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Authors: Sidney Halston

seeing black

 

 

 

Seeing Black
Sidney Halston

 

 

 

 

Seeing Black

Sidney Halston

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2013 Sidney Halston

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is
entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. This e-book is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given
away to other people. If you would like to share this book with
another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or
it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to
Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting
the hard work of this author.

Edited by Theresa Wegand

 

 

Table of Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Coming Soon

Acknowledgments

About the Author

 

 

 

I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was
I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can
remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the
next question is 'Who in the world
am I
?' Ah, that's the great
puzzle!

-
Alice from Alice in
Wonderland

 

Prologue

Jillian walked into her bedroom
right after breakfast. She instinctively walked straight to the bed
and reached between the mattress and the box spring. Tucked deep in
the center was a thin and tattered leather-bound journal with the
initials PB inscribed on the lower right hand corner. Somewhere,
hidden within her subconscious, she knew she had to read this
journal. Why? She wasn’t sure. In fact, she couldn’t comprehend how
she’d even known it was there. But it was there, hidden, calling
for her, and she had to read it. Why? Because Jill couldn’t
remember who she was.

Nervous, confused, she opened the journal to the
first page.

Jillian,

I know you’re confused, but this journal should help
you remember in your moments of haziness. These are the important
facts that you need to know, and you must make every effort to
remember.

You’re imprisoned at Rocco’s home! Even if you think
you can escape—you can’t. Surely, you woke up wonderfully relaxed,
yet you don’t know why you’re there. You know every maid, butler,
ranch hand, and doctor that you come across today, yet you won’t
know how you know them. All you remember is that you arrived at the
mansion yesterday. You’ve had no connection with anyone, not
Xander, not Oly, not Heather. No one!

Your name is Jillian Stone. Say it out loud, not too
loud or you’ll be heard. I am Jillian Stone. Repeat it. You were
marooned on a deserted island from the time you were one month old
until you were rescued and subsequently sent to boarding school at
the age of twelve. Your mother, Esther, died on impact, and until
recently, you had never known your father, Rocco Taylor. Helen,
your mother’s sister, raised you and your best friends, Alexander
and Oliver Jacobs. Alexander is your boyfriend, but boyfriend
doesn’t quite cover it. It’s too tame a word. He’s your lover and
best friend; he’s your everything. This is something I don’t need
to write because you remember. Just close your eyes and think about
him, and you’ll remember. Reach out for him with your soul, and
you’ll find him because not one day have you forgotten about
Alexander. A tinge of pain in your heart, a breathless moment, the
sight of the blue ocean that reminds you of his eyes—something
always brings your thoughts back to him even if only briefly. There
are a lot of important blanks to fill in, but the most important
thing you need to remember right now is that you have to make an
effort every day to remember who you are, who I am.

If you have any questions about this journal or
doubt that you wrote it yourself, keep reading and add to it. Add
something that makes you feel at home, something that keeps you
grounded, something about Helen. Add to it every day because it
will help keep you focused.

Jillian

With bated breath, Jill nervously turned to the next
page.

Jill, remember who you are. These are some words
from the woman who had always helped guide you along the way.

Life is for
most of us a continuous process of getting used to things we hadn't
expected.

-Helen

Then the next page . .
.

It’s amazing how someone can break
your heart but you still love them with all the broken little
pieces.

-Helen

There was page after page of quotations, sayings and
entries full of words and stories. Reading it would take hours. The
amount was overwhelming, and each quotation or entry seemed to be
written on different days.
How long had she been there?
Jill
hugged the journal. She clung to it for support—mental and
physical. Her mouth agape, she whispered, “Helen.” That was her way
home.

Even now, five years after her death, Helen’s
sayings kept her centered. She continued reading. There were funny
sayings, cute sayings, insightful sayings, and everything in
between. Every time she read one, she remembered more—mustered more
strength—became more Jillian and less some helpless person she
didn’t recognize, a shell without control of her thoughts. Right
before she closed the journal and tucked it back under her
mattress, she grabbed the pen on top of her nightstand, flipped to
the next empty page, and, as instructed, added:

You can close your eyes to things
you don't want to see, but you can't close your heart to the things
you don't want to feel.

-Helen

She may not remember much, but in her mind’s eye,
she remembered Helen’s sayings, and suddenly she knew where she was
and who she was, and what she was, was scared.

Terrified.

 

Chapter 1

Jillian

Months earlier . . .

Live life so completely that when
death comes to you like a thief in the night there will be nothing
left for him to steal.

-Helen

What a difference a day makes! Actually, four
days.

In the last four days, Jillian had returned to the
island she’d grown up on after twelve years, met her psychic
father, finally realized she was in love with Alexander instead of
his twin brother Oliver, discovered that Paul was a psycho-liar who
had used her to get to Rocco, and most frighteningly, she had been
blackmailed in her own mind! On top of the already monumental
amount of stress, she had missed two days of school, which was
driving her mad, it was almost midnight after traveling almost
eighteen hours, and she had to wake up the next morning at six to
be in class massively jetlagged.

As she unpacked, she thought about the very eventful
trip back to the island. Although she should have been
worried—worried being an understatement—that one of her father’s
henchmen was trying to intimidate her into visiting Rocco as soon
as she returned, she refused to focus on that at the moment. A
smile penetrated her worry when she thought about Alexander. She
was still feeling the lingering effects of his goodbye kisses when
he’d dropped her off just an hour ago: a soft whisper of a kiss
below her ear, another one on her forehead, one on her cheek,
another on the small indentation under her throat, and then finally
a long lust-filled kiss on her lips. The tingle still lingered in
each spot.

“Are you decent?” Heather asked from the other side
of Jill’s bedroom door.

“As if that mattered, come in,” Jill replied.

Heather swung Jill’s bedroom door open and, with the
normal spring in her step, plopped herself on Jill’s bed. “Oh,
honey, please, get that stupid grin off your face. It’s getting
repulsive. You know how when you eat chocolate cake it’s delicious
and yummy but after a while it can get a little nauseating because
it’s just too rich?”

Jill nodded, eyebrows furrowed. “Yes. Your point
being?”

“Honey, you’re that chocolate cake. I love seeing
you happy, but please, just stop. It’s nauseating already.” She
grabbed one of Jill’s pillows and playfully threw it at her.

“So you’re here specifically to rain on my
parade?”

“No. I’m here to talk about the long overdue
surprise birthday party for Alex and Oliver.”

“Now? It’s close to midnight. I’m so tired. Can’t we
talk about it tomorrow. Their birthday was a month ago. I’m sure
they can wait an extra day.”

“Noooo,” Heather whined. “I’m super hyper. I’m too
wound up. I can’t sleep. Let’s talk about the party.”

“I don’t know, Heather. I don’t even think they’re
big birthday-party kind of guys. How can you have so much energy?
I’m dreading this mountain of laundry.”

“Stop doing laundry, then.” Heather said it as if it
was the most obvious thing in the world. It hadn’t even occurred to
Jill not to do laundry as soon as she got back.
Damn, screw
laundry
! How liberating, she thought. Laundry could wait. Sleep
couldn’t, but laundry? Yep, it could wait.

“You’re right. Laundry can wait. I’m going to shower
and go to bed.”

Heather pouted. “Wait. The party. Let’s talk about
the party. Oliver promised. He said once he healed from the
accident I could throw him a party. The accident and his birthday
happened almost a month ago. Between his healing and all your daddy
drama, we—”

“Hey! I don’t have daddy drama.”

“Oh, sugar. You have more daddy drama than an
episode of the Maury Povich show, but that’s not the point. The
point is Oliver’s healed, and we can’t just ignore their birthdays.
You only turn twenty-three once. Come on, please, pretty please.”
She bounced on her knees on Jill’s bed while displaying her best
puppy-dog face.

“Fine, Heather. Count me in. What’s the plan?”

“Eek!” She looked like a circus seal as she bounced
up and down, clapping. Jill shook her head and laughed. “I’m
thinking this weekend. We’ll surprise them. We can have it right
here. You can invite some of y’all’s friends from school and some
of my friends too. We’ll keep it small—fifty people max.”

“This weekend! Fifty people!” Jill squealed. “I
won’t be recovered from this crazy trip by then. It’s practically
Tuesday now. That only leaves three days to plan, and fifty people?
That’s not small. That’s a lot of people. I don’t think we even
know fifty people.”

“Fifty people is nothing. My parties back home were
never less than a hundred people: close family and friends of Mama
and Daddy plus my friends. I remember one big ol’ party we had when
I was five. The theme was the
Smurfs
. I used to love seeing
reruns of the
Smurfs
on TV. My mama threw me this big party,
and everything was blue. All the food and decorations were blue,
and no one was allowed in if they wore anything other than
blue.”


Smurfs
?” Jill asked, confused. “Like from
the movie?”

“Yeah, you know, the blue cartoons, the little elf
things. The movies now are remakes from the old cartoon television
show. Don’t you remember?”

Still looking dumbfounded, Jill shook her head.

“OMG! You don’t know who the
Smurfs
are? What
rock have you been living under, honey?”

“I love when you curse in acronyms.” Jill laughed
and then reminded Heather, “Not a rock, an island.”

“Oh, honey, bless your deprived little heart. I’m
such an idiot. Of course you wouldn’t have watched the
Smurfs
or anything else for that matter.”

“Nope. No little elf things or any other thing that
happened pretty much the entire decade of the nineties. No cable TV
on the island, can you believe it?” she said, sarcastically.

“That’s it.” Heather clasped her hands together,
proudly. “That’s our theme. You missed the nineties, so we’ll do a
nineties-themed party!” Heather squealed again but then slumped
down slightly. “Well, the nineties were kind of weird: grunge,
somber, not so fun.” After a second, she was bouncing up and down
again. “Let’s do eighties. That’s more fun! It’ll be like a
retro-lesson on the eighties for you and the guys.”

Clueless, all Jill could do was nod.

“Don’t get too excited, sugar. I wouldn’t want you
to burst.” Heather laughed as she jumped off the bed, undoubtedly
beginning her party planning.

“What can I do to help?” Jill asked. Heather stopped
and looked up in thought. After a moment she said, “You only have
two assignments.” She ticked off with her fingers, “One, Google the
eighties so that you can find your costume, and, two, get the boys
here Saturday night.” As she left, she stopped. “Oh! One other
thing, get a costume for the twins too. So three things. I’ll take
care of the rest,” she said as she sauntered off.

With all the mess surrounding Jill’s life at the
moment, a party was not something she had expected. However, after
not having been with the twins for the last twelve years, she was
excited to share a birthday with them. Rocco and his men would have
to wait a few more days. She gave herself a fourth task: come up
with a plan to visit Rocco without Heather, Oliver, or Alexander
finding out. Meeting with Rocco soon was imperative, possibly
life-saving. She couldn’t delay it much longer. In fact, she was
surprised she hadn’t received any other menacing messages from
Rocco’s
people
.

She felt her phone vibrate. A new text message icon
lighted her phone.

Alexander: Coming to pick you
up.

Jill: You just left
here.

Alexander: I know. But I miss you.
On my way.

Jill: But I’m so tired. Was going
to go to bed.
My
bed. Alone. Recovering.

Alexander: Bed? That’s perfect. So
was I. I’m great with recovery. ; ) It’s a specialty of mine. Be
there in ten minutes, and you’re coming with me, even if I have to
club you over the head and drag you to my cave.

Jill: Neanderthal.

Alexander: You’ve got no idea,
babe. See you in a few.

“Again with the grin.” Heather rolled her eyes as
she hovered by the doorframe of Jill’s room. “I’ve decided I’m
going as She-Ra. Google it.” With an evil little laugh, she walked
out of Jill’s room again.

Even tired and feeling rushed that Alexander would
be there soon, curiosity still got the best of Jill, so she
couldn’t resist booting up her laptop. Quickly, she searched
“She-Ra” and laughed out loud. Clearly, Heather was going to go all
out, and if she was going as She-Ra, Jill knew exactly what costume
she’d get Oliver.

Fifteen minutes later, Alexander walked into her
room and plopped down on the bed.

“I’m the only one who hasn’t had a chance to lie
down on my bed. It’s where everyone wants to talk.” She smiled as
she finished towel drying her hair.

“Hurry up, babe. I’m tired, and we have class early
tomorrow,” Alexander said.

“I know! That’s why I told you to stay home. We’ve
been inseparable for the last few days. Aren’t you sick of me
yet?”

Alexander stood and took two long strides towards
her. Ordinarily, Alexander was a goof. He was silly and playful and
sexy as hell without trying. Even though he was extremely
intelligent, to the point of landing a full academic scholarship to
law school, one would think he lacked substance by his nonchalant
demeanor. But boy did the man have substance, especially with Jill.
When he wanted to make a point, he got serious and intense. This
was one of those times. He pulled her by her waist. Her towel fell.
His eyes shined a deep blue, and he was serious, very serious. “For
twenty-three years, I’ve been waiting for you. Now that I have you,
now that I know how you taste and how you feel against my body, I
will never ever get tired of you.” He nuzzled her neck, and a
little involuntary gasp escaped her lips. His lips came crashing
down on her.
She couldn’t answer, but she
couldn’t pull away either. Her nipples tightened, and she pressed
closer to him, plastering herself close to his body.
She
forgot all about the doctor, Rocco, laundry, the Smurfs, She-Ra,
and even her own name.

When his lips finally released her, her breath
caught. “As soon as I arrived home, I felt stupid for not bringing
you with me. It felt wrong being apart,” he said.

“Yeah, I know how you feel. Even though I was tired,
I wasn’t looking forward to sleeping alone. We can sleep here, you
know?”

“Um, no, we can’t. Your bed sucks. It’s small and
uncomfortable. It’s dorm-issued.”

She couldn’t argue with that. “Okay, fine. Let me
just grab a few things.” She stuffed some clothes in a small duffle
bag, grabbed the same necessity bag that she had yet to unpack, and
left with Alexander.

“Here. You drive.” Jill tossed him her keys. He
looked at her and then to his bike, not understanding. “It’s chilly
out tonight, and I’m tired and have my bags. Can we just please go
in the car. Leave your bike here.”

Alexander grunted but reluctantly agreed.

***

KA BOOM KA BOOM KA BOOM.

“What the fuck?” Jill jumped off the bed, tripped
over a pair of men’s sneakers, and hit her head on the nightstand
on her way up as she looked around for exploding bombs.

“Relax. It’s just my alarm clock.” A sleepy
Alexander reached over, slammed the snooze button, and went back to
sleep.

“That is the most annoying noise I’ve ever heard.
Ever. Fuck. I think I broke my head.”

“You’re cursing, babe.” Alexander mumbled in a
half-sleep state.

“Oh, shut up.” Jill climbed back into bed. “I don’t
remember falling asleep. Actually, the last thing I remember is
giving you my car keys.”

“I know. You passed out in the car, and I had to
carry you to bed.”

Jill looked down at her nude body and added
sarcastically, “And take off my clothes.”

“God, you’re cranky and way too chatty in the
morning.”

“I’m not cranky. I’m tired. That stupid bomb alarm
thing made me hit my head.”

“Super fucking cranky,” Alexander interrupted and
turned around to face Jill.

“I am not fucking cran—” She was getting out of bed,
crankily,
when he reached towards her with his long arm and
pulled her back to bed by her waist. She yelped, surprised. “Let me
go, Xander. We have to get ready for class. We can’t miss another
day.”

In a swift motion that caught her off guard, he
straddled her. The sheets fell off him. Apparently, he was naked
too. “So in the mornings you’re kind of bitchy.” He looked up as if
he were deep in thought. “I can deal with that.” He smiled his
gorgeous smile that made her not be so bitchy. He leaned down, but
Jill quickly put her hand over her mouth. His forehead landed on
hers. “What now?” he said, annoyed.

She mumbled something he couldn’t understand, so she
had to repeat it but still with her hand on her mouth. “Morning
breath.”

Alexander chuckled. “You have a lot of issues, Red.
I love you. I really do, but seriously, babe, you have to get that
stick out of your ass and loosen up a little. Do you really think I
give a fuck about morning breath? I’m on top of you, and we’re both
naked. The only morning issue you should worry about is my morning
wood.” He said the last part with a smirk and looked down and
wiggled his brows up and down. Then he plucked Jill’s hand away
from her mouth and proceeded to kiss her. “Oh, and Oly is in the
next room, so you may want to keep it down a little.” He slid both
hands under her, grabbed her bottom, and pulled her closer to him,
simultaneously pinning her down. He plunged into her without much
warning, except for a devilish smirk. Her back arched into him, and
she had to bite her lip to keep from moaning and screaming from
ecstasy and surprise. He leaned down and covered her mouth with his
mouth, muffling the noise.

Her legs wrapped around his waist, and she clawed
his back as he thrust in and out of her. “Oh, my.” Quicker and
faster than she could believe possible, she came in an explosion of
uncontrollable orgasms, and then he plunged into her again as he
found his release, surprising her. It was fast, it was good, and
she was most definitely not cranky any longer.

He lay on top of her as he tried to regain his
breathing then jackknifed up, bringing her with him. “We’re running
late. Hurry up, babe. You can’t keep making me miss class.” He
slapped her behind as he walked into the en-suite bathroom.

“Ow!” She padded after him. “I am not the one who is
making us late. You and all your sex, that’s the problem.”

Alexander was already in the shower, hair lathered,
when she stepped inside. “Me and all my sex? I don’t know what
you’re talking about. You totally attacked me. I was sleeping.”

Jill shoved him aside and began to shower. “Stop
talking and hurry up.”

He kissed her shoulder and together they quickly
showered and went to class.

***

As soon as she got home from school, after she pried
herself away from Alexander’s goodbye-kiss grip, she began doing
laundry. It was driving her crazy. Messes weren’t her thing.
Organization. Cleanliness. Order. Those were her things.

She spent the better part of an hour, while she
waited for the first load to finish drying, researching costumes
for the upcoming party. When she heard the buzz from the dryer, she
got up from her bed, but as she closed the screen on her laptop,
all her senses paralyzed.

Sweaty palms.

Flushed cheeks.

Blackness. All-consuming blackness.

Her unseeing eyes burned. Her ears rang from the
blood rushing upwards.

Jillian still felt the heat in her cheeks and ears
and the incessant beating of her heart when she came back to
reality. Usually, Jill didn’t know how long she’d been out because
time ceased to exist when she had a psychic vision. The visions
overtook all her senses, and she was hyper-focused on whatever it
was she saw in her mind. But these last two visions, this one and
the one a few days ago on the island, were fast and intense, just
mere flashes. In fact, they weren’t premonitions at all. They were
coming from a particular person reaching out to her. She knew no
more than five minutes had lapsed, because she didn’t lose sense of
time as she normally did.
He
came into her subconscious and
left a message like a mental voicemail
. He
being some man
dressed as a doctor. She had no clue who he was. The message came
in loud and clear:
You don’t come see Rocco soon, we kill your
friends
. There was no beating around the bush. It was a warning
plain and simple. It was the second time it had happened—once right
before she left the island a couple of days before and now. Still
shaky, she dried her sweaty palms on her thighs, straightened her
spine, and reined herself in before picking up the phone to call
Rocco. She wasn’t sure if he was directly responsible for these
visions, but she was pretty certain he knew something about
them.

“Hey, your clothes are dry. Can I use the dr—”
Heather stopped speaking; obviously, she had noticed the change in
Jill’s demeanor. She ran towards her. “Are you okay? What’s going
on?”

“Nothing. Just a little jet-lagged is all.” The
lingering effects of her flushed face were a telltale sign that
something had happened.

“Did you have a psychic thingy, honey?”

“No.” Jill realized she responded too abruptly and
too shakily.

“Honey?”

“No, really, I’m just tired. You needed something?”
She felt guilty about lying, but really, was it a lie? It wasn’t a
“psychic thingy” as Heather had so eloquently put it. It was really
just a request.

Well, a demand.

Actually, it was a threat.

Damn it!

“I was just going to ask if the dryer was free.”
Heather stared at Jill, questioningly.

“Yeah, I was about to go get my clothes out now.”
She shuffled, tired and frazzled, towards the door, leaving a
concerned Heather behind.

A rasp from the front door stopped her in her
tracks.
What now?

Jill looked out her window to see who it was before
opening the door, something she had started doing a few months ago
after someone, who turned out to be her father, had broken in and
left her a note. Now Heather and Jill always made sure they locked
the door before leaving anywhere and always looked before opening
it. Jill opened the door, and as she was going to say, “Hi,”
Alexander reached forward and grabbed her waist and pulled her
towards his chest.

His teeth nipped her lower lips as his arm tightened
hard around her waist and lifted her towards his chest. She was now
on her toes, back arched. A soft moan escaped.

“Okay, seriously, you two? Chocolate cake! That’s
all I’m going to say. Chocolate cake!” Heather scoffed as she
walked by.

“Chocolate cake?” Alexander asked.

“Don’t ask.”

“You’re flushed. You okay?” He slightly crouched
down and cradled her face to meet her gaze.

“It was a hell of a kiss. Of course I’m
flushed.”

“Yeah, I am a great kisser, aren’t I?”

“And modest too.” She giggled and broke away from
his grip. “Make yourself at home. I have to finish my laundry since
you clearly didn’t give me time last night.”

“I came to get some books I left here before our
trip, but now that I’ve seen you, hurry up, ’cause I want to take
you home.”

“I am home.”

“No, my home. Suddenly, I have plans.” He smiled
devilishly.

“Plans?”

Alexander wagged his eyebrows up and down and
slightly patted her butt as she walked away. In the safety of her
room, Jillian contemplated how she was going to call Rocco. Her
life with Alexander would undoubtedly be full of love and
excitement, but his possessiveness wouldn’t allow her to have a
moment to herself, especially if he suspected she was in any sort
of danger. What he didn’t account for was that the person in danger
was actually him—and his brother and Heather.

She didn’t want Alexander to overhear, and since he
tended to hover, she’d certainly be heard if she called her father,
even if she whispered. She could try and channel him as she had a
few days ago, but she wasn’t sure if that had even worked, since
she received another
message
a few minutes ago. She decided
on a quick text.
Everyone texted nowadays, right?

Jillian: Rocco, I have a few
things to take care of. Will see you Sunday at your home. Please
text me your address, and please stop messaging me. I always keep
my word. I just need a few days to settle in.

Less than a minute later, her phone rang. She was
unfamiliar with the number, but it was a local Texas number, and
she was fairly certain it was Rocco.

“Hello,” she whispered.

“Why are you whispering, child?” It was Rocco.

“Listen, I’ll be there Sunday. I can’t talk now.”
She was crouching by her bed silently, hand over her lips, as if
that would stop the noise from traveling, praying Alexander
wouldn’t walk in.

“You can explain on Sunday. If you’re early, we can
enjoy breakfast together. However, I don’t understand what you mean
about messaging you.”

“You know exactly what I mean, Rocco. Don’t play
dumb.” She was whisper-shouting, and when she realized it, she took
a deep breath and continued, quieter. “I’ve been getting messages
from someone dressed like a doctor telling me that if I don’t come
to meet you soon he’ll hurt my friends. I don’t like threats.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I would
never hurt anyone. I’ll get to the bottom of this. Don’t worry.
I’ll see you Sunday. I’ll send you my address via text message.
Bye, Jillian.”

Without another word, Jillian hung up and took a
deep breath before she straightened up and turned around. But as
soon as she stood and turned, she crashed right into a solid
rock-hard wall and yelled out loud.

Umph
!

She clutched her chest as she grumbled, nervous as
to how much he’d heard. “Now that we’re together, I’d hoped you
would stop scaring me. You’re like a ninja, quiet and sneaky. My
God, one day I’m going to have a heart attack. I just know it.”

“Who was that?” Alexander asked, his jaw set tightly
and his arms crossed.

She was prepared to lie, but the look of concern
plastered on his face and the love seeping from his pores . . .
Well, she just couldn’t do it. “It was Rocco,” she blurted out.

“I figured as much, since you were whispering. I
didn’t hear what you two were talking about, but whatever it was, I
don’t care. I don’t want you to see him or talk to him,
Jillian.”

“I don’t like myself like this.” She waved her arms
around. “Crouching down, whispering, keeping secrets, all to avoid
you acting all crazy possessive.”

“It’s not possessive. It’s protective.”

“Possessive. Protective. It’s all the same thing. I
know you’re worried, and I appreciate your concern. I really do.
One of the reasons I love you so much is because of you’re
crazy-protectiveness. It reminds me that I’m not alone anymore, but
I’m still the same Jillian, the independent woman who has to be
able to make her own decisions. You’re just going to have to trust
my judgment from time to time.” She reached forward and placed her
palms on his chest. “He’s my father. I want to hear him out. I’d
like to get to know him. I made plans to have breakfast with him on
Sunday.”

“Fine, we’ll go Sunday, but—”

“No, no, no.
We,
” she moved her fingers back
and forth between them, “will not be going to breakfast.
I
will be going to breakfast. Alone. Listen, Xander. I appreciate
your concern. I really do. I’ve been on my own for a long time. I
can’t be smothered, and you love to smother. It’s your thing.” She
air-quoted the word
thing
. “I want to understand more about
myself, and he’s the only one who can help me. I would like to go
on my own. Please. I’ll give you the address so that you know where
I’ll be. I will even give myself a time limit.” She held out three
fingers. “Three hours. If I’m not back within three hours, you can
call the police or break down the door—whatever a caveman does to
get his woman back.” She smiled, trying to lighten the tension.

“I like that. My woman. I like when you say that.
You are my woman. Fucking finally!”

Jill laughed. “Seriously? Is that all you got out of
my entire little speech?”

“No, I also
got
that you need some
independence, so fine, I’ll lay off, but you have two hours. Okay?”
He held out two fingers. “If you’re gonna be longer than that,
you’ll call me?”

“Of course.”

“I don’t like this, Jill.”

“I know you don’t, but thank you for understanding,
Xander.” She reached up and pulled his head down to meet her lips
and planted a soft, gentle open-mouthed kiss on his lips. It
quickly turned insane and frenzied, and he seemed to forget all
about Rocco.

 

Chapter 2

Any man whose
errors take ten years to correct is quite a man.

-Oppenheimer

The week flew by, and Saturday finally arrived. It
humored Jill to see Heather so frazzled.

“So what’s the plan? How are you gonna get the boys
here tonight?” Heather asked.

“I told them to come over.”

Incredulously, Heather asked, “That’s it? Just come
over?”

“Yep, that’s it. I said I was going to order food
and rent some movies. That was all it took.”

“Hmm? Usually I have to plot and scheme for weeks.
The obvious never occurred to me.”

Jill laughed. The obvious was the only thing that
had occurred to her. “I’ve never thrown a party. Will people
come?”

“Oh, hon’, people will come. Trust me. The boys have
a following.”

“I’m sure they do.” Jill rolled her eyes. Her twins
were hot. She knew it and so did everyone else.

“Oh stop fussing. He only has eyes for you. Go wash
that green right off your face, sugar. Then you can help me hang
these streamers.” Heather held some crepe paper in her hand.

“I am not jealous.” Jill tore the crepe paper out of
Heather’s hand. “Give me that.”

“Ouch! Sure you’re not.” Heather shook the hand that
was just assaulted by Jill’s non-jealous fit. Their scowls were
interrupted by a knock. Heather peaked through the window.

“Shit. It’s the boys! Hide the bags of decorations.
Actually, get those guys out of here. They’ll know something’s up,”
Heather said, frantically.

“Wow, look at you—cursing and everything.” Jill
mocked Heather while hiding whatever she could grab.

Jill stepped towards the door and opened it just
enough to stick her head out, fidgety.

“Hey, guys, what’s up?” She tightened her grip
around the door when Oliver took a step forward. Her foot tapped
behind the door, something she did when she was nervous.

“You’re not going to let us in?”

“Uh, er, Heather’s getting dressed.” She was a
terrible liar; this she knew. She became nervous, stammered, and
began to sweat. The whole enchilada.

“In the living room? Why would she be getting
dressed in the living room?” Alexander asked.

Why would Heather be getting dressed in the living
room? Um, good question. Change of subject. Change of subject.
Change of . . . “Wh—why are you guys here?” She cleared her throat.
Her grip tightened on the door.

“We were going to grab some Chinese food for lunch,
and Alexander wanted to come pick you up. Apparently, he can’t eat
without you now. Suddenly, you’re attached at the hip. It’s a
little disturbing, actually.”

From the other side of the door, Heather yelled.
“Yes! I agree. It’s like an overdose of chocolate cake.” Jill heard
a thump behind her and an “Ow!” Keeping her grip tight on the door,
she looked back to see Heather tangled in crepe paper and clutching
her elbow in pain. Jill’s eyes opened, silently questioning
Heather. Heather whispered. “Ouch! I hit myself on my funny bone.
Not freakin’ funny! Ow!” She whisper-shouted while continuing to
fight with the crepe paper while holding her elbow and trying to
slip on her shoes.

“What’s up with the chocolate-cake references? She
keeps saying that.” Alexander asked.

“Don’t mind her. She’s just jealous. Can’t stand to
see you and me kissing.” Jill reached forward to kiss Alexander
chastely on the lips, still gripping the door. Even she could feel
her own lips tremble. It was an awkward kiss. “Come on. Let’s go
eat. Heather, you coming?” Jill yelled behind her.

“Shoot. Ouch. Y-yeah. I am.” Heather stepped
outside, winded, flushed, and still nursing her elbow. She slammed
the door shut behind her, straightened her backbone, and walked
out. She took a deep breath and said, “Okay. Let’s go.”

“You two are acting weird. Weirder than usual.
You’re out of breath.” Oliver pointed to Heather while Alexander
grabbed Jill’s hand and began to walk towards the car.

“Yeah, just getting dressed. Anyhoo, Chinese? Yum.”
Heather! Master of changing the subject.

Jill took her keys out of her pocket. “I’ll drive.”
Alexander immediately snatched the keys from Jill’s hand. “Hey.
Give me that back. It’s my car. I drive.”

“I want us all to be able to eat today, and with
your driving, we’ll never get there,” Alexander smirked.

“Well, I’d rather get there in one piece than have
an accident with you driving and never arrive at all.” Jill had her
hands on her waist as her leg tapped the floor.
Tap. Tap.
Tap.

“God, one night—just one night without
fighting—that’s all I ask,” Oliver said, snatching the keys out of
Alexander’s hands.

“We’re not fighting, brother. We’re just having a
difference of opinion.” As he said that, Alexander plopped his arm
around Jill’s shoulder and leaned in and gave her a loud wet kiss
on the cheek. Jill rolled her eyes but couldn’t help smiling.

“I’d thought the bickering would have stopped once
you two finally hooked up.”

“Y’all are crazy. Give me those keys. I’m driving,”
Heather said as she yanked the keys from Oliver’s hand and skipped
merrily towards the car, leaving the three of them at a loss for
words. She looked like a teenager instead of a twenty-five-year-old
woman with her long hair slicked back into a perfect ponytail,
wearing sneakers, shorts, and an old retro-looking tight t-shirt
that said “
Goonies
” on it.

“Shotgun!” Jill yelled and ran towards the car.

“No way, babe. Oliver and I are too big to both sit
in the back seat of this tiny clown car. There’s no way we’re going
to fit.”

“Tough,” Jill replied.

“I’d offer my car, but my Mini is just mini. Y’all
sure as heck won’t fit,” Heather said as she slid into the driver’s
seat of Jill’s car.

“Seriously, Jill, Alexander’s right. We don’t fit.
One of us barely fits. Two? No way. We’re over six feet tall. This
is a two-door hatchback. Forget it. Xander and I will meet you
there. We’ll take his bike.”

“No. No. I hate that machine. The two of you barely
fit on that bike either. One of you just go and sit in the front
with Heather. You guys are guiltying me into sitting in the back
seat. That’s low even for you two.” Jill pouted, pulled down the
passenger seat, and made her way to the back.”

“I don’t think guiltying is a word.” Alexander said
with a chuckle.

“You know what I mean.”

Oliver and Alexander did rock, paper, scissors, and
Oliver won. Seconds later, Alexander was squishing his way next to
Jill in the back seat.

“I can’t believe you rock-paper-scissored for it.
You should
want
to sit back here with me. You’re my
boyfriend for Christ’s sake.”

“I love you, babe, but the front seat wins every
time.”

Jill scoffed incredulously. “Unbelievable.”

“Thank God it’s around the corner. This car is so
small. Babe, I hate your car. You have enough money from your trust
fund to buy a decent car. How can you stand it?”

“Don’t talk about my car. I like it. It’s small,
yes, but I don’t normally have so many people in here. It’s a cute
car. I love it. Don’t listen to them.” Jill caressed the headrest
in front of her as if she were talking to another person.
Meanwhile, Alexander was trying to somehow bend his legs to fit
inside. Jill was practically sitting on Alexander’s lap. She stuck
out her tongue at him.
Very mature.

“Be careful with that tongue. You don’t know when
someone will just grab it.” He winked at her, which caused her
pulse to race and thoughts of her tongue on his body to run through
her mind. There wasn’t much conversation on the way to the
restaurant. She was squished in the backseat of her car, leaning
her back against Alexander. Less than five minutes later, Heather
was parking at the restaurant. Jill could feel the warmth of
Alexander’s breath on her neck and his racing heart on her back. It
seemed as if the backseat would become their favorite mode of
transportation from now on.

“Red, that might have just been the best five
minutes of my life. You’re killing me. Look.” He pointed to the
bulge in his pants. She smiled at him in a taunting manner but
didn’t let him know she felt the same way.

“And you wanted to sit in the front? I wonder if the
front seat would have had the same effect,” Jill teased.

“Definitely not.”

At the restaurant, they ordered a variety of
different dishes, all picking from one another’s plates, talking
and laughing.

“So what’s
Goonies
?” Oliver asked, pointing a
chopstick at Heather’s shirt.

Heather almost choked on her dim sum. “You’re
kidding me, right?”

“Kidding you? No, I don’t know what it is. Do you?”
Oliver asked, looking at his brother and Jill, both of whom
shrugged their shoulders.