulder “you were a lot younger then” she tried to console him.

Grunting he shook his head “that’s no excuse. It took me years to even admit I was at fault. It was because I didn’t know myself back then. I thought I could pretend to be what she wanted and pretend to be what my parents expected me to be. In the process I turned into something I didn’t want to be.”

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Brushing his hair back “I like who you turned out to be. You save my son’ life.”

Shrugging a little he tried to brush her thanks away. “Well he had the really hot mom.”

Slapping his shoulder she protested “you didn’t even meet me until afterwards.” Cupping his face she forced him to look at her. “Stop running from who you are” leaning in close brushing her lips across his “because who you are is pretty damn good.”

His arms tightened around her. He couldn’t find the words to express what she meant to him. He could feel the shackles of the past falling away from his mind and soul. He wasn’t perfect nor ever would b but maybe he wasn’t as bad as he believed he was.

***

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A knock at the door prevented him from saying anything. The look they shared as Edelle moved to see who was at the door was enough. “That’s probably Neel’s parents” she said walking away.

“Prisha, Ajay come in” her voice was warm and welcoming.

“Thank you so much for watching our son” Prisha said coming inside “sorry it was so last minute.”

“Don’t worry about it” she waved the woman’s words of thanks away. “Avery loved having someone to play with.”

“Neel can be a handful” Ajay said “I hope he behaved himself.”

“About as well as any three-year old can” she laughed. “Believe me Neel wasn’t the one causing trouble. That’s my son’s middle name.”

Prisha waved at Castel who was leaning against the wall. “Were you two on a date” she inquired.

Shrugging he said “one of the hazards of dating a single mom.”

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“We’re sorry” Ajay repeated “if we had known we would have asked someone else to babysit.”

“Don’t worry about it” Castel encouraged “it was enlightening.”

Walking over to him Edelle kissed his cheek. “That’s one of the sweetest things anyone has ever said about helping me babysit. Most of the time the guy makes up an excuse to leave as soon as possible.” She leaned her head back to smile up at him.

“Well” he chuckled “I need help getting up to date on kids movies. I don’t know what’s out there anymore.”

“Why” she asked curious “I thought you were bored.”

“I wasn’t bored” he protested.

“Uh huh” she giggled kissing his cheek. “Nice try.” turning to Prisha she said “the boys are watching Minions. They’ve been awfully quiet so either they’re up to something or they’re asleep.”

“That’s never a good sign with kids” Ajay chuckled following the other’s into the living room.

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“Aw look at them” Prisha cooed fining both boys cuddled together on the floor asleep.

“I’ll get him” Ajay said bending to scope his son into his arms. “Hopefully he stays like this the rest of the night.”

Following him to the door Prisha turned saying “thanks again for watching him for us. Next time it’s on us.”

“Avery enjoyed it” she assured the older woman waving as they left.

“But we’ll accept your offer the next time we want a night out just the two of us” Castel said “we’ll let you know when.”

“Good night” Prisha said as they closed the door behind them.

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Turning Edelle asked “will there be a next time?”

“Of course there will be” he leaned down pressing his lips to hers.

“Good” she sighed breathing deeply. “It’s been a long time since I’ve met anyone willing to give me a chance once they find out I have a kid.”

“As far as I’m concerned Avery’s an added bonus” he hugged her tight. “After all it’s not everyday I get mistaken for Aquaman.”

Chapter 20 – Learning to Cope /

Glitter – Chapter 14 – Rare Expressions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What” he shouted staring at her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It is unfair” he insisted.

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

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

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

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“Biologically….”

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

“Where are you going” he demanded.

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You know what they say….”

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

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

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

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

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

“Sounds like fun” he teased.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

547

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

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

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

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

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

“It might make things easier” he suggested.

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

“Is he still seeing your neighbor” he asked.

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

“She could be nice….”

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

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

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

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

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

Wow….just …. Wow” shaking his head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You want to try it” Tristen asked.

“You mean like now” she asked looking around.

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

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

Nodding he pointed “want to swing?”

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

“No fair” he cried chasing after her.

***

550

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

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

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

Blinking he looked away from her “I uh…”

“You did forget” she accused shaking her head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We did have the sex talk with him…”

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

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

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

Chapter 13 – Unique / Chapter 15 – Paint a Picture