(Part 2 of The Hardcastle Saga)
(Part 3 of The Hardcastle Saga)
Copyright S J Crabb 2016
S J Crabb has asserted her rights under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the Author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction and except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission of the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes only.
Chapter Twenty One
Chapter Twenty Two
Chapter Twenty Three
Note From The Author
So this is Bennigan’s, my soon to be home from home. As I stand outside I take in the outside of the bar that my father has arranged for me to work at for the summer. It looks ok from the outside, quite smart really, knowing my father though he has an ulterior motive for getting me this job. Not wanting to think about him for a moment more than necessary I take a deep breath and push open the door in front of me.
Loud music greets me as I enter the dim interior. Looking around me I can tell that it is popular. The noise levels alone indicate that and the fact that it is so busy on a Monday speaks volumes. As I venture in further I see that the clientele leaves a lot to be desired. Groups of men are congregated around large screens watching the game and shouting and cheering as their team scores. Despite the early hour they are knocking back the beers and my heart sinks. Keeping my eyes down I head towards the bar. As I reach it I lift my gaze and just for a minute my breath leaves my body. Two gorgeous brown eyes are staring intently at me which I see belong to a guy about my age. He has dark brown hair that is slightly unruly and has a wild look about him. I notice that he is wearing a black T shirt that must be slightly too small for him as it clings to his body like a second skin and his bulging biceps are decorated with intricate tattoos that look like some form of dark symbolism.
Swallowing hard I try to focus and re set the frozen mask of in difference on to my face. He appears to be watching me with amusement which instantly gets my back up. He is probably used to favourable reactions from women given the fact that he is obviously not human; I mean perfection like that doesn’t exist in the real world, well at least not in mine. His eyes flash mischievously and he smiles. “Can I help you?” Shaking myself inwardly I gather myself together. “My name is Scarlett Knight and I am here regarding the job that my father has set up for me, you may be expecting me.” Looking interested he nods and shouts, “Dylan, new recruits here.” Looking over I can see that he has called to another man further down the bar. He looks slightly older but I can tell that they are related due to certain similarities in their appearance. Dylan comes over and smiles at me and his eyes sparkle. “Pleased to meet you, Scarlett isn’t it? My dad’s told us to expect you. I’m Dylan and this is my baby brother Drake.” Flashing them a brief smile I nod. “Hi, pleased to meet you too.” I feel a bit awkward as they both openly stare at me. I may not be the prettiest girl around but I know that I can hold my own. My sisters choose to make the most of their assets but I prefer to dress down and try to blend into the background. Unlike them I don’t like to draw attention to myself and just aim to get by as best I can by occupying the shadows. When you come from a family like mine that is actually quite a difficult thing to do and I pride myself on my privacy and ability to get by unnoticed.
Dylan looks at me with interest. “You’re nothing like I thought you’d be.” Annoyed I snap, “What were you expecting some sort of busty Hooters style blonde or something.” The brothers laugh out loud and Drake says, “She knows you so well already bro, you’ll have to watch her, before long your secrets won’t be secrets any more.” Dylan grins. “Come on Scarlett, I’ll grab you a T Shirt and show you how it all works around here.” As I follow him I can feel Drake’s eyes burning into my back. There is something about him that I can’t quite fathom out. I soon will though, let’s just say it’s a family trait. All of my family have the ability to discover everything about a person just by touching them. We know what they like and don’t like and what their fears are. Kind of handy in some ways and I look forward to using it on him.
Dylan hands me a similar black T Shirt to the one that they have on and I quickly put it on over the vest top that I am wearing. He looks at me appreciatively which makes me scowl and he laughs as he sees my expression, which only makes me even more annoyed. “Come on Scarlett, I’ll show you around and then you can start by clearing tables. Maybe tomorrow you can progress on to the next level of your training.” Raising my eyes I look at him with a blank expression. “And what would that be?” He winks and grins saying, “Taking orders.”
I soon set to work clearing the tables. It is mind numbingly boring but at least it gives me something to do. I have been dreading this summer. I live with my mom in Rivercreek Falls for most of the time. My parents split up when I was very young and I don’t see my father much, which is actually a really good thing. I hate him with a passion. There is no love there at all and I can’t even begin to imagine what my mom ever saw in him. Unfortunately for me I have to spend all my holidays with him and his many other children. It appears that he has had many wives along the way and I have two sisters and four brothers. The only ones that share the same mother are the twins, Ashley and Savannah. Just thinking about my sisters makes me want to hurl. They are the complete opposite of me and everything that I despise. My brothers aren’t much better and I avoid them all as much as I can, which is easy as they appear to detest me as much as I do them. Yes, this job is a godsend really because it keeps me away from all of them.
As I work I keep on catching sight of Drake as he works. There is something about him that intrigues me. Occasionally I catch his eye and I almost melt inside when he smiles or winks at me. Not that I would ever let him see the effect he has on me, no I am a master of the guarded expression. Most people think of me as difficult and surly. I have a very small group of friends back home which suits me fine. I know that if I wanted to it could be so different. I could rule the school if I wanted to, which I most definitely do not want to do. Girls are scared of me and boys just want to possess me. Well I’m not interested in any of it and all I want is to fade into the shadows and forget who I am and where I come from.
By the end of my first shift my feet ache and I am exhausted. Not from the physical work, no that doesn’t bother me. I am just exhausted at fending off the advances and gropes of the customers who obviously think that they have free reign to use all of the facilities, even the staff. It’s not just me; I watch the women flirting with Drake and Dylan and notice many a phone number passed across the bar towards them. I watch it all in disgust. Some people have no pride; I hope that I will never be one of those women. What annoys me the most though is the prickle of jealousy that I get when Drake smiles at or chats to one of the women. I must get a grip, he is off limits and I tell myself that I am not interested.
As we clear up Dylan shouts over to me. “Great job Scarlett, you’re a good worker. Same time tomorrow?” I nod in agreement making sure that my expression is blank. As I grab my stuff Drake says, “Do you need a lift Scarlett?” I look at him in surprise and he looks almost embarrassed. “Look, I don’t want you walking home by yourself at night, especially with some of our customers still roaming around.” I allow him a brief smile. “Thanks but I have a ride.” Suddenly I hear the sound of a motorbike outside. “I think that’s it, see you tomorrow.” As I turn I think I see a disappointed expression pass across his face but then it is gone. Shrugging he just says, “Ok, fine. See you tomorrow.” As I close the door behind me I realise that I am very much looking forward to tomorrow.
I can see one of my brothers waiting for me on his motorbike and shudder inside. Caleb is my least favourite. Typical that he was sent to pick me up. He looks annoyed and shouts over, “Hurry up will you I’ve got a hot date tonight and the last thing I want to do is ferry you around.” Biting back a retort I plant myself behind him on the bike. I learnt at a very young age not to antagonise him. He lives with my father full time alongside our other brother Marius. They absolutely hate us descending on them every holiday and make our lives hell. They spend most of their lives creating trouble and are feared throughout the town. Luckily it isn’t far and he drops me off home before roaring away into the night. I pity the poor girl that will have to deal with him tonight.
I try to slip inside the house before anyone notices me. All I want is to go to my room and hide. I can hear the television blaring out from the den and turn towards the stairs but before I can make it I hear voices coming and as I look I see my father’s latest girlfriend coming out of the kitchen talking on her phone. Noticing me she says into the phone, “Got to go babes, talk soon.” Fixing a sugary grin on to her face she stops in front of me. “Hiya honey, have you had a good time.” Smothering a derisive snort I merely smile politely. “I started a new job today Luna, fun didn’t really come into it.” Looking surprised she says, “Why on earth are you working honey? Surely you’ve come here to relax for the summer, not work away in some god awful place.” Shrugging I look at her blankly. “Ask my father, he arranged it.” She emits a shrill laugh and raises her eyes. “What’s he like, I mean it’s not as if you need the money is it? No you should be with Ashley and Savannah enjoying his membership at the country club. They have had quite a day there what with tennis, lunch and treatments in the spa. Let me have a word with him honey, I’ll sort it out don’t you worry.” I know she means well but quite honestly I would prefer to work day and night rather than go anywhere with them and especially to a country club. To my dismay she grabs hold of my arm and propels me along to the kitchen. “Let me make you something to eat honey. You must be starving.” Actually I do feel quite hungry so decide to follow her. She chatters on about nothing and I tune out. Looney Luna I call her, a vapid bottle blonde with the figure of a Victoria Secrets model. Just my father’s type. Despite the fact that everything she stands for disgusts me I do actually quite like her. She means well and has a big heart. My sisters get on well with her as she is into all of the things that they are. In fact she isn’t that much older than us and once again I despise my father for his penchant for young girls.
Luna makes me a sandwich which is surprisingly good. I didn’t realise how hungry I was and am grateful to her. As I finish up she hears the front door and heads outside to see who it is. I hear her squeal excitedly and with a sinking feeling realise that it must be my father. Quickly I grab some leftovers and sprint to the stairs before he can prise her face from his. The last thing I want is a conversation with him.
Luckily I make it to my room and kick the door shut and lock it. Finally I can relax. Dumping my bag on the floor I jump on to my bed with the leftovers and press the remote for the TV. I fully intend on staying here until I have to leave for my shift tomorrow. As prisons go it’s not so bad. My father is certainly loaded and doesn’t scrimp and scrape when it comes to the material things in life. We live in the largest house in town that he had purposefully built with all the latest mod cons and gadgets. Each of us has our own room equipped with everything that we could ever want. In fact all my life I have had whatever I wanted materialistically speaking. When it comes to my emotional well being – well the jury’s out on that one. My mother is no better and is just wrapped up in her new boyfriend and their life together and I just get in the way. I have never had a loving family to come home to which is probably like I am the way I am. My thoughts turn strangely to Drake. There is something about him that draws me to him and I’m not just thinking about his absolute gorgeousness. No there’s more to him than that, it’s as though he is vital to me in some way that I can’t put my finger on.
I can hear voices outside my door and recognise the shrill tones of my sisters. Despite what Luna told me about their day I know my father only too well. Their day at the spa was possibly orchestrated for an ulterior purpose. That’s all we are to him, pawns in his chess game of life. They will have some sort of mission to carry out as do I, although I have yet to find out what exactly.
Settling down for the night I put it all out of my mind and just concentrate on the banal dialogue of some movie that is on and I soon drift off to sleep.
As I sit behind my brother Ash on his motorbike I am looking forward to the day ahead. I managed to stay cocooned in my room all night and just grabbed some cereal from the kitchen when it was empty this morning. I had intended on making my own way here but Luna had caught me when I was leaving and called Ash to give me a lift. I don’t mind him as he keeps himself to himself like me. We hardly ever speak and I notice that he just does what he is told to do. Come to think of it considering they’re my family I know very little about them.
Once his duty is done he speeds off, probably on some other mission for my father and a strange feeling of excitement grips me as I walk up the steps to the bar.
The television is once again highlighting some game or another and there is loud music playing, filling the bar with loud angry tunes. I see Dylan clearing tables and he smiles as he sees me coming. “Hey Scarlett, good to see you, you came back for more I see.” I flash him the briefest of smiles and he grins at me. “One day I’ll see the full force of that smile of yours if it kills me. I know it’s in there somewhere.” Raising my eyes up I look around me. “Drake’s in the kitchen if you’re looking for him,” he says cheekily. My face flushes bright red because I realise that was exactly what I was doing. Defensively I retort, “In his dreams. No I was just wondering if we were moving on to phase two of my training.” Grinning he comes over and hands me a notepad and pen from his pocket. “Here you go, phase two complete.” Taking it from him I snort. “Is that it? Your training course leaves a lot to be desired.” Laughing he moves away and says over his shoulder, “Well it’s not rocket science darlin.” Despite how annoying he is I like Dylan a lot. He is easy going and friendly, the complete opposite to my family. How I wish my brothers were like him and Drake.
I put my bag away and head back to the bar. I start to busy myself with clearing the tables and keep an eye out for anyone that may want to order something. Before I even see him I know that Drake has entered the room. It’s as though we are connected and I can feel where he is before I can even see him. Looking up I catch him watching me and rather than look away he smiles good naturedly and says, “Hi Scarlett.” Once again I just smile briefly and carry on with what I’m doing. However I am conscious of every move that he makes and almost can’t concentrate when he is around.
I throw myself into the job in hand and after the first couple of hours I have fended off the hands of several semi drunken customers and taken several orders. The tips are good and I take great satisfaction in adding mine to the jar that is kept behind the bar. We will all share them at the end of the shift which is only fair really.
Before long Drake shouts over to me. “Hey Scarlett, why don’t you take a break? You can grab something to eat in the kitchen if you like. Mac will sort you out.” Suddenly I realise that I am famished and smile gratefully. Mac is the chef for want of a better word and soon fixes me up with a burger and fries. I sit eating it whilst I watch him work. He doesn’t say much which suits me fine but I enjoy seeing him working, it’s quite nice to have some company for a change. As I grab a coke Dylan comes in and flashes me a grin. “It’s getting busy out there, looks like we’re in for a good night.” I quickly jump down. “Sorry Dylan, I’ll get straight back to work.” He reaches out and puts his big burly hand on my shoulder and pushes me back down into my seat. “Relax darlin, you finish up here. You work really hard and deserve a bit of a rest. Anyway most of the current customers are here for Drake anyway so we may as well give them what they want.” He laughs as he sees my confused expression. “My little brothers got a bit of a fan club so to speak. They’re out in force tonight; it’s entertaining to watch though.” His words annoy me. The thought of other girls around Drake irritates me and I don’t know why. It’s not as though we are even friends let alone anything else, why should it bother me?
I give it another ten minutes and then grab my apron and head back out to the bar. Dylan wasn’t joking when he said there was a fan club here. There must be a dozen girls at the bar all vying for his attention. There is more make up and false extensions here than I have ever seen and they are all making the most of their considerable assets as they battle with each other for his attention. He appears to be lapping up the attention and catching me looking he grins mischievously. I pull a face and look away, suddenly the need to clear tables is overwhelming. I can’t help it and flick my gaze back to the scene at the bar. I notice a girl leaning on the bar looking at him with a flirtatious look thrusting her chest towards him. She has long blonde hair and is beautifully tanned. Her cut off shorts leave nothing to the imagination and her T shirt is exposing her chest. I hear her giggle and say, “Come on Drake, you know that all work and no play makes Drake a dull boy. Take the night off for once and show a girl a good time.” Seeing me curl my lip in disgust Drake laughs loudly. Seeing him look she swivels around and catches sight of me. Shock registers in her eyes as she notices my apron and she says in a shrill voice, “I never knew there was a job going here, why didn’t you say, you know I would have been interested?” Drake grins, “Nothing to do with me darlin, my father does the hiring and firing around here.” I see her eyes narrow as she looks at me and I turn away. Girls like her are everywhere both here in this town and at home. They’re all the same and my sisters are no different. I keep away from them as much as I can; they make me sick with their fake smiles and fake everything else. All that matters to them is landing the number one guy around and being seen with the right crowd, well they can keep it; I have too much self respect than to join in that sort of party.
Ignoring them all I carry on with my work. Occasionally I catch Drake watching me which sends shivers down my spine. He certainly affects me and it is extremely distracting.
As I come out of the kitchen with an order I can see the girl standing in front of me looking annoyed. “Miss, can you come to the rest rooms please. They’re disgusting and I cannot possibly use them in the state they’re in.” Looking at her in surprise I nod and head towards them. I only checked about twenty minutes ago and they were fine then. Being the only female member of staff means that I am responsible for the replenishment of the ladies facilities. Not a great job but somebody has to do it. However when I go inside it is obvious that they are fine. I spin around to leave and see the girl blocking the exit. She narrows her eyes and looks at me with a sneer. “I’ve seen you looking at my boyfriend and I don’t like it.” Wearily I raise my eyes. “Your boyfriend you say, and who would that be?” Her eyes flash and she approaches me. Without warning she reaches over and grabs my hair and twists my head around slamming me into the mirror. The force of it causes it to break and I feel a sudden pain as the sharp cut slices my head. “Stay away from Drake you little slut. I know your sort, a piece of low life scum bumming around in bars to make ends meet. Well for your information he’s taken so back off sister.” I can feel the rage building inside of me and know that there is nothing I can do to stop it. Quick as a flash I elbow her sharply in her stomach and as she relaxes her grip I twist around to face her. The rage is now consuming me and I can feel the fire in my eyes. Her expression changes to one of disbelief followed instantly by one of fear. I grab hold of her arm and twist it until she cries out in pain. I let the fire burn within me and it transfers to her body until it consumes her. I watch her pain and her eyes dilate and the fear overtakes her body. I can see everything within her and I use it against her. I can feel the fire in my eyes as I direct them towards her. “Just a word of advice sister know who you’re dealing with before you pick a fight. For your information Drake is not your boyfriend and I am not interested in him. If I was I wouldn’t let a piece of trash like you put me off either. Now I don’t like to get angry and you have brought my inner devil out which annoys me. The only thing that is stopping me from sending you straight to hell is the fact that I’m working and I kinda like my job so if you know what’s good for you you’ll leave this place and never come back, got it?” Tears are now running down her cheeks and she nods. I can feel the pain in her as I hold her in my grip. She is no match for me and she knows it. In disgust I release her and follow her outside as she runs from the room. There is a crowd of her friends waiting outside who look at us in stunned disbelief. Before she can leave however the exit is blocked and I sigh heavily as I see who it is. Filling the doorway is the intimidating site of my army of brothers all clad in their trademark leather jackets, their eyes flashing with menace. You could hear a pin drop in the bar as they look at the scene in front of them. The girl runs towards Caleb shouting, “Get her Caleb, she attacked me for no reason. I need you to sort her out.” Suddenly he laughs loudly and is joined by my brothers. The girl looks totally confused until Caleb says, “Well Morgan, I see you’ve met our sister.”
Morgan pales and looks between us all blindly. Her friends look away and there is a tense silence in the room. Looking at my brothers I say wearily, “What are you doing here?” Caleb laughs and his eyes flash with excitement. “We were sent to check on you, although by the looks of things you’ve got it covered.” They move to the side and Morgan races outside closely followed by her friends. Once again my brothers laugh and then head towards the bar to get a drink. I notice that nobody looks at them as they pass and I can feel the fear in the room. I push my hair back from my face and realise that I am bleeding. Sighing I head off to the rest rooms to see to the cut.
When I come out I see that my brothers are still here. They are quite an intimidating sight and I wish that they would leave. Before they see me I duck into the kitchen. Mac looks up as I enter. “You alright honey, things got a bit fraught out there for a minute.” Nodding I sink down on to a chair. He pushes a glass of water towards me which I accept with a grateful smile. Before he can say anything we look up as Drake comes into the kitchen. His face is thunderous and I feel suddenly nervous. He comes over and looking at me intently reaches a hand up to my head and traces the cut that won’t appear to stop bleeding. Taking a hanky from his pocket he holds it to my head and applies pressure. He sits down beside me and then says gently, “I’m sorry Scarlett. I should have known that Morgan would go after you. You didn’t deserve that.” I feel in total shock. He is looking at me so kindly that I feel strangely vulnerable and tears well up in my eyes. I am not used to people being kind to me and it takes all of my resolve not to dissolve in a heap in front of him. Instead I just blink and shrug. “It’s ok. I probably shouldn’t have lost my temper either. I hope that I haven’t driven your customers away.” Drake snorts in disgust. “Those are customers that we can do without. What did she say to you?” Lowering my eyes I say quietly. “That I was to keep away from you because you were her boyfriend.” He laughs incredulously. “Is that so? Well maybe in her dreams but having her as a girlfriend would be in my worst nightmares.” I choke down a laugh and he tilts my face towards his and I can see his eyes twinkling as he says, “That’s better; I knew you had it in you.” I can feel myself blushing and push him away. Smiling he says gently, “You know you should smile more often. It totally transforms you and I kind of like it.” Before I can answer Dylan pokes his head around the door. “You ok Scarlett? Sorry to ask but I’m dying out here.” Drake looks cross but I jump up. “Yes I’m fine thanks, I’ll be right there.” Not looking at Drake I race outside and notice in relief that my brothers have gone.
My shift continues as if nothing happened and I soon ease back into it. It certainly is a busy evening and it takes all of us just to keep everything going. We don’t stop and it is with considerable relief that we close the door after the last customer leaves. Dylan cashes up and hands me my share of the tips. “It was a good night, thanks Scarlett. Sorry it was a bit difficult earlier on.” Shrugging I pocket the money and turn to leave. Dylan grabs hold of my arm and looks at me with concern. “Are you ok Scarlett? It’s just that you don’t ever show anything and that’s not good.” I see his eyes filled with compassion and it causes a lump to form in my throat. I am not used to kindness and I react to it badly. Snatching my arm away I scowl at him. “I’m fine. Not everyone wants people knowing their business; some of us like to keep ourselves private if you know what I mean.” I feel bad as he looks at me with disappointment. Then Drake appears and sensing the awkward atmosphere comes over and nods to Dylan to leave us. As soon as he is out of earshot he says sternly. “That was un called for. He was only being kind. You know not everyone is after something, people can care without wanting anything in return. Sometimes it helps to talk.” Feeling ashamed I manage a small smile. “I’m sorry, you’re right I’m such a bitch. The trouble is you can see what stable I am from. There are not a lot of laughs at home that’s for sure and talking about ones feelings are seen as a sign of weakness where I’m from. You sort of develop a thick skin after a while.” I am surprised when a smile totally transforms Drake’s face. His eyes sparkle and I am totally mesmerised by them. “That’s better Scarlett. I knew you could do it. By the end of the Summer we won’t be able to shut you up.” I can tell that he is joking and relax with a small laugh. Suddenly he looks more serious and his eyes hold mine and I can’t look away. He stares at me for what seems like forever and then says softly, “There’s something about you Scarlett that I can’t work out. You’re not like any other girl that I have ever met.” I hear the sound of a motorbike outside which shatters the moment. Shrugging I look down. “Yeah well you probably wouldn’t want to meet a girl like me anyway. Trouble follows me wherever I go, it’s quite a lot to handle.” Quickly I leave before he has a chance to reply. I see Ash waiting for me and take up my position behind him on the bike. He hesitates and turns to look at me saying gruffly, “You ok?” Looking down I wrap my arms around me defensively and snap, “Why wouldn’t I be?” He turns around and starts the bike and once again I feel bad. As we head off I feel so alone.
As soon as we stop outside the house I fully intend on bolting straight to my room. As I get off the bike Ash turns to me and almost looks apologetic. “Sorry Scarlett I’ve been told to send you straight to his den, there will be no escaping him tonight.” I keep my expression blank but my insides are churning. Ash goes to say something but then thinks better of it and I can feel him watching me as I enter the house. My hand frozen on the door handle I turn and say, “What’s he got you doing?” Ash looks annoyed. “The usual violence and intimidation, I seem to just follow the others and back them up. “So how come you were at the bar earlier? I don’t buy the fact that you were there just to check on me.” Ash grins. “You can’t escape the fact little sis that we are all related. We knew that you were in trouble the moment that girl touched you. All we did was close our eyes and we could see where you were. Don’t tell me that you don’t feel it too, it’s what we do. We may not choose to be a family but we are one whether we like it or not.” Looking back at him I say quietly, “Thanks, maybe it’s not so bad to have brothers after all.” I leave him outside and almost before the door closes I hear his bike roar away. Taking a deep breath I steel myself to face my father. This is not going to be much fun that much I do know.
Reaching his den I go to knock but he calls me in before I even lay a hand on the door. With a heavy sigh I push the door open and go inside. The room is fairly large but very intimidating. The décor is dark and oppressive and there are heavy drapes at the window and dark heavy furniture littering the room. There are wall to wall bookcases groaning underneath the weight of thousands of books. We are all encouraged to read at least one of them every day. My father’s favourite saying is, knowledge is power, and he practices it every day. We all have a special gift where we just have to look at a page in a book and it is absorbed into our memory. Handy at school and this particular gift has served me well over the years. I approach the large intimidating desk and stand nervously in front of my father.
Devlin Knight is a powerful man. He is good looking and appears to be able to get any woman he wants. He has a certain charm about him that they apparently cannot resist. Most of my brothers look like him as do I. Only the twins look more like their mother which is probably why he indulges them so much. According to them their mother was his one true love. That I don’t believe because he obviously hasn’t got a heart. If he has it is of the blackest variety. He has no conscience and just does whatever he wants at all times. He looks up and then sits back in his chair and gestures for me to sit down opposite him. I set my expression to blank as I don’t want to let him inside my head. I don’t know why I think that this will make a difference because he knows everything anyway.
As he looks at me I can see his mind working away. He is always so intimidating and puts me on edge. He stares at me and speaks in his deep slow voice. “You’ve been avoiding me young lady.” I don’t say anything and just stare at him with a blank expression. He raises his eyes and his expression is curious. I shrug, “Maybe.” Leaning forward his eyes don’t leave mine for a second. “When you’re here Scarlett I want to spend time with you. The whole point of these visits is for us to get to know each other as a family. There is much I need to teach you and you need to understand where you come from.” I shrug and looking down breaking eye contact before he sees how much he unnerves me. Settling back in his chair he says, “So what did you learn today?” Before I can stop myself I snap, “That this town is full of creeps who prey on young girls.” I can feel his anger growing as the atmosphere changes in the room. He says menacingly, “You’ve got a smart mouth young lady just like your mother. Don’t let me have to silence it like I did hers.” Tears prick behind my eyes at the mention of my mother. She was a lot like me as I understand it and was a difficult conquest for him to crack. It just seemed to make him more determined to have her, a battle that he won in the end – as always. The trouble is when the honeymoon period wore off they clashed terribly. It was quite an intense relationship and it took its toll on my mother. He broke her spirit and it took her years to get back on an even keel. Shaking myself I look up at him defiantly. A small smile plays on his lips and his eyes burn intently. “I hear you found yourself in a situation today.”
My eyes flash and I can’t help but say, “ If you mean being assaulted for no reason by a psychotic bitch who slammed my face into a mirror, then yes I did find myself in somewhat of a situation today.” To my surprise he laughs and his eyes burn brightly. “And how did that make you feel?” I laugh hollowly. “It made my head hurt.” To my surprise he leans forward and reaches out grabbing hold of my arm. I can feel his power flowing through me as he reads me. I can see the excitement in his eyes and he smiles wickedly. “You may want to deny it all you like Scarlett but it is here inside you I can feel it. You felt powerful holding someone else’s destiny in your hands. At that moment you chose whether she lived or died and that felt good. She was powerless against you and that made you feel more alive than you have ever felt before. You may not like where you come from or what you are but you can’t ignore it. It is inside you and it is up to you how you use it.” Releasing my arm he continues to look deeply into my eyes as he leans back in his chair. “You have great potential Scarlett, more so than any of your brothers and sisters. You keep in the shadows and give nothing away. You may not like this but you are more like me than any of them. I will look forward to showing you how to harness the energy and use it to your advantage.” As I look at him I try to remain composed. I don’t want him to see inside my mind. I don’t want to be like him in any way shape or form. It is why I am like the way I am. I am constantly fighting against myself and I can’t let my guard down for a minute. What happened today was unfortunate. It took me by surprise and I don’t want to let it happen again. I was unprepared for the attack and should have seen it coming. If anything annoyed me about what happened it was my own lack of foresight. My father is still looking at me intently and I feel uncomfortable under his scrutiny. He laughs saying, “Go on, go and find Luna and she’ll find you something to eat. Oh and send your sisters in will you, it’s their turn now.” Gratefully I make a dash for the door. As I reach it he says in a sinister voice, “You can fight it all you want Scarlett but you will never escape it. Just learn to use it and you’ll find it easier.” I don’t turn around or react and head outside as quickly as possible.
As I head towards the kitchen I worry about what he said. The last thing I want is to be like him or my siblings. All I want is a normal happy life away from the rage and cruelty. The thought of what might lie ahead terrifies me and there is nobody who I can talk to about it. I would confide in one of my brothers or sisters but they seem to thrive on it all. I have never met a meaner bunch and I know that they would use my weakness against me. My thoughts turn to Drake and Dylan. They are both so kind and patient with me. If I could I would live with them both in the bar forever. I have never felt part of anything before like I do there. It feels safe and comfortable to me and I wish that I never had to leave.
I can hear them all even before I see them. The loud girly squeals of excitement shatter my ear drums and make me want to smash something. They look up as I enter and I see the twins grouped around Luna looking at some pictures in a magazine. Ashley says, “Oh I’m sorry, do we know you?” Savannah giggles and Luna looks puzzled. “Girls it’s your sister Scarlett, surely you remember her?” They giggle again and I feel annoyed at them. Luna may be dim but her hearts in the right place. Through gritted teeth I deliver my message. “You’re both wanted in the den.” I take some satisfaction as I see the worry in their eyes before they scoot nervously away. Smiling at me Luna says, “Im glad you’re here honey. The girls and I are planning a shopping trip to get some new clothes, your fathers treat. You must come too and we can make a day of it.” She looks at me as if I am one of her pet projects. “Hmm you always wear such plain things. You are such a pretty girl and I am sure that with my guidance I could make you into a real beauty. I mean the amount of money your father has and his daughter dresses like a hobo.” I know that she doesn’t mean anything by it and is only trying to be kind but I can’t help myself. Grinning I do a spin. “Didn’t you know Luna; hobo chic is so in at the moment. Goodness I thought that you would have known that.” To my surprise I hear a snort of laughter from the other side of the room. Looking over I see that Caleb is sitting on the couch in the corner watching the TV. Standing up he comes over and puts his arm around me. “You know what sis; you are fast becoming my favourite sister.” Luna looks at him in astonishment. “Oh no Caleb, you can’t have favourites in a family. You must love each one equally.” Snorting with laughter Caleb heads off outside and I smile sweetly at Luna. I am sure that being intellectually challenged is a good thing in her case when she has my father as a boyfriend. Maybe she might last longer than most.
As soon as I can I escape to my room and once again lock myself in. Despite what my father wants I would rather my own company than theirs any day. As the sun breaks through the drapes the next day I wake up with a feeling of excitement. I don’t know why I am looking forward to seeing Drake so much, I mean we have hardly said two words to each other but I can remember every single one of them. I can definitely feel a connection with him and I think that he feels it too.
I quickly get ready and head downstairs, hoping that they have all left already. As I enter the kitchen it appears empty and I take the opportunity to grab some breakfast. Before I can escape though I hear voices heading towards me and realise that there will be no avoiding them. I cringe as I see Ashley and Savannah coming into the room. As soon as they see me they nudge one another and plaster the usual smirk on their faces. They are identical twins, two of the meanest girls I have ever met. They look like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths though. Both of them have long blonde hair and the darkest brown eyes. They are slim with model type figures and are both incredibly beautiful. In fact there is not a bad gene in our family, in the looks department anyway. They always have a string of admirers even here; I can’t imagine what the queue is like in their full time home. Like me they live with their mother and only come here for the holidays. I have always envied them the fact that at least they have each other. My brothers are also not short of admirers. I hear the girls talking in the bar. They don’t know who I am and I hear them plotting how they will get Caleb and Marius to ask them out. The thought of either of them as boyfriend material makes me want to laugh. Like my father they can take their pick and it appears that they pick as often as they can. Savannah looks over. “Hey Scarlett, don’t tell me you’ve got to go to that flea pit and work like a slave again. I mean you really lucked out this summer. At least Ashley and I have a cushy number at the health club.” She pauses for effect and then smiles sweetly. “Maybe if you smartened yourself up a bit then you would get the better job. I mean you would stand out like a sore thumb at the club.” Ashley giggles. “Oh my God, could you imagine her there? They would have to lower the membership fee.” They both laugh and I scowl at them both. Before I can reply Caleb pushes past them both to the fridge. Ashley glares at him. “Watch who you’re shoving. You may get away with treating your pathetic friends and girlfriends like that but not us.” Slamming the fridge door Caleb approaches her menacingly. “Shut your mouth you stupid Barbie doll. Just you remember who lives here full time and not just for a few weeks a year either. You don’t get to speak like that to me in my own home and if you do it again I’ll shut your mouth for you.” Ashley stands her ground and Savannah moves beside her. I watch with interest as they fix Caleb with a look that could fell a tree. Their eyes burn with hatred and they look at him defiantly. Savannah says, “You don’t scare us, in fact you are nothing to us. We don’t choose to come here we are made to. If you don’t like it take it up with our father, that I would love to see.” Before he can reply we all look in complete surprise as Luna wiggles into the room. Ashley and Savannah look horrified and Caleb bursts out laughing. Luna is dressed in cut off denim shorts with a white vest top. She is also engulfed in a black hoody and has leather bracelets around her wrists. She has tied her hair back in a ponytail and has sneakers on. She looks at us and wrinkles her nose. “I’m sorry guys but I’m not feeling this hobo chic craze. Do you think it suits me?” The twins look confused and Caleb looks at me and grins wickedly before tearing out of the room. Stifling a giggle I follow him and shout back, “You totally rock it Luna, who’d have thought.” Leaving them behind I make my way outside. As I pass my father’s den I see him inside and a thought crosses my mind. I knock hesitantly and he calls for me to enter. He looks surprised when he sees me as I don’t usually come to see him voluntarily and I can see him contemplating me with a thoughtful look on his face.
Seeing him standing there watching me I almost lose my resolve. I have never ever asked him for anything before and I am not sure how this will go down. Pushing down my fears I stare at him with determination and as he sees it in my face I see his eyes dancing with excitement. “I want to be able to move around freely without relying on my brothers for rides. I need a motorbike to get me to and from work.” He looks surprised and I can tell that this was not what he was expecting me to say. He laughs which angers me and makes me scowl angrily. “Well well, a motorbike huh. Since when did you know how to ride one?” I say defiantly, “I learned this year. If you’re worrying that I can’t you needn’t. I have the test certificate as proof.” He looks surprised and I take a small amount of pleasure in being able to tell him something that he didn’t already know about me. In an ominous voice he says, “And who arranged all of this? I was never asked for my permission and I can’t imagine your mother agreeing to it.” Shrugging I stare at him unwaveringly. “She signed the papers alright, although she may not have known what it was she was signing at the time.” Suddenly his eyes sparkle with amusement and he laughs loudly. I am shocked, I didn’t expect this reaction, in fact I don’t think I have ever seen him this way before. He moves over and stands right in front of me. Reaching down he lifts my hand and as I feel his touch it makes me shiver inside. His mouth twists as he feels it and his eyes darken. “Do I scare you Scarlett? I can feel your fear within you.” Looking into his eyes I can see the fire within them and it takes everything I have to push the fear away. I allow the fear that is building and the hatred inside me to merge and I use them to channel the energy inside me against him. I know that he can feel it as his hand grips hold of me tighter and his eyes hold mine. Suddenly we are locked in a battle of wills. I will not give in to his intimidation and suddenly feel empowered. Years of hatred and rage mix with the fear and desperation inside of me. I give it back to him with everything I’ve got and as I watch him watching me I can see that he feels the effects. However he appears to thrive on it and I see it in his eyes. He is feeding off of it and as I feel his power within me I can tell that his in increasing because of it. Snatching my hand away I break the connection. I know that he is too strong for me and I don’t want to give him any more of me. I move slightly away to put some distance between us and stare at him defiantly. “Well can I?” His face relaxes and he smiles wickedly at me. “You are learning Scarlett and that pleases me more than anything else I could wish for. You have your motorbike but you had better be able to control it. Use the machine to learn about control. Sometimes it is difficult to control the power and it may be your downfall.” I actually can’t believe that he has agreed this easily and I feel elated. He must see my eyes dancing with excitement because he grins and takes my hand again. “Come on, let’s go to the garage and we’ll pick one out for you.” As I follow him I feel excited. Finally I will have my independence. No more relying on my brothers for lifts.
We reach my father’s garage and I stare at the multitude of vehicles within. I say garage but it is actually a huge barn filled with all kinds of machines. There are various motorbikes in every shape and variety. Sports cars mix with station wagons and there are also several escalades and trucks. I’ll say one thing for my father, he loves his toys. As we wander along the rows of bikes one in particular catches my eye. Walking over to it I stroke the gleaming paintwork and run my hands over the handlebars. I can feel my father watching me and as I look up at him he nods. With excitement I sit astride the bike and instantly feel comfortable. He moves away and soon returns with a set of keys. “Come on Scarlett, let’s move it outside if this is the one. You can show me what you know.” Wheeling the bike outside I feel a connection with it. Despite the fact that there were several others alongside it this one seemed to call to me. Reaching the yard he hands me the keys. With excitement I turn the keys and hear the bike spring into life. The machine purrs beneath me and I can feel its power generating through me. I can see my father watching me with a considered expression. “Ok Scarlett now you can show me.” Suddenly to my surprise he moves behind me on the bike. As I feel him so close to me my body recoils. He laughs saying, “You didn’t think I’d let you just ride off without proving to me that you know what you’re doing did you? Well young lady, now’s your chance. My life is now in your hands show me what you’ve got.” Well I wasn’t expecting this and it wrong foots me. Nervously I try to regroup and concentrate on what I have to do. It is true I did pass my test but I haven’t had much practice. A friend of mine from home let me use his bike to learn and it was nowhere near as powerful as this machine. I wonder if I have taken on too much as I feel how heavy it is especially with the added weight of my passenger. However I try to focus and use what I have learned. As we pull away I try to remember what to do. Hesitantly we move away and it takes all of my concentration just to control the machine. My father shouts in my ear. “Use your power within to control the machine. Connect with it and use your mind to control where you want to go.” Digging deep I focus all of my energy on to the beast beneath me. I feel its power surge through me and suddenly my body comes alive. We move away and soon begin to build up speed. I feel the adrenalin kick in and as the wind streaks through my hair I feel the cold air on my face. The engine throbs between my thighs and I feel the bike’s power course through my body. Suddenly it doesn’t feel heavy anymore. It is as though we are one and it is as light as a feather. I increase the speed and forget that I am not alone. Suddenly I am on fire. I take the machine on the ride of my life. I feel free and happy. Nothing can reach me; I can go wherever I want to. I tune my father out and enjoy the new feelings within me. Reaching the top of a hill I bring the machine to a stop and catch my breath as I look at the town beneath me. I hear my father laugh behind me and he says, “Well done Scarlett, you’re a fast learner. Don’t get too complacent though. It is when you relax and switch off that you are at your most vulnerable. Never let your guard down and you will be fine. Now take me back and then you can get off to work. Lesson over for today.” Without saying a word I return home. He jumps off and before he can say anything I ride off. He has surprised me today. I thought that it would be more of a battle. I realise that all the time he thinks that I am learning he is happy. However I worry about where that will lead me. I do feel different when I use my power within me and it excites and disgusts me at the same time. I don’t want to use it for evil. All I want is to be normal and happy. I must learn to control my power in my own way, not his. The thought of living my life like he does fills me with fear.
I enjoy my ride to the bar. It is with some disappointment that I turn the machine off and leave it behind me. As I enter the bar Drake looks up and I see his eyes sparkle as he grins at me. “Morning Scarlett, you look amazing today.” His words shock me and instantly I turn on my defensive mode. I look at him and scowl but he just laughs and comes over to me. As he reaches me he reaches up and smoothes my hair away from my face and grins at me. “Your hair is all over the place and your cheeks are flushed. Your eyes are shining with excitement and I can only wonder what has done this to you.” I laugh nervously. “I got my first bike today.” He laughs and takes my hand leading me to the door. “Come on then, show me.” I follow him out in surprise. As we reach the machine he runs his hands over it and I enjoy watching his strong muscular arm caressing my bike. I am mesmerised watching him and feel a shiver run through me as I wonder what it would feel like to feel him run those hands over me. Shaking myself out of my daydream I can see him watching me a strange look in his eyes. “Do you want to show me your moves Scarlett?” He nods towards the bike and I blush. The thought of him behind me on the bike is not an unpleasant one and suddenly I feel excited. I nod saying, “But what about the bar, we can’t leave it?” He smiles saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll tell Dylan that we won’t be long.” I watch as he heads back inside and suddenly feel uncertain. It was one thing having my father behind me but the thought of Drake pressed against me will take all of my concentration. He soon returns and we get on the bike. As I feel him behind me I almost can’t concentrate on the job in hand. I turn the engine on and he shifts closer to me. I can feel his leg against my thigh and he runs his hands around my waist and pulls me closer to him. Leaning towards me I can feel his breath on my face as he whispers, “Are you ready for this Scarlett?” Swallowing hard I nod as words are escaping me and I move away.
Once again I feel the power of the machine and we speed off down the narrow roads and out on to the highway. I push myself and the bike and the feeling of pure speed is exhilarating. I take us to the hill that I went to earlier with my father and stop to take in the sight. Spinning around I see Drake grinning at me with excitement and I grin back at him. “How long have you been riding a bike Scarlett? That was impressive.” I can feel my eyes sparkling and laugh excitedly. “Well if you don’t count my lessons and the subsequent test today is the first day.” I laugh as I see his shocked expression. He soon replaces it with a large smile and shakes his head. “Well judging by that performance you’re a natural. I’m just amazed your father let you out on such a powerful bike.” My eyes lose some of their sparkle at the mention of my father and I see him look at me in concern. “You don’t like your father much do you Scarlett?” Sighing heavily I look at him and for some reason don’t hold it back. “No I don’t. The time that I do spend with him is wasted in my opinion. I only see him in the holidays which I dread coming around. I was pleased that he arranged this job for me as it means that I have an excuse to get away from him and the rest of my family.” Drake looks at me and just smiles. His eyes are holding mine and I can’t look away. Whatever the connection is between us is strong and I know that he feels it too. He reaches up and pushes the hair away from my eyes. As I feel him touch me it makes with shiver with anticipation. I want to kiss him so badly which is unlike me. I long for those strong arms to hold me and to never let me go, to keep everyone away and for my world to be safe. I watch as his eyes darken sending me deeper and deeper under his spell. Suddenly we are so close. His mouth is inches away and I long to draw his lips to mine. I feel myself shifting closer to him and then suddenly he runs his hand behind my head and moves my head closer to his. His lips touch mine briefly, almost as if he is afraid. Then he kisses me, holding me close and I can feel the passion in him as it permeates through my body. I kiss him back with all that I have. I need him so much, the feelings that I have for him consume me and I almost feel desperate. It is as though he is my oxygen and I have been starved of it for too long. Behind my closed eyes I can see all of him. I read his very soul and I know that he feels the same.
We pull apart and I see the desire in his eyes. He says huskily, “I knew it would be you Scarlett. The first time I saw you standing there in front of me I felt it.” I inch closer to him and say, “I know Drake. This is so right, us together like this. It is as though we were always destined to find each other.” He nods and pulls me towards him again. This time his kiss is deeper and more passionate. I lose myself in it and never want it to end. At this moment in time I am the happiest that I have ever been in my life before.
Reluctantly we pull apart and with a sigh he says, “We had better get back. Dylan will be going mad as we’ve been gone for ages.” I suddenly feel bad for Dylan. “Come on then, we’ve got a job to do after all.” As I start the engine I savour the feeling of him pulling me into his body. It is the perfect fit almost as if we were from the same mould. Laughing to myself I wonder if this day could get any better.
Dylan is mad at us and we have to work extra hard to placate him. When we got back the place was heaving and he was struggling alone. We are so busy and don’t have any time to stop. I feel on a high though and whenever I catch Drake’s eye he winks at me and the look he gives me sends molten liquid desire shooting through my veins.
Once the lunch time rush is over we get a chance to grab something to eat. Dylan looks at us both knowingly and raises his eyes. “That’s all I need, two crazy lovebirds to contend with. Like I don’t have enough on my plate already without you two sneaking off every five minutes to make out.” Drake laughs as he sees me blush. “Chill bro, we know that work comes first. It’s not that much of a surprise is it?” Dylan laughs. “The only surprise was that it took you so long. My money was on one hour after she started.” They laugh and I grin at them both. Dylan then surprises me as he turns to Drake and says, “You still set to perform tonight?” Drake nods and I look between them. “What do you mean perform?” Dylan puts his arm around Drake’s shoulder and grins. “My baby brother is something of a rock star. He writes songs and plays the guitar. Once a week he performs in the bar and he has got quite a following.” I look at Drake in surprise and he smiles. Dylan carries on. “The trouble is we get really busy because of it and it will be too much for just us to handle so I’ve had to ask Layla to help out.” Drake snorts and I look at them in confusion. “Who is Layla then?” Drake grins wickedly at his brother. “Dylan’s wet dream. He has stalked her for ages but she has a boyfriend and you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him.” Dylan looks annoyed and snaps, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Anyway I’ve got paperwork to do. You two can manage between you for a couple of hours, it’s the least you can do after earlier.” He walks away and I can tell that Drake hit a nerve. “What’s that all about?” I say as he slams the door behind him. Drake grins. “Layla Sullivan is his high school crush. She is your typical willowy blonde with curves in all the right places and a face that men would kill for just to get a smile from it. The trouble is she is already taken and so extremely off limits. He can’t get her out of his mind though and doesn’t want anyone else.” I feel sorry to hear it and feel a great deal of sympathy for Dylan. “How awful. Do you think that things may change and she will leave her boyfriend?” Drake suddenly looks nervous and says, “You don’t leave him Scarlett, he has to leave you and given the fact that there isn’t anyone else in this town that could hold a candle to her, present company aside, that is extremely unlikely to happen.” Jumping up he pulls me towards him. “Just to keep me going for the next hour or so.” He kisses me sweetly and soon all thoughts of Dylan and Layla fly out of my mind.
I watch Drake clear a space and set up his guitar. I am looking forward to hearing him sing and realise that there is so much that I don’t know about him. Before long I see Dylan’s face light up and I turn to see who has caused it. Instantly I realise that this must be Layla as a truly beautiful young woman sashays into the bar. Drake was right she is pure perfection and as much as I want to instantly dislike her there is an aura that surrounds her that makes you instantly want to be her friend. I watch with interest as Dylan approaches her smiling and kisses her on the cheek. I hear him say, “Thanks Layla, you’re a godsend.” She smiles at him and I can see how genuine she is as her face is so open and natural. “No problem Dylan, anytime you know that. Now where do you want me?” The look on Dylan’s face is priceless and as I catch Drake’s eye we grin at each other and he raises his eyes. I have to turn away before the laughter takes hold. Dylan takes her into the back to give her a t shirt and stow her belongings. When they return he brings her over to me. “Scarlett meet Layla, she will be working with us tonight.” I smile at her and she looks at me with interest. “I’m pleased to meet you Scarlett. Are you new in town because I don’t think that we’ve met before?” Nodding I say, “Sort of. I’m staying with my father for the summer. I don’t spend much time with him and usually live in Rivercreek Falls.” She smiles brightly. “Well that explains it then. Bad luck on having to work your vacation though.” Grinning I look over to Drake and laugh. “Don’t be, it has its advantages.” Following my gaze she laughs. “Lucky you, he’s gorgeous and you will be the envy of all the other girls in the town. They’ve been trying to land him for ages. You must be really special.” Sighing heavily I say, “I know, I don’t want the summer to end now.” She looks concerned. “Of course, you won’t want to give that up when you have to that much I do know. Well enjoy it whilst you can, oh and don’t pay any attention to his groupies tonight.” I look at her in surprise. “His groupies, who are they?” Dylan laughs. “You know Scarlett; I told you he had a fan club. They wouldn’t miss this for the world.” My face falls and Layla looks concerned. I shrug and say, “As long as that doesn’t include Morgan then I’m fine about it.” Layla looks confused and Dylan says, “Don’t worry about it Layla, I’ll fill you in later.”
Dylan was right the place is soon packed out and we don’t have a minute to breathe. Hordes of young girls descend on the place all with one target in mind. As well as the regulars there are also lots of young guys hoping to take advantage of the fact that all the talent in the town is in one place for the night.
I am so busy that I almost forget about Drake until I hear his guitar start playing. Suddenly I am frozen to the spot as he starts to sing. His voice is amazing and the song is beautiful. He is sitting on a stool the guitar resting on his lap and I watch as his fingers caress the strings. I can’t tear my eyes away and lean back against the bar as my eyes and ears devour him. He finds me and his eyes penetrate mine and it is as if we are alone. I am rooted to the spot and tears come into my eyes. He is so talented and I realise that he is a very accomplished musician. He could go far with his talent and I am not surprised that there is such a turnout.
Before long though I am back to work. I listen to him as I work, his voice following me around the room. Even the sight of the girls drooling over him doesn’t bother me as before. Now I know that he is mine and I feel a warm feeling inside as I remember his kiss. The guys are the usual pests. I have now lost count of the many hands that I have removed firmly from my backside. It actually doesn’t bother me because I can handle it. One thing that does surprise me though is that absolutely nobody tries anything on with Layla. Given how stunning she is I am amazed. When we pass each other I comment on it. “Layla, how do you keep the guys from grabbing you? You must have a technique that I could sure use right now.” Layla laughs and raises her eyes. “The only technique I have is that they know who my boyfriend is. Nobody wants to have him come after them so they keep their distance. You’re new here so are fair game. As soon as they realise who your boyfriend is they’ll leave you alone.” She heads back off to deliver her drinks and I wonder who her boyfriend is. A while later Drake takes a break and I head into the kitchen to see him. As soon as he sees me he grabs hold of me and kisses me deeply. When he pulls away I say softly, “You are amazing Drake. I love to hear you sing. You should do it professionally.” He smiles but his eyes look sad. “I wish that I could Scarlett. The trouble is I am needed here. Maybe in the future if things change then it may be a possibility, but not now.” Before I can reply Dylan pops his head around the door. “Come on guys the bars three deep out here.” Pulling away we rush out to help. By the time we have served most of them it is time for Drake to carry on playing. As he takes up his position I notice with a sinking feeling that my brothers have arrived. Suddenly the atmosphere changes and becomes tenser. I feel cross and wish that they would just stay away. I watch as they move towards the bar. I notice that Caleb laughs as he sees me scowling at them. Ignoring them I head off to clear some tables. As I carry my tray to the kitchen I see Layla at the bar. Suddenly Marius moves behind her and in shock I see him wrap his arm around her waist and pull her around to face him. He leans down and kisses her and I look up in shock at Dylan who suddenly looks devastated. It all clicks into place and I realise that Marius is Layla’s boyfriend. Poor Dylan, Drake was right, he would stand no chance with her all the time Marius was interested. Even though he is my detested brother even I know that he is perfection. Like most of my family he has dark hair and the blackest eyes. His body is well toned and obviously works out a lot. Like the rest of my brothers he can also charm any girl that he wants and from what I hear they all want a lot. There is not a woman in here that hasn’t devoured him or any of my brothers come to mention it with their eyes. Feeling irritated I look away from the scene in front of me. Layla appears so lovely and it is only a matter of time before he drags her down, probably destroying her in the process. It makes sense now as to why they are here.
By the end of the night we are all exhausted. There are only a few customers left when Dylan says, “Thanks girls you’ve worked really hard tonight. We couldn’t have managed without you. You’ve really earned your money tonight.” He hands us our tips but I notice that Layla waves them away. “I don’t need those Dylan, it was a favour remember. Just say hi to your mom for me ok.” I see Dylan’s eyes fill up and she places her hand over his arm. “Stay strong Dylan, it won’t be forever, you’ll get through this.” She kisses him on the cheek and then turning to me says, “Great to meet you Scarlett. I hope that everything works out for you, Drake’s a great guy.” To my surprise she hugs me and then I watch as her face lights up as Marius walks back into the bar. She races over to him and he slings his arm around her shoulder and they head off outside. By the time they leave and I turn around Dylan has gone.
Drake comes over and pulls me towards him. “I’ve missed you tonight Scarlett.” Laughing I say, “I haven’t been anywhere.” Shrugging he stares into my eyes. “All I have wanted to do tonight is this.” Then he leans down and kisses me so hard that I feel as if my legs will give way. I savour the feeling of being in his arms. The thought that I will have to leave at the end of the Summer is already filling me with dread. Usually I can’t wait to get away, but now I’m not so sure.
We sit down and just cuddle up side by side resting after the busy evening. Tentatively I ask him about his parents. There is something they haven’t told me that only came to light when Layla refused her tips and I want to know what it is.
“Drake, I’ve never asked you about your parents. Tell me about them.” I can feel Drake tense up and instantly regret asking. I don’t like it when people pry into my life and here I am doing it to him. Quickly I say, “Listen don’t worry I shouldn’t have asked.” He sighs heavily and takes my hand in his and squeezes it. “No it’s fine Scarlett. A while back my father was in a hunting accident. He was shot by mistake and nearly lost his leg.” I am horrified. “I’m sorry it must have been terrible.” Drake nods. “It was. Dylan had left school so had to give up College and just started working here in his place. Mom had to care for him as he couldn’t do anything for himself. She also used to work here so it meant we were shorthanded. I work when I’m not at school and between us we manage to keep the place going. The trouble is his medical expenses are huge and we don’t have enough medical cover, so even though this place takes a lot of money it is just never enough.” Thinking about their situation I say, “How is he now, I mean will he fully recover?” Drake shakes his head miserably. “He is in a wheelchair and will never walk again. That rules him out of coming back here and he is so dependant on my mom that she can’t leave him for a second. It takes it toll on us all so all Dylan and I can do is to run things here as best we can and pray for a miracle.” I lay my head on his shoulder and feel bad for them. Drake kisses the top of my head and then changes his tone to a more light hearted one. “Anyway darlin, you must get off home and get some sleep. You haven’t stopped all night and must be tired.” Despite the fact that I feel exhausted I am reluctant to leave. However I know that he too needs some sleep so with a heavy heart I get up to leave. Drake walks me to my bike and then I remember what prompted me to ask the question in the first place. I take the tips money out of my pocket and offer it to Drake. “Here take this. I don’t need it and I would like to help even if it’s in a small way.” Drake looks angrily at me. “No Scarlett, you earned it and we pay our way.” Sighing I take his hand in mine. “Drake I know that and I love you for it. However I have all the money I want and more besides. Please let me help out in just this very small way. It’s not charity just helping out the family of the man I love.” As I say the words his eyes soften and even in the moonlight I can see the love pouring out of them. He pulls me close to him and I savour the feeling of his body against mine. He leans down and kisses me gently. “I love you too Scarlett. I knew that I did from that first time you scowled at me over the bar. I knew we were destined for each other.” I can feel my eyes shining and I hug him tightly to me. I can only hope that something doesn’t go wrong.
The house is quiet when I get home which I am glad about. All I want is to get to bed and sleep. I am exhausted as it’s been such an eventful day.
I wake up fairly late the next day and just spend a few minutes lying in bed re living the events of the day before. When I think of Drake I still can’t believe that he is now my boyfriend. He is also so talented and I just hope that he pursues it.
By the time I am dressed and ready and head off downstairs the place is deserted. I am glad of it though and set about making myself some breakfast. As I sit at the table I once again marvel at the size of my father’s house. This kitchen alone would take up the blueprint of my entire house back at Rivercreek. I imagine it to be a very empty place when we all leave to go home after the summer.
I head off upstairs to get ready and as soon as I reach the top step I hear voices down below in the hallway. Peering over the banisters I see my father walking in with a man in a suit. I can’t hear what they are saying and I watch as they make their way to my father’s den. It doesn’t take me long and I am soon ready. As I leave my room I come across Luna coming out of her and my father’s room. She has obviously slept in as she is in a robe and looks dishevelled and sleepy. She sees me and smiles brightly. “Scarlett honey, good to see you. How are you today?” I smile back at her. “Great thanks Luna. Are you ok, you’re not ill are you?” She laughs and raises her eyes up. “No just exhausted. I had a lie in to try and get over the events of last night.” She sees my puzzled expression and smiles and raises her eyes up. “I went out with your father to some sort of function, I can’t even remember what it was all for. I had rather a lot to drink and we were back quite late. What about you honey how was your day yesterday?” I know that I am grinning and just smile. She looks at me with a knowing smile and then squeals excitedly. “Oh my God honey I recognise that look. You met someone didn’t you?” Laughing I raise my finger to my lips. “Ssh don’t tell anyone, they are the last people I want knowing my business.” Luna giggles. “Don’t worry it will be our secret. You must tell me all about him later. We can have a girly chat. I know we can go to the spa and have massages and you can tell me it all then. Oh please say you will it will be such fun?” Feeling cross with myself I wonder how to let her down gently. The thought of going to the spa for a girly chat makes me want to kill myself. Trying to paste a sorry look on my face I say, “I would love to Luna but I will have to pass. I have to work again today and won’t be back until late, maybe another time.” She looks cross. “You poor girl. I can’t think what has possessed your father to make you work so hard in that bar. I will have a word with him and tell him to get you out of it. It’s just not fair on you.” Quickly I say, “Please don’t Luna, its ok really. I enjoy it and it doesn’t feel like work really.” She shrugs and then walks with me downstairs. “Anyway honey, just say the word if you change your mind. Have a good day, oh and I nearly forgot. I bought you some great new clothes yesterday on my shopping trip. I will put them in your room and you can try them on later. I think you will like them and I didn’t want you to feel left out of the fun.” I groan inwardly. If she has so much as bought me one dress I am going to run screaming from this house forever. Instead I plaster a smile on my face and say, “Thanks Luna you are very kind.” I make a quick exit and head towards the garage.
By the time I have sorted out the motorbike I notice that my father’s guest is leaving. I watch as he gets into a dark green car and drives away. I am quite surprised that he came to the house as from what I understand my father doesn’t like doing business at home. He has an office block in the town from which to control his empire. Pushing all thoughts of my father out of my mind I once again head off to work.
When I enter the bar it is strangely deserted. I think that I must be the only one in here and it feels odd. Heading out the back I hear raised voices coming from the office. I can't help but hear Drake shouting and freeze on the spot. "I won't let you do this Dylan, its suicide." Dylan replies angrily, "We don't have a choice if I succeed then all our problems will be over and we can start our lives over again. Surely it's worth the risks involved." There is a small silence and I feel bad for listening. Then Drake says in a broken voice. "Please bro, don't do this. I'll think of something else. I can't risk anything happening to you too, it's not fair on the rest of us especially mom." I can't hear what Dylan says and I decide that I had better let them know I'm here as I don't want them to think I'm spying on them. I call out, "Is anyone in this place or am I working on my own today?" The door to the office flies open and Drake comes storming out. When he sees me he grabs my hand and pulls me into the bar. I can see that he is angry and upset which is unlike him. "What's wrong Drake, has something happened?" He pulls me tightly against him and I can hear his heart pounding in his chest. He says in a tight voice, "No it's fine. Just a minor disagreement with Dylan. Brothers hey?" I try to lighten his mood. "Tell me about it. At least yours is Dylan and there's only one of him. Imagine having four total nightmares to live with, it's no wonder I work." Pulling back he looks at me softly and appears to shake himself. "I'm sorry Scarlett that's not the sort of welcome I want to give my girlfriend." As I hear the words a delightful shiver runs through me. His girlfriend- how I like the sound of that. He leans down and his lips brush against mine gently. Then he kisses me more passionately and as we kiss I can feel the despair within him. I try to read his thoughts but all I can sense is his fear. Whatever it is they were arguing about is serious, that much I do know.
We set to work and I notice that Drake is still subdued. Dylan makes a brief appearance and then retires back to the office on the premise of paperwork. Luckily it is a fairly quiet morning and I try to lighten Drake’s mood. About half way through the morning I notice a man come into the bar. He looks familiar and I watch him approach Drake who nods and leads him out the back. Racking my brains it suddenly comes to me. This is the man who was with my father this morning. Suddenly I get a horrible feeling that I am about to find out why my father arranged this job. Drake returns and I say, “Who was that Drake?” He smiles but it doesn’t reach his eyes. “Mr Anderson our accountant. He looks after the financial side of things and there are some documents that he needs Drake to sign. It’s all boring stuff that I am glad to keep away from.” He gets called away by a customer and I take the opportunity to sneak into the back. I know that I shouldn’t but I pass the office and stop, pretending to tie my laces. I hear the man say, “It’s a good offer, you should seriously consider it.” Dylan sounds weary as he says, “You know that it’s not enough. It would just about pay off what we owe and there would be none left over to put Drake through College and take care of my father’s medical bills. Not to mention how we would live. No we have to struggle on it’s the only way.” Mr Anderson obviously doesn’t like the answer and snaps, “Don’t be a fool Dylan. At least this is something. I mean there are a stack of bills that are due, which reminds me I need you sign this Insurance acceptance form, oh and this one to renew the licence.” I hear Dylan sigh heavily and quickly move away. My head is churning with the information that I’ve heard. One thing I do know though is that my father is involved. If he is out to destroy this family then he will have to go through me first.
After an hour Mr Anderson leaves and I decide to take Dylan a coffee in. Drake is still occupied with customers and once I make the drink I push open the door to his office. He is sitting at the desk with his head in his hands. He looks up and on seeing the coffee smiles weakly. “Thanks Scarlett, I don’t suppose you put a brandy in it?” Dragging a chair over I look at him with concern and sit in front of him. “Are you ok Dylan? I know that something is wrong. Drake’s mind is somewhere else and you look like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Maybe it would help to talk.” Leaning back Dylan musters a smile. “It’s fine Scarlett, really. I just hate doing paperwork and when our accountant comes calling it depresses me.” I say thoughtfully, “But this place does really well. Surely it’s just a matter of keeping everything afloat.” He lowers his eyes and hesitates before saying, “If it was just this place then it would be fine. We would have lots of money left over each month and be doing well for ourselves. The trouble is my dad’s medical bills drain everything from the business and we are behind on everything else.” Looking at him sympathetically I remember Mr Anderson’s comment. “Dylan if you sold up would that solve your problems?” Dylan’s eyes flash and he looks angry. “Did your father send you to do his digging?” I look at him in surprise and he must see it in my eyes because he looks immediately contrite. “I’m sorry to snap Scarlett. You may as well know that Mr Anderson came here with an offer from your father to buy this place. It’s not the first time and it probably won’t be the last.” Looking worried I say softly, “I’m sorry Dylan, I didn’t know. He doesn’t tell me anything about his business and I was wondering why he arranged this job. The strange thing is though he hasn’t mentioned it once so I am unsure as to why I am here.” Dylan looks at me and I can tell that his mind is working away. “Maybe he’ll let you know later. We can’t sell to him though. What he is offering is just not enough. I need to find another solution to our problem before Drake finishes school. I want to get him to college to study music. It’s his dream and he is very talented. He shouldn’t have to give up on his dream because of our family situation.” Before I can reply Drake comes in and looks crossly at us. “Come on guys it’s getting busy and I’m not a machine you know.” Grinning at me Dylan jumps up and we follow him outside.
For the rest of my shift it is all that I can think about. Coupled with what I heard when I first came in I know that something bad is going to happen. Drake and Dylan are upbeat as usual in front of the customers and it breaks my heart when I see the worry in their eyes. At the end of the day Drake sinks down into a chair and pulls me on to his lap. “Do you fancy going somewhere Scarlett? I need to get out of here and want to spend time alone with you.” Smoothing his hair away from his face I kiss him gently on the lips. “Come on then. We could go for a ride if you want.” He shakes his head. “No I’ve got a better idea.” Mystified I follow him outside and he slings his arm around my shoulder and says, “There’s a place not far from here that I go to to be alone. It’s only a short walk and nobody ever goes there so it’s private.” As we walk I enjoy the feeling of his arm around me. It makes me feel safe and loved, a feeling that I have never had before. I would walk all night with him if he asked me to. Before long we come to a street where there are just a few houses. Drake stops in front of one of them. As I look at it it appears empty. The grass is long and the paintwork peeling. We walk up the steps and to my surprise he pulls a key from his pocket. He grins at me at me and I notice that his eyes are sparkling with excitement. He opens the door and I follow him inside. The moonlight filters in through the windows and bathes the room in a ghostly light. I look at him in surprise. “What is this place Drake?” Grabbing my hand he squeezes it gently. “It’s my grandparent’s old place. They died a short time ago and we can’t bear to get rid of it. One day I hope to have the money to restore it and live here myself. I come here a lot just to be alone and write my music. It calms me down and it holds nothing but happy memories for me.” I can feel the tears pricking my eyes. Seeing them he laughs and pulls me against him. “Don’t cry for me Scarlett, I love coming here. Things are tough for us at the moment but that will pass and then the future will be bright.” Thinking about my conversation with Dylan earlier I tentatively broach the subject. “Listen Drake, Dylan told me earlier about your situation. It totally sucks and I know that things seem bad at the moment but you will find a way.” Drake pulls me towards him gently. “I know we will. Anyway I didn’t bring you here to talk about my problems, I came here to escape them and spend time with my girl. Come on darlin, I’ve waited all night for this.” I follow him into another room where there is an array of old fashioned furniture placed around the room. He pulls me down on to the couch and holds me against him. Stroking my hair he then kisses me lovingly and I just give myself up to the sensation as we lie there in the moonlight doing what most teenage couples do for a change.
We stay at his grandparent’s house for most of the night and then reluctantly head back before the dawn breaks. As I ride home all I can think of is their problem. I wanted to ask why they didn’t sell the house to help them but it seemed so callous given the obvious love that Drake has for the place. When I get to the house I sneak inside and luckily I make it to my room without anyone seeing me and just collapse into bed. I sleep until quite late and wake up still feeling extremely groggy.
Once again when I go downstairs there appears to be nobody around. Thankfully I help myself to some breakfast and sit at the table to eat it. As I sit here Luna suddenly comes into the kitchen. She is wearing exercise clothes and look like she has just had a workout. “Scarlett honey you’re here thank God.” I look at her in surprise. “Where did you think I’d be?” Laughing she grabs a water from the fridge and joins me. “We waited up for you for ages. Your father was worried that he hadn’t seen you for a few days and wanted a word.” I can feel the fear grip hold of me inside. I don’t want any more conversations with him if I can help it. Nervously I look around me. “Is he still here?” Looking cross she screws up her face. “No he had to go to work. I told him that he should relax a bit more but he never listens to me. What is it with this family? All you lot ever do is work, you should relax for a change and just enjoy yourselves.” Suddenly she jumps up and her eyes burn brightly. “I know, I’ll arrange a family fun day. We can all go somewhere and have a great time bonding with each other. Oh this is going to be good. Right then as soon as I’ve showered and changed we will get our heads together and come up with some ideas. A picnic may be nice or a trip out on a boat. I won’t be long.” Stifling a giggle I imagine my family on a fun day. Like that would ever happen. Luna means well but she must be seriously delusional if she can’t see what sort of family we are. We are hardly the Brady Bunch and the thought of everyone on a picnic makes me want to laugh.
Quickly I get ready and scribble a note for Luna, telling her that I had to leave for work.
I decide to stop in the town for some supplies before I go to work and park the bike outside the general store. The town is quite a nice one and I enjoy walking along the tree lined main street.
The shops look expensive and there are little coffee houses dotted around with tables and chairs outside. I can just picture my sisters here. It’s right up their street and I am sure that they have managed to hammer my father’s credit card mercilessly during their stay. I decide to grab a coffee and just enjoy the sunshine for a while. I have been cooped up in the bar for weeks now and have forgotten how nice it is just to relax in the sunshine. I wish that Drake was here with me and vow to make him take some time off and bring him here.
I am soon joined by a couple of girls who take the table next to me. I keep my back to them as I don’t want to make eye contact with anyone. As I listen to them it strikes me that they are just the same as all the other girls from home. All they talk about is shopping and boys and where their next beauty treatment is going to be. I don’t have many friends but the ones I do have are nothing like them. They are like me, more into bikes and music. I envy Drake his talent. I am not sure what mine is yet and I am not sure what I want to do after my education finishes. One thing I do know though is that just as soon as I can I will put as much distance between my father and I as I can.
As I finish up I can’t help but hear the girl’s conversation. “Are you going to the fight next week?” “Yes who isn’t? I mean all of that testosterone in one room; it’s enough to keep me going all semester.” “Yeah there’s nothing like seeing a couple of hot guys beating the shit out of each other.” They laugh and then they really get my attention. “Whose fighting do you know?” “Yes the usual crowd but I also heard that Dylan has put his name down.” “Gosh that’s unusual. They must really need the money.” “Hmm yes I heard that his father’s in a bad way. He doesn’t stand a chance in hell though going up against Marius.” “God no. He’s unbeaten isn’t he? Dylan must have a death wish.” They laugh and then one of them says, “I wouldn’t mind a go at his brother though. Trouble is I’d have to fight off most of the girls in high school first. It would be worth it though.” “Yes it certainly would. Trouble is ever since Taylor he’s kept away from girls. She must have really broken his heart when she left him for Caleb.” The other girl laughs. “Fat lot of good that did her though. How long did it last? No they’ll be back together as soon as the next semester starts. The trouble with the Knight family is they can take their pick and nobody ever says no.” “Yes I know, I wish that Marius would pick me though, trouble is he seems keen on Layla, she appears to be the exception to the rule and they’ve been dating for ages now.” Their conversation turns on to more mundane things and I quickly make my escape. Despite everything I just heard the only thing that I can concentrate on is this girl Taylor. I didn’t like hearing that Drake had a girlfriend and the fact that she left him for Caleb is another nail in the coffin.
Once I have my shopping I head off to work. I feel unsettled and hope that it eases by the end of the day.
When I reach the bar Drake is outside waiting for me. As I silence my bike he comes over looking anxious. “Thank God Scarlett, I was worried and thought that you may have had an accident.” I look at him in surprise. “No I just went into town to pick up a few things. Sorry am I late?” Pulling me off the bike he holds me close to him and I can feel the fear in him. I pull away and look at him questioningly. “What is it Drake has something happened?” He shakes his head and then takes my hand. “No nothing has happened, it’s just that I am starting to get used to you being here at a certain time and I worry that you’re safe when you’re not with me.” Pulling him towards me I kiss him gently. “Don’t be silly. Nothing is going to happen to me. You should learn to relax.” He grins and looks at me sheepishly. “Sorry Scarlett, I’m probably coming over all over protective but even I am surprised by the depth of my feelings for you.” I look into his eyes and can see the love there but I have to find the answers to the nagging doubts that have now been planted in my mind. Pulling him down on to the step beside me I look into his eyes whilst holding his hand firmly in mine. This way I will know if he is telling me the truth when I say what I am about to say. “Drake, I overheard some girls in town talking about you and Dylan.” He looks surprised and I can feel a dash of uncertainty within him. Looking at me steadily he says, “And what did they say?” Still holding his gaze I say, “That your girlfriend went off with my brother and left you and that now they have split up you may get back together with her.” He looks at me incredulously and I can feel his surprise within him. Reaching up he rubs his fingers against my cheek as he stares into my eyes. “It is true that Taylor and I finished and she went out with Caleb. They got that right. What they don’t know is that it was me who finished it. It just suits Taylor to tell it the other way and I don’t care what people think. It was over between us a long time ago and what it ever was that I felt for her is nothing compared to what I feel for you.” I know that he is telling the truth because I can read it in him. He kisses me gently and then pulling away says, “What did they say about Dylan?” I sigh heavily. “That he is going to fight my brother Marius and doesn’t have a hope in hell of winning.” Drake’s eyes look down and he looks upset. He says quietly, “I know. I have tried to talk him out of it but he wants to try and win the prize money to help get us out of trouble. You and I know that he doesn’t stand a chance but he has still got hope.” He lifts his eyes to mine and I see the pain in them. “Is there anything you can do to talk him out of it Scarlett? He won’t listen to me and it may be better coming from you.” I squeeze his hand and think about my answer. I know deep down that he won’t listen to me but I have to give Drake hope. Trying to look positive I smile at him. “Leave it with me Drake; I’ll see what I can do.” Drake smiles softly at me and pulls me close. “I love you Scarlett, in fact I know that you are the first girl that I have ever truly loved. Just remember that will you despite everything that might happen.” I pull him towards me. “I love you too Drake and the same goes for you. Lets not let my family come between us, we’re stronger than that.” As we kiss I feel so much love for him. I will do whatever I have to to make it right for them that much I do know.
We are so busy that I don’t have a chance to talk to Dylan. He seems brighter than yesterday and I am glad to see that he is almost back to his old self. He enjoys teasing Drake and I and all in all the entire shift is a good one. Drake asked if I would go back to his grandparent’s house after work with him and I can’t wait. However just before we close my brother Ash comes into the bar and even before he speaks I know what he is going to say. He looks at me with the usual hard expression. “Scarlett you’re to go straight home after closing. Dad wants a word with you and he insisted I come and tell you.” Scowling at him I almost see the pity in his eyes and then it is replaced with indifference. Sighing heavily I tell Drake what he said and he looks at me with disappointment. “Never mind Scarlett. Why don’t you come in early tomorrow and we can do something before the bar opens.” I nod excitedly. “That would be good. What do you have in mind?” Looking sexily at me he raises his eyes. “It might be best if you choose, because what I have in mind might not go down too well with your father.” I blush and he laughs. On the ride home it is all that I can think of. The thought of being closer with Drake is all I have thought of since I first saw him that first day in the bar. I have never wanted anyone as much as I do him. I curse my father for summoning me home and not for the first time I wonder what he is up to.
To my surprise he is waiting for me in the garage. I see him watching me as I put the bike away and I set my face into its usual blank expression. He almost looks amused and then he raises his eyes. “I haven’t seen you since I gave you that bike, maybe I should take it away again, at least I would have some sort of control over you.” I feel afraid as I hear him speak. The last thing I want is to lose my freedom that the bike gives me so I shrug saying, “Well I’m here now.” He looks at me intently and I feel uncomfortable under his scrutiny. After what seems like ages he says curtly, “Follow me.” I lag behind him a bit and shoot daggers into his back with my eyes. Suddenly he laughs and turns around and I can see his eyes are as dark as the night. “Your stare could kill a man stone dead Scarlett, I like that, it impresses me.” Scowling even more he once again laughs and I realise that he thrives on my anger. Pasting a sickly smile on my face I turn towards him saying, “And how was your day father dear.” My sarcasm isn’t lost on him and his eyes flash dangerously. “Cut the quick remarks Scarlett. I told you before that you need to spend more time with your family when you are here. When I got you that job it wasn’t for you to spend every waking hour there. Now why would you want to I wonder?” Now I know what this is about. He has worked out or found out about Drake. I wonder where there is all going. As we walk inside he says, “You know that I placed you there for a reason don’t you Scarlett?” I nod feeling nervous. I am sure that I won’t like what I am about to hear. He arches his eyebrows and stares at me intently. “I have offered to buy the bar from the Bennigan family. I have offered them a good price but they won’t sell. I know that they are struggling so it doesn’t make sense to me. Do you know why they won’t sell?” Swallowing hard my mind races as I think of what I can tell him. He is watching me with a hard expression and I know that I won’t get away with lying. In a small voice I say, “Because it is not enough for them to pay off their debts and pay for their father’s medical bills and Drake’s college fees. Dylan thinks that if he can just hold on something will come up and he can save the family.” My father’s eyes flash and he laughs a hollow laugh. “And that something is the prize money that he hopes to win by beating Marius is it? Not much of a plan don’t you think?” I can’t help it and look daggers at him. He laughs and then grabs hold of my arm. I can feel his power flowing through my body as he searches me entirely looking for anything that I haven’t told him. I try to fight the feeling but he is too strong. He pulls away and a smile flashes across his lips. “Good girl Scarlett. I can tell that you know his plan is doomed. You do know that I always get what I want in the end. They may fight it but it will be inevitable.” I look down so that he can’t see my expression. I follow him inside and before we reach the kitchen he stops and turns to face me. He says softly, “Keep on working there Scarlett. I can tell that it makes you happy, however don’t fall too deeply always keep something back because that is what you will call upon when you need it most. Remember at this stage of your life nothing lasts forever despite what you think you want. Just remember to keep on watching and listening, you never know when what you have learned will help you.”
He turns away and as I follow him into the kitchen my heart sinks as I see that we have a full house tonight.
Luna cries out in delight when she sees me and I notice the sullen faces of my brothers and sisters who look like they would rather be anywhere than here. Grabbing a drink from the fridge I set myself apart from the others and grab a chair in the corner of the room where I can see everything but they can’t see me. It annoys me when I catch my father watching me looking amused. He moves over and stands behind Luna. I watch in disgust as he runs his hands around her waist and pulls her back against him. She giggles and her eyes shine as she looks around at us all. Suddenly she claps her hands and we all look up in surprise. “Can I have your attention everyone?” I notice the smirks on the twin’s faces and the surprised expression on my brothers and want to laugh. Luna beams around the room and says excitedly. “Now that you’re all here I can tell you all together. Scarlett and I were talking this morning and decided that it would be great if we all had a family fun day.” She smiles over to me and I shrink back into my seat with horror as I feel the effects of the hostility from my siblings. My father looks as if he is finding it all hilarious and his eyes sparkle as he looks around at us all. Luna carries on. “Well I have spoken to your father and he agreed that it was a great idea, so here’s the plan. Despite the fact that I fancied a family picnic with games and everything he decided that it would be better if we all went to watch Marius fight as a family to show our support. Maybe we can grab a meal out beforehand and just enjoy being one big happy family.” Caleb snorts and then after a withering look from my father looks down to the ground. There is a stunned silence and Luna takes it to mean that we are happy about it. Looking up at my father she smiles lovingly at him. “See honey, I told you they’d love the idea.” Ashley raises her eyes up. “If I wanted to watch Marius fight I’d just follow him around one evening, I mean where’s the fun in this?” Luna’s eyes widen. “Oh no Ashley, Marius just trains a lot. This would be the result of all his hard training and we must support him and encourage him.” Under her breath Savannah says, “Well he sure trains a lot.” Ashley nudges her and they stifle their grins. Marius looks angry though. “I don’t want my family coming, it will put me off.” My father looks at him sternly. “Nonsense I won’t hear another word about it. It’s about time we showed a united front to the town and this is the perfect opportunity. I won’t hear anything more about it. We will all get behind Marius and support him end of story.” Luna smiles happily around at everyone and my father takes her hand. “Come on Luna, let’s leave the kids alone now and give them their space.” She follows him out and we can hear her saying, “You’re such a good father Dev baby, they are so lucky to have you.” As soon as they’re gone Caleb laughs hollowly. “Yes how lucky are we. Shall we put him forward for father of the year?” He starts mimicking saying, “Oh yes Judge I learned everything I know about violence, intimidation, cruelty oh and how to get what I want by hurting everyone around me. Such a great guy.” Ashley laughs. “You’ve learned it all so well brother, what a star pupil you have been. I’m just surprised it’s not you fighting in the ring.” Caleb grins wickedly. “I’m more a lover than a fighter; I leave the show boating to Marius.” Savannah giggles. “Yeah well not much of a lover from what I’ve heard.” Then she holds up her little finger and wiggles it in his face. We all freeze as we see the look on Caleb’s face. He moves right in front of her his expression threatening. Ashley moves beside her sister and they create a stony wall facing him. In a sinister voice he says, “Your High School humour may work on those idiots you call friends and those that you bully and intimidate but it doesn’t work on me.” He laughs evilly. “What you have yet to realise little sis is that you need more than a sharp tongue and sarcastic remarks to survive in this family. Enjoy your freedom whilst you can because as soon as your education is finished you will be put to work and let me tell you it aint gonna be pleasant. Your smart words and pathetic attempt at humour won’t save you from what your future holds, so enjoy it whilst it lasts and I will look forward to the day when all of this comes back and bites you.” He then pushes her roughly and storms out closely followed by Ash and Marius. The twins look at each other and raise their eyes. I almost think that they have forgotten that I’m here until they turn to look at me. Ashley says irritably, “Well done Scarlett. This is all your fault. If you hadn’t have pandered to Luna’s daft idea we wouldn’t be in this mess. The last thing we want is to spend cosy family bonding time with this family of losers. Think before you open your mouth next time you stupid bitch.” Slowly I push myself out of my seat. Walking slowly over to them both I fix them with my deadliest stare and with a sneer say, “It takes one to know one sister and I learned everything I know about being a first class bitch from watching you over the years, so coming from you it’s praise indeed.” Turning on my heels I stalk out of the room leaving them both staring after me angrily.
The next day I leave earlier than usual as I promised to meet Drake. I can see him waiting for me as I grind to a halt outside the bar. Seeing his gorgeous face looking at me with so much love sends shivers down my spine. After the hatred of last night it is more than welcome. I can’t run to him quickly enough and in surprise he holds me tightly against him as I hug him. “What’s up Scarlett?” He says pulling away and looking gently into my eyes. Reaching up I kiss him softly and relax into him. “I just missed you that’s all. I had a horrible evening and couldn’t get out of the house fast enough. I don’t think that there is anyone in that house that I get on with and it is nothing like I feel when I am here with you.” Smiling gently at me Drake pulls me close and kisses me deeply. “Come on then darlin, let’s go and be girlfriend and boyfriend.” He puts his arm around my shoulder and we head off. I know that he is taking me to his grandparent’s house and my father’s words ring in my ears. Despite what he says I don’t care. If I want to get close to Drake I will, I mean he is a fine one to talk anyway and as for my brothers. No I am going to follow the family motto and just do whatever I want to regardless of the consequences and let him just try and stop me.
We spend a delicious morning making out at his grandparents house. All we want is to be close and spend the morning on the couch kissing and cuddling. It is with heavy hearts that we drag ourselves back to the bar for our shifts. Once again Dylan is cross with us as he has had to open up by himself. Drake whispers, “Sorry Scarlett, he’s on edge at the moment what with the situation here and the fight next week, he’s not normally like this.” I give him a worried smile and he squeezes my hand before heading off to re stock the bar. I am worried about them both. They are too young to have all of this on their shoulders. Dylan should be enjoying College and Drake High School. Thinking about Drake I hope that he can pursue his music career as it would be a waste of a good talent otherwise. As its quiet I make Dylan a coffee and go off in search of him. Somebody needs to take care of him and I can’t see a queue forming at the door. I find him in his office once again poring over the paperwork. He looks up and smiles and gratefully takes the coffee that I hand him. “Thanks darlin, you’re a life saver.” Perching on the edge of the desk I indicate the paperwork. “Still ploughing through it all I see. Can’t anyone else help you with it?” He shakes his head ruefully. “No, I have to get it all in some sort of order for Mr Anderson. He is coming in later on and I am supposed to have done it all already.” Thinking hard I look at the clock on the wall. “Listen Dylan, it’s just an idea and say no if you want to but I could organise it all for you and just pull out the things that need signing. I’m quite quick and I do all of this sort of stuff for my mom. You would need to cover me in the bar but it would probably only be for an hour.” Dylan looks at me gratefully. “Would you do that for me, really? I mean I don’t want to put you out.” I laugh softly. “Look I just want to help you. I know it’s tough for you all at the moment and I’m available so why not. It will give me something to do other than tables to clean and I quite enjoy it.” Dylan jumps up and hugs me. “Thanks Scarlett, now I’m getting out of here before you change your mind. Anything you need just holler, ok?” I laugh as he leaves obviously in a great hurry to get away from the paperwork. I wasn’t lying when I said I was used to it. My mom isn’t very good at any of it so I sort of took it on when I was old enough. This will take me no time at all.
I set to work and have soon organised the piles of papers into sections. I order them in urgency and put everything that is overdue or imminent in one pile and organise the rest by date. The desk soon looks a lot tidier and I sit back proud of myself. I decide to look through the imminent pile and make sure that it is all in order for Mr Anderson. It is mainly due or overdue invoices but there are some forms that require a signature. One is for the licence renewal so I put it aside for Dylan to sign. The other form is to renew the Insurance. As I read through it I am surprised that they don’t take out a full contents and buildings Insurance. This one just appears to be a basic one just covering for accidental damage and public liability. I notice that it is due on the same day as the fight which shouldn’t mean anything but somehow it does to me. As I look at it something goes off in my brain. I am not sure what but I know that something is going on. I have no idea what it could be but somehow know this paper is significant. The door opens and Drake pokes his head around it. “You ok Scarlett? Sorry to ask but the lunch time crowd is in and we could sure use a hand.” I jump up and go to help but I can’t get the feeling out of my head that something is about to happen.
Drake was right the bar is busy and it takes all of us just to keep things ticking along. It still annoys me to see the different groups of girls that plague the place, mainly just to hit on Drake and Dylan. I still get groped by the men and just suck it all up, I have lost my temper once here and I am not going to do it again. Occasionally a customer gets a bit too keen and a couple of times Drake and Dylan have jumped in and warned the guy off. As we work away the three of us in the bar and Mac in the kitchen I realise that I feel more like this is my family than my own. I am grateful that my father found me this job, whatever his reasons were for it. I am sure that he didn’t know at the time just how much I would love it here.
It’s only after the lunch time rush that I remember the paperwork. Calling Dylan over I say, “Whilst it’s quiet Dylan I’ll get the paperwork for you to sign.” He follows me into the office and I explain what I have done. When we come to the Insurance form I wonder whether or not to say anything but throw caution to the wind and take the plunge. “Dylan, I’m sorry to pry but I couldn’t help notice that you have only ticked the cover for contents and public liability. Do you have cover for the rest elsewhere?” Dylan immediately looks worried and I feel bad for mentioning it. “It’s all we can afford at the moment. The premium was so high that I had to make the decision to go with the cheaper cover. I’m sure it will be fine though as we are extremely careful and check everything over and over again before we leave.” As much as I can see his reasons I am not sure I agree with them. “What does Mr Anderson think?” Dylan looks surprised. “I don’t pay him enough to think. He just pays it all and does the tax returns.” Suddenly Drake opens the door and says, “Mr Anderson’s here for the paperwork, shall I send him through?” Dylan nods and then sighs. “Thanks Scarlett. I couldn’t have done this without your help. At least it’s one job done.” I give his arm a squeeze and leave him to it. I want to help them so badly but don’t know how. One thing I do know though is my father can spot a good thing when he sees it and it won’t be long before they buckle under the pressure.
I busy myself out in the bar and wait for Mr Anderson to leave. A plan has begun to form in my mind and it is going to take all of my cunning and manipulation to pull it off. About an hour later I see the door from the office opening and I quickly dash out and start clearing a nearby table near the door. I hear him call out goodbye to Drake and count down until I know that he will be near me. As soon as I know that he is there I swing round with my tray and the contents fall all over him. He looks at me angrily and I look at him apologetically. “Oh I’m so sorry sir, I didn’t hear you coming. Please let me help you.” I take my cloth and start wiping his jacket that has taken the brunt of the contents of the glass that was balanced on the tray. “Its fine miss, don’t worry accidents happen.” I play along saying, “No no I feel so embarrassed you must let me at least help clean your jacket.” As I place my hand on him I concentrate all of my energy on reading his mind. It is like a computer download and doesn’t take long. Pulling away he smiles and makes for the door. As I watch him go Drake comes over laughing. “That was hilarious. For some reason I can’t stand that man, he gives me the creeps. Seeing you pour warm beer all over him made my day.” I laugh as he kisses me and then swings me around playfully. “What’s going on?” Dylan comes out of the office and looks at us with amusement. “Scarlett just drenched Mr Anderson, you should have been here.” Dylan grins. “He’s always been a bit wet behind the ears anyway.” We all laugh and carry on with our work. However my mission was accomplished as I think about what I learned from our contact. The trouble is nobody can know what I found out, there is too much at stake. No I will have to figure this out myself.
The next few days pass without incident. I have managed to keep all contact with my family to the minimum and have just enjoyed spending time with Drake and Dylan. The threat of the fight is still looming and the subject has remained off limits. Every time we ask Dylan about it he closes up and refuses to discuss it. Both Drake and I know that he could get badly hurt and we try to talk him out of it at every opportunity.
I know that he is training for it though as Drake told me that he gets up really early and heads for the gym. He also works out after work and I am worried that he isn’t getting enough sleep. Marius on the other hand needs no training, although working out at the gym is part of his daily routine. My father has a state of the art gym installed at the house and my brothers take full advantage of it. As the day approaches both Drake and Dylan are becoming increasingly worried.
One lunch time I look up and see Layla coming through the door. I haven’t seen here since she worked the shift and I smile at her warmly. “Hi Layla, it’s good to see you again.” She smiles and her face lights up. She certainly is beautiful and has a wholesome innocent quality about her which makes you instantly warm to her. I feel curious about her relationship with Marius. He never says two words and yet when I saw them together he obviously adores her. Maybe she is the chink in his armour. “Hi Scarlett, it’s good to see you too. Um is Dylan around?” Nodding towards the office I wipe my hands and open the door and shout. “Dylan, visitor.” He comes out and instantly his face lights up as he sees who it is. They move along the bar and soon their heads are together and I can see her speaking animatedly to him. He doesn’t look too pleased and then she puts her hand on his arm and it looks as if she is pleading with him. I am distracted by a customer and when I next look up she has gone. Dylan comes over to me and I can tell he is upset. “What’s up Dylan are you ok?” He looks down and sighs heavily. “Layla tried to talk me out of the fight. She said that I haven’t got a hope of winning and that Marius is determined to keep his unbeaten record. She said that she was worried for me and that my family couldn’t afford to lose another member and this place would suffer if I was injured.” Reaching out I squeeze his arm. “You know that she’s right don’t you Dylan. There must be another way to raise the money.” His eyes look weary and looking up he looks broken. “I don’t know what else to do Scarlett; I’ve run out of ideas. I want for Drake to go to College so badly. He shouldn’t have to give up his dream for this place. The trouble is if I sell up we will still have nothing after the debts are paid.” Suddenly I have an idea but I am not sure that he is going to like it so decide to keep it to myself. “Listen Dylan, you must do what you think best, things will work out I just know they will. Go with your gut instinct as that is normally never wrong. You only get one life and it is up to you to make the most of it. Listen to what people are telling you and then either do as they say or go with what your heart is telling you. Sometimes they are the same thing, only you know that.” Dylan looks at me with a stunned expression. “How old are you Scarlett?” He says jokingly. I punch him on his arm playfully and he laughs. Then to my surprise he hugs me. “Drake’s a lucky guy, you know that?” Laughing I nod but add, “No, I’m the lucky one.”
At the end of my shift I walk with Drake to his grandparent’s house. This is now becoming our routine and I am growing to love the place as much as he does. Most of the time spent there is just making out with him. Seeing him all day and not being able to be close is torture for us both. It is only in these few snatched hours that we can talk and get close to each other. I watch him as he plays his guitar and sings me a song that he has just finished writing. As I watch him play I am mesmerised. His voice is so soulful and he looks at me with such love as he sings. I am not used to seeing emotion and it makes me want to guard what we have with my life. He stops and places the guitar on the floor. Reaching out he pulls me into his arms. “I love you Scarlett, I just wish that I could take you to the finest places and buy you the best of everything. All you do is work and I feel bad that I am not treating you right.” I stop him talking by kissing him. Pulling away I smile at him happily. “I have all of those things already Drake and they mean nothing to me. All I want is here with you and this means more to me than going out and having things bought for me. Money can’t buy what we have and what you give me is more than I ever thought I’d get from anyone. I love you too Drake, you are everything that I need.”
We spend the rest of the evening cuddling up on the couch and just hanging out. Reluctantly though I soon have to leave. I don’t want to give my father any excuse to take away my bike so decide that I should at least put in an appearance at breakfast.
As I ride home I think about everything that is going on. There are so many balls in the air and I know that it is up to me to keep them all in play until it all comes crashing down. One thing I do know is that I must try to keep my father from discovering what I am thinking of doing. That will be the most difficult part of this whole thing.
When I get inside the house I make myself go into the kitchen where I can hear voices. Usually I scoot off to my room but I am now on a mission and need to set things in place. I have to stifle a giggle when I enter the room as I see Luna gyrating madly to some music that she has on that she is listening to with her headphones on. As she sees me she tears them off of her head and runs over and hugs me tightly. “Scarlett honey it’s good to have you home for once. Come in and I’ll make you a drink. I’m making my hot chocolate specials, loads of whipped cream and marshmallows.” I smile at her as she replaces the headphones and sets about making the drink. I wander over to where my brothers are watching the game. It is unusual to find them all here so I know that this could be my only opportunity. They look at me with disdain as I sink down on to the couch. I don’t say anything and just grab hold of the drink that Luna gives me. I make myself watch the game and think about how I am going to approach this. After a while they start talking about the fight. Caleb says, “I can’t wait for the fight bro. Make sure that you do your worst. I’ve got a bet on you flooring him in the third round.” Ash laughs. “Make that two of us. I mean have you seen the guy, he would go down if you just looked at him in the wrong way.” They all laugh and I sit and listen intently. Marius shrugs. “I’m not gonna lie it’s gonna be the easiest fight I’ve had in a long time. Depends how bored I get I suppose. I might just string it out for my own enjoyment.” Listening to them revelling in the thought of someone else’s pain makes me feel sick. They’re all disgusting and I am ashamed that they are my brothers. I still sit there with a bland expression and then Caleb notices that I am quiet and looks at me with a sneer. “Careful guys we have a traitor in our midst. I’m guessing she’s routing for the other guy, I mean word is she’s tight with his baby brother. What do you say little sis, where are your loyalties in all this?” I look at them all blankly and just take a sip of my drink before I reply. “I have no loyalties. I am out of here soon and just passing the time. It won’t bother me who wins. I’m not so sure that Marius will escape cleanly though.” They all laugh loudly and Marius scowls at me. “What are you talking about? I could beat him with my hands tied behind my back.” I pause for effect and then fix him with a steely gaze. “I’m not talking about beating Dylan. We all know that is inevitable. You may win the fight but you could lose your girlfriend in the bargain.” I watch Marius as my words register. A flash of alarm passes across his eyes which is instantly replaced by one of anger. “What do you mean?” He says in a low threatening voice. I shrug my shoulders and look indifferent. “All I know is that she came to see Dylan today and tried to talk him out of the fight. She is scared that he will get hurt and she cares for him.” Marius snaps, “Don’t be ridiculous of course she doesn’t care for him. You don’t know what you’re talking about; you should stick to washing dishes instead of psychoanalysing my relationship.” I stand up slowly and stare at him with a hooded expression. “Listen I am just telling you what I saw. Also when she worked that night in the bar she didn’t want paying. There is something between them that goes deep. It’s only a matter of time before you mess things up with her and then guess who will be waiting to pick up the pieces? What is it our father says, oh yes, knowledge is power. Well I am providing you with the knowledge; it’s up to you how you deal with it.” Caleb snorts. “As if Marius cares about upsetting his girl’s feelings. There’s an endless supply waiting to take her place so who cares what she thinks?” Marius stays silent and I turn to face them all and look as if I have just had a thought. “You know this could all work to your advantage you know.” They look at me with animosity but I can tell that I have their attention. Moving back I sit on the edge of the couch and narrow my eyes. “From what I understand if you knock out the first opponent another one takes his place, is that right?” Marius nods and he looks at me keenly. “Well if I were you, I would knock Dylan straight out with your first punch. That way Layla will think that you’ve done it for her out of the kindness of your heart. It would then show the next contestant and the audience that you are not to be messed with. The rest of you put bets on a first round knock out and so everybody’s happy. Anyway like I said, it doesn’t matter to me either way.” I jump up and move away. It’s a gamble that will hopefully pay off. If I’m right and Marius does care more for his girlfriend than he’s letting on then Dylan may just be spared a beating. His pride may suffer but that will soon be forgotten when the next stage of my plan comes into effect.
Before I can make my escape Luna grabs me. “Scarlett wait up. I keep on forgetting I’ve got those clothes that I bought you in my room. Come on and I’ll show you.” I can hear my brothers laughing as we head off towards her room. She chatters on incessantly but I tune out as I follow her. I haven’t been in their room for many years and dread that he may be there. We reach it and as she pushes the door open I notice with considerable relief that it is empty. I look around me with interest. It is immaculately tidy and an interiors designers dream. It is mainly white but has a huge bed that dominates the room that is covered in white satin sheets with luxurious silver fur throws scattered around. The furniture is modern and tasteful and there is some interesting art on the walls. Huge mirrors are everywhere and deep pile rugs litter the floor. The lighting is modern and I notice that it individually lights up sections of the room with varying shades of lights. The drapes look like silk and are heavy and full, trailing on the floor. The whole room reeks of indulgence and it mesmerises me. Luna pulls me over to the other side of the room and opens a door that is almost invisible. I gasp as it leads to another huge room which is obviously her walk in closet. Never before have I seen a room such as this. It is every girls dream. All around are rails and rails of beautiful clothes. Shelves house every manner of apparel and I can see that one whole wall alone is taken up just with her shoes. There are places for scarves and accessories and there is another wall just for handbags. There is another door that is open which I can see houses her make up and beauty products. Everything is arranged immaculately and I just want to lose myself in here forever.
She smiles as she sees my face and gestures around her. “Impressive isn’t it? Your father has an identical one next door. The bathroom separates them. We are so lucky to have him in our lives. He is so generous and loving; I couldn’t love him any more than I do.” I bite back a retort. Loving is certainly one word that I would never use to describe him. However I realise that she sees a different side of him to us and I am just glad that he is obviously treating her right. Despite her intellectual capacity even I can see that she is good for him. She brings the light into an otherwise extremely dark house. I watch as she grabs hold of several designer bags that are stacked in the corner of her closet room. She thrusts some at me and grabs the rest herself and gestures for me to follow her into their bedroom. Throwing them in a heap on the bed she grins at me and I try to quell the feeling of unease that is rising in me as I contemplate their contents. One by one she pulls various garments from the bags. As she holds each one up tears threaten to spill down my cheeks because in every single bag is the most perfect item of clothing for me than I could ever wish to choose. She has understood my style and needs totally and I could not have chosen better myself. There appears to be a whole new wardrobe here comprising of jeans, leggings, tops, jackets, nightwear, T shirts, in fact you name it she’s bought it. As she looks at me triumphantly her face suddenly falls and she slumps down on to the bed. “Don’t you like them Scarlett? I tried to put myself in your shoes when I was choosing them. They can all go back if you’d rather, I won’t be offended.” The tears are now coming thick and fast and I hug her tightly to me. Nobody has ever taken the time to understand me before let alone go to all this trouble just to make me happy. Choking on my tears I look at her gratefully. “Thank you Luna, they are all perfect, in fact better than perfect. I just can’t thank you enough. Nobody has ever done anything like this for me before and I am overwhelmed.” Tears run down Luna’s face and she looks at me softly. “You’re a loner Scarlett, I recognise that in you. It may be hard for you to understand now but I was once a lot like you. We never had anything when I was growing up. My mom had many boyfriends, some of who used to come after me when she was asleep.” I look at her horrified and she sighs. “It’s ok, I learned how to fight them off, and they were mainly drunk anyway so it was quite easy to do. As soon as I could I left home with nothing but what I could fit into a bag. I bummed around for a while and luckily met someone who offered me work as a model. It was through that work I met your father and the rest as they say is history. He treats me so well and loves me when nobody else ever did. I just want to give him something back so I try to play the mom to you all when you are here as well as giving him my full attention when he is. I’m sorry if it annoys you all but I can tell that you all need a little bit of love in your lives like I did. All of this is the only way I know how.” I sit next to her on the bed and hold her hand tightly. “Thank you Luna, I really mean that. Not just for the clothes but for everything. If you weren’t here the house would not be as alive as it is. I’m glad that my father treats you well. You deserve it.” We both look at each other and laugh at the sight of our tear streaked faces. Luna pulls me up. “Come on Scarlett, I’ll help you carry it all to your room.”
The next day I get up early and sneak out before anyone is awake. I need to keep my distance from my father before the fight. All he needs to do is grab hold of me and he would know in an instant what I am planning. I know that the bar will be closed but luckily know where there is a spare key so I let myself in. It feels strange to be here alone, with everything shut up and turned off. I need this time to put my plan in action. Making myself a coffee I head off to the office and turn on the computer and settle down for a fact finding marathon. I can’t do this at home in case my father finds out what I have been looking at. The first job is to research all of my father’s companies. This takes a considerable amount of time as it appears that he has quite an empire. I memorise every one that will be beneficial to my purpose and have soon got the information that I need. The next part of the plan is to Insure this building. If I’m right they are going to need some cover and fast. I am careful to choose one that has absolutely no connection to my father and fill out the form online. When it comes to the payment I carefully enter the information from a book that Dylan keeps in his desk. He won’t know anything about it until it is too late. I don’t feel bad about going behind their backs. This is something I have to keep to myself for all our sakes. Suddenly I hear a noise in the bar and quickly delete my browsing history. With any luck the Insurance certificate will come through after the fight, but just in case I will make sure that I check the post before I give it to him. The door opens and Drake comes in looking surprised to see me. He rushes over looking concerned. “Scarlett are you ok? You’re not here this early normally has something happened?” I jump up and smile gently at him. “No, I just couldn’t sleep and thought I’d lend a hand here. I don’t seem to be able to keep away from here for some reason.” He smiles sexily and pulls me towards him. “Well if you’re not tired maybe I can help wear you out.” He kisses me deeply and I can feel the love flowing through me from him. He is all that I want, the light in my otherwise extremely dark heart. I would do anything for him and I will.” After a while he pulls back and looks at me with a grin. “Seeing as how we’re early how about me taking my girl for a coffee in town?” Grinning at him I pull him along after me. “Come on, we’ll take the bike.” As we set off I enjoy feeling him close behind me on the bike. This is what the summer should have been about. I enjoy working with the two of them but we also need some down time.
We park up and Drake takes me by the hand and leads me into the coffee shop that I was in the other day. He orders us two coffees and muffins and we sit here feeding each other bits of muffin and kissing the crumbs from each of our lips. Suddenly we hear laughing and a group of guys jump into the seats opposite and next to us. “Hey man, that’s disgusting.” With interest I see that the guy who spoke is a good looking guy about our age. He has sandy coloured hair that is long surfer style and like his friends he is casually dressed in shorts and a T Shirt with Babewatch emblazoned across it. Drake grins and holding my hand says, “Scarlett meet the gang. I won’t even tell you their names coz they’re not staying.” The guy laughs and holds out his hand. “The name’s Cruz, I don’t think we’ve met before, in fact I know we haven’t otherwise I would remember.” I hold out my hand and say, “Scarlett. It’s good to meet a friend of Drakes.” Drake laughs. “I’ve made sure I’ve kept you away from these guys. You’re not safe around them and I want you all to myself.” Cruz and the others laugh and then another guy says, “Bitch alert, incoming.” We all look and see a group of girls pushing their way in through the doors. They see us all sitting here and come over. I can tell that they are all friends and am interested to see a couple of the girls move over and sit on what must be their boyfriend’s laps. The others pull up chairs and I see them looking at me curiously. One girl in particular looks at me with so much animosity that I wonder if I’ve offended her unknowingly. She is beautiful with dark straight hair and flashing grey eyes. She is slim and despite the frown on her face I can tell that she is stunning. I can feel Drake tense up and he looks ruefully at me before saying, “Hi Taylor, you ok?” Now I know why she hates me so much. She wrinkles up her nose and looks at me disdainfully. “I don’t think we’ve met your friend Drake.” Drake puts his arm around me which only makes her narrow her eyes even more. “This is Scarlett my girlfriend. Scarlett these are all my friends from school.” I smile and say hi and a few of the girls smile at me shyly. Taylor looks amazed. “Your girlfriend. Goodness me Drake I didn’t think you had time for anything other than working this Summer. When on earth did you find the time to date anyone?” Drake smiles. “Scarlett works with me so it’s easy really. We spend all day and most of the night together so it’s perfect.” Taylor looks at me curiously. “So where do you come from then?” I smile sweetly at her despite her cold behaviour. “I’m here for the summer visiting my father. He arranged the job for me where I met Drake.” Taylor suddenly smiles looking happier. “Oh, so you’re going home soon then. So tell me where is that exactly?” I can sense her relief and say brightly, “Rivercreek Falls.” Taylor snorts loudly. “I didn’t have you down as a country hick. This must be quite different for you here. I mean do they even have shops in Rivercreek Falls?” I can feel my anger rising but push it down inside. I am not going to make a scene; she is doing a good enough job of making herself look stupid. “Oh yes they do as a matter of fact. Actually it’s not much different to here. You know, usual things, coffee shops, bars, hot guys oh and bitchy high school cliques.” There is a sudden silence as everyone looks at me with a stunned expression. Then the guys roar with laughter and some of the girls too. Cruz grins. “Welcome Scarlett, I can see what Drake sees in you. He always did love a girl with attitude.” Drake grins and pulls me to my feet. “Well unlike you lot we have jobs to go to.” As we make our way to the door Cruz shouts, “You playing tonight dude?” Drake grins. “Yes, why you coming over?” Cruz laughs. “You try stopping us bro; I want to get to know your new lady a bit better. Who knows she might wake up to the fact that you’re a total loser and then I’ll be in there like a shot.” We leave laughing but not before I see Taylor glaring at me. Oh well one more enemy to add to the pile.
When we get to the bar I am surprised to see an older lady behind the bar. Drake smiles broadly and races over to her and gives her a huge hug. “Hi mom, I didn’t expect to see you here.” His mom laughs and I can tell that she is as easy going as her sons. Her eyes twinkling she smiles warmly at us both. “Hi Drake, aren’t you going to introduce me to your new girlfriend?” She looks at me and smiles. Drake grabs hold of my hand and says, “Mom this is Scarlett, Scarlett meet my mom.” I hold out my hand and shake hers warmly. To my surprise she pulls me in for a hug and laughs. “Punching above your weight a bit here aren’t you son. How did you get so lucky?” We all laugh as Dylan comes into the room. “What did I miss?” He says cheerily. I watch as he goes over to her and puts his arm around her shoulders. They all look so happy and obviously care for each other deeply. How I wish my parents were like theirs. My father doesn’t believe in any shows of affection, in fact Luna is the only one that I have seen him hold and look at lovingly. My mother is no better than him. She is so self obsessed and has never been the sort of Apple Pie mom that you see in the films. Come to think of it Luna has been more like a mother to me in the few weeks that I have been here than my mom has been in my lifetime. Drake’s mom smiles at me. “Call me Katharine dear, or Kitty if you prefer. I hope that you don’t all mind but your Aunt Jackie is watching your father today so that I can come and help out during Drake’s appearance later. I thought that I’d make a day of it and spend some time with my boys, oh and my new friend Scarlett. Is that ok?” We all nod and smile at her. I am actually looking forward to spending some time with Kitty; maybe she can tell me more about them as a family.
We all set to work and I help Kitty with the cleaning. By the time the first customers arrive I have told her more about my life than I have ever told anyone before. She is easy to talk to and has managed to get me to really open up about myself.
We are soon busy and don’t get much time to chat. After the lunches are over I find myself out the back with Kitty having something to eat. Drake and Dylan are covering in the bar and we sit there eating just enjoying the rest. Kitty looks at me happily. “I am glad that Drake has found you Scarlett. He works very hard and is so good to us. I worry that he is not enjoying himself as much as someone his age should.” I smile at her. “He is a credit to you Kitty. In fact they both are. They have made me feel so welcome and despite everything they are always so upbeat.” Kitty smiles sadly. “It’s been a tough time for us all. Their father was the life and soul of this place. He spent all his time here and made it what it is today. The accident has changed all our lives and has certainly tested us as a family. Without my two sons I don’t know where we’d be.” I can see her eyes mist over and reach out and give her hand a squeeze. “Is there any hope that he can recover and maybe come back to work?” Shaking her head sadly she looks at me with tears in her eyes. “No, he will not walk again, in fact there isn’t a job that he can do given his disability. He hopes that Dylan will take this on but I know that his heart isn’t in it. This is Bob’s dream not Dylan’s.” My heart aches for them all. “What is Dylan’s dream if it’s ok to ask?” Kitty smiles. “He would like to go to college and study law. He has always been the brains of the family and has a huge interest in it. The trouble is we had to sink both their college funds into this place so that is all it is, a dream. Drake has his music but I am not sure how far he can go with that. We’ve had offers from various people to buy this place but they just aren’t enough to dig us out of the hole we’ve dug.” I look at her with a thoughtful expression. “What about Drakes grandparents house. Can’t you sell that to raise some money?” Kitty looks horrified. “Oh no that isn’t an option. We all love the place; it would be like selling our soul.” I smile at her gently. “It’s a special place alright. You know I admire you all. You are finding things tough but you still keep upbeat and don’t give up. That says a lot about you as a family. You will find a way you know, things may be bad now but I have always found that things have a habit of working themselves out.” Kitty smiles and stands up. “You’re a sweet girl Scarlett. I am just sorry that you will be leaving soon. I haven’t seen Drake this happy in months.” She heads back to the bar and tears fill my eyes as I think about what she has said. I want for everything to work out for them and for them to be happy again but more than anything I don’t want to leave Drake. I have made myself not think about my inevitable departure but hearing her voice it out loud brings home the reality to me. The trouble is now that I have let love into my life I don’t want to ever let it go.
The place soon fills up and I watch as Drake gets ready to sing. I love watching him perform. He is in his element when he is singing and playing his guitar. I laugh as I see his usual fan club arriving. They don’t worry me anymore. Drake makes me feel secure and loved and I know that they mean nothing to him. Once again we are rushed off our feet. Listening to him sing distracts me from the noise of the bar. It is as though he is all that I can hear and his voice fills my soul. Taking a minute I lean against the wall and watch him play. He gets that far away look in his eye as if he is transported to another world. Every so often he finds me and stares at me with so much love that it brings a lump to my throat. How can I leave him? My heart will break I just know. Suddenly I am aware that someone is standing next to me also watching him. Looking across I groan inwardly as I see that it’s Taylor. She fixes me with a cold stare. “Better make the most of it Scarlett. The clock is ticking and soon the next semester will start. It’s just a shame that long distance romances are doomed to failure. It’s a long time to be apart from your summer love, soon the winter will set in and Drake may well decide to move on with someone else, shall we say a little closer to home.” Willing myself not to rise to her obvious desire to start something with me I just smile sweetly at her. “That may be Taylor, but you see I may decide to stay after all. You see I have that choice. Either way it will be fine, you see when you find true love nothing gets in the way of it, not even a jealous old flame that has long burned out. Anyway I’ve enjoyed our little chat but I have work to do. If you’ll excuse me.” I move quickly away but not before I see the alarm on her face.
Once again it’s been a good night and the takings are up. Dylan takes his mother home and leaves Drake and I to lock up. Pulling me towards him Drake kisses me deeply. Pulling away he says huskily, “Come to the house with me Scarlett. I want to spend every minute with you that we have left. The thought that you will be gone in a few weeks is killing me inside.” I can feel his despair and I share it. “Come on Drake. Let’s go to the house. You’re right we need to make the most of the time we do have.” Hand in hand we walk to his grandparent’s house. I fully intend on spending the night with him tonight and I don’t care what my father thinks.
We wake up early in the morning and I smile to myself as I see him lying beside me. He is the sexiest man that I have ever met and I trace the tattoo on his arm. He looks at me sexily and pulls me against him. He kisses me gently and pulls back looking deeply into my eyes. “I love you Scarlett, you are my world, you know that don’t you?” I kiss him and then groan in desperation. “This is so unfair. Why does life have to get in our way? I don’t want to leave you Drake but I have to.” Drake looks at me with excitement in his eyes. “Stay Scarlett. Tell your father that you want to transfer here to my school. We can be together all the time then and nobody can come between us.” I lower my eyes. “If I could stay I would Drake. My parents made some stupid deal that I would live with my mom and come to my father’s for the holidays. It’s not my decision to make. Also living with him is a nightmare. He’s not like most fathers and my brothers are awful. The only one I like is Luna and who knows how long she will stay around?” Drake looks disappointed. “Think about it Scarlett. There must be a solution; we can’t give up now that we’ve found each other.” He kisses me and all thoughts leave my head whilst I just enjoy feeling close to him.
For the next few days I just hang out as much as I can with Drake. Dylan is preoccupied with the fight and spends all his spare time training. I noticed an envelope from the Insurance company that I set up for them come and filed it away before they saw it. I just hope that I am wrong about what might happen and I find myself getting more and more nervous as each day goes on.
I spend the least amount of time that I can at my fathers. I don’t want to see him because he would discover what I am up to in no time if he wanted to. I have to make an appearance some time though and time it for when I know he is at work.
The day before the fight I head into town to sort out the next part of my plan. I make a trip to the bank and take out as much money as I can from my account. Luckily for me I get a good allowance from my father which I rarely spend. I am not like my sisters who appear to spend his money as quickly as he gives it to them. I thrust the envelope into my bag and just hope that nobody saw me. As I reach my bike my heart sinks as I see my brothers waiting next to it on their bikes. They see me coming and look at me with hard expressions. Caleb turns to me and sneers. “Look who’s here. Haven’t seen much of you sister dearest. Too busy with lover boy to spend time with your family.” Giving him my filthiest look I haul myself on to my bike. “Like you care anyway, I thought you’d be glad that I’m out of your way.” Caleb laughs. “I wish you’d take those other two with you. We can’t get rid of them. Roll on next week that’s all I’m saying.” I look at Ash with interest. Like me he is due to leave next week. He lives with our Uncle Jake in Falcondell. He has no other family and I have always wondered why he lived there. Like me he always looks miserable and I wonder what goes on in his life. He sees me looking and just sneers and looks away. So much for brotherly love. Caleb grins as he sees me start the engine. “I can’t get used to seeing you on that bike. Why didn’t you go for the sports car like those Barbie Doll sisters of ours? You’re more like a boy than a girl.” Tossing my hair back I fix him with my most withering look. “Who cares what you think. You’re just worried that I’m a better rider than you.” His eyes flash. “Is that a challenge little sis?” I curl my lip. “If you like. What do you say; $100 says I get home before you.” Marius and Ash laugh and Marius snorts, “Easiest money you’ll ever make bro.” Caleb grins. “You’re on little sis. I hope you’ve got the money ready because I don’t like to be owed anything.” Revving my engine I say, “Neither do I.” We line our bikes up and I feel a thrill run through me. I actually don’t care if I win or not. I just want to challenge myself whilst I still have the bike to ride. I know that when I get home I’ll have to rely on my friends for lifts. My mom won’t let me have a bike despite my constant nagging. No this is going to have to last me for a few months. I know that Caleb is a good rider and is a worthy opponent.
We wait for the lights to change and then we are off. I know that I will be first away as my bike is lighter and so am I. My brothers are heavier than me and their bikes more powerful. As we gather speed they start to catch me up. I am prepared for it and just accept what is bound to happen. I know that as soon as we hit the bends to get us up the hill they will slow down. As long as I can keep close behind them I should be ok. I feel the rush as I gather speed. My hair flies behind me and I can feel the wind whipping across my face. I feel so exhilarated and alive and push myself and my bike to the limit. I feel its power beneath me and channel all of my energy into it. It is as though the bike and I are one and the same. We have merged into one entity and I have never felt so powerful. We get to the bends and as I thought they start to slow down. The problem will be getting past them and I know that they will try and stop that from happening. I have never ridden so fast before in my life and far from feeling afraid it feeds my obsession. This is what I love; if I could ride all day I would. We get nearer home and I know that the only chance I have will be on the final bend. If I can pull level with them I will have the advantage. The trouble is if anything is coming the other way I wouldn’t stand a chance. I can see the final bend ahead of me and push closer. As Marius slows down in front of me I sprint past him. Ash then does the same and I take him too. That just leaves Caleb and I sit right on his tail. I can see the house in the distance and know that if I am to make my move then it must be now. However I see a movement in the trees ahead and realise that it may be an animal that may run out. I err on the side of caution and keep close behind Caleb. Today is not the day to prove my point. I need him to win for the greater good. He reaches the driveway half a tyre in front of me and spins his bike to a stop. I follow suit as do my brothers and we all sit grinning at each other. Caleb looks at me triumphantly. “Good effort Sis but it will take a lot to beat me. Now I think you owe me something.” Raising my eyes up I reach inside my bag for a $100 bill. “Here you go Caleb; you won this fair and square.” I toss him the money and the others laugh as he holds it above his head like a trophy. We all put our bikes away and I see Marius and Ash head off inside. Hanging back I look at Caleb thoughtfully. He looks at me and raises his eyes. “What?” Shrugging I reach back inside my bag and withdraw another $100 bill. “You have connections don’t you Caleb?” He looks surprised. “What sort of connections?” Looking around me I lower my voice. “I want you to place a bet for me on the fight. I can’t because I’m too young but you must know who to go to so I wondered if you could do it for me.” He smirks at me. “Well well who’d have thought our little sis was into gambling. What do you want?” Looking at him seriously I say, “I want you to bet all of this on Dylan knocking Marius out in the first round.” Caleb looks astonished. “You really do like to lose your money not to mention going against your own family. Do you have a death wish or something?” I shrug. “Look the odds are sure to be long and I might just know something that you don’t know. That’s all I’m saying ok?” Caleb narrows his eyes. “If you know something then you better spill or I’ll beat it out of you.” My eyes flash and I look at him with a sneer. “All I know is that anything can happen in a fight. Sometimes it’s worth taking a chance on something that may give you great rewards. We all know that Marius can beat Dylan with his hands tied behind his back, but sometimes strange things happen and that is what I am betting on.” Caleb shrugs and pockets the money. “And there I was thinking you weren’t so stupid after all. Well how wrong was I? Oh well it’s your money to throw away so what do I care.” He storms off and I watch him go with relief. I don’t really think that Dylan stands a hope in hell of landing even one punch on Marius let alone a knock out one. No what I am betting on is that Caleb tells Marius what I’ve said. I suppose you could say that I’m hedging my bets. I hope that Marius will think that I know something and not want to take that risk. He will knock Dylan out right away and Dylan will be spared a beating. Now I just have one more visit to make.
After lunch I head back off to the bar. I am going to put in a shift this afternoon and am looking forward to seeing Drake again. I also have another reason for going and hope that it will go according to plan. When I pull up Drake comes out to meet me. Pulling me off the bike he swings me around and kisses me passionately. “I’ve missed you so much Scarlett.” I look at his gorgeous face and try to memorise every detail. We don’t have much longer as I am due to return home next week. I hug him to me tightly. “I love you Drake. I can’t bear it that time is slipping away so fast.” Drake looks upset. “I try not to think about it. Come on let’s go inside. Dylan needs us to take his mind off tomorrow night. He’s so wound up and I am worried for him.” I take his hand and we head off inside.
We spend the most part of the afternoon trying to lighten the atmosphere. None of feel much like joking around but we at least try to. When I see them both busy in the bar I slip off to the kitchen. When I get there I see Mac working away. I don’t have long and quickly head over to him. He looks up in surprise as I pull him aside. “Listen Mac, I don’t suppose you could do me a favour could you. It’s just that I have no one else to ask.” He nods and looks at me with a puzzled expression. I reach into my pocket and pull out an envelope stuffed with $100 dollar bills. His eyes widen and I put my finger to my lips. “Listen Mac I need you to put all this money on Marius to knock Dylan out with his first punch. The odds should be good so I thought it was worth a risk. There’s a $100 there for you to either keep or do the same. Nobody must know it’s me as I don’t want to upset Drake and Dylan and I’m too young to bet anyway.” Mac looks worried. “It’s a lot of money Scarlett, are you sure you can afford to lose it?” I realise that Mac doesn’t know about my life and probably thinks this is my life savings. I shake my head. “Look it’s not mine, it’s for a friend. I just need you to keep this between ourselves ok?” Mac nods and pockets the money. I know that I can trust him and head back to the bar. Now everything is in place. All I need is one word with Dylan and the stage will be set.
I seize my chance when we are working side by side at the bar. Taking his arm I draw him to one side. “How are you bearing up Dylan? It must be a lot to think about with the fight tomorrow.” Dylan tries to smile but I can tell that he’s worried. “Oh I’ll be fine. You know I’m tougher than I look.” He is trying to joke but I know that he doesn’t even believe it himself. I lower my voice. “Listen Dylan, just a word of advice. When you face Marius in the ring just make sure that you stand with your back to Layla. She is bound to be in the first or second row and you must stand just in front of her.” Dylan looks surprised. “Why on earth should I do that?” I shrug my shoulders. “Call it intuition or superstition. In fact call it what you want but just do it for me ok?” Dylan laughs and ruffles my hair. “You’re a strange girl Scarlett. Nice strange though, I’m going to miss my favourite worker.” Drake comes over and pulls me against him. “You’re not the only one bro. How can we persuade her to stay?” Dylan looks thoughtful. “I’m guessing that we can’t persuade Scarlett to do anything. If she can find a way she will, there’s no one I’m more sure about than her.”
The day of the big fight dawns and with a heavy heart I make my way downstairs for breakfast. I know that I am expected to be home at a reasonable hour to go there with my family so I have offered to cover Dylan this afternoon at the bar so that he can prepare for the fight. The bar will be closed as will be most places in town this evening. This is a big event and it seems that the whole town are turning out to watch.
Luna is making pancakes and I am surprised to see that it is just us girls in the kitchen. Luna squeals when she sees me. “Scarlett, how nice. Come and have some pancakes. They are my breakfast speciality and you can have them with blueberries or maple syrup.” Sitting down I grab a plate. “Blueberries please Luna.” Ashley and Savannah look at me with their usual disgust and Ashley says, “Not long now Scarlett. We’ll be out of here this time next week and I for one can’t wait to get home.” Savannah snorts. “Yes it’s been hell for us being stuck here all Summer. Most of our gang are back at home and have been having a great time. Not us though. If I see that damn country club ever again I’m gonna slit my wrists.” Luna looks upset. “I’m sorry girls haven’t you enjoyed yourselves?” I look at her sympathetically. “Of course we have Luna. You’ve been great and I for one am going to miss you terribly. You couldn’t have done any more for us than you have and I am sure we all really appreciate your efforts.” Luna gives me a small smile and Ashley and Savannah raise their eyes. “I’m sure that Luna can’t wait to get us out of her hair. I know I would count the days off if I was in her shoes.” Luna looks upset and I know that she has enjoyed having our company no matter how brief it always is. It must be quite lonely for her living here. My father is always working and Caleb and Marius are hardly likely to sit around chatting to her. In fact I am not sure what she does with her time and I feel bad that I haven’t got to know her better.
She clears the dishes away and I go to help her. Waving me away she sniffs saying, “Leave all this Scarlett. It will give me something to do. You just go and spend some time with that boyfriend of yours.” Ashley and Savannah look interested and Savannah giggles. “I can’t wait to see what type of guy would ask Scarlett out. I bet he’s one of those hillbilly types with his brains in his trousers.” Ashley laughs, “Either that or blind. I mean Scarlett’s hardly much of a woman is she, more like a tomboy riding in on her motorbike. Word of advice Scarlett, if you want a real catch ditch the leathers and dye your hair. Put on some fashionable clothes and practice being a girl for once.” Savannah laughs and I just glare at them and storm out of the room. In some ways next week can’t come soon enough as they will be gone from my life for a few months anyway.
Drake and I hold the fort at the bar and it is strangely quiet. Drake is down I can tell and I try to keep his spirits up. “Don’t worry Drake, Dylan will be ok.” Drake looks upset. “I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to him. Things are bad enough at the moment without anything else going wrong. To top it all you’re leaving next week and you are the only thing that is good in my life. The thought of going back to school and not seeing you again until Christmas is unbearable.” I wrap my arms around him and hug him tightly. “I know Drake, I’m the same. Despite where I have to live when I’m here I’ve had the best Summer ever and it’s all down to you.”
We decide not to do any more work and just sit together in one of the booths. Luckily nobody comes in and after a while we decide to close up. We can’t concentrate on much anyway. Drake heads off to help Dylan prepare. He is going to assist him by the ring so I won’t get to see much of him before the fight. I have to go with my family which I am not looking forward to. Whilst Drake closes up I head off to find Mac. He gives me the thumbs up when he sees me and I smile with relief. Drake walks me to my bike and draws me close. He tilts my face towards his and kisses me gently. “Don’t worry Scarlett. I know this is gonna be hard for you to watch. It’s not going to be much fun watching your brother beat up your boyfriend’s brother and I just want to let you know that we won’t expect you to show support for us. Your family have to come first its only right.” Tears run down my face. They are such lovely people and I couldn’t imagine my family being so understanding. Wiping my tears away he kisses me gently. “Will I see you after?” I nod. “Of course, as soon as I can I’ll make my escape. I’ll meet you back here.” Drake smiles sexily. “No, meet me at my grandparent’s house. I want to spend the night with you. The thought of that will keep me going through this hellish evening.” We kiss again, but somehow I doubt that we will make it there tonight.
Once I get home I get ready for the fight. I put on some of the clothes that Luna bought me. The black jeans fit me like a second skin and she has chosen a beautiful dark blue chiffon top. I finish it off by choosing a well fitted short black jacket and put a cool silver necklace around my neck. I wear flat ballerina type shoes and hope that it is the sort of stuff that people wear to these things. Leaving my long dark hair loose I just brush it until it gleams. I finish off my makeup and grab my bag. This is sure going to be a long night.
By the time I get downstairs most of the others are waiting. Only Marius isn’t here. Luna looks amazing and is dressed in the tightest dress with killer heels. She is wearing the most gorgeous jewellery and her long blonde hair hangs down her back like a sheet of gold. The twins also look amazing and I suddenly feel just a little bit scruffy. Luna races over and hugs me. “Scarlett you look amazing. Those clothes fit you so well and you simply must show me how to do my eyes like yours before you leave.” Suddenly her eyes fill with tears and she turns away. “Oh I’m sorry guys. The thought of you all leaving next week is making me super emotional. I am such a wreck at the moment. I may just have to get a dog when you’ve gone to fill the void.” I have to laugh at my father’s expression. He is looking very smart and extremely handsome as he stands by the bar area mixing some drinks. I watch as he hands one to Luna and smiles at her affectionately. I am always fascinated watching their relationship. It is so wrong yet so right at the same time. I have never seen him with anyone like he is with her. I hope it lasts as I like Luna despite her mad ways.
Ash and Caleb are sitting on the couch holding their beers. As I look at us all I realise just what a striking family I have. They are certainly going to turn a few heads tonight. I don’t think that we’ve ever been out all together like this before and it is a strange experience. Before long Marius joins us and Luna claps her hands together. “Right come on gang. We’re booked into the hotel in town for dinner so we mustn’t be late. Your father has had to pull a few strings to get us a table so we had better get a move on.” The twins raise their eyes up and pull a face and Ash and Caleb look angry as if they would rather do anything else but this. Marius is quiet and brooding and I expect that he is preparing himself mentally for the fight, although I’m not sure why, he does it most nights for fun after all.
They have ordered a cab and I look crossly as my brothers make their way to the garage to pick up their motorbikes. “Why can’t I take mine?” I say to my father. He looks at me crossly. “Because for once you are going to play the dutiful daughter and be a lady for one evening. I don’t want my daughter arriving on a motorbike when her sister’s arrive in style. Just suck it up for a change.” The twins grin at me obviously enjoying the fact that he is picking on me instead of them. Luna just laughs. “Oh Scarlett, what are we going to do with you? You can sit by me and tell me all about your gorgeous boyfriend.” I have to stifle a giggle as I see the flash of anger pass across my father’s face. He either wants her all to himself or the thought of me with a boyfriend is not a pleasant one.
We walk into the hotel and I can tell that it is very exclusive. Once again I wonder if I am too scruffy and I watch as the Maitre D fawns all over Luna and my father. He shows us to a prime table and almost falls over himself in his eagerness to please us. I look around me with interest at the five star luxury. The place is certainly up to date and modern and calming music is playing and the other diners look very rich and smart in their evening attire. We are soon joined by my three brothers. I relax and stifle a laugh as I see their discomfort. They look even more out of place here than me, although I do notice the waitresses checking them out. It must be quite a sight as they are all incredibly good looking. Much like my father they have dark unruly hair and almost black eyes. Their bodies are well toned and they are all well over 6ft tall. They look around them with dark brooding expressions and I laugh at the sight of the women in the room who can’t appear to take their eyes off them. Their male partners are equally mesmerised by the females in our group and I see my father glowering at anyone who openly stares at us. Luna chatters away for all of us throughout the meal and as you might expect from such a grand hotel the food is amazing.
Luna looks around at us all and beams. “This is so nice. We should have done this weeks ago. If I could I would get the waiter to take a photograph.” Cringing I sink down lower in my chair. How embarrassing. To my complete surprise my father smiles at her. “What a great idea Luna. Let’s use my phone and then we can get it framed.” Luna grins at us and waves the waiter over. “Honey could you take a family photo please.” The waiter looks surprised. He probably doesn’t get asked that much as it is so upmarket in here. My sisters look mortified but not half as much as my brothers. My father appears to be enjoying some kind of private joke and we all look at the camera with frozen expressions. “Come on guys smile.” Luna says and we all try to look as if we are smiling but fail miserably. Savannah leans over to Ashley and I hear her whisper. “Now I know I’m in Hell.” Ashley giggles and my father looks at them with a frown.
By the time we have had desert the time is getting on and I notice my father look at his watch. He turns to Marius. “You had all better go. We will meet you there. You know what you need to do.” My brothers look at him with blank expressions and push back their seats. Without a word they leave and I wish that I could follow them. All I want is to be with Drake and Dylan. This charade is getting in the way of time that I could be spending with them. My father orders coffees and I almost pass out with frustration. This evening is interminable and I can’t wait to get out of here. Luna chatters on which disguises the fact that none of us have two words to say to each other. My father has his arm running along the back of her chair and I notice that he keeps stroking her neck. I am not sure how long they have been together now but his girlfriends only seem to last a couple of years at the most. The last few were awful. They were also vapid blondes who were more interested in spending his money than playing happy families with us. Luna is different to them. She is absolutely stunning but has a big personality and a kind heart. I hope that he stays with her and doesn’t ruin her in the process.
Finally we get up to leave. There is a cab waiting to take us to the venue. It’s at the local sports centre and they are expecting a huge turnout tonight. The cab drops us off outside and I look around me with interest. We once again command a lot of attention from the milling crowd and I notice the way that people look at my father. There is a curiosity mixed with fear and reverence. He ignores nearly everybody whilst Luna waves and blows kisses to the people she knows. The twins look disdainfully around them. They are certainly beautiful and are the focus of rather a lot of attention. As usual I try to blend into the shadows and not draw attention to myself. I am desperate to get away from them and take my opportunity when my father is stopped by a couple who obviously know him. Slipping away I look for the changing area. I want to wish Dylan luck not to mention the fact that I want to be with Drake. I see a sign indicating the way and head off to find them. It doesn’t take me long and I hesitate before knocking on the door. After a few moments the door opens and I see Drake standing there. He smiles nervously and pulls me into the room. I can see Dylan warming up and feel the anxiety that fills the room. Dylan smiles. “Good to see you Scarlett, you look nice.” I smile at him brightly. “You’re such a sweet talker Dylan.” He laughs and Drake pulls me against him. “You leave my girl alone brother and concentrate on decking her brother.” We all laugh but it is without any humour. Looking softly at Drake I pull him towards me and whisper, “Look I have to sit with my family but I’ll be routing for Dylan. It may be difficult for me to get away but as soon as I can I’ll see you back at the house.” His eyes soften and he kisses me gently whispering, “I love you Scarlett. Despite what your brother may do it won’t change my feelings towards you.” Tears spring into my eyes and I kiss him softly. Turning to Dylan I say cheerily. “Listen Dylan remember what I told you. Back to Layla, ok?” Dylan raises his eyes. “Yes I remember, although I haven’t got a clue why you think that’s important.” I smile sweetly. “So that Marius will be looking into the eyes of his girlfriend as he hits her beloved Dylan. I already know that she has pleaded with him to go easy on you and if I’m right he may be caught a little off guard if he sees her watching.” Drake and Dylan laugh. “You’re devious Scarlett; your brothers are no match for you.” I smile but inside I worry about just how devious I really am. They are right about one thing; my brothers are no match for me.
As I exit the room I am surprised to see my brothers in the distance. They look as if they have just arrived but I know that they left ages before us. Suddenly an icy feeling spreads through my body. I should have guessed from the moment they left. They had a job to do tonight and it was on the instructions of my father. The trouble is I know exactly what that job was and know that my world is about to come crashing down.
I head back to find my seat trying to ignore the knot in my stomach. There is nothing I can do but pick up the pieces. Somebody knocks past me and I almost fall over. Looking up I notice Taylor smirking at me. “Well well Scarlett from Hicksville. Making the most of your last few nights in a real town are we?” I push my anger firmly down inside me. I don’t have the time or the energy for her tonight and just give her a withering stare. She carries on. “I wouldn’t worry about Drake when you’ve gone. He is a popular guy and won’t be lonely for long. There are plenty of other girls queuing up to take your place; I just thought that you would like to know that he won’t be pining after you for too long.” I carry on walking and it annoys her. She grabs hold of my arm and pulls me back hissing. “Don’t you walk away from me you low life scum. I realise that you may not have the intelligence to answer me when I’m speaking to you but didn’t your mama tell you it’s rude to walk away when someone is talking to you?” I sigh heavily and pulling my arm away turn to face her and look at her wearily. “Listen Taylor, I really don’t have time for this so I’m gonna make this easy on you. I know why you hate me so much and that’s fine. You don’t like seeing Drake with someone else and you’re hitting out. I totally get that I mean if it was me I wouldn’t like it either. I haven’t done anything to you and nor will I so back off. Your words don’t hurt me because I live with much worse than you could ever throw at me. So just take my advice and back off. I’ll be gone soon and you won’t have me to worry about. The trouble is people like you waste far too much energy worrying about other people and not enough on being the best that you can be. I am sure that you’re a great girl underneath it all and if I had stayed who knows we may have found that we have more in common than you think, I mean Drake wouldn’t have gone out with you if you weren’t nice underneath this bitchy exterior. So just leave me alone Taylor and I will you.” Before she can speak the door flies open and my brothers fill the hallway. They see us standing there and I see their eyes narrow. Taylor pulls herself up straight and fixes a sexy look on her face. Caleb looks between us and sneers. “What are you doing here Scarlett? Oh let me guess visiting lover boy. Well take one last look at his brother before Marius changes his appearance for the worst.” Taylor giggles beside me and I glare at them. Caleb laughs. “If I were you I’d take my seat it’s gonna start in a minute, enjoy the fight I know that I am.” I walk away from them all without another word. I don’t have any more time to waste with people like them. Now I know why Drake finished with Taylor. She may be beautiful but she is ugly inside, whereas he is perfection throughout.
I make my way into the sports hall and look for my family. As I thought they are sitting in the front row behind the ring. As I approach Luna waves excitedly. “Here Scarlett, I’ve saved you a seat next to me.” I see my father frown and my sisters sneer at me. Sighing I sink down beside Luna. “This is so exciting isn’t it Scarlett? You must point your boyfriend out to me. I bet he’s really hot.” I notice that once again my father frowns and now my sisters look interested. I notice that the place is almost full and there is a huge amount of noise and anticipation. I hate fighting despite my background and wish that I was as far away from here as I could get. I can see layla sitting in the front row across from us and can tell that she is anxious. Even from here I can see how beautiful she is. Typical Marius, he obviously chose the best looking girl in school. Unusually though she has a personality to match and I wonder if that is as much the attraction to him as her looks. We don’t get much love at home that is for sure and like me he probably craves it like the air that we need to breathe.
There is a big roar from the crowd as the contestants make their way to the ring. My heart goes out to Dylan who despite putting on a brave face must be feeling extremely worried. Drake walks beside him and my heart breaks. This is going to be the toughest night for them both and there is nothing I can do to help them. Luna shrieks excitedly as we see Marius flanked by Ash and Caleb. They make an intimidating sight and just look around them with their usual air of boredom. Once again I look at Layla and can see the fear and anxiety in her expression. I smile to myself. Perfect. If she can just maintain it for a little bit longer then I will have one less thing to worry about. Ashley nudges me. “Is that your boyfriend Scarlett? The hot brooding one with the wicked tattoo?” Savannah cranes her neck to see and Luna grips hold of my arm. “Goodness Honey, I can see why you’ve been spending so much time there. He’s hot.” Once again my father looks irritated and looks at Drake with animosity. Savannah looks interested. “Hmm he certainly has something I’ll give you that. I prefer more Ivy league than Rock star but each to their own.” That doesn’t surprise me both the twins have certain standards that they want to maintain and it appears that that is all that matters to them. As I look at Drake my heart fills with love for him. He is concentrating on helping Dylan in his corner and I wish that I could be there supporting them. Soon the referee calls them both forward and they take their places. There is a hushed silence in the hall as the anticipation grows. I dig my finger nails into my hands to stem how nervous I feel. I must be strong and show no emotion. As they face each other I can tell how nervous Dylan is. You wouldn’t know it just by looking at him but I can see it in his eyes. Marius will also see it and I hope that it doesn’t go against my plan. My brothers like nothing more than sensing someone’s fear just before they strike. They feed off of it and I can only hope that Marius reserves that particular pleasure for the next opponent. I can see Layla looking devastated opposite me and then suddenly the bells rings. Holding my breath I focus on the men in the ring. I can’t see Marius’s face as he has his back to us so don’t know what he will do. They circle each other warily and I can tell that Marius is waiting for Dylan to make the first move. Suddenly Dylan lunges forward and I watch with horror as Marius moves sharply to the side whilst bringing up his fist in one swift sharp move. The contact is brutal and I watch as Dylan’s head snaps back as he feels the full force of the blow. He staggers back and there is silence as the whole room watches in disbelief as he falls to the floor out for the count. The referee goes to him and counts to ten and calls him out. There is uproar in the room. Marius moves back to his corner and Caleb turns around and looks at me triumphantly. I know what he is thinking and I don’t care. $100 was nothing to lose in the grand scheme of things. No my winnings are much greater than even he realises. My father sees the look between us and looks at us with interest. Luna is cheering and jumping around madly but I cannot celebrate. My sisters look bored and my father just claps slowly. Looking over at Drake I see him crouched over Dylan checking him over anxiously. The doctor is called and they carry him from the ring. I stand up to go to them and my father hisses, “Sit down Scarlett. The evening isn’t over yet and you must watch your brother fight. Remember where your loyalties lie.” I sit back down again with a scowl.
The next fighter is called and I see the fear in his eyes as he faces my brother. This time when the bell rings Marius doesn’t hold back. All of his pent up rage explodes in the ring and the fight is soon stopped before he kills the other guy. In total Marius fights five opponents and shows no mercy. He is declared the winner and the noise in the room is deafening. My father looks around him with a triumphant gleam in his eyes. Luna grabs hold of his arm with excitement and he smiles indulgently at her. The twins just play with their phones and look bored. My brothers look around them disdainfully and Marius doesn’t look like he even broke sweat. As I look at my family once again I hate them intensely. Nothing matters to them except winning and showing everyone else how superior they are. They don’t stop to think about anyone else and the damage they cause in getting what they want. I feel as if I can’t breathe. The stench of evil fills my nostrils and I feel as if I am drowning in it. I think of Drake and Dylan and my eyes fill up. I hope that they are ok, that was just the start of the nightmare that is probably unfolding right now.
It takes us absolutely ages to get out of the hall. It appears that everyone wants to congratulate Marius and pay homage to my father. It makes me sick and I scowl at everyone that approaches us much to my father’s obvious amusement. I notice Layla with Marius. She is looking at him adoringly and I know that he would have told her that he went easy on Dylan for her. Caleb and Ash just stand there looking mean as usual and I look at them all with hatred for what I know they have done.
As soon as we finally exit the building I can hear the sirens. Looking at my father he looks as if he hasn’t got a care in the world. My brothers head off into the night and we get inside the waiting car to go home. As we drive off I can see the flames in the distance and know at once that it is the bar. Looking anxiously at my father I plead with him. “Look there’s a fire, it must be the bar. Please take me there I must help.” The others look with interest out of the window and Luna’s hands fly to her mouth. “Oh my God, that’s terrible. I hope that no one was hurt. Those poor boys what a terrible thing to happen to them.” The twins look at me and smirk. Savannah says, “Well at least you won’t have to work there anymore.” My father says nothing and looks at me darkly. “If it is the bar then we are keeping well away. I am not risking any of you getting caught up in it. No we are going home and you can go there tomorrow when the fire is out.” I feel like a caged animal and look at him with pure and utter hatred. He smiles wickedly and his eyes flash. “Keep it inside Scarlett. There is nothing more you can do. You never know it may be the best thing for them.” I turn away from him. Oh I know that it is but not for the reasons he thinks. I am going to take great delight in showing him.
As soon as we reach the house I fully intend of giving it a little while and then sneaking out. I don’t care what my father says; this is my decision to make not his. The others head inside but he pulls me back. Turning to look at me I can see his mind working. I snap at him. “What? Surely you’ve got want you wanted now; they will have no choice but to sell the bar to you.” He smiles a sinister smile. “Possibly, but from what I understand I am not the only interested purchaser.” As I look at him I am beginning to see the real reason for my work placement. My mind starts working quickly and I look at him as say slowly, “Yes you’re right about that. Who knows who will make the better offer? I mean the place is a goldmine. What you need is a different approach; I don’t know let’s say you could offer them something else that the other parties wouldn’t think of.” I can see his eyes darkening as they pull me in. I know that this is what he wants. Knowledge is power and I hold the key to it. He says darkly, “So what have you learned that could be to my benefit?” I twist my mouth into a smile every bit as sinister as his. “Well I happen to know that you own several companies who operate a scholarship programme. Let’s just say one of those decides to make an offer to cover Dylan’s college fees? I happen to know that his greatest wish is to study law. Actually quite handy when you think about it. If he has the possibility of going to College then they may just go with that offer. I mean they would be mad to refuse.” I can see the excitement burning in his eyes. “You have done well Scarlett. When my children please me I feel like rewarding them. Yours is that you can go and meet your friends. Help them in any way you can. I have a feeling that they may need you tonight.” I quickly move away before he changes his mind. I can feel his eyes burning into my back as I head towards the garage. Despite my brave exterior my stomach is churning. I haven’t finished yet and I won’t rest until I have.
I actually can’t get there quickly enough. I ride like the wind and as I approach the bar tears run down my cheeks as I witness the devastation in front of me. I stop some way from the bar and run towards it. The fire crews have cordoned it off and I join a small crowd that have formed there. The bar is gone. It has burned down to the ground and all that is left is a smouldering pile of memories. Through the darkness I can make out the figures of Drake and Dylan watching their pride and joy turn to dust. Calling out to them I push forward and they turn to face me. My breath catches in my throat as I see the true cost of the fire. They have been destroyed along with the bar. I run to them and Drake pulls me into his arms. “I’m so sorry Drake, what happened?” I can feel his heart beating wildly and sense the tension within him. “The chief says they think it came from the boiler. They’re not sure yet but will check it out tomorrow. Luckily it was empty though and no one was hurt. When I think that we could all have been in there when it went up it fills me with terror.” I look over at Dylan and see the results of my brother’s punch dominating his face. I hug him tightly. “I’m so sorry Dylan. Are you ok? I mean you were knocked out and then had all of this to deal with. Are you sure you shouldn’t be in the hospital?” Dylan looks down and I can tell that it is to disguise the tears. “No, physically I’m fine; mentally I’m not so sure.” We all stand together looking at the smouldering wreck. There is absolutely nothing left. It must have gone up like a firework. I am not sure how long we stand here for but as the fire crews start to pack up I look at them both and say gently. “Come on; let’s get you both to your Grandparent’s house. I’ll make you a hot drink and we can figure out what to do now.” Drake takes my hand and I take Dylan’s. Now it’s up to me to look after them and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
We sit and talk long into the night. Now is not the time to discuss the future. They need to grieve for the past first. It’s too soon to look forward and I just listen as they share their memories. By the time morning comes we have all fallen asleep where we sit.
In the cold light of day we have to face facts. Dylan and Drake decide that they need to talk it all out with their parents. I don’t want to intrude but need to give them something before they make any decisions. Coughing nervously I rummage in my bag and pull out a memory stick. I hand it to Dylan and he looks at me questioningly. “It’s a back up that I made of your computer when I did your paperwork. Old habits and all and I was going to give it to Drake to store here. I was always told that you should keep a back up of your personal information separate from where you work or live.” They look at me incredulously. I blush and say hesitantly. “I’m sorry but that’s not all. When I looked through your Insurance document I noticed that you only had the contents and public liability. When I asked you Dylan you said that you couldn’t afford the full cover. Well I am sorry but I took it on myself to search for different providers. I don’t know why but I don’t trust Mr Anderson and I managed to find you a better deal with another company. I cancelled the one that you had and took out the new one. You will find that you are fully covered for every eventuality for the same cost. I think that Mr Anderson must have been getting a payout to keep you locked in to your usual provider. Well once the cause of the fire is determined then I am sure that you will receive a huge payout.” They look at me in stunned disbelief. I feel nervous wondering if they will be angry that I interfered. They may even put two and two together and suspect that I knew all along. However the look that they give me tells me differently. I see the worry in their eyes evaporate before mine. Suddenly they can see a different picture and it is full of hope. Drake crushes me to him and I can hear the emotion in his voice. “Thank you Scarlett. You are obviously an Angel sent from God to help us. I cannot love you anymore than I do at this moment.” Dylan pushes him away and hugs me equally as hard. “Thank God that you came into our lives Scarlett. We love you so much and cannot thank you enough.” I pull away my cheeks flaming. They laugh as they see my embarrassment and Drake lifts me up and swings me around. “I am not letting you go Scarlett. You will have to stay here now otherwise I will hunt you down and kidnap you and bring you back here.” I laugh and then suddenly remember the other part of my plan. Once again I look at them warily. “I’m sorry guys but there is more.” They look at me with surprise and I sit down nervously on the couch. “Well I sort of wanted to help you out and when you told me about the fight Dylan I saw how I could.” They sit down opposite me and I see that I have their full attention. “Well I took out all of my money from the bank. I gave some of it to Caleb to put a bet on you knocking Marius out in the first round.” Dylan looks dumbstruck. Shaking his head he says, “But why, you know that was never gonna happen?” I smile. “I know. I told Marius that Layla would probably leave him if he beat you up. I said that you two had a soft spot for each other and if she saw him hammer you her sympathy would be with you. I paid the money just to mess with his head. I wanted them to think that I knew something they didn’t and that is why I asked you to stand in front of Layla. Marius would see her devastated face and with the thought that you may be able to knock him out somehow I knew that he wouldn’t want to take the chance. This way you would sustain minimal damage and I would make sure that you received a huge payout to equal the prize money.” Drake and Dylan are looking at me as if they are dreaming. Drake says in a confused voice, “I don’t understand what payout?” Now I am extremely red and say, “I gave Mac the rest of the money to put a bet on Marius knocking you out with the first punch. I had already instructed my brothers to do the same and I also told Mac to place a bet on it too. I knew the odds would be good but even they didn’t know how much I bet. Mac was reluctant at first but luckily he came through. If I have calculated correctly he is holding several thousands of dollars for you which should be enough to help out with Drake’s college fund. I know that was the reason why you wanted to fight in the first place.” Both of them look at me with a mixture of delight, surprise and admiration. Drake recovers first and once again pulls me to him tightly. I can feel the tears running down his cheeks as he gulps, “Thank you Scarlett. I don’t know what else to say. We don’t deserve what you have done for us. You must have your money back though. I couldn’t possibly take that.” Dylan just sits there in total shock and I can see his mind working. Nodding I say, “You can pay me back what I withdrew but not a penny more. I am too young to gamble and I don’t want to get in trouble.” The two of them look at me incredulously and then laugh so loudly that I grin at them both. Wiping his eyes Dylan says, “Scarlett, I have a feeling that you couldn’t care less about getting into trouble. What you have done is nothing short of a miracle. You have given us choices when there were none. We will never be able to repay you and will be forever in your debt.” I shake my head furiously. “You owe me nothing. For the first time in my life I know what it feels like to be part of something. You both made me feel so welcome and gave me more than money could ever buy. I will never forget that and as far as I’m concerned I am in your debt. I am just glad that I could help you when you most needed it.” They both crush me to them in a group hug and I feel as though I am finally where I belong.
The next few days pass in a blur. I spend as much time as I can with Drake and just do whatever they ask of me to help out. One evening we are at his Grandparents house alone and just enjoy spending some time together whilst we can. I am due to leave in two days time and we are both feeling extremely depressed. Things have worked out for them all. They accepted my father’s offer to buy the bar and it was a relief to them to be finally free from it. Dylan is going to take the scholarship and is busy sorting out colleges and all that goes with it. The betting money has been put away for Drake’s college fund and his parents are going to use the rest of the money to re model their grandparent’s house so that it is suitable for his father and mother to live in. They were only renting their current house as it had to be practical for his father. This way they now have enough money to live on without working and their son’s futures are planned. I sigh as I lay next to Drake and he pulls my face up to look at him. “What is it Scarlett?” Sighing again I say, “I wish that I could stay here with you Drake. For the first time ever I don’t want to leave. I feel as if my life is here with you now and it will be like I am leaving part of myself behind.” Drake kisses me and holds me tight. “Then don’t go Scarlett. Stay here and come to school with me. Have a word with your father. I am sure he will sort it for you.” As he says the words I suddenly make the decision that I will at least try. If it’s at all possible then it would be worth living with him and my brothers if it meant that I spent most of my time with Drake and his family. Pulling back I suddenly feel excited. He laughs as he sees my expression and says softly, “If anyone can pull this off it’s you Scarlett. I have no doubts about that at all.”
I almost lose my resolve as I stand in front of the door to my father’s den. I know that I want this more than anything but I am not sure if it’s possible. I knock hesitantly and hear his deep voice calling me in. He looks up as I enter and I see him watching me with curiosity. He gestures to the seat in front of him and I sink down into it nervously. He sits back in his chair and his eyes flash as he senses my mood. “What can I do for you Scarlett?” I fiddle with my hands and then raise my eyes to his. I muster every ounce of willpower within me and look at him with a hard expression. “I want to live with you and go to high school here next semester.” As I utter the words I feel relief that they have made it out of my mouth. As I look at him I see the excitement in his eyes. They almost look triumphant and then it is replaced by a dark gleam. “Are you certain Scarlett? It’s a big step and I made a deal with your mother all those years ago. She may not like it.” I shrug my shoulders. “That’s between the two of you. I expect that she will be glad anyway as she doesn’t ever have much time for me anyway.” He considers my words and then says darkly. “If it is what you truly want then of course I will do all that I can. I will contact your mother and arrange for your things to be sent. She can come and see you if she wishes and you can visit her whenever you like. I will contact the school and arrange your admission.” He sits back and I can feel his eyes penetrating my soul. I have got what I came for so push back my chair and stand up. In a small voice I say, “Thank you.” As I turn to go he says in a low voice. “Just so you know Scarlett, all of this was never about the bar.” I turn and look at him in surprise. He laughs, “I’m not saying that I didn’t want the bar. It is a good investment and will make me a lot of money. However the prize was always much greater than that.” I raise my eyes saying, “Which was?” He moves towards me and stands in front of me. “It was always about you Scarlett. You are my daughter and I want you with me. You have great potential which you have demonstrated so well over this visit. You are like me and I look forward to spending many hours together teaching you how to use your skills. No this wasn’t about a business opportunity. The reason I got you the job at the bar was to give you a reason to want to stay.”
His words rocket around my brain like lightning. Of course, how could I have been so blind? Despite his words it doesn’t matter. It is true I do have a reason to stay. If he thinks I am going to be an easy protégée for him then he can think again. I know where I want to be and this will just be a base. Shrugging I head for the door.
As I go into the kitchen I see Caleb sitting down. He looks up and on seeing my expression he grins wickedly. “I take it you’re moving in little sis.” I glare at him and he moves across until he is standing right in front of me. Leaning down he whispers, “Welcome to Hell.”
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“I am not sure that this was such a good idea. Don’t ask me why but I’ve got a bad feeling about this place.” Laughing to myself I look at Aunt Sarah as she fiddles with her hands looking extremely worried. Placing my hand on hers she visibly relaxes. “That’s not fair Grace, you’re cheating.” She admonishes me, but I notice the sparkle in her eyes as she looks lovingly at me. I am staying with Aunt Sarah because I am running out of options. I have moved schools several times and I need to find somewhere to settle down in time for my final exams. Aunt Sarah’s son Gabe goes here so it was decided that I would be better off in their care. He would act as my protector and I would make sure that I kept my head down and worked hard.
We are interrupted by the door to the Principal’s office opening and I am interested to see an older lady bearing down on us, her hand outstretched. Looking at her she is just what I would have expected from a Principal, two piece tweed suit with a silver bun in her hair and glasses. Her features are severe but I notice a tell tale twinkle in her eyes and I instantly relax. She shakes hands with Aunt Sarah and then as she turns to me her smile falters and she looks immediately worried. Coughing nervously she extends her hand to me and I shake it smiling warmly at her. Clearing her throat she ushers us into her office and we wait for her to take her place behind the desk before we sit down. As she looks at us it strikes me that she looks worried and I wonder why. However she appears to shake off whatever is bothering her and proceeds in a businesslike fashion.
“Welcome to Falcondell High, Miss Gray, my name is Principal Adams and I am sure that you will be happy here. I can see that you are a grade A student and have a string of accolades that have followed you from your other schools.” She then looks directly at me, her dark green eyes piercing right through me. “You will need to keep a clean sheet and work hard to catch up though. I notice that you haven’t studied for a few months now, is there a reason for that I should know about?” Aunt Sarah once again fidgets nervously beside me. “Grace fell ill and was in hospital. It was the result of a nasty accident but she is fully recovered now and keen to get back to the books.” Looking thoughtful the Principal says, “I am sorry to hear that Miss Gray. If at any stage things become too much for you then you must seek me out immediately.” I smile at her and once again she looks flustered. I am trying to tone it down but I always have this affect on people. Grabbing hold of the locket around my neck I wonder if it will be strong enough. Aunt Sarah sees me and once again visibly pales. She tried everything to talk my Guardians out of this placement but they were adamant. It was the best place for me and they would ensure that I was well protected. Feeling sorry for her I smile reassuringly at her and once again she frowns. Sighing I sit back in my chair. There is nothing more that I can do. I will just bury myself in my studies and keep myself occupied in my spare time. The time will pass quickly enough and then I can move on, away from Aunt Sarah and Gabe so that they can relax again.
Principal Adams passes a form across the desk for Aunt Sarah to sign. “Whilst you complete the formalities Mrs Rivers I will assign some students to take care of Grace and show her how things work here. If you will excuse me I will ask my secretary to send for them.” I watch as she exit’s the room. Aunt Sarah starts filling in the form so I take the time to study my surroundings. As I look around me I feel quite at home already. Falcondell High is a good school with a good record. Gabe has always been happy here and I love living with them in their cosy home. I love Aunt Sarah dearly and she is everything that I would imagine a mother to be. My eyes mist over as I think about my own mother. I miss her so much, even though I can’t actually remember much about her, it’s all just a distant memory to me. I was very young when she was taken from me and I was raised by a nice couple who were assigned to be my guardians. Even though they are kind and caring I have spent most of my life at school and haven’t really had a normal upbringing. I expect that is why I was looking forward to coming here so much. I will do whatever is necessary to fit in and stay here as I don’t want to have to move on again, it’s too lonely. As soon as I settle in and make new friends something happens and I am moved again. This time I will make sure that I am not discovered.
The door suddenly opens and Principal Adams returns with two girls about my age. They are dressed in the usual trademark jeans and sweaters and have huge rucksacks slung across their backs. One of the girls has the biggest pair of glasses on and her brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail. The other one has blonde hair that is held back by an Alice band and she looks quite pale with the most terrible acne on her forehead. However as I look at them my heart sinks as I see the horror on their faces. They are looking at me as if frozen to the spot and once again I wonder just how good this locket is.
Principal Adams clears her throat and then looks kindly at me. “Grace allow me to introduce Cally Miller and Piper Young. They will show you how it all works here and will help you and look after you. If you have any questions at all they should be able to answer them. Now as the time is getting on you had better get off to lessons.” I smile at the two girls and then turn to hug Aunt Sarah. She clings on to me as if for dear life and I see tears come into her eyes. She whispers, “Be careful honey. Find Gabe as soon as you can. He will look out for you.” Shaking her head as if to clear it she says, “Anyway, I’ll pick you up later as Gabe has practice. Have a good day.” Hugging her once again I turn towards the two girls and smile weakly. I don’t want to alienate them so resolve to keep my eyes lowered and say little.
Following them outside they turn to me and just stare. Feeling uncomfortable I wonder if the jeans and white top that I wore is ok. I haven’t put on any make up and my blonde hair is braided into a plait that hangs down my back. The two girls look incredulously at each other and then Cally narrows her eyes as if assessing me. “You need a serious make under girl. I think the first stop should be lost property. We can’t let you out there loose on the school like this, you won’t survive the day.” Piper looks at me her eyes shining. Suddenly she laughs. “This is going to be an interesting year that‘s for sure.” Then to my utter surprise they both link arms with me, one on either side and march me off to what I assume is the lost property office.
Luckily it isn’t far and we soon reach a door with a sign outside saying – Lost Property Office. The two girls drag me inside and then moving away once again stare at me in fascination. Cally is the first to speak. “You are probably the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen and so all of the other girls will instantly hate you.” Looking at her in alarm I go to speak but Piper interrupts her. “Stop it Cally, you’re scaring her.” Turning to me she looks apologetic. “Look don’t worry it’s not that bad. Just dress down like us and keep away from the cool kids and their hangouts. If we do a good enough job on you they won’t give you a second look. They are all so self obsessed anyway we all may as well be invisible.” She then turns and starts rummaging through the various boxes on the shelves behind us. Cally joins in and they pluck a variety of outfits from the confines of the boxes. Mumbling to themselves they soon have what they think is a passable outfit. Cally comes over with a huge checked shirt and tries to put it over my head. The fact that I am close to 5ft 9” in flats doesn’t make it possible so I put her out of her misery and haul it over my head. Piper thrusts a beanie hat at me. “Here pull this down over your head.” Then she turns and grabs some glasses off the counter. “You will have to make do with these until we can get you some with clear lenses. If you tuck your hair into the hat and then with the glasses you may just pass as invisible.” Both girls step back to view their handiwork. They grin at each other in triumph and high five each other. “Right then Grace; let’s get you to the first lesson. Do you know what it is?” Bemused I consult the schedule in my hand that I have just been given by Principal Adams. Squinting through the glasses I can just make out that it is English. “Um, it says English, room 310.” Letting out a breath Cally says, “Good, you’re in my group, I’ll take you. We’ll find your locker later, I think there’s one on our block but we’ll have to wait until first break otherwise we’ll be in trouble with Miss Peters.”
As I follow them out of the room I wonder what on earth I’m going to find here. They make it sound awful and I vow to try to shrink into the walls and not stand out. The last thing I need is trouble.
Cally takes me to room 310 and I follow her inside. I can feel several pairs of eyes regarding us but I keep my head down and follow her lead. Going up to the teacher Cally hands her a slip of paper and Miss Peters looks at me and smiles warmly. Clapping her hands she addresses the class. “Listen up guys, we have a new student. This is Grace Gray, everyone say hi.” I hear a few mumbled greetings and just smile weakly and wish for a vacant chair that I can sink into. Cally pulls me down beside her and I am grateful that the lesson carries on. Luckily nobody seems bothered by me and I soon settle into the lesson. English is one of my favourite subjects and I am pleased to learn that we will be studying Tess of The D’Urbervilles. This is one of my favourite books and I look forward to reading it again. Because I am keeping my head down I don’t look at my fellow classmates and hope that I can get through the day without any problems.
In no time at all it seems the bell rings and Cally pulls me quickly from the room. She whispers, “Let’s go and grab you a locker and then we can go outside for a break.” Grabbing my schedule she studies it. “Ok, maths next. Looks like you’re in Piper’s class for that. Mr Matthews is the teacher. He’s ok but doesn’t like any talking and is quite strict. Anyway come on before the others spill out.” I run after her as she appears to be on a mission. Reaching a set of lockers she stares thoughtfully up and down the rows. Finally it seems that she finds what she is looking for and looks triumphantly at me. “Here you go; I knew there would be a vacant one here. Jessica Parker moved schools last week so hers is free. Do you want to put anything in it?” Shaking my head she grabs the key and hands it to me. “Here take this, mine and Piper’s is in the next bank along. Come on let’s go and find her.” Before we can leave though I hear her mumble something under her breath. “Too late, cool patrol heading this way. Don’t say anything just follow my lead and with any luck they won’t even notice us.” Keeping my head down I walk beside Cally and we soon go to pass the girls. We almost succeed when one says, “Hey, Cally, whose your friend?” Cally’s shoulders sag and pasting a smile on her face she turns to face the girl. “Oh hi Skylar, this is Grace, she’s just started.” Keeping my head down as low as I can I raise my eyes to look at the girl standing in front of me. She has long jet black hair and flashing green eyes. She is extremely beautiful and looks really hot in tight skinny jeans and a black strapless top. I can see that she is appraising me and obviously coming to the conclusion that I am no threat she just waves her hand dismissively saying, “Oh Hi.” Seemingly bored already she turns to her friend and nudges her and they both snigger and move away. Cally lets out a deep breath and leans back on to a neighbouring locker. “Well that’s the first test passed. Hopefully the rest will be as easy.” As we go to find Piper I say, “Who was she?” Cally raises her eyes. “Skylar Banks. Self obsessed doughnut with a brain to match and queen of the cool gang.” Giggling at her description I say, “I’ve met her type before.” Cally looks at me with a serious expression. “I doubt that very much. Nobody crosses Skylar. All the time you are invisible to her, no problem, but as soon as she thinks you’re a threat or cross her in any way, well I wouldn’t want to be that person, that’s all I’m saying.” Mystified I say, “She can’t be that bad.” Cally stops suddenly and looks at me with a worried expression. “No I mean it Grace, she’s evil personified. Keep away from her and her cronies. They all form part of a group that dominates this school. It’s why the rest of us try to fade into the background. You cross their path and you always come off worse. Steer well clear of her and her friends and don’t even look at their guys and then you’ll be ok.”
Thinking about her words I follow her outside where we find Piper talking to a group of guys. They all look similar to them, dressed down and unobtrusive. Piper waves and smiles as we approach. “Grace come and meet the gang. This is Cameron, Owen and Pax. We are all self confessed nerds and officially the Invisibles.” Smiling at them I see their eyes widen and colour flood to their cheeks. Damn this locket, I am definitely getting it checked out. Shaking themselves the boys look at me with curiosity. Before we can say anything though the bell rings and we head off to our next lesson.
The morning passes fairly quickly and soon it is lunch time. Piper drags me to a shady spot underneath a tree where there is a picnic table. “Come on we have our lunch here away from trouble.” I wonder what she means but don’t have long to think about it before the rest of the Invisibles join us. They seem a great bunch and I am enjoying being part of their gang. With any luck my days will all be like this, free from problems and drama. Half way through lunch a shadow crosses the table and I see the others look up in surprise. Following their gaze and much to their surprise I jump up and hug the person standing there. “Gabe, I wondered when I’d run into you.” Gabe is my cousin and the Captain of the school football team. He must be 6ft 5” and is a huge mass of blond hair and muscles. He is also extremely good looking and appears to have a different girlfriend every week. Cally looks at us in amazement. “Well well. Do you two know each other?” Laughing I hold on to his arm. “Gabe is my cousin.” Piper sniggers and says, “Well that explains a lot.” Gabe looks around and I notice that he looks extremely cross. Pulling me to one side he says, “Didn’t you think to come and find me straight away? It’s taken me ages to track you down. How on earth am I supposed to look after you if you’re hanging out with these kids?” Pulling away I feel cross. “These kids have been really kind to me.” Staring at me he snaps, “What on earth are you wearing?” Giggling I say, “I’ve had a make under courtesy of Piper and Cally. What do you think?” Looking thoughtful Gabe says slowly, “Actually I think they may just be the right people for you to hang with. They’ve done a good job. Nobody has mentioned you so you have obviously managed to stay well hidden. This might just work.” I can see the others looking at us in amazement and whisper to Gabe. “Look don’t worry. I’ll find you if I need you. Just leave me with them. I’ll keep well hidden and nobody will give me a second look. I’m more likely to draw attention to myself if I hang out with you and your friends anyway.” Nodding in agreement Gabe says gruffly. “Just stay low and keep the locket close to you. Don’t go anywhere near Ash and his gang and you’ll be ok.” Before I can ask who Ash is he strides purposefully away. Watching him go I wonder what on earth can be so bad about this person Ash if Gabe is worried about him.
As the day wears on I settle down into life at the school. Luckily one of my new found friends is in every class with me and they have well and truly taken me under their wing. I feel relieved to have met such a great bunch of people and feel optimistic about my new situation. Mostly I am ignored by everyone else and I soon realise the hierarchy of the school. There are the cool kids who apparently are presided over by the mysterious Ash and Skylar. Their friends are mostly avoided by everyone else as they appear to intimidate the others. Then there is the sporty set which Gabe sits at the head of courtesy of being the Captain of the football team. They are the Jocks and their group also consists of the Cheerleaders and any other sporting groups. The group that I appear to have joined is the Brainiacs. These kids just try to blend into the background and not draw attention to themselves. This clique suits me fine as I am not searching for any more drama in my life. Pushing the thoughts away of my turbulent year at my last school I vow to keep my head down and not to draw attention to myself.
When the final bell rings I make my way to my locker with Piper and Cally. As we put our books away they shout over to me. “Hey Grace do you fancy getting a coffee at Violet’s?” Looking interested I say, “What or who is Violet?” They laugh and come over. “It’s our local diner. Most of us head there after class to catch up and arrange our study sessions. Are you in?” Nodding happily I suddenly remember that Aunt Sarah is picking me up. Sighing I say, “I would love to but my Aunt is picking me up. Maybe tomorrow though.” Cally smiles. “No problem. We go there every day so it won’t matter.” I walk beside them to the main entrance and wish that I could go with them. It would be much more fun than going home with my Aunt.
As we go to leave somebody pushes past us sending Cally flying. Her bag falls to the ground and she lands with a thud on to the concrete step outside. Looking up in surprise I see a large body clad in a leather jacket turn around and laugh at us. His lip curls up in a sneer and his eyes flash as he laughs. Feeling extremely angry I shout, “Hey watch who you’re shoving.” I hear Piper draw in her breath and see Cally pale in fright. Turning around the leather clad brute moves towards me menacingly. “What did you say?” Piper pulls on my arm and says fearfully, “She didn’t say anything Jace, its ok no harm done.” From the look on his face I know that I’m in trouble. He moves until his face is within an inch of mine and hisses, “Watch who you’re talking to nerd. I don’t like kids like you thinking they’re something they’re not. Talk to me again and you’ll suffer much worse than a push to the ground.” Before I can respond I see his eyes narrow as he looks at me. He stares as if trying to place something. Then almost immediately I hear a deep voice behind me say, “Come on Jace, Principal Adams is coming. She’s not worth it and the others are waiting.” Throwing me another evil look he storms off and I turn to see who intervened. I watch as Cally’s face lights up and then as I turn I see an extremely handsome guy behind me. He has the most velvety brown eyes that I have ever seen and his dark hair curls up at the ends as it hit’s the collar of his leather jacket. He looks at me with a worried look and then turns to Cally who has struggled to her feet. “Keep her away from him for all your sakes and I’m not just talking about Jace, understand?” She nods and he walks off after his friend. As I watch them go I can see that they join a similar group of guys all wearing leather jackets congregating around a bunch of motorbikes. I can also see Skylar and her friends waiting for them and one by one they jump on to the backs of various bikes and soon the hum of exhausts fills the air as they move away.
Leaning back against the doorframe Cally sighs. “That was lucky.” Piper nods and I ask, “Who was that?” I detect a slight flush in Cally’s face as she says, “Jacob Cole. He’s my next door neighbour and we grew up together. The trouble is he fell in with that gang and hardly says two words to me now. He goes out with Teagan Hicks, Skylar’s best friend so I daren’t be seen even talking to him.” As I help her grab her bag from the floor I can tell that she likes this Jacob guy. We head outside and I can see my Aunt’s station wagon waiting for me. Saying farewell to my new found friends I rush over.
Once I get in Aunt Sarah looks at me worry etched all over her face. “What just happened?” Shrugging nonchalantly I say, “Oh nothing, it’s fine.” Starting the engine I can tell that she is not convinced. Shaking herself she plasters a smile on her face. “So how was it, good day?” Settling back into the seat I smile at her. “Yes, good actually. Cally and Piper gave me a make under as they put it and then introduced me to their friends. Gabe found me and agreed that it was best that I stayed with them, so all is good. They did invite me to Violet’s for a coffee but maybe I can go with them tomorrow instead.” Looking a little happier my Aunt says, “Good, they seem ok and Violet’s is a decent place to hang out. There’s never any trouble because the owner is good friends with Mr Knight so nobody would dare try and start any trouble there.”
I look at her with interest. “Who is Mr Knight then?” Aunt Sarah looks grim. “He owns most of the town. He is very unscrupulous and doesn’t care who he upsets to get what he wants. People are afraid of him and anybody that crosses him soon knows about it.” Feeling confused I say, “How does Violet fit into it?” My Aunt grins. “Violet is a sexy woman who Mr Knight adores. Her husband died and she opened the diner with the Insurance money. She doesn’t tolerate anything bad in her diner and because he worships her he would go after anyone who tried. Needless to say, the rougher element avoids her place at all costs for fear of upsetting him.” Laughing I like the sound of Violet already. As we carry on my Aunt looks at me sheepishly. “I hope that you don’t mind but I’ve sort of found you a voluntary job on Saturday mornings.” Surprised I ask, “Where?” “The library. Mr Watson is in dire need of some help and can’t afford to pay anyone. The library is in a terrible state and nothing is where it should be. I figured that you wouldn’t mind helping him out re arranging the shelves into some sort of order.” I smile at her. “Of course not. I’d be glad to help him poor man.” Smiling softly my Aunt says, “I knew you wouldn’t mind. Also if nothing else it will keep you occupied in some of your spare time, away from harm.”
As we head off home I feel quite excited at the thought of a job, even an unpaid one. This day hasn’t turned out too bad after all.
I help my Aunt with the dinner and soon Gabe returns from football practice. Aunt Sarah throws him a can saying, “How was it?” Sinking heavily into his chair Gabe shrugs. “Ok I guess, although we need all the practice we can get before the big game.” I look at him with interest. “What game is that?” Gabe looks worried. “With Freyview High. It’s still a few weeks away but the rivalry runs deep. We have to win for honour’s sake.” My Aunt laughs. “You and your honour.” We all sit down to eat and I relish being part of a family for once. This is all I have ever wanted really. I don’t have any brothers and sisters and have been raised an only child. I don’t have any family just two guardians who took the place of my parents and I love them as such. Any friendships that I have made are short lived and all I have ever wanted is to be part of something loving and nurturing. This is the closest to it that I have ever got and I feel extremely protective of it.
After I have helped my Aunt with the clearing away I head to my room to study. Finally I am alone and stretching out on my bed I savour the feeling of peace. Taking off my school clothes I put on more comfortable joggers and a sweatshirt. Finally I can let my hair down and enjoy brushing it, feeling its silky smoothness as I go. This is more like it. I can be myself again in the confines of my own room. Fingering the locket I pull it from around my neck and place it on the bedside table. I instantly feel the rush that accompanies the move. It is as though I have been set free. My true self is released and I feel the power surge through me. Peace descends upon me and the feeling of power that it releases in me lights up my very soul. I bathe in its cleansing waves as it rejuvenates me. As I lie here enjoying feeling myself again there is a sudden knock at the door. Before I can say anything though it opens and Gabe comes in. “Grace I forgot…” As though frozen he stares at me in wonder. His eyes look at me in disbelief and then they fill with tears. Sinking down into a nearby chair he puts his head in his hands. In a faltering voice he says, “Please Grace, put the locket back on, somebody might see you.” Guiltily I reach for it. I always forget the effect that I have on people and feel cross that I didn’t lock the door. As soon as the locket is in place I feel as though I am being once again drawn back into my own body. It makes me feel oppressed and dare I say it – normal. Looking up Gabe says softly. “It’s like the sun rising with the moon after having captured the stars. It’s just too much to look at Grace. Promise me you will wear the locket at all times. Nobody must see you like that, they wouldn’t understand.” I nod sadly. “I’m sorry Gabe, you’re right I forget that’s all.” Coming over Gabe sits on the bed. “Look Grace, I know it’s hard for you but you will find a way. It must be difficult being you and we forget that sometimes. You know that I am here for you though don’t you?” Hugging him I can feel the tears pricking my eyes. “I know Gabe, I love you and Aunt Sarah and am so grateful to you both. I promise to try and keep hidden.” Gabe nods and then pulls away awkwardly. Clearing his throat he says, “Anyway, I meant to say that I forgot to warn you about Ash.” Looking interested I say, “Go on then.” Gabe looks at me with a solemn expression. “He is evil Grace. He doesn’t care who he hurts and what he destroys.
He does it all to amuse himself. Anything bad that happens in this town always leads back to him.” I look at him in surprise. “But Aunt Sarah told me that Mr Knight ruled this town. Can’t he stop him?” Gabe laughs hollowly. “Not really. Mr Knight is Ash’s uncle. He lives with him in that big house that you can see from the ridge. They probably cook everything up between them. I just wanted to say stay away from him. He loves nothing more than toying with people’s feelings. He’ll pick on a pretty girl and give them attention. As soon as they fall for him he tosses them aside and leaves them to Skylar to sort out.” Feeling worried I look at him nervously. “What do you mean?” Gabe sighs. “Ash uses Skylar to keep most of the other girls away. She believes that she’s his girlfriend and in most senses of the word she is. However he doesn’t care about her anymore than the next girl. If she feels that he is interested in another girl she makes their life hell. Her and her cronies have beaten up, bullied and publicly humiliated any girl that gets his or his friends attention. He just laughs and carries on causing mayhem and she gets to call herself his girlfriend for another day. It’s all a game to him as Jessica Parker found out last year.” I can see Gabe’s face fall as he says her name and I realise that there was more to Jessica Parker than he is telling me. He shakes himself saying, “Anyway, that’s all I came to tell you. Just keep away from them all and you’ll be fine, ok?” Nodding I smile at him as he leaves the room. Nestling back against the pillows I think about what he has just told me. I am not going anywhere near any of them, that much I’m sure about.
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Scarlett Knight comes from a family of nightmares. She hates them all with a passion and has to spend her whole Summer playing happy families. Due to a deal made between her parents she lives with her mother but has to spend the holidays with her father and her much hated half brothers and sisters. Luckily for her though her father has found her a summer job at a local bar and it is here that Scarlett finds a place where she belongs. Drake and Dylan Bennigan are the family she never had. She falls in love with them both but one of them becomes a lot more. However her father had an ulterior motive for getting her the job and she soon discovers that things are not as straightforward as she first thought. Suddenly she is caught between her family and her new found friends. She will have to act quickly to save them from her father's plans. However he is not the sort of person you would want to upset so it will take all of her cunning and manipulation to carry out her plan. This turns out to be a Summer that none of them will ever forget.