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craftingmom

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craftingmom last won the day on November 24 2014

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About craftingmom

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  • Age in Years
    46
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    Female
  • Sexuality
    Bisexual, leaning male
  • Favorite Genres
    Comedy
    Drama
    Mystery
    Paranormal
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    Thriller/Suspense
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    scrapbooking, writing & reading (obviously), and Karaoke!

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  1. Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

    🎄🎍

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. wildone

      wildone

      Merry Christmas Crafting Mom :hug:

       

      :D

       

    3. spikey582

      spikey582

      Merry Christmas!

    4. Valkyrie

      Valkyrie

      Merry Christmas :hug: 

  2. craftingmom

    Chapter 26

    Thank you 😊. You all have been more than patient with me. I appreciate it.
  3. craftingmom

    Chapter 26

    😨 *ducks the pitchforks* I am sooooooo terribly sorry to still have not finished this story. Not to offer any excuses, but I think the reason I've been so bad about it lately is that I'd slowly fallen into a state of depression over the last half of the year without realizing what was happening until recently, mostly because of health issues. But I've been working on making some significant changes over the last three weeks, and I'm starting to feel a lot better. I promise, Cachondeo, that I will finish it. My daughter just told me that if I can get on her about her homework, she gets to get on me about writing again! Thank you all so much for your concern and inquiries about where the next chapter is. I need to do a little re-reading just to get back into groove of Ripped again.
  4. craftingmom

    Chapter 26

    Hehe, maybe just Christmas! No, seriously, thanks for the nudging; it does help motivate me. I admit to being a little lazy lately. (At the moment I'm watching the NNL (National Ninja League) qualifiers for the 13-17 age group on Facebook Live. My daughter Taylor is up to compete soon!) UPDATE: YAY! She Placed FIRST!!
  5. craftingmom

    Chapter 26

    😊 you're welcome! Happy birthday!
  6. craftingmom

    Chapter 26

    Chapter 26 --Declan— They sat for a while cooling down and resting before they tackled the last of the yard chores. As he hefted a bag of mulch with ease, Declan couldn't help but flex his muscles a little more as Bailey watched him. The bags were more cumbersome for Bailey only because his arms were smaller and the bags were bulky. They plopped them down around the flower bed before grabbing a hoe and rake to help spread the mulch. Afterwards, Bailey grabbed the hose to water the flowerbed while Declan grabbed the weed-whacker and cleaned up the errant weeds around where the mulch bags had been. He couldn't do much about the dead patch of grass left behind. However, he did regard the multitude of bugs and worms that had taken up residence under the bags with a wary eye. After he'd returned all the tools to the shed, he waited for Bailey to finish the watering the front beds. He scratched at his leg, just knowing one of those damn bugs had bitten him. "Hey," Bailey called over to him. "You know you have a spider on your shorts, right?" "What?!" Declan squeaked out at a lot higher pitch than he'd expected, but hell! A spider! He started slapping wildly at his shorts. "Hey! I got it, okay?" Bailey called out helpfully—an instant before Declan felt a blast of water smack him in the back. "What the—!" Declan jumped at the shot of cold water; even though he was hot and sweaty enough for it to feel good, the shock of it left him sputtering. He spun to find Bailey bent over laughing his ass off, the spray momentarily aimed at the ground. "You little—" Declan growled through his own amusement as he started forward. Bailey must have caught the look in Declan's eyes because his own widened in fear. The tiny smirk was all Declan saw before Bailey brought the hose nozzle back up and pummeled him with another blast of water as he started backing up. After a moment of sputtering at the onslaught, Declan narrowed his eyes and stalked towards Bailey, who nearly tripped as he tried to back away even faster. Yeah, that wasn't going to help the little shit, Declan thought as he tracked his prey. Declan's longer legs were eating up the distance faster than Bailey could back away. And Bailey seemed to suddenly realize that the blasting water wasn't slowing Declan down either. Declan had nearly cornered his quarry when Bailey suddenly dropped the hose and shot away from him. Declan took up the chase, racing after him around the side of the house. Declan thought for sure he had Bailey at the fence, knowing Bailey would have to stop to open the gate to the backyard. Until Bailey simply vaulted over it. Declan smacked into the gate nearly at a full run. Cursing, he struggled to open the gate, practically yanking it off its hinges as he threw it open. By the time he rounded into the backyard, Bailey was nowhere to be seen. Until he heard laughter from the back porch. Declan glared through the water dripping off his hair at Bailey standing just inside the screen door. Bailey just gave him a big, cheesy grin and held up a towel. "Still need a shower?" Declan stalked up the steps. "Wanna help me with that?" he taunted. Bailey rolled his eyes at the awful joke as he shoved open the screen door to hold out the towel. "You wish." "Maybe." He shrugged as he reached for the towel. "But this will have to do." Instantly, his hand snapped around Bailey's wrist, yanking him out the door before Declan pinned the smaller body against the wall with his own soaking wet one. Bailey squawked, flailing and laughing as he tried to shove Declan away. He failed, of course, as Declan's mass was no match for his futile efforts. Declan just grinned wildly, making sure as much of the cold water as possible was seeping into Bailey's clothes as well. "Thought you'd get away with blasting me with a hose, huh?" "Fine, fine, fine, stop!" Bailey huffed out through chuckles. "You win." Bailey slowed his squirming, apparently realizing he wasn't going to get anywhere and was already soaked through. Declan glanced down, his body waking up to just how close Bailey was, and how that lean little body had been wriggling against him. Fuck. Bailey dropped his head back against the wall as Declan glanced down, ready to back away, but froze. Bailey's tongue darted out over his lower lip, his head tilting just a bit. An offering, if Declan was willing to take it. Declan lowered his head, tentatively licking a stripe across those inviting lips, waiting for any sign of rejection. As much as he wanted to devour Bailey, he held back. Knowing Bailey's history, Declan wanted Bailey to know he could choose to back away, that he could trust Declan. He never wanted Bailey to feel pressured or trapped. His breath left in harsh relief when Bailey lifted a fraction more to meet his kiss. It was as sweet and agonizingly intense as before. Declan's hands dropped from the wall and snaked just under Bailey's T-shirt, his rough fingers sliding up Bailey smooth, muscular back. The synapses in his brain were firing so rapidly at the sensations of Bailey's hot mouth against his and the soft skin under his finger tips that it took Declan's brain a moment to catch up to the fact that Bailey's calloused palms were slipping up his own ribs. "Oh shit," he gasped out, nearly crushing Bailey against the side of the house as his knees almost gave out. Bailey's head buried in his neck, his teeth scraping Declan's collarbone. "We—we n-need t-to stop... Your mom..." Declan gritted out brokenly. Bailey's fingers tightened on his sides for a moment before he nodded against Declan's chest. "Yeah, yeah. You're right." Declan's heart thumped happily at the rough, gravelly sound of Bailey's voice. At least, Bailey was as agonized as he was. Declan backed away, leaving Bailey slumped against the wall while he scooped up the forgotten towel. Bailey watched him toweling off for several moments, those silvery eyes nearly fully blown black. "Yeah, um, right. So. Still need a shower?" Declan smirked. "Oh, hell yeah." A nice cold one. **** As much as Bailey had already soaked him with the hose, Declan had still opted for the shower, of course. If he was staying for dinner with Bailey's mom, he didn't want to smell like this. After drying off sufficiently enough to walk into the house, leaving his soaked shoes on the back porch, Declan had grabbed his change of clothes as Bailey showed him to the hall bathroom. Since he was already soaked, it made more sense for him to shower first rather than risk dripping on the floor or furniture. While he'd showered many times in locker rooms and his own dorm room suite where other guys had showered, this felt different. Knowing Bailey was the only one who used this bathroom, who showered naked in here every day, had Declan groaning in frustration. "Hey." Declan nearly hit his head on the shower spigot when Bailey's voice suddenly floated into the bathroom. "Yeah?" he managed to croak out. "I just put a plastic bag inside the door for your wet clothes. I'm, uh, sorry about that, man." Declan could hear the tiniest hint of amusement behind the apology. "No you're not," Declan accused, scrubbing Bailey's minty shampoo through his short scruffy hair. A small snigger floated into the small room. "Okay, so maybe not totally sorry, but I am sorry all your clothes are wet. And your shoes." Declan grunted. Yeah, the shoes were a little more of an issue, but he had a full change of clothes and deodorant with him. "I'll survive. Maybe they'll dry out some before I head home. Your mom won't care if I'm barefoot, will she?" "No, of course not. She might yell at me for how your shoes got wet, though. Extra towels and other stuff are under the sink if you need anything." Declan was about to ask 'like what other stuff?' but he heard the click of the door as it reclosed. He finished soaping up and rinsing what little dirt was left on him after his spritz in the front yard. Just imagining Bailey's lithe body as he'd so smoothly vaulted over that fence had him grinning to himself again. How many others had seen Bailey so playful like that? Declan was guessing he was one of the few based on what he'd heard from other classmates talking. From all he knew before, Bailey was pretty much antisocial, except with his teammates, quiet and unassuming. Of course, Declan now knew it was because he'd still been grieving his father's death, not because he was an aloof, pretentious asshole as Declan had thought weeks ago. Declan peeked around the shower curtain to be sure the door was fully closed before he reached down to grab a clean, dry towel. After stepping fully out of the tub, he leaned down to peek in the cabinet to see what the 'other stuff' was? Lube? Condoms? He thought humorously. He was disappointed to see just a few still-wrapped toothbrushes, a couple new deodorants, some body powder, a set of disposable razors—although what Bailey was shaving was a mystery to Declan—a box with first aid items in it, and ace bandages. Declan remembered seeing Bailey's bloody, ripped hand that day after their infamous push-up contest. Guess that was a hazard of gymnastics. He quickly dressed, using his own deodorant, but he did make use of one of the toothbrushes. Couldn't hurt, right? After hanging up his towels on the hooks and gathering up his wet clothes in the plastic bag, he shoved the whole bag into his backpack, figuring he'd take care of it later when he got back to the dorm. Bailey was sitting at his desk, flipping through a gymnastics magazine when Declan returned. Bailey jumped up with a smile. "All fresh and clean now?" Declan couldn't help a little teasing. "Yeah. What do you think?" Then he leaned in to kiss Bailey thoroughly, knowing he'd taste the hint of mint on his lips. For a second, Bailey froze but then he relaxed and even chased Declan's lips as he pulled away. "Oh, yeah, definitely fresh." Bailey stepped hesitantly back towards the door, obviously debating staying and continuing what they'd started or taking the shower. The shower won out. "Oh, hey, hand me your wet clothes. I'll throw them in with this load here, so you don't have to carry them back wet and worry about them." Declan's lips lifted in a sly smirk as he pulled out the wet bag of clothes. "You want my clothes to mingle with yours, huh?" Bailey just rolled his eyes and grabbed the bag along with his hamper. As it happened, the washer and dryer were one door over from the bathroom in a nice little laundry room. Bailey dumped everything in and set it to run. Declan hovered, feeling both awkward and a little excited to be spending time like this with Bailey. It was easy, to be with him, to just relax and be themselves, no pretense. "Okay, I'm gonna shower real quick. You can read or listen to music or something." Bailey waved his hand toward his bedroom. "Just no looking under the bed." Of course, that piqued Declan's interest, so he immediately dropped to the floor as soon as he returned to Bailey's room to see what Bailey stored under there. He pulled out a pile of magazines, getting excited, until he realized they were gymnastics magazines—Inside Gymnastics, USA Gymnastics, International Gymnast Magazine. Figured. Although... Declan flipped through a couple of them, ogling a couple of the ripped male gymnasts. But he quickly put them aside to search for something more risqué. The only other stuff under there, though, were shoes, maybe a pair of winter boots, and a pile of science fiction books. He cursed under his breath, shaking his head. Bailey had known he'd have to look, and therefore, known he'd find boring-ass shit. Bastard. Teasing him like that. Maybe he should storm in the bathroom and— And what? Bailey would be— Well, shit. That wasn't helping. Bailey soaping up, using the same soap he'd just used. Yeah, okay, he needed to get a grip, focus on something else. Declan flopped back on Bailey's bed picking up the book from the nightstand and flipping through it. A flicker of déjà vu rolled over him as he remembered picking up the same book just a few days ago... and something... something... He searched his memory, sitting up slightly as he glanced around. Something... falling. "Hmmm." He frowned as he looked where the book had been and down the edge of the nightstand. Nothing. Well, there was a small screwdriver on the floor for some reason, but Declan knew that didn't have to do with what he'd seen. It had been smaller. Not a bookmark, though it had fallen when he'd picked up the book... And anyway, it seemed Bailey was one of those who turned down the corners of the pages. A coin, maybe? It had been gray... or silver... He looked again, but nothing was there now, except the small screwdriver, and he didn't remember seeing that before. Whatever it was that had triggered his memory, it was steadfastly eluding him now. And, fuck, if it didn't somehow seem important... He put the book beside him, checking out the rest of the nightstand, willing something to jog his memory. Another gymnastics magazine. A couple of pens, some dull pencils, a highlighter, a pencil sharpener. He must do some of his homework sitting on his bed. A few coins. A power bar wrapper. How many of those things did Bailey eat anyway? Declan shook his head, frustrated he couldn't remember. "Had to have been a dime or something," he muttered to himself, even as he still doubted his thoughts. Declan picked up one of the pencils and the sharpener, needing something to fiddle with, and the pencils were an easy target. Besides, how the hell did Bailey write with them so dull anyway? Declan couldn't stand writing with anything but a sharp tip on his pencils. He turned the pencil in the sharpener, watching for the crisp curl of shavings to appear in the plastic receptacle. Except, as he turned the pencil in the sharpener, nothing was happening. No shavings falling into the plastic catcher. He frowned and popped open the sharpener. No blade. The screw was there that should have been holding the blade in, but... no blade? Odd. He went to put the pieces of the sharpener down, but stopped suddenly, glancing back down at the floor. The screw driver. Had Bailey taken apart the pencil sharpener? Why? Boredom? To see how it worked? To— Declan frowned. Pieces, slivers of memories, started to slot together. The silver thing that had fallen to the floor. Declan closed his eyes, trying to remember that moment. A thin piece of... something shiny... metallic... Could it have been the blade from a pencil sharpener? If so, why? What had Bailey needed to cut so badly he'd have to take the blade out of a pencil sharpener. Especially when he already had a box cutter available. If he had needed to cut some cardboard or someth— Realization smacked him in the teeth. Oh God. No. No. No, it couldn't— Bailey wouldn't— Bailey wouldn't be... cutting, would he? But Declan's mind's eye darted through his memories. The straight 'scratch' on Bailey's chest. The feel of something under his fingers this morning on Bailey's hip. And hadn't he seen Bailey rubbing at that spot a few times over the last few days? Hell, he knew well enough himself that healing cuts could be itchy as hell. And, yeah, yeah, what he'd felt under his fingertips could have been a scabbed over cut or scar. Jesus. Fuck. Declan had even questioned why Bailey would be carrying a box cutter in his backpack. Bailey's answer hadn't made a whole lot of sense then, but Declan had accepted it. If Bailey was cutting, then the presence of the box cutter in his backpack took on a whole new meaning. God, was he cutting at school too? Declan rubbed his hands over his head, his heart pounding in his chest as he shot to his feet, pacing in a circle. No. No. This couldn't be right. He had to be overreacting. There had to be a reason... But fleeting memories assaulted Declan's mind. And they gutted him. Because he knew with sickening dread that it could be true. But why? Was he stressed over school? Was he upset by the bullying? What would make Bailey resort to physically hurting himself like that? Declan's eyes darted around the room, thankful to still hear the rush of water from the shower. He knew Bailey would be back any time now. But what could Declan say? "Hey, dude, I know you're cutting yourself up. You should stop that, you know..." So f-ing lame sounding. And why? What had driven Bailey to it? How long had it been happening? Declan vaguely remembered the time he'd followed Bailey home after Chris had beaten him up—when Bailey's mom had yelled at him. She'd seemed pretty strict, but it could have just been a bad night. She didn't seem that way now; at least, not what Declan saw lately. His eyes shifted around the room, hoping an answer would jump out at him, but knowing it probably wouldn't be that easy. All the damn medals and trophies, certificates of achievement—all indicated high achievement, was he stressed and pushing himself too hard? Was his mom pushing him too hard, and he couldn't cope? The piles of books, running gear, power bars, gymnastics gear—an overachiever definitely. He hadn't seen any bottles of pills, so that was a good sign. Maybe Bailey was cutting as a way to relieve stress. Was that something that could make someone harm themselves like that? Declan scraped his fingers through his hair in frustration as his eyes whipped around the room. Why? Why? Why? It seemed like it should be more than just the stress of needing to excel. Then his eyes lit on the answer. Or a part of the answer, anyway. Declan reached over and picked up the framed picture of Bailey and his dad. Bailey looked so much like the man, just a lot smaller. The delighted, loving look on Bailey's father's face was undeniable. It wasn't just needing to excel. It was the need to make his dead father proud, along with the gut-wrenching loss of the only man in Bailey's life who understood him. Shit. Two months, almost three now. Bailey had been suffering silently. And then having to deal with Chris and Eric's shit on top of it. Declan's fist clenched. How many times? How many times had Bailey felt so overwhelmed, so lost that he'd resorted to cutting? Declan couldn't remember any obvious cuts except the one on Bailey's chest, and he'd been the only one to have seen that. But now he was wondering what he'd missed. Had there been others? On his arms or wrists—oh, god, his wrists, what if he cut too deep, got an artery or something...? He sucked in a sharp breath to calm himself. No. There hadn't been cuts on his arms or anything like that. Someone would have noticed—Justin, Coach Richards, anyone else on his team at least. Bailey wouldn't have been able to hide that. So maybe it wasn't what he thought, could he be wrong? He turned to the nightstand again, eyes critically searching for the evil piece of metal. Not finding it, he dropped to the floor, feeling around the carpet next to the bed and nightstand. Still nothing. He closed his eyes, trying to stave off his panic and worry. Maybe he was overreacting... He opened his eyes, staring at the side of the bed. The line between the mattress and box spring. His breath hitched as a thought struck him. And even while he prayed he was wrong, when he reached his hand under the mattress, he wasn't surprised to feel something small move against his hand. Lifting the edge of the mattress, the gleaming blade sat there waiting for its next slice into Bailey's skin. Declan sat back on his heels, clutching the sliver of metal in his hand lightly. Closing his eyes and breathing, praying he'd know what to do, what to say when Bailey— "I told you not to look under my bed," Bailey quipped with a laugh from behind him. Declan closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, while still trying to frantically figure out what to do. He moved to sit on the edge of Bailey's bed, noting Bailey's tank top and athletic shorts sitting low on his hips. Bailey was still toweling dry his hair. And Declan couldn't help searching Bailey's exposed skin for tell-tale marks. Bailey finally tossed the towel to the laundry pile, grinning down at Declan. Declan forced a smile as he looked up. "Yeah, you warned me. Nothing but gym magazines and sci-fi books." He crooked his finger at Bailey to get him to come closer. "You had me hoping to find a stash of porn or something." Bailey laughed as he stepped into Declan's space, shoving playfully at his shoulder. "Ha! See, made you look!" Declan reached out, grabbing Bailey's right hip and running his thumb slowly over the hipbone, dipping below the waistband. "You made me look, all right." While the move was slow, sensuous even, Declan was able to feel, and, as the waistband slipped lower, see several white scar lines, one of which was still pink and healing. "Fuck," Declan breathed out as his fears were confirmed. He abruptly wrapped his arms around Bailey's waist, drawing him closer and burying his face against Bailey's belly. Bailey tensed for a moment, but Declan felt Bailey's hands stroking over his head soothingly. "Declan? What's going on? Are you okay?" He shook his head. "What's wrong? What happened?" Bailey asked anxiously. Declan sat back, Bailey's hands moving to his shoulders. Declan slowly took Bailey's hands one at a time, flipping them over and rubbing his thumb against the blessedly smooth, unmarred skin of his wrists. He had a moment of relief, knowing Bailey hadn't been cutting the delicate skin on his arm where he could nick an artery or something. Of course, if he had, everyone would have seen what was happening with Bailey long before now. Justin, the coach, the rest of the gymnastics team, maybe even his mom. Someone would have noticed, wouldn't they? But Bailey had very strategically cut where no one was likely to see. "No, Bailey, I'm worried... About you." "Me?" Bailey jerked back, a frown creasing his brow. "What—what are you talking about? I'm fine." "I know you're not. Hell, I knew you weren't fine before, but now..." Declan gripped Bailey's hand, wanting to ground him, hold him, give him something else for those hands to do but hurt himself. "We've talked about some of it, and I'm so glad you trusted me to tell me everything you did with Mason and your old school, and Chris, and your dad..." Declan looked up, but Bailey wouldn't meet his gaze, was trying to pull away from him. Declan kept a hold on Bailey's wrist, not letting him draw away and hide. He slowly opened his other hand, revealing the slim blade he'd found. "I just didn't realize until now, just how 'not fine' you were." "Shit, Declan, that's just from a—" "A pencil sharpener, I know. I found it under your mattress. You know looking for porn and all," he tried to lighten the mood slightly with a joke. It worked enough to get Bailey to snort a laugh. "It's not what you think. I'm not... I don't want to... kill myself or anything." Declan dropped the blade on the nightstand. "I didn't think that. Not for long anyway. But these—" He reached forward, lowering the edge of Bailey's shorts, revealing the scars he'd seen. He ran his fingers reverently over them. "These tell me you're hurting yourself." Declan leaned forward, drawing Bailey closer, and gently kissed the scars on Bailey's hip. Bailey hissed in a breath, emotions choking him as Declan continued to caress his damaged skin. "Please tell me why. Please tell me why so I can understand." Declan knew his voice was verging on pleading, on begging, demanding, even. But he couldn't help it. "Please. I want to help; I need to help. I hate to know you have been hurting so badly that you need to do this to yourself." Bailey wrenched out of his grip. "Fuck you, Declan! You know nothing of my life! What it's been like! So you don't get to come in here and think you can wave a wand, say a few words, and make it all better." Declan rose, unfazed by the explosive anger. Hell, he'd pretty much expected it. "If I thought like that, I take this—" He held up the blade. "And the one in your backpack, and throw them away." Bailey's nostrils flared as he crossed his arms, taking on a defensive stance. Declan knew it wasn't going to be easy, but he wasn't sure how much of the battle would be won here. Declan carefully took Bailey's hand and gingerly laid the blade he was sure had drawn Bailey's blood in his palm. "But I think we both know throwing these away won't do any good." Bailey lifted a curious brow, obviously not expecting that response. It did serve to calm Bailey slightly as he waited to see what Declan was up to. Declan's lips pulled together into a tight, resigned smile. He shrugged. "What am I going to do? Tear apart your room for other pencil sharpeners that you might take apart? Take all the razors out of your bathroom? Hmmm, and scissors, have to get rid of those. Good luck cutting with those little round-end preschool safety ones. Oh, wait, I'd have to take all the knives from your kitchen too. I'm sure your mom would love that." He ended his sarcastic tirade with a roll of his eyes, causing Bailey to bark out a laugh. Bailey's shoulders dropped, and he sighed heavily. He dragged himself over to the bed and plopped down, staring at his lap, where his hands cupped the offensive piece of metal. "I-I can't," Bailey whispered after several minutes. Declan moved cautiously to sit beside Bailey, suddenly looking so fragile and tiny. At least Bailey hadn't demanded that he leave. So maybe this was a good thing. A start. "You can't what?" "I can't... stop..." Bailey slowly admitted, his hands trembling as he stared at the blade. "I can't tell anyone because no one understands. I miss him so fucking much, and it doesn't matter how much I 'talk about my feelings' to anyone," he said, using air quotes, "because they just don't fucking get it!" Bailey had started to clench his hands, and Declan quickly plucked the blade from Bailey's palm before he could rip open his hand. As Declan laid it on the nightstand, Bailey stared blankly at his hands. "I need to honor him, to remember him, to make him proud. Everyone thinks we should just move on, forget about him, and go on with our lives. No one cares to remember him but me and it hurts so fucking bad in here—" Bailey beat a fist against his chest, still trying to pull away from Declan, but Declan wouldn't let him go, wouldn't let him run anymore. "It hurts so bad, missing him, needing him, wanting to be the best for him... and IT is the only thing that helps!" "It? The cutting?" Declan hated the tortured look on Bailey's face, the tears, the anguish... "Yes! It helps me. It calms me, gives me..." Bailey's body and voice were strained, and Declan could visually see how Bailey's grief was consuming him. "I-I need to feel something other than—than this... this—" Bailey clutched at his heart, unable to find the words. "Other than what? Misery... pain... guilt... anger... failure?" Declan watched Bailey's face morph from bitter suffering to confusion at Declan's understanding. Bailey nodded slowly, drooping forward to his knees as if all his energy had suddenly evaporated. Declan slipped off the edge of the bed to catch Bailey's slowly crumpling form. For several long moments, Bailey clung to Declan, soft sobs dampening Declan's shirt. "Why the blade, Bailey?" Declan whispered against the top of Bailey's ebony hair. "I couldn't really talk to Ms. Tardin—I mean, what if she told the coach and he benched me or something? And mom... well, she was hurting as well. I couldn't burden her more with my... my problems too. And she wanted me to... to be the best... I think she thinks that's what I need, encouragement to... make my dad proud... But sometimes I felt like I was failing at everything—school, gymnastics, being a good son... And now she seems a little better. Maybe she's talked to Daniel, maybe she just wants to forget... I don't know, but she seems a little happier—and while that sometimes pisses me off—I can't make her worse by telling her anything... The-the cutting... helped. The physical pain drowns out all the other pain—of missing him, of not being good enough. It helped me feel something other than... hopelessness." "Let me help you feel, Bailey," Declan said softly, gently cupping the sides of Bailey's face. "Feel me." Bailey froze, and they stared at each other for several minutes. Tears slipped down Bailey's blotchy cheeks. Declan gripped Bailey's shoulders, shaking him slightly, and forcing him to meet his eyes. "I'm not letting you go through this alone. I'll be there for you, if you let me. Please..." Bailey's pale eyes blinked more tears, and Declan had to glance away momentarily to keep himself from falling apart at Bailey's obvious misery. He sniffed, clearing his throat before he continued. "Yeah, I think you need some help, more than the school's counselor, a real therapist. Don't make a face at me like that, I'll even go with you if you want." "Dec—" Bailey tried to interrupt, turning his head away, but Declan wouldn't let him. "But right now, I want you to look at me. Look at me." Bailey raised his eyes to meet Declan's "Right now, I want you to feel me." Declan dropped his hands from Bailey's shoulders and grabbed his hands. "When you need It, reach for me. When you can't deal, don't reach for that blade. Don't reach for physical pain to drown out your thoughts. Let me help you feel something else. Call me. Text me. Find me. I'll be there. If you really need something physical, we'll go for a run. Beat up some punching bags. Swim some laps. Hold onto me instead of that blade. Okay?" Bailey looked at him askance, not sure what to make of the offer. "It has been better the last week or so... since we've been talking. I haven't felt as much of a need for it." A crooked smile lifted his lips. "I like you, Declan. And... and maybe because of that... you've already made me feel like things aren't so horrible lately." Declan grinned, grabbing the sides of Bailey's head again and pressing their foreheads together. "I like you, too. A lot. How about instead of reaching for that piece of metal, you reach for me?" Bailey nodded, sniffing back the last of his tears. "Yeah, yeah. I can try." "Hell, even Justin or the rest of your teammates, Micah and Logan would be there too, probably even Evan once he gets to know you... You don't have to tell them everything, but maybe opening up to them a little would help." Declan sighed, his thumb stroking along Bailey's wrist again. "I hate to think of you cutting this beautiful skin. What if you cut too deep or—" Bailey dropped his hand over Declan's, stopping his worried rubbing. "I've never cut on my arms or wrists, so it's not like I'm going to cut a vein and bleed out, okay? I promise. I'm not suicidal. My wrists and arms are always too visible, which is why I stuck to my hip, my thigh a couple times—easier to hide under shorts and pants. Plus, doing gymnastics with even a paper cut on my arm is painful. No thank you!" Declan laughed and they fell into each other's arms, embracing for several minutes. "Boys! I'm back from the store. Daniel's here too. We're about to start cooking, probably be ready in about half an hour. Is Declan staying for dinner?" They sat back; Bailey staring at Declan. "Yeah, he's staying. We'll be down in a minute. We were going to watch a movie." "Okay, sounds good." They dragged themselves off the floor. Bailey picked up the blade, showing it to Declan. "You sure you don't want to take it with you? Make sure I can't use it?" Declan plucked it out of Bailey's hand and laid it back on the nightstand. "Nope. You need it for your pencil sharpener, otherwise you'll have dull pencils." Bailey cocked his head, surprised. Declan shrugged. "I could take every blade and razor I find in here, but what good would that do? Me taking them won't stop you, if you really want to do it. You'll just get more. You have to decide to give 'em up; I can't do that for you. I'm just hoping, you'll choose me instead." Bailey leaned forward, a small smile on his face. "You are a lot more fun, Jar-Jar." Declan's mouth dropped open in mock outrage. "Jar-Jar Binks! I think not! More like the wise Qui-Gon Jinn." "Hell, why not claim Yoda status?" Bailey shot back, heading towards the door. "Not so wise as that one, I am." "Smartass."
  7. Thank you Litlover for such a wonderful review!!!! (And thanks Tim for pointing it out.... I missed the posting yesterday because I was at Kings Dominion, and pretty exhausted afterwards!). Kayden is still one of my favorites as well!!!
  8. Just spent the last two days at kings Dominion with my girls.  After being told repeatedly, the weather would be raining and bad storms the whole time and we should make other plans, we went anyway figuring we have rain ponchos, why not.  And it was perfect ( one 10 bad storm last evening, then sun back out), a couple light sprinkles today, but we were in the water park anyway.  AND because of the strong threat of rain, practically no one else at the park!  Pretty much walk onto every ride.  Anyway, so I'd sent the next chapter of Ripped to editors before I left, so you should have an update in the next couple days as I get back.  Take care everyone!

    1. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      Did you see the blog review of your story ?

       

  9. craftingmom

    Chapter 19

    Oh, hell, if that were the case, I'd be serving a life sentence!
  10. craftingmom

    Chapter 18

    Parker was sooo helpful in working out all the scenes with the administration and helping to make them so much more real. I've relied greatly on his knowledge of the workings of private schools. I was a public school teacher for several years, but there are some major differences with a residential private school.
  11. Hey all, I'm working on catching up on comments I missed 'liking',  working on Ripped first, but I hope to get through all the others as well (until I run out of 'likes" anyway).  So if you suddenly get a notice on comment you made ages ago, you'll know why.  So sorry if I missed it earlier.

    1. spikey582

      spikey582

      Just glad you’re seeing them eventually.

    2. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      You won't run out of likes. That doesn't happen any more, after the big update.

      And now I know why I had so many notifications today. ;) 

    3. craftingmom
  12. My oldest daughter and I read the first few books together, but then she took off reading them on her own. I did read at least two of the Egyptian books too, while we were waiting for more of the Percy Jackson books to come out. ( This was a few years ago of course). I grew up studying mythology and minored in it in college. Then I somehow passed that love on to Katelyn. She still gravitates to myth based books along with other fantasy...
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