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Aceinthehole

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About Aceinthehole

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  1. Aceinthehole

    Spooked

    Chapter 31: Spooked As Adam laid back and watched T.V., I couldn’t help but keep looking over at him. Does he even have a strict side? Could he ever actually stay mad at me? I mean, I’ve seen him panicked, but never really angry. Even at the court case and reading of Mom’s will, I could feel his anger against his parents, but he never really let it show. So if I know he’s this relaxed, why am I still hiding Ezra’s card from him? Why don’t I want his advice on this? I went to say something, but before I could a knock began on our front door. I forced a smile as Adam quickly jumped to his feet and let Mason in. I guess I’ll give it a little bit more time before I drop that bombshell on him. He just seems so happy since we got back, I’ll wait until I know what I want to do. I’ll wait until I know how I feel about this. I mean that’s a smart way to approach it, right? As Mason and Adam finally picked out a movie I put my book down and tried my hardest to sneak off to bed with as little attention as possible. “No Dizzy tonight, right?” Adam called out, freezing me right before I could take the first step up the stairs. “No Dizzy tonight.” I confirmed, drawing a strange look from Mason. “Why don’t you tell Mason what happened?” Adam smirked, but I simply rolled my eyes. “I heard Dizzy sneaking in last night to spend the night in Artie’s room.” “And you didn’t stop it.” I reminded him as I slowly began to climb the staircase. “You snuck your boyfriend in?” Mason asked as he carefully thought it over. “or your boyfriend snuck in?” “I snuck my boyfriend in.” I confidently answered, trying to shield Dizzy from receiving all the blame. “You don’t have to lie,” Adam warned as our eyes met, forcing me to stop halfway up the steps. “he’s already in trouble.” “It was my idea.” I insisted with a shrug of my shoulders. “If it was a Dizzy plan, we probably wouldn’t’ve got caught.” “What’s that mean?” Adam quickly asked as concern entered his gaze. “It means watch the doors closely tonight.” I teased, before finally walking up the rest of the stairs and out of their view. I heard Adam call something out to me, but ignored it as I got ready for bed. It’s not like Dizzy’s actually coming over tonight, hell, his Mom’s probably broken both his legs already! But I know it’ll mess with Adam tonight, and that’s what he gets for teasing me about it! Yet as I laid down, I couldn’t help but wish he was here with me. Especially after how he started acting this morning! Maybe he’s just trying to get laid more often, but he was so sweet today. It was like a side of Dizzy I hadn’t even seen before! -- -- Eventually I drifted off to thoughts of Dizzy, and when I did wake up, was happy to find him waiting outside my front door. “Good morning.” I smiled, leaning forward and landing a kiss on his lips. “Morning.” He replied in a mumble, before gripping my hand and leading me down the stairs. “You seem energetic this morning.” I teased, noticing his normally bright smile was reduced to a blank expression on his face. “Do we have to go to school?” He whined as he threw his head back. “We could just skip and hang out at your place.” He said, but I could tell he didn’t mean it. “Yes.” I played along as he let out another groan. “Why? What’s so bad about school today?” “My Mom said I have to stay after while you’re at baseball from now on.” He complained as the look on his face grew even more blank. “That’s it?” I asked in an unamused voice. “I mean she took away my bag with my tagging stuff, and computer too.” He answered in a sigh. “But I have to stay after and get tutored by teachers, and then she said she’s going to talk to Adam about something for us after that!” “I only have baseball like, three times a week.” I clarified, but once more received a groan from him. “Besides, if Adam’s the one in charge of whatever happens after that, it can’t be that bad.” “Speak for yourself!” Dizzy exclaimed, proud of how dramatic he was behaving. He went to say something else, but caught himself as the noticed the people walking around us. “I don’t want to know.” I rolled my eyes as we reached the steps of our school. “I don’t want to know!” I repeated as he went to say something else. He let out a guilty laugh as he knocked shoulders with me. “We can talk about it over lunch.” He shrugged his shoulders. “You and Charlotte had one on one yesterday, so me and you get one on one today.” “Actually, we didn’t finish our conversation from yesterday.” I shrugged my shoulders. “We only had enough time for me to tell her about her date, we didn’t get to talk about Texas.” “Or about what happened the night we got back from Texas.” Dizzy smirked, knowing he had caught me. “World doesn’t revolve around you.” I replied, trying my hardest to find an out. “Sure, it doesn’t.” He sarcastically agreed, seeing right through my lie. I rolled my eyes, and made sure to change the topic as we approached our homeroom. The last thing I need is all of homeroom to overhear that conversation! It’s bad enough we sit close enough to the front for Mrs. Mowry to hear us! I really hope she just tunes us out! For our sake and her own! -- -- When lunch finally rolled around Charlotte and I managed to slip away from the group and find a small table in a quiet area just like yesterday. Every now and again I would turn back to where Ky and Dizzy were sitting and notice him making a funny face at us, but tried my hardest to keep my focus on Charlotte. “What’s going on with you two?” She finally asked, getting to the main question on her mind. “He’s been even more head over heels for you than usual.” “I don’t know.” I played stupid as I shrugged my shoulders. “I guess visiting Texas just helped him understand me more.” “Bullshit.” She called out as she watched me closely. “I gave you the details on my love life.” “Charlotte.” I exhaled, but as I noticed her stare growing more intense, knew I wasn’t worming my way out of the conversation. “He just wants more sex.” I rolled my eyes. “That can’t be it.” She pressured, still not believing me. “I rocked his world.” I confidently nodded my head, trying my hardest to hide the red filling my cheeks. “You rocked Dizzy Armstrong’s world?” Charlotte asked, not believing a word of it. “Sure.” I shrugged my shoulders, my face now fully red. “You’re missing something.” She shook her head, before glancing over at Dizzy then back to me. “I’m not.” I insisted in a nervous laugh. “We just, took things one step further.” “One step further?” Charlotte repeated as her mind went to work on cracking the code. “Why can’t you just say it?” She groaned, tired of my games. “We already tell each other everything already.” “Because it’s kind of embarrassing.” I forced out as our eyes connected. “We just moved onto more advanced stuff the other night.” “Advanced stuff?” She asked, as she thought it over once more. “Oh.” She exhaled with a smile. She let out a loud laugh as she saw the look on my face. “What do you have to be embarrassed about?” She dug, but I stayed quiet. “Did you like it?” She asked, this time drawing a nod from me. “It was amazing.” I finally forced out, causing her to laugh once more. “Then there you have it!” She encouraged with a wide smile. “You had amazing sex with your boyfriend, kids here would kill to have that experience! You have nothing to be embarrassed about.” “Yeah.” I agreed as a smile finally cracked my face. “So how’d he convince you to do it?” She asked as her curiosity got the best of her. “I convinced him.” I corrected, trying to calm the blush lingering on my face. “Him coming all the way to Texas to help me, it just made me want to get closer to him.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Only you could make sex sound so innocent.” She shook her head. “Well trust me, it wasn’t very innocent.” I joked as the blush fully returned to my face and Charlotte began to laugh once more. “Yes Artie!” She exclaimed through laughter, yet as she glanced towards Dizzy she began to calm down. “You’re wrong though.” “About?” I asked, not fully following her train of thought. “He doesn’t want to get laid more,” She shook her head. “on second thought, he probably does.” She quickly clarified. “But that’s not why he’s so crazy for you lately.” “Alright, then what’s going on?” I asked in a skeptical voice. “I think taking that step, it just showed him how serious this relationship is to you.” She shrugged her shoulders, proud of her answer. “And the trip to Texas didn’t?” I asked, still not believing her theory. “I’m sure that helped.” She replied with a smile. “But come on Artie, when you first got here you would nearly implode at the idea of kissing another guy, and now you were the one that suggested, well, you know.” “Yeah.” I shrugged my shoulders, but still wasn’t overly sold on her point. “I think Dizzy’s still just shocked he got that lucky.” “Now that I agree with.” Charlotte giggled as our eyes met once more. “Now tell me, how was Texas?” “It was good.” I nodded my head, unsure what to tell her about first. “Sadie figured out me and Dizzy were a couple right away.” “Really?” Charlotte asked as a shocked expression quickly filled her face. “Yup, I guess we’re not that great at hiding it.” I teased with a smile. “But she took it like, really well. She said she didn’t want to lose me and that she’ll work to accept it.” “That’s great.” Charlotte replied as a genuine smile overtook her face. “So then did you also tell the court.” “Nope.” I shook my head. “Adam still wanted to keep it a secret, but I don’t think the judge would’ve cared anyway.” I shrugged my shoulders. “He was kind of fed up with the case after the first ten minutes, and then Dizzy testified on how Adam took him in for two weeks after that incident with his Mom’s boyfriend.” I continued to explain. “And the judge just kind of ended the case right there.” “Well it seems like you gave Dizzy one hell of a thank you!” Charlotte giggled as she caused my face to blush once more. I rolled my eyes, but kept going with my story. “That’s not like, the crazy part though.” I warned as she leaned forward in her seat. “You have to keep this a complete secret. Only Dizzy knows this happened.” She hesitated as she nervously began to lean in her chair. “Alright.” She finally accepted. “I met my birth father.” I forced out as she grew quiet. “You met your birthfather?” She repeated in shock. “Just like, out of nowhere?” “Kind of.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Me and Dizzy were waiting in the lobby of the court house, and he just found us.” “He found you?” Charlotte asked as confusion overtook her face. “Yeah.” I nodded my head. “He walked up to us, and gave me some stupid line about how I looked like someone he went to school with.” I said causing Charlotte to roll her eyes. “It was like he didn’t even have a plan.” “What are you saying?” She asked in a suspicious voice. “You think he just happened to run into you?” “No,” I shook my head. “I, I know I look like Adam and my Mom, but he had to know who I was. Someone had to tell him.” “Your grandparents?” She guessed, getting side tracked by the minor details. “Maybe.” I shrugged my shoulders. “But I don’t know why they would do that. I, I think it was someone in town who knew we were there, maybe, maybe my friend’s Dad, but that’s not important right now.” I clarified. “Dizzy told him he needed to leave, so he gave me his business card and just, left.” “Just like that?” Charlotte asked as she shot me a worried look. “Yeah.” I slowly nodded my head. “What do you think?” “Something doesn’t sound right.” She shook her head. “He sounds, creepy.” “He was creepy!” I agreed, a little louder than I intended. “Then I look at his card and he’s some kind of CEO!” I continued to shout. “He’s had money all these years, and he never sent any to my Mom??” “If the business card is even real.” Charlotte observed, sending my mind into an even bigger tailspin. “Sorry!” She quickly apologized. “You probably didn’t need that right now!” “He just seems like such a jerk.” I remarked, as I tried my hardest to ignore her past few words. “He is.” Charlotte agreed without hesitation. “So why haven’t you told Adam?” “Because he’s been through enough this past week and a half, he doesn’t need something else on his mind.” I shook my head. “Plus, I think he would freak out and I, I don’t want to deal with that right now. I just want things to be normal again.” “They will be.” She nodded as she reached out and placed her hand on mine. “But you need to tell Adam first. He, he deserves to know.” “Now you sound like Dizzy.” I complained in a sigh. “Why?” She asked, watching me closely. “How did he react?” “He was spooked.” I shook my head. “It was like when a horse sees a snake and freaks out, that kind of spooked.” “Artie.” Charlotte sighed as she heard my analogy. “Sorry,” I apologized as I tried my hardest to think of another example. “it’s like if,” “I get it.” She cut off before I could say something else she didn’t understand. “I think Dizzy has a point,” She supported as our eyes locked. “and he has pretty good instincts about this stuff, I think you should trust them.” “I trust them, and I, I feel the same.” I nodded my head. “But this, this is my birth father, am I crazy for not wanting to give up on him so quickly.” “Maybe,” She swayed her head. “but I, if I was in your situation, I’d feel the same.” She confessed as her face stayed serious. “So I should reach out?” I asked, drawing a deep sigh from her. “Not without talking to Adam first.” She warned in a stern voice. “I meant that Artie. You might have Dizzy staying quiet, but, but if you reach out to your birth dad without telling Adam, I will.” “Charlotte,” I began, but froze as her stare grew more intense. “I mean it Artie.” She said, finally relaxing in her seat. “Don’t make me do that.” “I won’t.” I quickly shook my head. “I, I’ll tell him about it soon.” “Good.” She forced a smile, but before she could say anything else the bell rang. “I love you, you know that right?” “Yeah,” I replied as I reflected her smile. “I love you too.” I smiled as we both rose to our feet. “So,” Dizzy began as he quickly worked his way over to us. “what did you two talk about?” “None of your business.” Charlotte dismissed, grabbing onto my arm before he could. “I don’t know if I believe that.” Dizzy smirked as he and Ky tried their hardest to keep up with us. “I think we had pretty similar conversations.” “Trust me, we didn’t!” Charlotte insisted as we finally lost Dizzy and Ky in the growing crowd. For the rest of the day I noticed Charlotte trying to stay close to me. I could tell she was just as worried as Dizzy has been, maybe even more! But I swear I’ll find a way to get this all under control, and thanks to her, well I’ll actually tell Adam about it. I just have to find the right time, and hope his head doesn’t explode! -- -- Baseball was a welcomed escape as I hit practice with everything I had. I have to make up for my last game, for all the mistakes I made. Our team may not be perfect, we may not even make the playoffs, but I won’t be the reason that happened. I won’t be the one holding us back. By the time practice ended and I made it back to school, I was more exhausted than I had ever been before. “You look dead.” Dizzy giggled as he walked out of the front door of the school to find me waiting at the steps. “Gee, thanks.” I forced out as I began to lead him home. “Don’t take it like that.” He smirked as he grabbed my gym bag from my hand. “Let me take that for you.” He offered before landing a kiss on my cheek. “What are you up to?” I cautiously asked as I noticed the look on his face. “I just figured I’d help.” He shrugged his shoulders. “You alright?” “Fine.” I answered with a sigh. “Just tired is all,” I complained as I felt his hand try and wrap around mine. “and uncomfortable.” I warned as I pulled my hand away from his. “Alright.” Dizzy let out as he gave me some space, but a smirk grew on his face as his eyes checked me out. “What now?” I complained, preparing for some kind of stupid joke. “I was just thinking I’m lucky.” He shrugged once more. “How can you be worn out, but so hot all at the same time?” “I thought I looked dead?” I asked, refusing to let his compliments win me over so easily. “Sure, you look tired.” He swayed his head. “But it’s like after games, I don’t know, that’s always when you’re the hottest to me.” “Adam’s probably home.” I reminded him, knowing what he was trying to get at. “I’m not trying to get laid.” He defended as he lightly bumped me with his shoulder. “I just want you to know I think you’re beautiful is all.” “Seriously?” I asked as I shot him an unamused look. “Yes, seriously.” He agreed as he landed another kiss on my cheek. “You’re the most handsome guy in all of California Arthur Price.” I shook my head as I fought off a smile and grabbed his hand. “I knew I’d win you over.” He teased. “Don’t ruin it.” I warned, this time bumping into him. He flashed me a wink, but stayed quiet for a few moments before suddenly turning back to me. “Just say it.” I groaned, knowing there was something still on his mind. “You told Charlotte about Sunday night, didn’t you?” He asked with a proud smirk. As I looked at him I let out a sigh, knowing he’d see through any lie I tried to tell. “Well you told Ky.” I answered, side stepping the question the best I could. “I didn’t.” Dizzy shook his head. “Well, I tell him we’ve been hooking up and I did say Sunday was the best sex of my life,” he quickly clarified. “but I didn’t tell him any details.” “Mhm.” I hummed, not believing a word of it. “Really.” He insisted as we reached my house. “Because I know you wouldn’t be comfortable with it.” He explained, stopping me before I could start climbing the steps. “I promise.” He smiled before stealing a kiss from my lips I let out a guilty sigh as his words sank in. “I may have told Charlotte.” I forced out as I broke eye contact. “I’m sorry, we’re just close and I, I figured you were going to tell Ky anyway.” “It’s fine.” Dizzy laughed as he leaned his forehead against mine. “I’m alright with you telling Charlotte if you need to.” He offered. “I just want you to be comfortable with it.” “With doing it, or talking about it?” I asked, unsure of his point. “Both,” He replied with a smile. “besides it’s just Charlotte. She probably just laughed and cheered you on.” He said, perfectly describing her response. “Maybe,” I shrugged my shoulders with a guilty smile. “and for the record I am getting more comfortable with it.” I offered, trying my hardest to show him the progress we’ve made. “Even though you wouldn’t take it that far yesterday?” He asked with a growing smirk. “I was sore,” I reminded him as a proud look entered his eye. “but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t looking forward to next time.” “As if the baseball pants didn’t kill me enough!” He whined as I finally led him up the stairs. “Why does Adam have to be home?” He continued to complain. “I bet now you regret acting stupid in school.” I couldn’t’ help but laugh as he let out one last groan. Yet we both froze as I pushed open the door to find Adam and Coleen sitting around the living room. “About time.” Adam remarked as they both zeroed in on us. “What’s going on?” Dizzy cautiously asked as he looked from his Mom to Adam. “Well Adam came up with a great plan this morning,” Colleen began as she stared down her son. “Artie has A’s in the classes you’re failing, and you have an A in the class Artie is struggling in. So you’re going to tutor one another.” She explained, proud of their plan. “And to make sure you’re not just doing one another’s homework, one of us will always be here to monitor you two.” Adam pointed out with a smile. “Alright.” I accepted, too tired to fight them on it. “So you two are just going to watch us do our homework?” Dizzy asked, not fully sold on their plan. “We’re just going to be more attentive than we were before,” Adam shrugged his shoulders. “and from now on homework is the first thing you’re doing when you get home.” I let out a groan as I heard those words. “Can I at least shower first?” “For all our sake, please do.” Adam dismissed as he took a long look at me. “I’m not that gross.” I defended as I headed towards the stairs. “I could smell you the second you walked in the door.” Adam shook his head as he walked towards the kitchen table. “He’s right,” Dizzy nodded his head. “you’re so dirty you probably need some help in the shower.” “Z!” Colleen shouted as she stepped forward causing Dizzy to have to avoid a swing of her hand. “How stupid are you?!” She exclaimed as he began to laugh. “Both me and Adam are here and you’re still making that joke!” “The worlds in danger!” He continued to tease. “I’m just doing my share to save water!” “Shut up with that line already.” Adam exhaled as he took a seat at the table. “You’ve made these jokes before?” Collen asked as she shot him an angry stare. “Global warming isn’t a joke Mom.” Dizzy argued, causing me to fight off some laughter as I climbed the stairs. “You’re such a fool!” She shouted at him, repeating her words from last night. “I could kill you sometimes, I swear to God I could!” I heard her yell when I was at the top of the stairs. Once more I held back some laughter as I finally made it to the bathroom. I made sure to take my time in the shower, having no rush to get back to the chaos downstairs. I mean, Dizzy will be fine by himself, right? Afterall, he is the one who caused this mess! When I finally reemerged down the stairs, I received a quick smirk from Dizzy but he quickly hid it as his Mom stared him down. “Nice of you to finally join us.” Adam remarked, staring me down as I slowly made my way towards the table. “Nice to be here.” I replied causing Dizzy to laugh. “So they’re both smartasses now?” Colleen asked, turning towards Adam. “Unfortunately.” Adam groaned as I finally reached for my backpack. “Well I’ve got news for the two of you,” Colleen began as I grabbed a textbook and sat next to Dizzy. “if Dizzy’s grades and behavior don’t improve before the end of the year, he’s not allowed to spend the night here anymore.” She warned. “and I mean that.” She emphasized, staring down Dizzy. “Yeah but,” Dizzy began. “But nothing.” Colleen cut off, now staring him down. “And that’s just the beginning, if anything gets worse there will also be less dates and spending all day here.” “You can’t be serious.” Dizzy shook his head and returned his attention to his work, not believing a word of it. “I agree.” Adam suddenly spoke up. “Dizzy, I want what’s best for you too, and if that means you have to see Artie less, I’ll support your Mom’s decision.” “Well it won’t reach that point.” I warned as I turned towards Dizzy. “Right?” “Right.” He replied, but I could tell he was holding back some anger towards Adam and his Mom. “We’ve got work to do.” He grumbled, pointing to one of his responses on the work sheet. “Does this make sense?” He asked as I began to proof read it. “If you want, you can head home and I’ll watch them the rest of today.” Adam offered as I saw Colleen nod her head out of the corner of my eye. “You sure?” She asked as she slowly stood up. “Yup.” Adam answered, leaning back in his chair. “Alright, well I’ll be back Wednesday to watch them, She nodded her head. “and Z,” she began. “you can pout and be as mad as you want, but that’s not changing anything.” She warned, heading towards the door. “It’s time we all grow up.” She said, in a confident voice. Dizzy made a face at her words and let out a groan as she left the house and shut the door. “She wants what’s best for you.” Adam clarified, beginning to stare down Dizzy. “You don’t get to fool around all the time, and get mad when she cracks down on you.” Dizzy flashed Adam an annoyed look but he simply shrugged his shoulders. “You don’t get it both ways Dizzy.” “Whatever.” He grumbled as he focused back on his homework. We spent the next hour and a half staying focused on school work. Anytime one of us would get distracted, Adam would make sure to pull us back in and make sure we stayed focused. When we finally finished up Adam made sure to check most of it over before heading back towards the living room and taking his spot on the couch. “Still annoyed?” I asked Dizzy as I noticed the look stay on his face. “I just hate being babied.” He complained as our eyes met. “You kinda did it to yourself.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Besides, we just have to outlast them. You think they want to do this every single night?” “You better be right.” Dizzy shook his head. “You better get better grades.” I corrected with a serious look. “Don’t hurt our relationship because you want to fool around in class.” “I won’t.” Dizzy agreed as he leaned in and laid a kiss on my lips. “I really do need you to be a good tutor though.” He warned. “Especially in math.” “I will be.” I nodded my head. “I’m actually pretty good at math.” “Of course, you are.” Dizzy rolled his eyes and stood up. I watched with a smile as he walked over to the couch, and let his weight fall dangerously close to Adam. “Why do you always have to do this?” Adam began to complain. “The whole damn couch, and you sit right next to me?” “I like being close to you.” Dizzy shrugged his shoulders. “It makes me feel safe.” “Didn’t you just say you’d stop goofing around!” Adam exclaimed as he turned towards him. “In school,” Dizzy argued as I stood up and headed towards the stairs. “I said nothing about at home.” Adam let out a sigh and rolled his eyes, but suddenly locked in on me as he saw me headed upstairs. “Where are you going?” “I need to grab something from my room.” I shrugged my shoulders as Dizzy stood up. “Sit back down!” Adam instructed as Dizzy went to head towards the stairs. “Not there!” Adam yelped as Dizzy sat even closer. “You told me to give you space, so I was going to Artie’s room to give you some space!” Dizzy began to tease, getting his revenge on Adam for before. “Now I know why your Mom could kill you.” Adam shook his head. “You really are a fool sometimes.” “Thank you.” I heard Dizzy reply as I disappeared back up the stairs and quickly made my way to my room. I grabbed the business card from my nightstand before nervously walking back down the stairs. The second Dizzy saw the card in my hand he straightened up and gave Adam some space. “What are you up to now?” Adam complained as he noticed how worried Dizzy’s face had grown. “I actually have something I need to talk to you about.” I began as I took a seat between Dizzy and Adam. “Alright.” Adam hesitantly agreed as the concern from Dizzy’s face spread to his. “Did something happen?” “Kind of.” I answered, gathering the last of my energy. “When, when we were in Texas, me and Dizzy ran into someone in the courthouse.” I began in a nervous voice. “You sure this is the right time?” Dizzy asked, trying to give me an out. “Yeah.” I forced a nod. “We uh, ran into a business man and he, he said I looked familiar, and gave me this card.” I finally said, anxiously offering Adam the card. “What?” Adam asked as he began to scan over the card, but the second his eyes lock in on the name I saw his face turn red. “Is this a joke?” He suddenly demanded as he turned towards me. “No.” I forced out as the anger in his eyes froze me. “He found us.” Dizzy spoke up, unsure how to read Adam’s reaction. “Swear to God.” “This is some kind of fucking joke.” Adam yelled, shocked by my revelation. “How did he find you?” Adam asked, but I shook my head, not having an answer. “I’m going to call him right now, and I, I’m getting a restraining order.” “No!” I suddenly blurted out. “No?” Adam echoed as his eyes focused in on me. “Are you insane?” “That’ my birth father.” I began to speak up. “He, he’s reaching out to me and I, I don’t want to slam the door on him without giving him a chance.” “The same way he slammed the door on your mother before you were born?” Adam asked as his anger got the better of him. “Sorry.” He forced out, but I could tell he meant what he said. “He’s right.” Dizzy agreed, just as nervous as me. “He abandoned you Artie.” “I know,” I exhaled in a sigh. “but I, I can’t just move on like this didn’t happen.” “You should.” Adam warned, unable to calm himself down. “He’s a manipulative liar. You’re better off without him in your life.” He lectured in a cold tone. “People change.” I argued as my eyes fell to the floor. “This is my birth father we’re talking about.” I forced out as I began to grow more and more upset. “And I, I want to work to forgive him or at least, try to.” “Because of your faith?” Adam asked, but once more I stayed quiet. “Well let me tell you something, if there’s a God out there, he’s yet to catch up to Ezra Green.” Adam warned. “but when He does, well you don’t want to be anywhere close.” “Are you even listening to him?” Dizzy asked, nearly worried sick over it. “I am,” I forced out, still not looking up. “but he’s not changing my mind.” I exhaled. “I want to do this through Adam, but if you’re not on board, then I’ll do it myself.” Adam let out a deep sigh as he heard those words, and pulled out his phone. “What are you doing?” I asked as he began to dial the number on the card. “Adam,” I forced out but he simply raised a finger to me. I heard the other end of the phone click on followed by a muffled “Hello.”. “Ezra?” Adam asked, anger still seeping out into his words. Once more I heard a muffled response from the other end. “I don’t know how the hell you found my nephew, but this, it’s not going to fly with me.” Adam warned in a strict voice. “I should go to the police right now with this.” He threated as I heard the muffled voice quickly shoot something back. “He’s not your son,” Adam boomed in a loud voice. “and if you want any sort of communication with him, you’ll have to go through me.” I couldn’t help but gulp and look towards Dizzy as I heard those words. “Before anything happens, you’re going to terminate your parental rights and send those forms to me.” Adam lectured, still as angry as when he first saw the card. “Second, you’re going to explain how you found him.” There was another muffled response but I could tell Adam wasn’t satisfied. “I want a name.” Adam demanded. “James Brooks?” He repeated as I felt my heart jump to my throat. “And how did he know we were in town?” “I have the answer to that.” I spoke up as Adam quickly looked to me before returning focus to his phone. “I want those parental termination papers within the week.” Adam dismissed as he hung up the phone, all while keeping his eyes on me. “How did James Brooks know we were in town?” “I was friends with his son,” I nervously shrugged my shoulders. “and we, we ran into them at their farm so I told them we had family court in Dallas.” Adam let out a deep sigh as it all began to connect in his mind. “That doesn’t explain how Ezra knew which court it was and when we’d be there.” Adam shook his head. “He must know someone on the inside, I don’t trust it Artie.” “I know.” I forced a nod and grew quiet. “We’ll talk about it more when I get those termination papers.” Adam decided, still staring me down. “But any communication you have with him is through me, do you understand that?” He asked, anger still resonating through his voice. “Yes sir.” I replied, too nervous to say anything else. “I have to go smoke.” He shook his head as he stood up from the couch and headed towards the stairs. Once more I gulped hard as I looked towards Dizzy. “You better have listened.” Dizzy shook his head. “This, this is really serious.” “I know.” I nodded, reaching out for Dizzy. He hesitated for a second, before moving in and letting me lay up against him. “Adam grew up with this guy,” Dizzy began once again. “he knows him.” “Yeah.” I exhaled with a sigh. “I just, I want to give him a chance, even if it’s a small one.” “Alright.” Dizzy let out, but I could tell he didn’t agree. As Adam came back down the stairs with a joint in his hand, I saw him focus on me one more time. “For the record I’m not angry at you.” “I know.” I nodded my head, but stayed quiet. “I’m only being so strict about this because I love you.” He explained, trying his hardest to keep eye contact. “Same goes for you and the homework thing.” He clarified as he looked over to Dizzy. “We’re just doing what’s best for you boys.” “We know.” Dizzy agreed with a forced smile. “Now go get high and calm down already, I think you’re going to burn a hole through the floor!” Adam shook his head but headed out the back door so the house wouldn’t smell. “Have you ever seen him so mad he had to smoke to calm down?” “I was just thinking this morning that I never see him mad.” I shook my head, looking back at the silhouette of the man through the glass doors. “Well I hope you know what you’re doing.” Dizzy warned in a sigh. “Me too.” I agreed, laying even more into him. If I ever want to feel like my life in Texas is fully over, if I ever want to sever all my ties to that state, it starts with making peace with my birth father. It starts with getting to know the man he was, and who he is today. I’ll listen to Adam and let him guide me through it, that should be enough, that should lead me to the other side in one piece, right? My mind went around in circles until finally the exhaustion from practice caught back up with me and I passed out in Dizzy’s arms. One way or another, things will all work out.
  2. Aceinthehole

    Knuckleheads

    Chapter 30: Knuckleheads I don’t know if Sadie could’ve predicted just how much laying under those stars again meant to me. It’s one of the last memories I have with my Mom, something I’ve thought about everyday since her passing. You might think that would make me sad, but being back here with so many people I love, it’s helping me heal that wound. I know Adam’s seen this before, but the look on his face showed just how long it’s been and Dizzy, well he seemed mesmerized. The quiet Texas sky seemed to keep us under it’s spell, until finally Sadie reminded us we needed to be up early in the morning. The ride back was silent, and when we finally arrived, well everyone fell asleep almost immediately! I wish I could say the next morning was easier on us, but visiting my Mom’s grave for the first time, it felt like even more of an emotional weight than yesterday. “You want some space?” Adam asked as we approached the grave. “Yeah,” I quietly nodded my head. “just for a few minutes.” “Take as long as you need.” Adam encouraged as he, Dizzy and Sadie walked back to the dirt path. I gave it a moment or two, but the second my eyes found my Mom’s stone I placed down the flowers we had bought and lowered to my knees. Without thinking I began saying every single prayer I had ever been taught, every prayer she had taught me. I felt water gather in my eyes a few times, but wiped it away, desperate to stay as strong as possible. When I finally ran out of prayers I couldn’t help but open my eyes again and begin studying the stone on the ground. “I miss you,” I let out without thinking. “but I’m with Adam now and he’s taking good care of me. He even reminds me of you from time to time.” I exhaled as I began to run out of words. “I want you to rest peacefully, but if you can, well I don’t know what to do about Ezra.” I spoke, keeping my voice as low as possible. “I know you’re watching over, I know you’re guiding me, so please, help me know what to do.” I wrapped up as I felt my hand land on the stone in front of me. “I love you.” There were a few more moments of silence until I heard a pair of footsteps behind me. I turned to my side to find Adam kneeling next to me. “God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” He began to pray as he placed an arm around me. He paused and looked to me, waiting to see if I’d finish the prayer. “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace, taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it,” I continued for him. “trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will, that I may be reasonably happy in this life.” Adam began to pray with me. “and supremely happy with Him, forever in the next, Amen.” “You remember that prayer?” I couldn’t help but ask, once more having to wipe water out of my eyes. “Sarah made me say it with her every single morning.” He answered, trying his hardest to keep it together. “It was always her favorite.” “We said it every morning we were together too.” I nodded as a tear finally began to escape my eyes. “I just, I thought you didn’t believe anymore.” “I’m not sure I do.” He confessed. “But every time I missed her, I would say it, and after she passed, well I’ve been saying it every morning since.” He said, causing more tears to fall from my eyes. “It doesn’t make sense why she got taken so early,” He shook his head. “but she would say it’s all part of God’s plan, that everything that’s happened, it has a reason we just don’t understand yet.” “Do you believe that?” I couldn’t help but ask. “I have to.” He answered as his emotions finally got the better of him. “Besides, she was always right when we were growing up. Every damn time. It wouldn’t be like her to be wrong.” “It wouldn’t.” I agreed as I let him pull me closer. We stayed quiet for a few minutes as we let everything sink in. I really hope you’re seeing this Mom. I hope you’re seeing that Adam is here when I need him. That he’s comforted me at every step of the way. That you made the right choice by leaving me with him. When Dizzy and Sadie finally joined us, I made sure to finally open up to Dizzy about who my Mom was. About the quiet women who held onto a strong faith, and somehow still found a way to keep Adam’s independent spirit. She may never have been as free as him, but she always dreamed of it. I hope she’s found that now, even if it meant leaving first. When we finished at the cemetery, things only grew harder as I had to say goodbye to Sadie. “I’m going to miss you so much.” I exhaled, as the tears flowed freely from my eyes now. “I know,” She exhaled, combing my hair with her hand as she held back her own tears. “but I’ll come visit in a few weeks. I swear it.” “And you’re going to visit every few months, right?” I asked, holding onto her tightly. “Of course.” She accepted. “I’m just a call away Arthur. I always will be.” “I love you.” I let out, knowing it was time to go. “I love you too.” She said, giving me one last squeeze before letting me go. “You two better look after him.” She warned Adam and Dizzy as she wiped the tears from her face. “He’s really special.” “I know.” Adam nodded as I felt his hand land on my shoulder. “We’ll keep him nice and safe for you.” “We promise.” Dizzy finished for him. “Good.” She smiled as she pulled Dizzy in for a hug, before taking a step forward to Adam and hugging him. She held onto him as she whispered a few words to him, but all I could make out was the beginning of an apology. She really meant it when she said she was wrong about him, I can tell she’s coming around for him, I can tell she’s starting to trust him again. -- -- When we finally got back in the car, the ride to the airport kept the somber tone that had grown in the cemetery. The weekend had taken its toll, and there was no doubt we could all feel it. The second I sat down in the airplane, I fell asleep and when I finally awoke well we were almost landing already! As we walked through the airport, I found myself glued to Dizzy, not because I was scared of the crowd, but because I just needed him close. I needed him to lean on. I could tell he noticed, but didn’t say anything as we made our way through baggage claim and onto BART to head downtown. Every now and again Adam would glance over to us, but I could tell he understood, and to no surprise Mason was waiting for us to do the same for Adam when we got home. When Mason saw the state we were in, he made sure not to ask too many questions, instead Adam put on a movie and once more we found ourselves falling asleep on the couch. “You alright?” Adam asked as I woke back up, and Dizzy went to the bathroom. “You’ve been hanging pretty hard on your boyfriend.” “I’m alright.” I nodded my head. “I just need some time.” “I understand.” Adam nodded his head. “Plus you’ve been doing the same since you got back.” Mason teased with a laugh. “You’re never this physical.” “It’s been a long weekend.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Well rest up, because you’ve got work tomorrow,” Mason continued to taunt. “and Lindsay will kill you if you try and take the day off.” “I know,” Adam groaned. “tomorrows going to be a long day too.” He complained. “At least you don’t have school.” Dizzy complained as he stepped out of the bathroom. “Talk about a waste of time.” “That’s what everyone says until they finish high school.” Mason warned. “Sure class is boring, but getting to spend all day with your friends and boyfriend, I’d go back to school for that.” “Yeah, yeah.” Dizzy dismissed, knowing Mason raised to good a point to argue. Adam let out a small laugh before playing another movie and letting the room grow quiet once more. The day continued like that, until finally Dizzy went home, leaving me with Adam and Mason, and as much as I enjoyed hanging out with them, well I still found a way to slip up to my room. As I locked the door behind me, I couldn’t help but finally look at the business card I had been too scared to examine yesterday. A circular logo sat at the top right corner with the name “McNeil Corporation” under it. Next to sat the name “Ezra Green” with the title of “Chief Executive Officer” under it. I couldn’t help but snicker as I saw his phone number under it. So, he was a CEO this whole time, and still didn’t reach out to my Mom? As if his suit didn’t make him look rich enough, being some big fancy business man proves it! I quickly stuffed the card into the drawer of my nightstand, already fed up with what I had seen. I can’t think about any of this right now, It’s just been way too long a weekend. Instead I picked up the book next to my bed and began to get lost in it, that is, until I got the text from Dizzy I had been waiting for. “On my way, is Adam in bed?” He texted as a smirk began on my face. I may have been worn out all day, but I didn’t forget about me and Dizzy’s night together. If I’m being honest, I’ve been looking forward to it since we planned it! He’s always held the cards for the romantic part of our relationship, tonight it’s my turn. I tried my hardest to keep reading, but I couldn’t keep my mind clear. I’m usually so good at controlling this side of me, but what can I say, Dizzy traveled all the way to Texas for me, comforted me the whole time, then gave the testimony that helped Adam keep custody. He’s just been hitting the perfect buttons recently! Suddenly I heard a quiet jiggle of my door handle as someone tried to turn the locked knob. The second I saw my phone buzz with another text from him I couldn’t help but quietly laugh to myself. I stood up and quickly stripped of all my clothes but my boxer briefs and grabbed the cowboy hat from my dresser before walking to the door and unlocking it. “Were you trying to get us caught?” Dizzy whispered as he slipped through the crack in the door and locked it behind him. He went to say something else, but as he turned to me he froze. “I uh,” He began but his words froze as a goofy grin began on his face. “I uh,” I repeated as I leaned forward and gave him a deep kiss. “I know you said you had ideas on how to celebrate,” He finally managed out. “but I didn’t know you meant it.” “I think about this kind of stuff too ya know?” I smiled, leading him back to my bed. “You sure you do?” He teased, trying his hardest to hide the surprise on his face. “Mhm.” I hummed as I went in for another deep kiss. He went to say something but before he could I pulled him down onto the bed, the same way he had with me in the past. This time, I had him exactly where I wanted him to be instead of the other way around. With every motion I took, I made sure to stay in control of our actions. All that time he took to help me feel okay with my sexuality, well I want to show him it spread to the bedroom too. “Alright, I, I need a minute.” He forced out, stopping our activities before they could grow too intense. “Already?” I teased with a smirk as our eyes connected. “No, I just, we haven’t done anything all weekend.” He shrugged his shoulders. “It’s all backed up.” “Sure.” I sarcastically replied, taking a moment to push his buttons. “You’re a piece of work, you know that?” He teased as I crawled back up to him so we could be face to face, but I stayed quiet before connected with a deep kiss on his lips. “You’re really into this tonight, aren’t you?” He managed out as he broke away from my lips. “I’m always into it,” I shrugged my shoulders. “but let’s say we’ll make tonight extra special.” I began as I crawled over to the side of the bed to find the condoms and lubricant Adam had left for me. Once again I saw shock enter Dizzy’s face as he saw just what I had been planning. “Where’d you get that?” He forced out. “Adam left it for me, he said it made him feel a bit better about me growing up.” I shrugged my shoulders. “But we, we’ve never done that before.” He remarked as I pulled the box open. “It took like, two weeks for you to even blow me.” “That was like a month ago.” I dismissed as I pulled a bright colored square out of the box. “I’m ready for this, I mean it.” He nodded his head as another dopey smile filled his face. “Besides, I trust you.” “Do you even know how to use that?” He giggled, watching me slowly tear open the wrapper. “How hard could it be?” I asked, but Dizzy laughed as he saw confusion enter my eyes once I got the latex circle free. “Look.” Dizzy instructed as he guided my hand, he went to place it on my length but I quickly shifted over to his. “Alright, now you just roll it on.” He explained, holding himself still and helping me gently place it on him. “You know, you know what putting it on me means, right?” “I know.” I forced a nod as I opened the bottle of lubricant. “And you’re sure you’re okay with that?” He asked, as surprise continued to grow on his face. “I think, I think I’ll enjoy it more like that.” I admitted as a blush grew on my face. “Me too.” He smirked as he took the bottle from me. “Why don’t I help you with that?” He offered with a growing smirk. This time I had no choice but to give control back to Dizzy. And as much fun as it was to be the one in charge, well, there’s something special about having him in the driver’s seat. He was just as gentle as our first time, making sure to check with me every step of the way. Yet when it was time, well he made sure to leave nothing behind. And when the climax came, well the past few months barely even scratched the surface of what this felt like! “Woah.” Dizzy let out as he tried to catch his breath. “You, you alright?” “Yeah.” I gulped as I started to come back down to earth. I noticed his smile widen as he noticed the mess on my stomach. “I didn’t even have to touch you.” He proudly bragged. “Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen?” I asked as he slipped out of me, and let himself fall next to me. “You wish.” He exhaled as he laid his head next to me. “I think I set the bar too high for myself on that one.” “You’re such a jerk.” I couldn’t help but laugh as pride began to emanate off of him. “You’re really that into me?” He suddenly asked as the look on his face began to change. “Well yeah,” I let out, surprised by his question. “would I have let you this close if I wasn’t?” “But still.” He shook his head, unable to wipe the smile from his face. “You’re really patting yourself on the back for this one.” I teased, unsure why he was so thrilled. “You really are naïve.” He shook his head. “It’s not just that, you, tonight, I’ve never had sex feel like this before Artie.” He exhaled as he began to grow serious. “I thought our first few times were good, but this, it’s chemistry I didn’t even know existed.” He sighed. “So I did good too?” I asked in a laugh. “Sure.” He answered, but I could tell I didn’t fully understand what he was trying to say to me. When we finally cleaned up and went to bed, I found him more physical than usual. Not just sexually either, he just seemed to really cuddle up to me. Like I had earned a new level of affection from him. -- -- The next morning when we woke up Dizzy stayed just as physical with me. Kissing and hugging me every chance he could get. “This isn’t going to fly in school.” I giggled as he snuck one last kiss before we headed down the stairs. “I can’t help it.” He groaned as I led him towards the kitchen. “You put me under some kind of spell Artie Price.” I felt another smile cover my face as I heard those words and began to read the note Adam left me. “Well this might snap you out of it.” I handed him the note as I quickly grew serious. “Artie, have a good week in school. Keep working hard and making me proud,” Dizzy began to read. “Dizzy, I heard you slip in through the front door last night.” Dizzy hesitated with a nervous laugh. “If you sneak in to spend the night with Artie again, I’m taking my key back.” “Would you stop laughing!” I exclaimed as Dizzy did his best to hide a nervous giggle. “At least you got a nice note.” Dizzy complained. “I got a threat!” “You got caught!” I corrected in a groan. “I knew I should’ve used the back door.” Dizzy shook his head. “I’ll make sure to do that tonight.” “You saw the note.” I quickly rejected. “You’re not staying in my room again for a long time.” “Artie,” Dizzy began to whine. “He’s nice enough to let you sleep on the couch whenever you want.” I interrupted in a stern voice. “We got caught, let’s not push it any further.” “Fine.” He surrendered but a smile quickly returned to his face. “What now?” I groaned as our eyes met. “I’m still under your spell.” He teased leaning forward and stealing a kiss from my lips. I rolled my eyes but quickly went back in for another kiss. “I guess that’s good.” “Mhm.” He hummed, but I had to pull him towards the door before he could try for another one. As much as I tried to act as rational as possible, well the truth is since I woke up I was feeling the exact same way as Dizzy. If I thought we were close before, well I guess I had no idea what close really meant. -- -- “Look who made it back to California alive.” Charlotte teased as we stepped into homeroom. “Congratulations.” She quickly stood up and hugged me. “Congratulations man.” Ky nodded as he reached over and gave me a strong pat on the back. “Class,” Mrs. Mowry called out as me and Dizzy took our seats. “does anyone know if their parents are not coming to parent-teacher night tonight?” I shot Dizzy a confused look as I heard her words before quickly raising my hand. “I’m not sure my Uncle knows.” I spoke up as our eyes connected. “I spoke with him last week, he said he’s coming.” She explained with a smile. “Oh, thank you.” I replied, as I tried my hardest to remember if he had told me about it. I mean, I didn’t even know it was tonight! How in the world did he? “Crap,” Dizzy groaned as he turned to me. “Adam definitely told my mom about it.” “Dizzy,” I began as I turned to him. “this school probably made sure your mom had the conference circled on her calendar.” Mrs. Mowry let out a small laugh before trying to cover it up with a cough. “She’s laughing at you!” Ky suddenly called out. “I just had a cough.” Mrs. Mowry corrected as she tried to fix how she was sitting. “Don’t lie.” Ky continued to tease. “You can laugh.” Dizzy rolled his eyes. “Artie has gotten funnier since he first moved here.” “I was funny before I met you.” I corrected as he flashed me a wink. “Dizzy why don’t you go call your mom to make sure she’s coming?” Mrs. Mowry suggested, happy to find an out. “Yeah, yeah.” He waived as he stood up, he stopped at my desk and flashed me another wink before heading towards the door. Charlotte looked at him then back to me as she picked up on the slight change in how we had been acting. “Huh.” She let out, beginning to us stare down. “We just,” “I want all the details later.” She interrupted, not even bothering to hear my excuse. “Fine.” I exhaled, but knew I would’ve told her all about it anyway. “That means you have to tell me about your date with Jose.” “It wasn’t a date.” She blushed as a smile crept on her face. “We were just,” She began to tap her fingers against the desk. “getting coffee.” “Mhm.” I hummed knowing there was much more to the story than she was telling. “Then Dizzy and me were just hanging out.” I shrugged. “Fine.” She shook her head. “We’re sitting alone during lunch and swapping stories.” “Deal!” I accepted as Dizzy wandered back into the room. “Adam told her,” Dizzy groaned as he turned back towards me. “and about the note this morning.” “You’re in trouble.” I teased, flashing him a grin. Mrs. Mowry ignored our teasing and made a note before starting to ask other students. “You’re in trouble too.” Dizzy corrected, returning the smile. “She said they’re going to make Mason check in on the two of us tonight.” “Mason has work tonight.” I shrugged my shoulders. “They’re bluffing.” “Your Mom and Adam are a team now?” Ky asked, looking over at Dizzy. “Adam hired her as his assistant.” Dizzy explained. “So I guess so.” “You didn’t tell me that!” Charlotte exclaimed as she began to stare me down again. “You better have some story during lunch.” “Story about what?” Dizzy asked with a smirk. Before anyone could say anything else the class bell rang. “Alright everyone, have a great start to your week!” Mrs. Mowry dismissed as students began to head to their first period classes. “I better get to class and see what work I missed on Friday.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Come on Charlotte, we’ll catch up on things as we go.” “Fine.” Dizzy rolled his eyes as we headed towards the door. “Wait!” He called out. “We have first period together!” He caught on but by then me and Charlotte had already disappeared into the crowd. We spent the rest of the day gossiping as much as we could. I told her all about the trip to Texas, while she told me about her date with Jose. By the sound of it, it went really well! They even had a second date over the weekend! I have to admit, at first, I wasn’t sure they would be a great match, but I guess Jose has a soft side for art! Who would’ve guessed? -- -- When school ended, Dizzy and I headed back to my house to find Adam patiently waiting there. “You boys get my note?” He asked as we dropped our backpacks by the door. “I can’t read your handwriting.” Dizzy lied with a shrug. “We got the note.” I answered, shooting Dizzy a serious look. “Sorry Adam,” I quickly spoke. “we won’t let it happen again.” “Sorry.” Dizzy agreed as he finally grew serious. “It was my fault, I talked Artie into it.” He lied once more, trying to take most of the blame. “I don’t care who’s fault it was, I can’t have you sneaking in here without me knowing.” Adam warned in a strict voice. “What if your Mom woke up looking for you? What if she called me asking where you were?” Adam lectured, trying to drive his point home. “Yeah.” Dizzy accepted with a nod. “We screwed up.” “But you knew right?” I asked, as I drew Adam’s gaze. “This time.” Adam nodded. “Who knows how many times you two have done that before.” “Yeah, but this time you knew and didn’t say anything.” I analyzed. “You easily could’ve made him sleep on the couch.” “I was too tired to get up.” He lied as he looked back towards the T.V. “Yesterday was a long day.” “Mhm.” Dizzy hummed, growing as skeptical as me. We both kept our eyes on him until finally he let out a deep sigh. “I just understood, alright?” He finally spoke. “You guys wanted to be close after everything, and this time I let it slide.” He clarified, looking back at me. “But it’s not happening again, and I mean that.” “I understand.” I quickly replied. “Thank you Adam.” “Thank you Adam.” Dizzy repeated with another grin. “Besides,” He stood up. “Dizzy’s going to be in enough trouble tonight when his teachers talk to his Mom.” “Crap.” Dizzy groaned as he leaned back in his seat. “Can I sleep here?” “She already told me to send you home if you try.” Adam shrugged his shoulders as he headed towards the stairs. “Don’t worry, I’ll order you a pizza for your last supper.” “That’s not funny!” Dizzy pouted as he sank even further in his seat. “How did you know about parent-teacher night anyway?” I asked, remembering my question from before. “I get the school emails, duh.” He teased. “I’m also all hooked up with your classes, so I can see your grades whenever I want.” “What?!” I exclaimed as I quickly looked at Dizzy. “That’s a thing?!” “Don’t they have that everywhere?” Dizzy asked, before quickly remember where I grew up. “Oh yeah, that’s a thing.” “I haven’t checked yet, so calm down.” Adam dismissed. “But we’re going over your grades tonight anyway.” He shrugged before quickly disappearing up the stairs. “Guess that pizza is both our last supper.” I muttered, joining Dizzy, lounging on the couch. “Why? An A minus got you down?” He teased as he began to lay against me. “I have a C in computer science.” I mumbled as I crossed my arms. “I pretty much do your homework for you.” Dizzy let out as he shot me a cautious look. “How do you have a C?” “I keep bombing her stupid tests.” I complained in a sigh. “Eh.” He swayed his head. “It’s still just Adam. You think he knows anything about computer science?” “He still might be mad.” I argued as our eyes connected. “Oh no, he might be mad.” Dizzy said, making sure to emphasize the uncertainty. “Plus, either way, we get the house alone to ourselves for a few hours.” “Worth it.” I cheered, drawing an immediate laugh from Dizzy. When Adam came back down the stairs he was dressed up as nicely as he could manage. He gave me and Dizzy one last lecture before warning us that Mason was stopping by to check on us and off he went. To no one’s surprise, Mason never stopped by and me and Dizzy made sure to enjoy our night alone together. “How do you even fight a dragon?” Dizzy asked as we laid back on the couch watching T.V. “I would just run.” “I don’t think you can outrun a dragon.” I skeptically replied, but before I could say anything else the front door began to open. “Here we go.” I heard Dizzy exhale as Adam and Colleen walked through the front door. “Ryan Dizzy Armstrong,” Colleen immediately began. “get your stuff, because you have a lot of explaining to do.” She boomed, shooting Dizzy such an intense look I thought the eyes would pop out of her head. “And did you apologize to Adam for last night?” “I did.” He answered but as he walked past her, still received a swat on the head. “Sorry Adam.” He forced out again. “You’ve got some explaining to do too.” Adam warned as he looked over at me. Dizzy made a face at me, but received another light swat from his Mom. “Your stupidity is spreading to him, and now you’re both knuckleheads.” She lectured as she turned back to me. “Congratulations on winning your case by the way.” “Thank you?” I forced out, unsure how to answer. “Go say goodbye.” Colleen ordered Dizzy as he walked over and landed a quick kiss on my lips. “If they find me dead tomorrow, it was my mom.” He whispered as I had to bite my lip to hold back from laughing. “Bye Adam.” Dizzy sighed. “Come on Dizzy, move your feet.” Colleen scolded as she saw how slowly Dizzy was walking. “Even now you’re acting like a fool.” She began to yell at him. “Honestly, do you not know how to act in school? Should I send you back to preschool?” She asked, as she led him out the door. “I mean, dancing whenever the teacher turns his back to the class, are you five?” She continued as she shut the door behind them. I went to laugh but quickly caught myself as I saw the look Adam was giving me. “I know I have a C in computer science, but it’s really hard for me.” I began to explain. “It’s not about that.” Adam dismissed as he took a seat on the couch. “I mean, I wish you were doing better than that, but you have A’s in everything else, and I’m pretty sure you just found out computer science is a subject last month.” He analyzed as I nodded my head. “So what’d I do?” I forced out in a nervous voice. “Almost every teacher said you talk too much.” Adam exhaled. “First teacher blamed it on Dizzy distracting you, second teacher said you and charlotte talk all class, third teacher brought up Dizzy again, fourth teacher said it was Dizzy and Charlotte,” Adam hesitated as he looked into my eyes. “you understand what I’m saying?” “Yeah.” I forced out as I thought it over. “I get it.” I accepted in a sigh. I’ve never had teachers say anything bad about me before! Hell, they usually talk about how mature I am! But now I guess things are changing, I guess I’m not exactly the same student I used to be. “Are you sure you get it?” Adam asked, as he began to scold me in a strict voice. “Because I’m not going to screw you up. Sadie told me about the type of dedication you had in Texas.” Adam continued to lecture. “Now you get here and what? You can start goofing off? How long until that starts affecting your grades?” “I don’t know.” I forced out, caught off-guard by how strict he was acting. “Well you better figure it out.” He warned in a loud voice. “Now that my custody is protected by the court, things are going to start changing around here.” He said as my heart begin to beat faster. “I won’t be the fun Uncle who just lets you do whatever the hell you please. So here’s your god damn wakeup call!” I nodded my head as I began to nervously tap my foot against the ground. “I’m sorry Adam, I, I’ll stay focused in class again,” I began, but before I could say anything Adam’s serious face began to crack. “What’s going on?” I asked as he began to laugh. “You should’ve seen your face!” Adam exclaimed through his laughter. “I got you so good!” “What?” I let out, as I tried my hardest to calm back down. “That’s what you get for goofing around in school!” He shouted, proud of the act he had put on. “So things aren’t changing?” I asked, still not quite understanding what was happening. “I mean, I guess a little,” He shrugged his shoulders. “but overall I’m pretty happy with what I heard. You have good grades, and you’re fitting in well. You just need to stop talking all class.” “So I’m not in trouble?” I had to ask once more. “Nope.” Adam rejected as he sat back in his seat. “Mason’s coming over to watch a movie if you want to stay up.” “You’re so mean!” I shouted as I nearly jumped out of my seat. “Do you have any idea how bad you scared me!” “Good.” Adam began to laugh once more. “You deserved it!” I rolled my eyes and let out another sigh as my heart rate began to return to normal again. “I’m going to bet Dizzy isn’t this lucky?” “Each teacher spoke to his mom twice as long as they spoke to me.” Adam shook his head. “I actually think she might kill him.” “I guess I wouldn’t blame her.” I teased as I thought about just how much trouble I’ve seen Dizzy start, and I’ve only been here two months! “You were scared of me.” Adam happily bragged as he turned back on the T.V. “Shut up.” I rejected as more laughter escaped his lips. “You’re a good kid Artie,” Adam finally grew serious. “I’m proud of everything I heard tonight.” “You’re serious this time?” I asked as he nodded his head. “Well aside from tonight, you’ve been a great Uncle.” “Oh please.” Adam dismissed as he waived his hand. “You could use a little tough love in your life.” “Sure.” I sarcastically agreed as I let him focus in on whatever show he wanted to watch. I can’t believe I actually fell for that! Adam suddenly getting strict with me? There’s no way that happens! I don’t even think he would know how to do it! I just hope Dizzy’s okay! By the sound of it, Colleen was not letting him off easy tonight! Then again, he’s made it this far without changing, I don’t know if there’s any punishment that could calm Dizzy Armstrong down!
  3. Aceinthehole

    Second Chance

    Thank you! I was worried the length of the chapter would throw it off, but I'm glad it worked out!
  4. Aceinthehole

    Second Chance

    His introduction was definitely odd enough to support this idea. I'm pretty sure I would've just walked away if I was Artie!
  5. Aceinthehole

    Second Chance

    😂 He probably should have!
  6. Aceinthehole

    Second Chance

    I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm about to past the next chapter within the hour, so hopefully the wait wasn't too bad!
  7. Aceinthehole

    Second Chance

    You can really see the love she has for him. It's nice to see love finally overcome hate in that town.
  8. Aceinthehole

    Second Chance

    Perhaps he was worried that would make Artie hate him
  9. Aceinthehole

    Second Chance

    I guess they're not clever enough to have come up with a good enough trick, plus their lifetime of hatred seems to have caught up with them during the case.
  10. Aceinthehole

    Second Chance

    I think she's another hero of this chapter. I just wish people in town would follow her example.
  11. Aceinthehole

    Second Chance

    It's definitely too odd to just be a coincidence, especially with how weird he was acting.
  12. Aceinthehole

    The Letters

    I'm really glad you're enjoying the story, and especially the characters! I went back and I think I've corrected the rest of the name mistake, thanks for pointing out some ones I've missed!
  13. Aceinthehole

    Second Chance

    Chapter 29: Second Chance The next few days I tried my hardest to hold onto that feeling from Monday night. Those quiet nights in with Dizzy, Adam and now Mason, those are what I look forward to most when Adam wins custody. There’s just something special about them, something that makes us feel like a family. Sadie tried her best to calm me down too, but at the end of the day I’m not sure if it made me feel better, or gave me something new to worry about! “Hey Artie,” I heard her cheerful voice sound through the phone. “how are you doing?” “I’m alright,” I began in a nervous voice. “I-I’m actually flying out to Texas in a few days.” “Oh, are you now?” She asked in a playful voice, figuring I was just joking around. “Yeah.” I replied as the nerves stayed in my voice. “You were right, my grandparents filed for custody.” “Oh.” She exhaled before growing quiet for a few moments. “How are you handling that?” “I don’t know, I, I really don’t want to leave California.” I stuttered, scared of how she would take my answer. “You’re happy there?” She asked, but I could tell she already knew the answer. “Yeah,” I quickly replied. “it’s so amazing here, I can’t go back to Texas. I can’t go back to living like that.” I let out before catching myself. “Sorry.” “It’s alright,” She supported. “I don’t know what’s happened to you, but before you moved you never wanted to leave Texas. Now, now you’re scared to even come back.” She complained in a sigh. “But you sound happy there, like really happy and that, it’s what Sarah wanted.” “So you’re not mad?” I couldn’t help but ask. “Mad?” She repeated in a light voice. “How could I be mad that you’re happy Arthur? That’s what I’ve been praying for every night.” “Thank you.” I said as I felt a sigh of relief escape my lips. “Now where are you staying when you fly in?” Sadie asked, beginning to shift topics. “I can’t have you staying in some run-down hotel!” “I don’t know, Adam’s not telling me much. He thinks I’ll worry less if he keeps it to himself.” I answered, trying to recall anything he had let slip. “But I’m pretty sure he said the case is in some Dallas County Family Court.” “Well Dallas is only like an hour away.” She began to argue. “You get Adam in here, I want to speak to him.” “Are you sure about that?” I asked, surprised by her sudden enthusiasm. “Absolutely positive.” She replied as her mind began to race. I placed the phone on speaker and dropped it on my bed before walking towards my bedroom door. “Adam!” I shouted as I pulled the door open. “Adam!” “What?” He shouted back, but before I knew it, I heard him rushing up the stairs. “You okay?” He asked, concern covering his face as he made it to the hallway. “I’m fine.” I answered, having to hold back some laughter. “Sadie just wants to talk to you.” “Don’t scare me like that.” Adam warned as he followed me into my room. “You’re gonna give me a heart attack.” “Running up the stairs while you’re out of shape is going to give you a heart attack.” I corrected as he shot me a serious look. “Alright, we’re back.” I announced to the phone on my bed. “Adam,” Sadie instantly began. “where in Texas are you planning on staying?” “I don’t know,” He answered with a shrug. “probably some place in Dallas close to the court house.” “Don’t be stupid.” She warned, immediately shooting down the idea. “You’re going to stay at my house. Dallas is an hour drive, but it’ll be free and you’ll get some good home cooked food.” “That’s very nice of you Sadie,” Adam began, trying to figure out a polite way to say no. “You’re not weaseling your way out of this Adam.” Sadie interrupted in a strong voice. “Save your money and stay with me.” “Money’s not really all that tight,” Adam began to tease, taking the opportunity to push Sadie’s buttons. “Well good for you.” She sarcastically cheered. “Save it for Artie’s college. I’ll get the spare room and couch ready.” “I know it’s far,” I began looking over to Adam. “but it’d be nice staying somewhere I know.” Adam nodded but quickly muted our end of the line. “But what about Dizzy?” He asked as my face began to blush. “You’re going to take him to Sadie Barnes’ house?” “Crap.” I groaned as he unmute the phone. “I’m sorry Sadie,” Adam exhaled as he looked from me to the phone. “we really can’t.” “I’ll drive you if you need it.” She offered, trying to come up with any way she could to make Adam feel okay with it. “Please Adam I,” She hesitated as she thought over her next few words. “It’s been months since I’ve seen Artie, and I don’t know when I’ll get to see him again.” This time it was my turn to let out a sigh as I heard her words. “I’m bringing a friend though, we just don’t know if you have space for him too.” I announced as Adam shook his head. “I have space.” Sadie quickly let out. “We can totally squeeze in here. It’ll be nice and cozy.” “Alright,” Adam finally caved, not having the heart to tell her no. “we’ll stay at your place.” “Thank you, Adam.” I let out with a smile. “You won’t regret it.” Sadie chimed in. “I’ll make sure it feels like home!” “Lovely.” Adam groaned as he made a sour face. “I’ll let you two go and start getting ready, when do you fly in?” Sadie excitedly asked. “Friday morning, then we fly out Sunday morning.” Adam answered in a confident voice. “All three of us.” “Well good.” She cheered as the excitement peaked in her voice. “I’ll take Friday off and see you then!” “See you then!” I repeated as she ended the call. “That’s a bit of a hole you’ve dug yourself.” Adam observed as our eyes connected. “You don’t give Dizzy enough credit. “ I shrugged with a forced smile. “He’ll behave himself.” “You better hope so.” Adam shook his head. “My plan was to keep us in Dallas, not where we grew up.” “It’ll be a nice trip down memory lane.” I encouraged as I forced my smile wider. “I’ll try and remember that.” He rolled his eyes. --- --- When I broke the news to Dizzy, I could tell he understood but for some reason, that didn’t make me feel any better. I can’t afford for him to slip up, I can’t afford to slip up! Sadie can’t know we’re dating, I, I don’t know if I can handle that right now! We just have to take things one step at a time. Worst case, I’ll just try and keep Dizzy quiet the whole time. That won’t be too hard, right? These anxious thoughts seemed to follow me into the next few days, until finally I found myself on the flight to Texas. As I looked back at the San Francisco airport, I couldn’t help but think back to my first time there. How the crowd scared me so much, I couldn’t even move! I’ve changed so much since then, I’ve grown so much. I won’t let myself fall back into the person I was in Texas. I won’t forget everything I’ve learned here. Every now and again Dizzy would grip my hand, but I could tell his focus was more on the music in his ears than anything else. As for Adam, well he was fast asleep! I guess this week has hit him as hard as me. When we finally touched down, found our luggage and got into the rental car I couldn’t help but feel a noticeable tension in the air. “Alright,” Adam began as we began to drive into suburban Texas, leaving the city of Dallas in our rearview mirror. “this weekends going to be a little rough, but we have to band together here. Everything will be perfectly fine if we cover each other’s backs.” “So no flirting with or kissing Artie.” Dizzy nodded his head. “Not even if he’s being cute.” He announced as Adam let out a sigh. “You sure you made the right call?” Adam asked as I turned to Dizzy and noticed him begin to play around with his phone. “I don’t know.” I teased, knowing what was about to come next. I watched patiently as Dizzy messed around with his phone for a few more minutes before looking up and watching the suburban neighborhoods turn into quiet plains. “Woh, woh,” Dizzy let out in a gasp. “where did all the people go?” “Welcome to Texas.” I announced with a proud smile “What do you mean welcome to Texas?” Dizzy repeated as he turned back to me. “There’s nothing here!” “Beautiful, ain’t it?” I teased as it all began to connect in his brain. “So my phones not breaking?” He asked, finally putting it down. “There’s just barely any service?” I couldn’t help but laugh as I saw panic starting to rise in his eyes. “You get service, it just depends where you are.” I swayed my head. “But where we’re going, you’re not gonna get service.” Dizzy let out a long groan as he threw his head back and stared at the roof of the car. “All that screen time isn’t good for you anyway.” Adam began to lecture. “I may not love all of Texas, but man, there’s just something about this state that gets me sometimes.” “How could you not?” I asked, looking out the window. “Look at that! Just miles and miles of nothing but God’s creation.” “Here we go.” Dizzy rolled his eyes. “You know, we have miles and miles of nothing in California too?” “Well it’s not as special as this.” I smiled, refusing to look anywhere else. “Can you at least put on the radio?” Dizzy complained in another groan. “None of my music is playing.” “Didn’t I tell you to download it?” Adam began to lecture once more. “I was going to, but then the plane had free Wi-Fi, and I didn’t want to waste any space.” Dizzy explained, reaching forward to hit the radio himself. “I’ll do it,” Adam insisted, swatting his hand away. “and this should teach you to listen to me more.” “Yeah, yeah.” Dizzy groaned as Adam finally clicked on a station and country music began to blast through the speakers. “Please no.” Dizzy shook his head as he slouched down in his seat. “Can’t you connect your phone?” “I’ve gotta save battery.” Adam rejected as Dizzy looked at me. “I don’t have music on mine.” I shook my head. “Just enjoy Texas.” “This is how Artie felt when he moved from Texas to California.” Adam observed as he used the mirror to lock eyes with Dizzy. “Maybe this will help you understand him better.” “If I don’t die from boredom first!” Dizzy complained in a loud voice before finally falling quiet again. From there it didn’t take long to get to my hometown, but I could tell the quiet rural town only put Dizzy into a deeper state of shock. “This is where you grew up?” Dizzy asked in a quiet voice. “Yup.” I proudly replied as my eye quickly darted all over the small town. It’s as though time stands still here, as though nothing has changed. Then again, I hadn’t expected it to. I looked to Adam and noticed him shaking off a similar expression as we slowly drove through the center of town. “What do you think?” I couldn’t help but ask Dizzy. “There’s just, nothing” He remarked as the culture shock only hit harder. “Mhm.” I agreed but stayed quiet, allowing Dizzy to take it all in. “How many people live here?” He finally forced out as Adam turned down a side street. “Maybe like, five thousand people.” I shrugged my shoulders. “If that.” “Holy crap.” Dizzy exhaled as Adam finally found Sadie’s driveway. “Welcome to Texas.” Adam smirked, enjoying the quiet shock Dizzy was in. I noticed the front door to her small house swing open the second Adam opened his car door. “Arthur Price.” She called out as she saw me take a step out of the car. “It’s been a while.” She remarked with a wide smile on her face. The second both my feet hit the ground I rushed over and wrapped my arms around her. “I’ve missed you like you were my own.” She exhaled as she held me tight. “I’ve missed you too.” I forced out, holding on for a few more moments before finally letting go. “Adam.” Sadie greeted as she looked over at him. “Sadie.” Adam replied as she reached out a hand and he shook it. “This is my friend Dizzy.” I announced, trying to squash any awkward tension before it could grow. “Dizzy?” Sadie repeated as she looked over at him. I could tell she nearly jumped back as she got her first good look at him. From the way he dressed, to his intricate haircut, I know she’s never seen anyone like him around this town. “You’re certainly a city child, aren’t you?” “Yup,” Dizzy answered, managing some pride of his own. “and so far Texas is terrifying.” “You get used to it.” She swayed her head. “Now come on, lunch is ready.” “Lunch? I already like you.” Dizzy teased as the shock seemingly began to wear off. “Here we go.” Adam sighed to himself as we all grabbed onto our luggage and made our way inside. “Arthur and Dizzy, you’ll be sharing the spare room if that’s alright.” Sadie announced as she led us into the hallway. “Adam you’ve got the couch” Dizzy flashed me a quick smirk before trying his best to hide it. “Sadie,” Adam quickly began. “I don’t know,” “Oh please.” She interrupted with a roll of her eyes “The couch is comfortable so I don’t even want to hear your whining.” “Yeah Adam,” I said, trying to hold back laughter of my own. “no whining.” Adam shot me and Dizzy a stern look, seemingly getting his message across with no words needed. “You gotta watch those two though.” Adam finally spoke. “They’re trouble makers.” “Not my Arthur.” Sadie rejected as she threw her arm around me. “Now come on, let’s go eat.” She encouraged, leading us back towards the kitchen. “Your getting taller already?” She teased as we reached the table. “You’re already bigger than me!” “Don’t worry, it’ll end soon.” I smiled, looking over at Dizzy to make sure he was adjusting all right. Yet I couldn’t help but notice him distracted by a picture on the wall. “You like that one?” Sadie asked, noticing the same thing as me. “That’s me, Artie and his Mom when he was little.” Dizzy nodded but I noticed a question forming in his eyes. “Was he always so, mature?” He asked, looking over to Sadie. She let out a small laugh and nodded her head. “We always had to remind him to be a kid growing up.” I noticed her smile fade as she thought something over. “You making sure to do that?” She asked, glancing over to Adam. “Yeah.” Adam replied but looked over at Dizzy. “Besides, I think this ones taught him well enough.” “You really a trouble maker?” Sadie asked, as we all looked at Dizzy. “Artie prefers to call me adventurous.” Dizzy answered with a grin. “I said that once,” I defended in a laugh. “and it immediately went to your head!” “Still said it.” Dizzy shrugged, keeping the grin on his face. “So he’s like you then?” Sadie asked as she glanced to Adam. “Me?” Adam repeated as he began to blush “Oh I, I don’t know about that.” “He is.” I confirmed. I may not have known Adam when he was young, but from all the stories I’ve pieced together, well him and Dizzy would’ve been best friends growing up! “What was Adam like as a kid?” Dizzy couldn’t help but ask. “Trouble.” Sadie quickly answered. “Every single time we hung out, it ended in trouble.” “I still think you needed the push.” Adam shrugged his shoulders. “Remember the cornfield maze?” “How could I forget?” Sadie sighed. “Adam blind folded me and Sarah, and forced us in the middle of a cornfield to find our way out.” “Oh please,” Adam began to dismiss. “I was in there too.” “To scare us!” Sadie exclaimed in a laugh. “Yeah.” He swayed his head. “Mr. Milton was so angry with us, made me work on his fields the whole next summer.” “Your prank destroyed some of his crops!” Sadie exclaimed with a shake of her head. “It was worth it.” Adam shrugged his shoulders. “What else did Adam do?” I couldn’t help but ask. “One story was enough.” Adam forced out, but I could tell Sadie had other plans. The rest of lunch was filled with Sadie telling us stories about Adam growing up. From more pranks on her and his sister, to him having some blowout fight with the local priest about whether God could’ve been a woman or not! Adam might have been kicked out for being gay, but along with vandalizing the church, I think there were many other reasons everyone here hated him! “Alright,” Dizzy started as the last of the stories ended. “I might get in trouble, but I don’t get in that much trouble!” “That’s because you live in a city.” Adam shrugged his shoulders. “It’s a small town, it was my job to entertain everyone.” “I don’t know, we may live in a city but Dizzy still tries to be the entertainment.” I teased looking over at him. “Only because you like it so much.” Dizzy shrugged, and went to say something else but quickly caught himself. “My first day of school he crawled through the classroom window.” I explained, looking over at Sadie. “He did what?!” Adam exclaimed, focusing in on Dizzy. “I was late to school and the doors were locked.” Dizzy rationalized. “It was either get a detention at the front office or take my chances with the window.” “And how’d that end for you?” I giggled as our eyes connected. “I got detention,” Dizzy sighed. “but at least I got this great story out of it.” “And I got some introduction to you.” I shook my head. “You know, Principal Wright told Ky to keep me away from you.” “I bet Ky wished he had listened to that.” Dizzy teased drawing a loud laugh from me. “That’s a low blow.” I shook my head as we both began to get lost in the moment. “Maybe I wish I listened.” I let out, before having to quickly catch myself like Dizzy had. Sadie looked to Dizzy then me as she began to work something over in her mind. “You think city life has changed him?” Adam spoke up, trying to stop Sadie from reading too much into our exchange. “We used to have to load Artie up on sugar to get him this loud.” Sadie shook her head. “He’s really come out of his shell, hasn’t he?” “Oh yeah.” Adam laughed as he took another look at me. “Who would’ve guessed?” Dizzy went to say something, but bit his tongue worried about what would come out. I noticed Sadie watch me closely before glancing over to Dizzy then back to Adam. “If you want, I can testify for you in court.” She suddenly suggested. “You know, if you need the support.” “Really?” Adam asked as a wide smile began on his face. “You and that smug grin” She complained in a sigh. “But I’m doing it for him. He just, he seems really happy with you.” “I was happy here with you and my Mom.” I spoke up, not wanting her to get the wrong idea. “I know,” She nodded her head. “but when everything happened, well that’s a big blow to take.” She shook her head. “And somehow, somehow you’ve come out of it better than before.” “These two were pretty good at putting the pieces back together.” I shrugged my shoulders. “They better continue to be.” She warned as she looked back to Adam. “I know your address, and I won’t hesitate to fly to California just to kick your butt.” She quickly turned towards Dizzy and forced eye contact with him. “That goes for you too.” “Message received.” Dizzy played along, pretending to be intimidated. “So then,” Adam began in a nervous voice. “would you mind repeating that to a judge tomorrow?” I watched as he nervously began to tap his fingers against the table, trying his hardest to stay on top of all the doubts within his head. “You think that’ll help?” She asked as Adam quickly nodded. “Then I’ll do it.” She said as a weight fell off of Adam’s shoulders. “But for the record, I’m still not your biggest fan. I just want what’s best for Artie.” “You love me.” Adam began to press her buttons. “You know you do.” “I’d love you a lot more if you ran to the store and picked me up some more eggs for tonight.” Sadie dismissed in a partially joking tone. “I can go do that.” Adam nodded his head. “Seriously?” Sadie asked, taken back by how quickly he had agreed to help. “Sure.” Adam shrugged his shoulders and stood up. “Can I come?” Dizzy excitedly asked. “I guess.” Adam groaned, now more hesitant about the trip than before. “I’m gonna stay here and help clean up.” I said as they both looked at me. “Your loss.” Dizzy teased. “I heard town is where all the action is.” “Oh yeah,” I nodded my head. “So much action.” Sadie watched as they both slipped their shoes on and disappeared out of the door. “I guess you’re not the only one who’s grown up.” “You don’t give Adam enough credit.” I defended as I helped her clear the table. “He’s a lot more responsible than a lot of the men I’ve met around here.” “I hope so.” She encouraged as she took a seat at the table. “You don’t want to start the dishes?” I asked in a cautious voice. “I want to talk to you for a few minutes.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I meant it when I said you seem really happy with him.” “I am.” I confirmed as I took a seat across from her. Yet, as I sat down I noticed there was something she had in mind. Something that had begun to eat away at her. “You seem like you’ve got a really good friend there too.” She encouraged, seeing what I’d say. “I do.” I let out as my heart began to beat a little faster. “He and his other friends really welcomed me in to California. It’s like we all got really close right away.” “That’s good.” She forced a smile on her face. “But you and Dizzy, you’re especially close, aren’t you?” “I don’t know.” I gulped as my heart began to race. She hesitated for a few moments as she thought it all over. “Do you like him?” She finally asked. “Sure, he’s my friend.” I tried to side step the question. “Arthur, you know what I meant.” She pressured, causing me to immediately look down at the table in front of me. “I want Adam.” I suddenly forced out, refusing to look up. “What?” She asked, caught off-guard by my words. “I want Adam.” I repeated, as my heart beat so fast it felt like it was going to explode. “Why?” She asked, but I stayed quiet. “It’s alright Arthur.” She tried to comfort but my eyes stayed on the table. “Do you think I’m going to be upset?” She asked but got nothing back. “Look,” She exhaled, trying her hardest to get eye contact. “I know, I know what happened with Adam, and I’m sure that scares you, but I, you think I wasn’t going to notice the chemistry between you two boys?” She asked. “You think I wasn’t going to notice the way you look at one another?” I shook my head but didn’t say anything. “I, I don’t know if that’s right or wrong,” She finally spoke again. “and thank God that’s not up to me. But I saw where rejection got Adam, and I saw what that did to Sarah.” Her voice began to shake as her emotions peaked. “And damn it Arthur, I don’t want to lose you!” She shouted as the first few tears fell from her eyes. “If you’re gay, you’re gay.” She shook her head. “That might be something I have to work to accept, but I love you and I’m not letting anything get in the way of that.” “But you, but you hated Adam.” I let out, finally looking up at her as water pooled in my own eyes. “People grow Arthur.” She managed out as I finally looked into her eyes. “Maybe I was wrong for that, maybe, maybe I was right, but I’ve seen what hate does to families and I won’t let that happen again. Not to mine.” She pulled me in for a hug as she held me for a few moments as our emotions began to settle. “Would my Mom have felt the same?” I let out through sniffles. “I can’t speak for her, but I know she would’ve never stopped loving you.” Sadie shook her head. “Besides, she left you with Adam because she knew he could give you something she never could.” She forced another smile on her face as she saw confusion in my eyes. “Freedom Arthur.” She answered. “You’re free from this way of life. From all the weight this small town puts on people. She wanted that for you, even if she was too scared to get it for herself.” “You think so?” I couldn’t help but ask. “I know it.” She confirmed in a confident voice. “Maybe it would take time to accept, but she would be proud of you Arthur. I promise you that.” “I love you Sadie.” I let out as I pulled her in for another hug. “I love you too.” She replied, holding me close. When Sadie finally let me go, and we started actually cleaning up from lunch I could feel a change in how she was looking at me. Not in a bad way or anything, it just felt like she was a lot more reflective than before. As for me, it felt like another weight was removed from my shoulders. I mean, we should’ve known she would figure it out! Sadie’s practically a second mother to me! But still, her acceptance, her love, it means the world to me. We tried our hardest to enjoy some of the only alone time we would get, but before we knew it Adam and Dizzy were pounding on the front door. “How’d you like town?” Sadie asked Dizzy as she pulled the door open. “Please don’t get him started.” Adam groaned as he handed Sadie a small bag of groceries. “You guys didn’t tell me everyone in there would have a gun!” Dizzy exclaimed, concern still covering his face. “How do you leave that out?” “Not everyone had a gun.” Adam rolled his eyes. “I saw at least eight people with a gun on their belt!” Dizzy continued to shout. “You know how many people in San Francisco I see grocery shopping with guns? None!” “That’s just the way of life around here.” I shrugged as Dizzy began to stare me down. “Are you all insane?” He asked, falling into one of the seats at the table. “Do you guys have duels in the streets too?” “You’re in a farming town.” Sadie tried to explain. “Some people here live on the outskirts of town where it would take the police a while to reach them, or they’re worried about predators attacking their livestock.” “Yeah, but he’s got a point.” Adam finally spoke up. “You need them at home or on your farm, fine, but at the grocery store?” “They probably forgot they’re even carrying.” I argued, looking back at the both of them. “That makes me feel better.” Dizzy sarcastically replied. “Adam, you lived here how long?” Sadie asked as their eyes connected. “How many times did you hear that a stranger shot another stranger over nothing?” “All it takes is one incident.” Adam answered without hesitation. “I just get where Dizzy’s coming from.” “I get it too,” Sadie supported. “but you could at least let him know town is safe.” “If it helps at all, the only times I’ve heard a gun fire is when someone is hunting or doing target practice.” I explained, but I could tell Dizzy was still on edge. “Texas is so much different than California.” Dizzy shook his head, ready to move on with the conversation. “How’d you even adjust so quickly?” “I think you forget his first couple of weeks there.” Adam said as his gaze shifted over to me. “He was scared of even getting on a bus at first.” “I was not, it was just, intimidating.” I defended, trying my hardest to recall all the details from my first few days in California. “So how’d you get over that?” Dizzy pried, as all their eyes fell one me. “You kind of forced me to.” I shrugged my shoulders. “You just kept taking me around the city, and I don’t know, it started to feel normal.” I saw a smile begin on Sadie’s face as she heard those words. “Then maybe you could show me around Texas?” Dizzy asked as he raised his eyebrows. “No!” Adam tried to quickly to shoot him down. “Just to the creek?” I asked but he shook his head no. “It’s just a few minutes away, right outside Mr. Brooks farm.” “They’ll be fine.” Sadie argued, drawing a sigh from Adam. “Artie grew up around here, what are you so worried about?” “I just don’t want the two of them roaming around Texas alone.” Adam explained as he watched me and Dizzy begin to slip our shoes on. “It’s just complicated.” “Because they’re dating?” Sadie asked, managing to finally fit her newfound knowledge into conversation. “Dating?” Adam repeated as he shot me a panicked stare. “We’re not dating.” Dizzy tried to shoot down. “I’ve got a girlfriend back home.” “You do?” I asked in an unamused voice. “It’s alright,” Sadie tried to comfort as both Dizzy and Adam began to panic. “me and Artie spoke about it while you guys were out.” “You told her?” Adam asked, quickly looking over at me. “He didn’t tell me anything.” Sadie dismissed. “I’ve known that boy since before he could walk, you thought I wouldn’t notice when he’s head over heels for someone?” “She’s got a point.” I shrugged my shoulders. “That’s why I didn’t want to stay here!” Adam exclaimed, now in full panic mode. “Alright, don’t get all excited.” Sadie exhaled. “It may take some time, but it’s alright with me.” “Really?” Dizzy asked, shocked by her words. “For Arthur? Of course!” Sadie answered without hesitation. “It’s bad enough I never really get to see him anymore. How could I kick him out of my life for good?” “You know what this means?” Adam let out as it all began to connect in his mind. “It means I love my family, and I’m not letting anything stop that.” Sadie insisted, not wanting to hear anything else. “You’re taking this really well.” Dizzy skeptically pried. “Even some city people freak out when they hear their kid is gay.” “Maybe if I hadn’t lost so much already, I would too,” Sadie shrugged her shoulders. “but I’m not losing my best friend and her son within three months.” “You didn’t seem very surprised though.” I spoke up, seeing what else I could learn. “Like I said, I’ve known you since you were a baby.” Sadie exhaled, looking to Adam for some help in the conversation. “What’s that mean?” I couldn’t help but ask. “I don’t know.” She forced a laugh as she tried her hardest to play dumb. “Sadie.” I let out as I began to stare her down. “It means most teenage boys don’t come home and tell their Mom their friend’s swimsuit calendar is inappropriate.” Sadie finally answered, drawing a loud laugh from Dizzy. “That’s so Artie!” Dizzy cheered with a proud smile. “So then Sarah,” Adam led, unsure what to make of the story. “Thought Artie was a very naive and innocent boy.” Sadie finished for him. “We never spoke about sexuality. Although, it was in the back of my mind, especially after everything with you Adam.” “You’re so bad at hiding it.” Adam shook his head as his eyes landed back on me. “How did you even fool yourself for so long?” “I don’t know.” I mumbled as I began to fall into my own head. “I just didn’t think about it I guess.” “Until you got to California,” Dizzy teased with a smirk. “and you had two boys fighting over you.” “He had what?!” Sadie exclaimed as she quickly looked to Adam. “He’s a heartbreaker.” Adam shrugged his shoulders. “What do you want me to say?” “That’s a story for another day.” I finally managed out in a clear voice. “You knowing I’m dating Dizzy is enough for now.” “Alright.” Sadie agreed, willing to give me as much time as I needed. “But you two aren’t sharing the spare room anymore. That’s for sure.” “I tried to tell you.” Adam teased as he formed a smile of his own. “You told me no whining.” “And you still almost let it happen!” Sadie shouted as she began to scold him. “Are you out of your mind?” “You wouldn’t let me say anything else!” He argued back. “Well you could’ve found a way.” She insisted as Dizzy and I began to sneak out of the house. “You two be safe and come back before supper, I’m not going to be your best friend the way Adam is.” “I’m not their best friend.” Adam tried to debate but we slipped out before we could hear any more of their argument. “Yes he is.” Dizzy laughed as we walked down the old dirt side street. “What do you think of all that?” “Of Adam being our best friend?” I teased, taking a moment to push his buttons. “You know what I mean.” Dizzy sighed as our eyes connected. “I think I’m lucky,” I let out, unsure what else to say. “and I think we did a bad job of keeping our secret.” “You’re the one that got all flirty!” He tried to defend. “You did it first!” I laughed as our eyes met. “I’m just glad we can be ourselves around her now.” He nodded his head but took another long look at me. “You two are really close, aren’t you?” “Well yeah,” I confirmed as my smile grew. “she helped raise me.” “She did a good job.” He bucked me with his shoulder as he caught my smile. “Watch it.” I warned in a laugh. “Trust me, we don’t want the whole town finding out. Especially with court tomorrow morning.” “Yeah.” He exhaled as he nodded his head. “Are you still nervous?” “A little bit.” I confessed in a sigh. “Well don’t be.” He tried to comfort. “If Sadie helped raise you, and is saying Adam should keep you, that’s pretty damn powerful.” “That’s true.” I nodded, as his words began to calm me down even more. “But for now, I want to see where you grew up.” He smiled, bumping me one last time with his shoulder. “Well right there is the house I grew up in.” I pointed out as I saw the old trailer in the distance, but felt sadness begin to set in as we grew closer to it. “It’s alright.” Dizzy supported as he picked up on the emotion in my voice. “We don’t have to do this if it’s too hard on you.” “No, I, I’m okay.” I forced out as I finally forced my eyes away from the trailer. “Besides, right up here is the woods and creek I used to play in as a kid, and then the farm behind it is the one I worked on.” “And all your beloved chickens.” Dizzy teased, trying his hardest to help me crack another smile. “And all the chickens.” I played along as I helped lead him into the woods. “You see, outside of cities we have these crazy things called trees. We didn’t even plant them, they just started growing here.” “Alright.” Dizzy rolled his eyes as I began to pull him through the woods. “And right here,” I paused as we heard the sound of running water. “is the creek. I know it might be shocking to find water without an ocean nearby, but they do exist.” “You know we have forests and rivers and lakes in San Francisco too, right?” Dizzy asked shooting me an unamused look. “You got snakes too?” I asked, pointing at a long reptile slithering through the running water. “Shit!” Dizzy exclaimed as he jumped behind me. “Shouldn’t we like run or something?” He asked “Maybe.” I shrugged taking a step forward to get a closer look. “Maybe?” Dizzy repeated in an alarmed voice. “We’re fine.” I dismissed as I turned back towards him. “It’s just a blotched water snake. It’s not venomous.” “How do you know that for sure?” Dizzy asked, nervousness still in his voice. “Look at it.” I began to teach. “That blotchy pattern on it’s back and side don’t connect,” I lectured as the snake finally began to slither through the water and past us. “and most importantly its tail isn’t black.” “That means almost nothing to me.” Dizzy shook his head, unable to fully relax. “Well a copperhead has blotches that connect all the way through, and a cottonmouth has a black tail.” I explained as our eyes connected. “That snake won’t hurt us, it’s just looking for frogs or fish.” “It’ll find that in water this shallow?” Dizzy asked, watching the snake disappear into the distance. “Probably more frogs than fish.” I smiled, happy to have had the chance to show off some of the knowledge my mom and Sadie had taught me. “So like, are we in danger out here?” Dizzy forced out, worried his question was stupid. “Maybe a little bit, but I’ve never had anything attack me out here.” I answered the question, trying my hardest not to downplay what he was feeling. “Biggest concern would be snakes or spiders, but I don’t think we’ll have a problem.” He went to say something else, but before he could we heard the galloping of horses in the distance. “Hold on.” I hushed as I began to naturally move towards the sound. “That’s it, Artie.” Dizzy sarcastically cheered. “Let’s walk through the snake infested water!” “I told you to bring boots, didn’t I?” I teased, but knew I couldn’t stop myself. Dizzy nervously followed along until finally, we found ourselves at a wooden fence at the edge of a large plain. “That’s the farm you worked on?” Dizzy asked, pointing at the buildings in the distance. “Yeah.” I forced out, but my eyes were on the two horses and their young riders close by. “Hey!” I let out in a loud shout as I forced myself against the fence. “Hey!” I shouted even louder as I finally grabbed a rider’s attention. “Is that Artie Price?!” I heard one of them excitedly shout as the two horses began to race towards us. I noticed Dizzy take a step back as the horses grew closer, then flinch as they made a last minute stop at the fence. “Well Howdy there Mr. Price.” Zach teased as he got a good look at me. “Didn’t expect to see you back around these parts again.” “Yeah, I thought you’d be too busy with your new life in the city.” Sam agreed, but I noticed them both hesitate as they looked over at Dizzy. “Who’s this?” “This is one of my friends from San Francisco.” I happily introduced. “Dizzy, these are my best friends from Texas, Sam and Zach, Sam and Zach this is my friend Dizzy.” “Hey.” Dizzy forced out, taking a long look at both of them. “So he’s a yankee?” Zach teased, looking over at Sam. “Oh yeah.” I quickly nodded my head. “A water snake nearly had him running back to California.” They both let out a laugh before looking back at me. “So what are you doing here? You moving back to Texas?” “I hope not.” I confessed, as they began to shoot me strange stares. “My grandparents are trying to get custody back, so we’ve got family court in Dallas tomorrow.” “And you don’t want to move back to Texas?” Zach asked in a surprised voice. “It’s time for me to move on.” I shrugged my shoulders. “I’ve got a new life now.” “With your uncle?” Sam asked, but this time I could feel disgust in his voice. “With my uncle.” I confirmed, trying my best to hold strong. “There were rumors that went around after you left.” Zach tried to explain. “I heard he was some sort of devil worshiper.” “He vandalized the church you know?” Sam asked as the conversation took a less friendly turn. “That’s just gossip.” Zach tried to shoot down. “No it ain’t.” Sam argued in a confident voice. “My Dad swore to it.” “He’s not a devil worshiper.” I finally forced out. “He just doesn’t think the way people around here do.” “People around here do?” Sam repeated. “Aren’t you one of the people around here?” “I was.” I shrugged my shoulders. “You was?” Zach repeated in an annoyed voice. “I guess you was a lot of things Artie.” I had to hold back some laughter as Dizzy made a face at Zach’s grammar. “Boys!” A strong voice suddenly called out from a horse in the distance. “We gotta get back to work.” Sam shook his head. “Take care of yourself Artie.” “Yeah.” Zach grunted as disapproval filled his stare. “We’ll be praying for you.” “Alright.” I forced out. “Tell your dad I said hi Sam.” “Sure.” Sam dismissed and with a quick movement they and their horses were off to join Mr. Brooks. “So do you guys not have English class in Texas?” Dizzy teased, with a smirk. “That’s just Zach.” I shrugged my shoulders, as their words began to sink in. “You alright?” Dizzy asked, growing serious as he saw me begin to fight against the emotions rising in my head. “Just fine.” I tried my hardest to force a smile before leading Dizzy back to the creek. “Why don’t we go back?” He suggested, watching me closely. “It’s getting late, and I don’t want to see what comes out at night around here.” “Yeah.” I nodded my head as we made our way through the creek and back towards Sadie’ house. “You sure you’re alright?” Dizzy pried with a concerned look. “Yup.” I insisted, but fell quiet once more. They seemed so excited to see me at first, but the look they were giving me at the end of the conversation, it was like they didn’t even recognize me anymore. I know I’ve changed a lot over these past couple of months, but I’m still from Texas. I should still fit in around here, shouldn’t I? I could tell Dizzy wanted to pressure me a little more, but gave me space as I tried to work it out on my own. When we finally made it back to Sadie’s street he tried to ask one more time, but once again I quickly shut it down. “How was your walk?” Sadie asked as she and Adam sat on other sides of the couch watching T.V. “It was nice.” I forced out, trying my hardest to seem okay. “We ran into a couple of Artie’s friends at their farm.” Dizzy explained, shooting Adam a concerned look. “That must’ve been cool.” Adam led as he quickly looked over to me to see how I’d respond. “It was.” I lied, now drawing a worried stare from Sadie as well. “I’m kind of worn out though, so I’m going to lay down before we eat.” “Sure.” Sadie encourage as I headed towards the spare room. “Just yell if you need anything.” “Thanks.” I forced out before slipping into the room and closing the door behind me. It didn’t take long before I could hear a few mutters outside the room, and the door slowly opening. I watched quietly as Dizzy slipped into the room and shut the door behind him. “They were too worried to give you quiet time,” Dizzy shrugged his shoulders. “but I was able to talk my way into being the one to check on you.” “I’d rather someone else.” I teased, moving over in the bed to make room for him and show I was kidding. “Like one of your friends back home?” He shot back as he laid down next to me. I let out a deep sigh but didn’t respond. “So I’m right then?” “They got weird at the end, didn’t they?” I suddenly asked, turning to look at him. “Little bit.” He agreed, encouraging the earful he knew he was about to get. “I mean, they weren’t really that great of friends anyway.” I confessed. “But it feels like they rejected me. I know I said San Francisco is my home now, but still, I don’t want to lose touch with where I’m from.” “Artie,” Dizzy exhaled as our eyes connected. “right before running into them you fearlessly walked up to a snake to identify it. I’ve seen you more afraid of fog than snakes. I don’t care what they think, you’re still a Texan.” “Thanks.” I let out, moving even closer to him. “Really,” I insisted as he kept a concerned stare. “that helped.” “But not fully.” Dizzy dug, seeing right through my act. “Not fully.” I confirmed in a sigh. “I think I still need some time.” “Alright.” Dizzy accepted but I could tell he was only getting more worried. “Just remember there are people back in California who accept you. Me, Ky, Charlotte, Adam, Lindsay, Mason, we all want you there. We all really care about you, and that’s not changing any time soon.” Without words I moved forward a little bit more and just let him hold me for a little while. He really knows how to comfort me, doesn’t he? Even if his words can’t fix things, they help me to find that first step. They help me start piecing things back together. After a little while Adam began to lightly knock on the door to let us know dinner would be ready soon. I don’t know how he convinced Sadie to let us have so much alone time, Dizzy and me alone with a closed door must have killed her! But it was exactly what I needed, besides, we behaved ourselves, well, for the most part! “It smells good in here!” Dizzy exclaimed as we stepped out of the spare room and into the hallway. “Why thank you.” Sadie smiled as we turned the corner into the kitchen. “It’s all Arthur’s favorite foods.” “This Arthur?” Adam asked, shooting me a surprised look. “Yup.” Sadie happily confirmed. “Chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, biscuits and a side of fried okra.” “Seriously?” Dizzy asked, just as thrown off as Adam. “I’ve told you guys I love barbeque.” I shrugged my shoulders as I walked up to Sadie and wrapped my arms around her. “You didn’t have to do this.” “Yes I did.” She smiled as she held me close. “How are you feeling?” “Better.” I reflected her smile as a spare hand reached up and gently combed my hair. “Why don’t we eat?” She asked as she finally let me go and took a seat at the table. “So you’re favorite food is meat fried like other meat?” Dizzy asked as his gaze turned into a stare. “And you’re still like, barely one-hundred and twenty pounds?” “The Price curse.” Adam happily bragged. “I used to eat this stuff until I puked, and I would barely gain a pound.” “He’s not kidding.” Sadie complained in a sigh. “Well I’ve never seen anything like this.” Dizzy shook his head as he finally got some food onto his plate. “It’s real good.” I encouraged as my smile widened. “Especially since Adam doesn’t know how to cook.” Dizzy teased, drawing a stern stare from Adam. “What do you feed these boys?” Sadie asked, causing Dizzy to fidget as he realized what a deep hole he had dug for Adam. “Plenty of stuff.” Adam lied, putting more focus on the food on his plate than the question. “Artie.” Sadie pressured, glancing over at me. “Man, this is really good.” Dizzy tried to distract, hoping to throw Adam some sort of lifeline. “You’re not getting out of this one.” Sadie warned as she started to stare at me. “What does he cook?” “He makes a really good breakfast.” I defended, finally looking up at her. “But for dinner, I think he only know how to cook chicken.” “That’s not true.” Adam lied as I drew his stare as well. “Yeah, we’ve had fajitas, and corn dogs and stuff like that.” Dizzy hesitated, unsure what else to name. “So all freezer foods?” Sadie sighed, seeing right through their act. “How often does Artie cook?” “As much as I did with Mom.” I answered for him. “He’ a single parent too.” I defended before looking down at my plate. “I know, but he still has to be able to feed you right.” Sadie warned as she looked from me back to him. “You were that size growing up, you should know it’s not healthy.” “I’ve got it under control.” Adam said, trying his hardest to get Sadie to ease up. “He already eats more than when he got there. Plus, my friends teaching me to cook more.” “Lindsay?” Dizzy asked, drawing a nod from Adam. “She is a great cook.” “You just like the donuts she makes.” I teased, looking back up at him. “Adam makes good donuts too!’ Dizzy exclaimed, trying his hardest to get back on Adam’s good side. “Adam makes donuts?” Sadie asked, not believing his words. “He owns a gourmet donut shop.” I explained shooting her a proud grin. “You do?” Sadie questioned in disbelief. “I have for over ten years.” He nodded his head. “Really?” She let out, still trying to wrap her head around it. “I mean, I knew you owned some business, but I didn’t know it was donuts.” “How did that happen anyway?” I dug, realizing I had never actually asked him that. “Lindsay’s a good baker, and she thought it was funny how I always combined junk food.” He answered, putting his focus back on the food rather than his words. “So Geoff gave us a little push and things started taking off.” “That is the most Adam Price answer I have ever heard.” Sadie teased with a shake of her head. “Would it really kill you to add details to your answers?” “That’s what happened.” Adam shrugged his shoulders. “What more do you want me to say?” “See what I deal with every day?” I smirked as I looked over to Sadie. “Just eat your food.” Adam sighed causing the rest of us to laugh. Dinner conversation from there stayed a lot friendlier. I could tell all wasn’t forgiven between Sadie and Adam, but they tried their hardest to make it work. They’re both willing to put aside past grudges or beliefs just for me, if that’s not enough proof as to why I deserve to be with Adam, I don’t know what is! When dinner was finally finished, we all helped clean up, before spending the rest of the evening just sitting around and catching up. Once more I could tell it was difficult for Sadie to watch me joke around with Dizzy, but she never said anything. After a little while, she even tried to get to know him! As it got later, it was decided I would share the spare room with Adam while Dizzy slept on the couch. “You better not snore.” Adam warned as we all got ready for bed. “He does.” Dizzy replied with a smirk. “I do not.” I whined, as I gave him a light shove. “You do.” Sadie confirmed as she walked past the spare room and towards the kitchen. “Told you so!” Dizzy exclaimed as I rolled my eyes and followed after her. “Need something?” Sadie asked, glancing back towards me as she laid out sheets and pillows for Dizzy. “I just wanted to say goodnight.” I shrugged as I walked up and gave her one last hug for the day. “You sure that’s it?” She asked, knowing there was more on my mind. “You sure you’re okay with me and Dizzy?” I forced out, unable to look her in the eyes as I asked the question. “I’m starting to adjust, and it’ll take more time, but I love you and I refuse to put any conditions on that.” She proudly answered. “Plus I’ve never seen anyone make you laugh so much.” “He’s goofy, isn’t he?” I asked with a smile as she let me go. “So goofy.” She shook her head. “But he seems really sweet too.” “He is.” I happily nodded my head. “Sarah’s going to love him.” She said, pulling me in for one last quick half hug. It was hard to hide how wide my smile had grown when I heard that. “Don’t you forget, she’s in heaven watching and waiting.” “I know.” I happily agreed. “One day you, me, her and Adam are going to sit down for a good family dinner.” “Sounds good.” She agreed finally letting me go. “I love you.” “I love you too.” I replied as she made her way to the hallway. “Goodnight.” She said to Adam and Dizzy as Dizzy passed her on his way to the living room. “Goodnight.” They both let out in unison “What do I have to do for you to hug me as much as you hug her?” Dizzy teased as he reached out for a hug. “Guess I just like her more.” I pestered, taking a step forward and letting him wrap his arms around me. “Well I’m a pretty good hugger.” He insisted, holding me close. “You’re alright.” I played along, but jumped as I felt his hand reach down and lightly grab my butt. “Dizzy!” I yelped, trying to keep my voice down. “I thought I’d add a little spice to this one.” He let out through some laughter. “You enjoyed it.” “Did not.” I lied, landing a quick kiss on his lips and pulling away. “I see right through you Artie Price.” He winked as I began to walk back towards the spare room. “Goodnight Dizzy.” I dismissed as I slid into the room and shut the door behind me. “You get the right side of the bed.” Adam explained as I walked towards it. “What if I want the left?” I asked, but he refused to answer. “Just stay on your side.” He finally let out as I crawled into bed. “You really don’t want to share the bed, do you?” I couldn’t help but ask. “I just like my space,” He exhaled. “and no that doesn’t mean I’m going to switch with Dizzy.” “I know.” I sighed. “Besides, I think that would give Sadie a heart attack.” “She was freaking out enough when we let you guys have time alone.” He said, reaching over and turning off the lamp. “She’s taking it well though.” “I still can’t believe it.” I confessed. “Me neither.” He agreed. “But I don’t blame her, I don’t want to lose you either.” “You won’t.” I supported in a serious voice. “Everything is going to be alright.” I forced out, not even sure I fully believed it myself. “It will be.” He tried to confirm before falling quiet. After a few minutes I could tell he had fallen asleep, but me, I was still wide awake. My mind raced with everything that could happen tomorrow, from the best, to the worst. I really hope Dizzy was serious about running, because if we have to, well I’m not afraid to. Not anymore. At some point I finally fell asleep, but even then, it felt like Adam’s alarm rang out only a few minutes later. There was a noticeable nervousness in the air that morning, but Dizzy did his best to help ease it. “Nice suit.” Dizzy giggled, as I stepped out of the spare room. “Too bad it didn’t grow with you!” He taunted, noticing the length of my sleeves and pants didn’t quite match my body. “Thank you, it’s actually very expensive.” I tried to play along. “It’s from the designer store known as Good Will.” “Now that’s classy.” Dizzy nodded his head. “Mine’s not as nice, it’s from community thrift.” He explained, proudly showing that his suit had just as many issues as mine. “Wow, very expensive.” I teased as I heard Adam let out a sigh. “So they’re like this every day?” Sadie asked, glancing over to him. “All day, every day.” Adam explained in another sigh, but I could tell he was relieved to see us joking around. “We’re just a couple of poor boys finding our way through Texas.” Dizzy shrugged his shoulders. “That’s great.” Adam remarked as he stood up and headed towards the door. “We all ready to get this over with?” “Yup.” I answered for me and Dizzy. “As ready as I can be.” Sadie supported, helping Adam to get me and Dizzy out of the door. Adam watched closely as we all piled into the car before jumping into the driver’s seat. “Alright,” He began, trying his hardest to hide how nervous he had grown. “we have nothing to worry about. Everyone just stick to the plan and this case will be over before we know it.” “And what is the plan?” Dizzy asked, giving Adam a confused look. “Well I’ve been practicing answers with my lawyer over the past two weeks, and I spent some of yesterday working with Sadie on it too.” Adam explained, trying to sound as confident as possible. “No one practiced with me.” I interrupted as my anxiety slowly began to rise. “Because it’s better if you don’t sound rehearsed.” Adam clarified.” Same goes for Dizzy if he gets called to the stand. You’re both smart boys, so just say what you’re feeling and it’ll be fine.” “So you can sound rehearsed, but I can’t?” I asked as we pulled onto the small dirt road. “We don’t want the judge thinking I told you what to say, we want him thinking you’re speaking your thoughts and no one else’s.” Adam said, looking over to Sadie for confirmation. “And in Texas a child gets to add input past age twelve, so you really won’t even have to say that much. Just who you want to live with.” Sadie nodded. “Exactly,” Adam encouraged. “our lawyer will be able to explain it better when we get there. He’s an associate of the one I have in California,” “So you’ve never met?!” I couldn’t help but interrupt again as my anxieties got the best of me. “Take a deep breath.” Adam instructed, glancing at me through the rear-view mirror. “We’ve spoken on the phone a few times, but no we’ve never met.” He finally answered. “It wouldn’t make sense for our lawyer to fly out to Texas with us, especially since he may not be familiar with Texas law.” “The legal system is stupid.” Dizzy spoke up as he tried to make sense of Adam’s words. “Not the time for that.” Adam sighed as the conversation began to trail off in all different directions. “You two just relax for now. Everything is under control.” I nodded, but no matter what I did, my heart wouldn’t stop racing. Dizzy tried to hold my hand, but I was just too fidgety. Even worse, the more I moved, the more nervous I got! When we finally arrived at the family court, I thought for sure I was going to freak out. But Dizzy and Sadie did their best to stay close and calm me down while Adam met up with our lawyer. His name was George Wood, and in many ways, he reminded me of all the older Texas men from my town. He wasn’t too much taller than Adam, but undoubtedly decades older. “Son,” He started as he finally turned to me. “Where do you want to be right now?” “California sir?” I answered, caught off guard by his question. “Say it like you mean it.” He instructed, keeping a stern gaze on me. “California sir.” I repeated in a stronger voice. “Then let’s pray that happens.” He said before finally starting to lead us towards the court room. “Now I understand your grandparents said a few demeaning things about your mothers during your time with them.” “They called her a whore, and said she’d burn in hell sir.” I said as I began to look away. He nodded his head as he quickly thought it over. “That may be hard to repeat in a court,” He finally spoke. “but it will go a long way with a judge. Even if you have no one who witnessed it.” “Yes sir.” I nodded as we finally reached a small room at the end of a crowded hallway. “Let’s finish this quickly.” Mr. Wood said, finally addressing the whole group. “This place is pretty busy lately, and this is a pretty open and shut case so it should only take twenty minutes.” “That quick?” Dizzy blurted out, finally speaking. “Well we sure as hell aren’t trying to stick around here.” Mr. Wood teased as he pushed the door open and led us inside. It’s funny, when you hear the word court room you imagine those big extravagant one’s you see on T.V with rows and rows for people. Yet this one was nearly the size of my classrooms, with only two long desks for both sides and a Judge’s bench against the back wall. The second we walked in I could feel angry stares coming from the plaintiff table, but tried my hardest not to look over to them. Instead I stayed between Adam and Dizzy and kept my head down as we walked to our table. From there it didn’t take long for things to get started. “All rise.” A man dressed in uniform boomed. “Dallas Family Court is now in session, the honorable Noah Joseph, judge presiding. Please be seated, come to order.” He announced as everything grew quiet. “Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,” The judge began as he took his seat. “this will be the first and last hearing on the custody of Arthur Uriah Price.” He continued as he scanned the room, making sure to stare at me a little longer than the others. “John and Lillian Price,” He continued as he looked at my grandparents. “it is my understanding you would like to challenge your daughter’s will as to the custody of Arthur.” “Yes, your honor.” Their lawyer spoke up before either could say anything. “At this time, I would ask if you’re ready to proceed.” The judge said, trying to get things underway as quickly as possible. “Yes, your honor.” The lawyer repeated. “I call my client John Price to the stand.” The judge stayed quiet but motioned for my grandfather to take a seat in the raised box next to him. “Raise your right hand.” The judge started once more, this time just running through the motions. “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” “I do.” My Grandfather answered as he lowered his hand and took his seat. “Sir, can you please share the last time Arthur was in your custody?” The lawyer asked. “March 2nd.” Grandfather responded. “And what happened after that?” The lawyer led. “The lawyer in charge of the will stated that Sarah was leaving custody of Arthur to our son Adam,” Grandfather explained. “and then Adam just took him. No warning or explanation. Arthur was just gone.” “If the will stated that Adam had custody, why did you believe custody would be left to you and your wife?” The lawyer asked. “Well that’s what we were told at the hospital after our daughter passed,” He answered. “and we took him in without hesitation right from there.” “And where was your son Adam when this happened?” The lawyer questioned. “Probably out in California,” Grandfather began but stopped himself. “not at the hospital.” “So you were there to comfort Arthur from the very start? Even when Adam wasn’t?” The judge pried. “That’s right.” Grandfather confirmed. “We were with Arthur from the moment his Mom passed, until Adam took him from us.” The lawyer nodded his head as he got the answer he was looking for. “And why is it that you want custody of Arthur even with the odds stacked against you?” “Because we’ll be damned before we let Arthur get screwed up the way our own children were.” Grandfather answered. “We let our children’s minds get twisted by television and music, to the point where they turned against us and one of them against their own religion.” “And how would you make sure that wouldn’t happen with Arthur?” The lawyer continued to guide him. “We’ve picked out an all-boys military school close by our home for Arthur to stay at, to protect him from these temptations.” Grandfather explained. “No media to warp his mind, only discipline, honor and education.” “Do you have concrete plans to send Arthur to this school?” The judge interrupted, not believing what Grandfather had been saying. “Yes, your honor.” He quickly replied. “We even brought a pamphlet to court with us.” “Proceed.” The judge waived as the bailiff grabbed the small pamphlet from grandmother and brought it back to him. I couldn’t help but gulp hard and look over at Adam, but with a steely-eyed stare his focus stayed on his father. “So you want Arthur for the good of your family?” The lawyer asked, trying to get things back on track. “Yes.” Grandfather nodded. “Lillian and I may not be perfect, but we know the type of person our son is and he is wildly unfit to be a parent. Arthur deserves stability Adam just can’t provide.” “What makes you say that?” The lawyer dug. “He’s a delinquent who nearly failed out of school multiple times, and had disciplinary problems throughout his whole life.” Grandfather said, almost enjoying the words as they rolled off his tongue. “When he was just fifteen, he vandalized our family’s church with satanic imagery. We had to beg the police not to arrest him.” “Was that the biggest disciplinary issue you had with Adam?” The lawyer continued. “No sir.” Grandfather rejected. “A few days after that Adam declared that he was a gay man. We tried discussing it, but he became violent and packed his bags before running away from home.” “Did you chase after him?” “We wanted to, but Adam said if we brought him back to Texas, he’d kill himself.” Grandfather exhaled. This time as I looked at Adam, I noticed Dizzy and Sadie join me. Yet, the same determined look stayed on his face. “You don’t know the type of pain you feel when your own child threatens suicide.” “Did you hear from him again after that?” The lawyer asked. “No, we didn’t see him again until our daughters wake nearly sixteen years later.” Grandfather spoke, trying to play up his sadness as much as possible. “He never bothered to reach out and tell us he was safe, he just disappeared. Because that’s what he does when things get hard. He runs. He always has and he always will.” “I have no further questions your honor.” The lawyer wrapped up, satisfied with the line of questions he had provided. “Mr. Wood,” The judge began. “do you have any questions for Mr. Price?” “Yes, your honor.” Mr. Wood replied, as he walked over to the podium the other lawyer had just been standing at. “You said both your children turned against you?” Mr. Wood questioned. “Yes.” Grandfather replied. “So that includes Sarah Price?” Mr. Wood continued drawing another “Yes”. “We heard why Adam left, but can you expand on why Sarah did?” “She felt a blind loyalty to her brother. She may not have followed him, but she certainly followed in his footsteps.” He answered, clearly not as talkative as before. “So she ran away because he ran away?” Mr. Wood asked in a skeptical voice. “And I’d like to remind you you’re under oath.” The judge shot him a cautious look as he hard those words but didn’t say anything. “Partially.” Grandfather finally clarified. “She said being around his stuff gave her too much grief, and she was worried about the stress that would put on the baby. She was pregnant with Arthur at the time.” He explained. “So when your pregnant daughter left, did you check up on her?” Mr. Wood asked. “We did.” Grandfather nodded his head. “Where was she staying?” Mr. Wood gambled, betting my grandfather wouldn’t know. “She stayed a few roads down.” Grandfather answered as Mr. Wood’s gamble began to pay off. “Do you know who’s home your pregnant daughter stayed at?” “It was,” He began but hesitated. “it was her house.” He finally managed out pointing to Sadie. “Sally’s home with her parents whom we went to church for years with and trusted.” “Do you mean Sadie’s home?” Mr. Wood corrected but only got a nod back. “And how old was Sarah during this time?” “Seventeen.” Grandfather begrudgingly answered. “That’s all the questions I have.” Mr. Wood finished up, satisfied with the answers he had received. From there the case turned more into a battle, as my grandmother tried her hardest to discredit Adam while on the stand. She echoed her husbands’ words that he was selfish, and even went as far as to call Adam mentally unfit to have a child. Yet, when Mr. Wood questioned her, she seemed just as clueless as her husband. And finally, it was our turn to plead our side, yet when Mr. Wood got to call up his first witness, we couldn’t believe his choice. “I’d like to call Ryan Armstrong to the stand.” Mr. Wood announced as Dizzy stood up and headed to the same box my grandparents had just sat in. “Raise your right hand.” The judge repeated from before. “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” “I do.” Dizzy accepted. I could see some nervousness on his face, but he was trying his hardest to keep it hidden. “Can you tell me your relationship to Arthur Price?” Mr. Wood asked. “I’m best friends with Artie.” Dizzy answered, knowing it would be best to keep our relationships under wraps. “And how long have you known him?” “Close to two months.” Dizzy replied. “During those two months, have you spent any time with his Uncle Adam?” “A lot of time sir.” Dizzy forced out. “Sometimes Adam takes us out to dinner, or we’ll watch movies and play games as a group.” “Would you say his parent’s words accurately reflect the Adam Price you know?” Mr. Woods pried. “Not at all.” Dizzy replied. “Can you expand on that?” “Adam’s always there for us.” Dizzy began. “I’m not even a relative and he’s still just a call away when I need him. Some nights I’ve even seen him refuse to hangout with friends because he doesn’t want to leave Artie home alone.” “So how do you respond to claims that he’s selfish?” “They’re wrong.” Dizzy confidently stated. “I don’t know the person Adam was when he was younger, but it sounds nothing like the Adam I know. He’s bought me dinner night after night, and still refuses to take my money!” “Have you noticed he treats Arthur in a similar way?” “Well that’s not all.” Dizzy suddenly spoke up. For the first time all court I noticed Adam tense up, worried about what Dizzy was about to say. Mr. Wood looked to the judge, uncertain how to respond. “Go ahead.” Judge Joseph encouraged, interested in what he had to say. “Three weeks ago, I, I had to run away from home because my Mom’s boyfriend beat me.” Dizzy forced out, trying his hardest to manage the emotions running through him. “I had nowhere to go, so I went to Arties house.” Dizzy shook his head. “And Adam, Adam gave me the key to the front door.” Dizzy exhaled. “He let me stay there for two weeks, and would’ve let me keep staying if I needed it. He fed me, and looked after me like I was his own kid.” Dizzy shook his head. “And when I was finally ready to go home, he gave my mom a job at the business he owns.” Dizzy quickly reached up to stop water from forming in his eye as he reached the end of his story. “Maybe, maybe Adam wasn’t the perfect teenager, but I dare you to find someone in California who can say something bad about the man he is today.” “Do you have police reports documenting this abuse?” The judge asked as he forced eye contact with Dizzy. “I, we didn’t call the police.” Dizzy gulped, as he racked his brain for options. “Do you have any proof?” The judge asked. I could tell he wanted to believe Dizzy, but knew he needed some type of proof to put his full faith in him. “Pictures!” Adam suddenly blurted out from next to me. “Yeah!” Dizzy exclaimed. “Adam took pictures in case we did call the police! They’re on his phone!” “Your honor,” The opposing lawyer began as Adam pulled out his phone and quickly began to swipe through it. “I let you give me a pamphlet.” The judge dismissed, already predicting his words. “I think I can allow them to provide some pictures.” “No, you’re honor,” The lawyer began again. “this lacks any type of relevance.” “Your clients called into question the character of Adam price.” The judge analyzed as the bailiff walked over and took the phone from Adam. “They have a right to defend that.” I could feel Dizzy’s nerves rise as the phone finally made its way to the judge. It took a moment, and some guidance from Dizzy on how to work the phone, but pretty soon it was clear the judge was examining the pictures closely. “And these bruises were from your Mom’s boyfriend?” The judge asked. “Yes, your honor.” Dizzy forced out. “I went to Adam’s house the same night and he took me in.” Dizzy repeated. “You can step down.” The judge dismissed as he turned back towards our table. “Arthur Price.” The judge called out. “Do you mind leaning forward to the microphone in front of you?” “Yes sir.” I nervously spoke as I leaned forward. “Where do you want to live?” The judge asked, properly looking into my eyes for the first time all morning. “With my Uncle in California.” I forced out in a trembling voice. “Do you feel you’re provided for there?” “Yes sir.” I let out once more. “Every morning Adam makes sure there’s breakfast for me before he leaves for work, and by time I get home from school he’s already back from work. He even changed his work schedule to have time off on weekends so I wouldn’t be home alone.” “Adam Price.” The judge called out as he glanced over to the man next to me. “Why do you want to retain custody of Arthur?” “Over the past two months, I’ve started to love Artie like he was my own son, but that’s not the only reason.” Adam said in a confident voice. “I failed as a brother your honor.” Adam confessed in a deep breath. “I should’ve never let my pregnant sister leave home on her own. I should’ve never left her alone to figure out parenting. But I did.” Adam said, locking eyes with the judge. “And somehow, somehow I’ve been given a second chance. Be that by God or the universe, or whatever, I have a chance to make it up to my sister, and to Artie. I won’t let that pass me by.” The judge exhaled a deep breath as he leaned back slightly in his chair. “We could continue with this hearing, but I see no point. Sarah Price’s will clearly leaves Arthur under Adam’s care, and nothing I’ve heard today has made me doubt his abilities as a caretaker.” “Your honor,” The opposing lawyer tried to argue. “You have almost no case here.” The judge cut off, shooting him a strict look. “The only reason the court even heard this case was because Arthur resided in Texas within the past six months, and that is not even close to enough reason to change custody.” The judge clarified. “So, unless you have any concrete evidence proving Adam is an unfit guardian, I suggest you show it now.” The court stayed quiet as the Judge let out another sigh. “Adam Price remains sole managing conservator of Arthur Uriah Price. This case is closed.” The judge announced, clearly no longer interested in anything anyone had to say. “All rise.” The bailiff announced as I felt a wide smile cover my face. Before I knew it I could feel Dizzy wrap his arms around me as the Judge walked down from his bench and out the back door. Pretty soon Dizzy let me go and Adam quickly took his place. “Told you there was nothing to worry about.” Adam forced out, trying his hardest to keep his voice as steady as possible. All I could do was hug him back as I fell speechless from everything that had just happened. Everything happened that quickly? The case is really over? My grandparents went through all that trouble for what?! Mr. Wood led out a loud groan as he checked his watch and looked over at us. “Sorry, this one took thirty minutes and not twenty like I had said.” He announced. “It’s really over?” Sadie asked in disbelief. “Dizzy’s the only one who spoke.” “It doesn’t matter how many words are spoken, just the power of the ones that are.” Mr. Wood explained. “Mr. and Mrs. Price created a great story, but they lacked heart. That’s something young Ryan over here has in spades.” “I prefer Dizzy.” He corrected, already having enough of hearing his legal name. “But he barely even spoke to Adam.” Sadie continued, trying her hardest to sort through her confusion. “Didn’t need to.” Mr. Wood dismissed. “Actions speak louder than words. Adams actions with this young man are all he needed to hear.” Mr. Wood gestured towards Dizzy. “Boy was that a curveball, I just wanted a non-family member to defend Adam first. I didn’t even know all that happened.” “Probably should’ve told you that I guess.” Adam nervously laughed. “You think?” Mr. Wood exhaled, but before anyone could say anything else my grandparents passed by our group to walk towards the aisle. No words were said, but Adam locked eyes with his father and refused to look away until he started walking towards the door. In that moment, I swear I could see years of anger built up, and behind it all, fear. Before I could say anything about it, Dizzy wrapped his arm around me and followed our group as we made our own way out the door. “You’ve been quiet.” He teased as the smile returned to my face. “I’m just happy.” I shrugged my shoulders. “I, I barely even know what to say.” “Then just enjoy it.” Sadie encouraged, just as relieved as the rest of us. “Well Mr. Price, I hate to jump back into the nitty and gritty of it.” Mr. Wood began. “But we should probably discuss payment while I still have you here in Texas.” “Yes, of course.” Adam quickly nodded his head. “I have to use the bathroom.” Sadie decided. “Why don’t you two help me find it?” She suggested, hoping to help give Adam privacy. “Yes Ma’am.” I agreed before looking back up at Mr. Wood. “Thank you, sir.” “It was an easy case.” He smiled as he reached out and shook my hand. “Just go easy on your Uncle for the next few weeks, I think that’s always the best thanks.” “Yes sir.” I let out once more before turning and following Sadie. Once more excitement seemed to buzz through the three of us, until finally we found a bathroom near the front lobby. “So,” Dizzy began as Sadie finally left us alone. “I’ve got some idea on how we could celebrate back in California.” “We’re in public!” I laughed, but knew the people passing didn’t care about our conversation. “Who cares?” Dizzy shrugged his shoulders. “I’ll tell you what,” I finally caved. “if you tell Adam you’re going home after our flight, then sneak into my room Sunday night, we’ll see who has ideas on how to celebrate.” “Sneak in so I can sleep in your bed?” Dizzy asked with raised eyebrows. “Didn’t the lawyer just say to go easy on Adam?” He teased with a smirk. “Guess I’ll just have to celebrate alone.” I taunted with a laugh. “No! No! No!” He quickly blurted out. “I’ll be there!” I went to say something else but before I could a tall man in a fancy black suit stepped up to us. “You look like someone who just won a case.” He let out in the strongest Texas accent I have ever heard. “Congratulations.” “Yes sir.” I hesitantly let out. “You also look like a couple of people I grew up with.” The man observed. “You’re a Price, aren’t you?” “And who are you?” Dizzy spoke up before I could say anything. “My names Ezra Green.” The man greeted causing my face to lose all its color. “And you must be related to Sarah and Adam? It’s alright, I grew up with them.” He let out as his eyes connected with mine. “That’s nice.” I dismissed, unsure what else to say. “We should probably get back to my Uncle though.” “Yeah.” Dizzy supported, just as spooked as me. Ezra let out a deep sigh as he picked up on just how scared we both were. “So you’ve heard of me?” He asked. “Artie doesn’t need this right now.” Dizzy began in a brave voice. “You need to leave.” “Alright,” Ezra accepted before quickly pulling a small card out of his pocket. “but at least take this.” He instructed, offering me the card. “Please Arthur.” “Yes sir.” I forced out in a weak voice as I took it from him. “You don’t have to reach out if you don’t want to.” Ezra said, staring right into my eyes. “But one day I hope you’re ready to. I’d love to get to know you son.” I nodded once more, but gulped as I watched him disappear into the crowd moving past us. “Alright,” Dizzy gulped as he turned back to me. “what the fuck was that?” “I, I have no idea.” I shook my head as I slid the card into my pocket. “You can’t actually be keeping that?!” Dizzy exclaimed as his face only grew more shocked. “What else am I supposed to do?” I asked, just as scared as him. “Throw it out and tell Adam!” Dizzy yelped. “Somethings not right here!” “That was the Ezra from the pictures,” I shook my head. “you, you know who he is to me.” “I know,” Dizzy confirmed in a nod. “and I’m telling you, somethings not right!” He insisted in a panicked voice. “How did he even know we were going to be here?” “I don’t know.” I forced out. “And that doesn’t scare you?!” Dizzy pressured as his nerves got the better of him. “It does,” I nodded my head. “but, but it’s not like he’s just some person trying to find me. Wouldn’t you do the same to find your kid?” “I don’t trust this.” Dizzy echoed once more. “You think I do?” I managed out. “Let’s just, let’s just keep this between us until I can think about it.” “Artie,” “Please Dizzy.” I interrupted. “I’ll tell Adam once I figure it out.” “For the record, I hate everything about this plan.” Dizzy warned one last time, but fell quiet as Sadie walked out of the bathroom. “What’s the matter?” She asked, seeing the looks on our face. “You two look like you saw a ghost.” “I think we’re still just really surprised.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Me too.” She smiled as we all patiently waited for Adam. When he finally returned Dizzy stayed true to his word and kept quiet about Ezra. He wasn’t kidding when he said he hates this idea, but I know he understands where I’m coming from. I mean that was my birth father! I can’t just dismiss him like he’s no one! I have to think about this, I have to figure out what he wants from me! As the day went on I managed to put it all in the back of my mind, and just enjoy our celebration. Adam took us out to a nice steakhouse in Dallas before letting us explore the city. I don’t know if it’s as colorful as San Francisco, but boy is it beautiful! I’ve driven past it only a couple times in my life, but never really had the chance to admire it. Besides, back then I would’ve been way too scared to explore it the way we are now! When we finally made it back to Sadie’s house, we all got changed before most of us fell asleep on her couch! I woke up to find another amazing homecooked meal from Sadie, and even more celebrating until finally Sadie announced she had a surprise for us. Adam complained when he realized it would involve driving somewhere but caved as he saw the excitement on me and Dizzy’s face. “Are we there yet?” Dizzy whined as the sun dipped down past the horizon. “If you ask that again, I’m going to make you get out.” Adam warned in a sigh. “But we’re in the middle of nowhere!” Dizzy continued to complain. “Exactly!” Adam exclaimed as Sadie let out a short laugh. “I should’ve mentioned this side of you during court!” Dizzy teased as Adam shook his head. “Would you both hush already.” Sadie dismissed. “We’re here.” “We’re nowhere.” Dizzy corrected, looking out at miles and miles of green plains. “Exactly.” I spoke up as I climbed out of the car. “I hate to rain on your parade, but he knew this whole time.” I heard Adam tease Sadie. “I know.” She nodded her head. “He’s been here a million times, but I wasn’t about to blindfold the poor kid!” “So where are we?” Dizzy asked once more as I pulled the trunk open and grabbed the blanket out of the back. “Star gazing.” I finally answered, finding a plot of flat land and laying the blanket down over it. “Alright, that’s pretty cool.” Dizzy admitted as we both sat down. “And of course,” Sadie began as she placed a bag down and pulled a box of cookies out of it. “cookies.” “You’re the best.” I exhaled as she handed me the box. “You’ve got some competition Adam.” Dizzy teased with a smirk. “We can find something in California to beat this.” He shrugged his shoulders as he took a seat on the blanket between Dizzy and Sadie. “No you can’t.” I rejected as I laid back and stared up at the night sky. “Nothing can.” Adam let out a small laugh before things grew quiet for a little while. “Artie,” Adam finally spoke up again. “Me and Sadie were talking before, and if you want to get up early tomorrow morning, well we can go visit your Mom’s grave.” I took a deep breath as I heard those words and turned to him. “I would like that.” “Me too.” He nodded his head. A few more moments of silence filled the air, but this time it was Sadie’s turn to speak. “I was wrong about you Adam.” She forced out. “You’re doing a good job with Artie.” “What was that?” Adam teased as a smirk filled his face, but I could tell the words meant a lot to him. “Why do you have to make everything so difficult?” She complained, drawing another laugh from Adam. “Just like old times.” He happily spoke, avoiding her question. “I guess so.” She agreed with a smile. “You know, if you ever want to visit Artie,” Adam began. “you’ll always have a place to stay at our house.” “Yeah!” I couldn’t help but exclaim as I sat down. “How could I say no to him?” She sighed as our eyes connected. “What if I visit at some point this summer?” “I can show you around!” I exclaimed as my excitement got the better of me. “You have to see the bridge, and the wharf, and the malls, and Chinatown…” I began to ramble as Dizzy and Adam laughed. I guess I just couldn’t help myself! San Francisco is my home now, and I can’t wait to show it off like I’ve been showing off Texas. I’m a Californian now, and I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise.
  14. Aceinthehole

    Comforted

    Good advice! Everyone should buckle in nice and tight for the next few chapters
  15. Aceinthehole

    Comforted

    I agree, I think Adam's laid back attitude might get him in some deep water when it comes to legal cases like this one.
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