I made it through Columbus Circle and all I heard was horns as I dashed across the street. I had just gotten inside the park when I was tackled to ground by someone.
“Ok Kellan let him up.” Uncle Brayden shouted
“You are fast TJ, but not fast enough.” Kellan said with a smirk
“Dude, how did you dodge all those cars in the circle. I was sure you’d have gotten hit” Jordan said
“Boys go back to the restaurant and tell Emily I have TJ.” Uncle Brayden said
“Don’t even think about running TJ.” He grabbed me by the shoulders and guided me to a bench. We sat and he pulled me into a hug as I started bawling my eyes out.
“TJ you damn near got run over coming over here like that!. What’s got you so upset?” I didn’t talk for a bit. Uncle Bray reminded me a lot of dad; they even wore similar cologne.
“TJ please talk to me.” I pulled away and used my hand to wipe my eyes. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to me.
“Last night Grayson and Trace had sex. Then we were in the restaurant Grayson obviously told Beau about his first time and was congratulating him. That is something I’ll never get to share as it was taken from me.” I was still sniffling. Uncle Brayden didn’t speak right away.
“TJ what happened was out of your control. I can understand how this is upsetting you. I know your brother didn’t mean anything by it. As men we tend to get excited when it happens. Have you talked to Doc Kev about how what happened to you makes you feel about sex?”
“I told him I was damaged goods and no one will want me.” I proceed to cry all over again and he pulled me in to a super tight hug.
“TJ you are not damaged. You have lots of people who love you. J.C knows your situation and he still loves you. He tried to run after you but couldn’t get up since he was blocked in and against the wall.” He started to rub my back
“I am not sure what I am going to do.”
“TJ I can tell there are a lot of things bothering, for example, when you didn’t jump at moving in with J.C that raised eyebrows. We know you feel like you are not ready and that you are not sure about starting something new but don’t throw away the chance. Move at a pace you are comfortable with. If it comes down to it you can move in with Kat and I, we will have plenty of room. If you ever need someone to talk to know I am here for you. I love you TJ.”
“Thanks Uncle Bray. I’m not sure what I want to do.” I looked up to see mom coming towards us. She looked so concerned. Uncle Bray told mom that he handled it and I need to rest for a bit. She said that everyone else was going for a walk in the park and to the carousel. I could see J.C. standing not too far away. I motioned for him to come over.
“Mom is it ok if go back to the apartment and lay down?”
“I want someone to go with you.”
“I can take him if he wants.” J.C. said
“Honey who do you want J.C. to go with you?”
“J.C. is fine.” I hugged mom really tight and walked out of the park back to the apartment. It was a few blocks to go and we walked in silence until J.C. grasped my hand
“J.C. what if people see you?”
“It’s New York City. Unless we stop no one will see us and had we stayed at the park which is a huge tourist attraction and I would get recognized for sure, but holding your hand is nice and comforting.” We got to the building and rode the elevator to the 90th floor. J.C. opened the door and we went inside. He asked me if I wanted company and I said sure.
“Why do you like me?” I asked him
“Really TJ? You are a caring brother, a super sweet guy and easy on the eyes.”
“But I was raped. I’m not good for anyone.”
“Being raped is not who you are. It’s an unfortunate thing that happened to you. I understand that you are nervous but I am willing to wait for you. I love you.”
“You love 5 year old me. You don’t know 17 year old me.”
“TJ please listen to me. I don’t care about your past. That’s exactly what it is your past.”
“Could you leave me alone and close the door when you leave” I could see the hurt on his face but he left anyway closing the door behind him. I picked my phone and called Kev’s office and told them it was an emergency. I was on hold for a few minutes, when Kev picked up:
“TJ you ok?” Kev asked
“No” I started to bawl my eyes again.
“TJ, talk to me, are you safe?”
“Yes I’m safe.” I took a minute to collect myself and proceeded to tell him everything that happened and how I basically shut J.C. out.
“TJ you are spiraling again and I am happy you took the initiative and called me.” We proceed to talk about how I need to remember that not everyone is here to hurt me but I do need to learn to trust people.
“TJ who is the person you trust the most right now?”
“Not your mother, brothers or J.C?”
“No. Everyone keeps secrets and I feel lost.”
“What has J.C. kept from you, from what I can tell he’s been honest with you and maybe that scares you since you are coming out of a deceiving relationship.”
We continued to talk and I could tell he was a bit worried. When i hung up with Kev, I lay there thinking about our conversation and at some point I fell asleep. I woke up to find mom sitting on the edge of the bed.
“Honey I got a call from Dr. Campbell. He is really worried about you.”
“I don’t want to talk about it”
“TJ, listen to me. You are strong and great son. Yes I’ve kept secrets but sometimes they need to be kept to protect you.”
“Protect me from what?”
“There is so much going on and I want you to be a kid and not grow up so fast. One day I will tell you some of what I know but right now I can’t. I also want you to know Uncle Brayden filled me in on why you took off. Let me tell you I had a super long talk with Grayson about it and Jack nearly killed Trace because Grayson is under the age of consent and he could go to jail. So now they are super embarrassed but Jack, Tracy and I know no matter what we do we can’t stop them from sneaking around.”
“Mom why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?”
“Sweetie Dylan and Sebastian are sick individuals. They need to be locked away for good and there isn’t any professional help on this earth that could make them better. I am just so sorry you got caught up in their game.”
“Game, what are you not telling me.” Mom took a deep breath.
“I shouldn’t tell you this but we found out you weren’t the first person they did this too. They have done it to others. Liz is leveraging this fact to get the FBI to perform a manhunt for them. Although Dylan and Sebastian had quite the head start and may have gone overseas to hide.”
“So what you’re saying is I may never see justice.”
“Honey that is always is a possibility, who knows what, happened to them. I am proud that you recognized you needed to talk with Dr. Campbell. It shows you are maturing.”
“Thanks mom. I think I ruined things with J.C. though”
“I don’t think you did. He only talked with his dads about how worried he was and when you were lashing out. He understands you more than you think. Now let’s go join everyone, so we can head over to the new place for a big BBQ on the terrace. Oh fair warning, Liz and her wife Jackie will be there.” I started to giggle
“What’s so funny young man?”
“Liz is married to a woman named Jackie and Liz is also the mother of Jack’s children and Jack hers? What are the odds?”
“Haha very funny, don’t quit your day job” She grabbed my handed and we walked out of the bedroom to discover that Jack and Tracy had left to go check on the food as they had started smoking the meat before leaving this morning. I went over to Uncle Brayden and hugged him and thanked him for talking with me. I looked at J.C. and could see the uncertainty in his eyes. I walked over to sit next to him and took his hand in mine and held it and I could feel him start to relax.
“Ok we need to leave shortly for the brownstone, fastest way is the subway.” Trace said.
“Oh joy the stinky New York train system.” I replied
“We’d drive but parking is limited and dad keeps a car there for them in emergencies and Mom will need a place to park.” Trace said
We started to walk to the nearest subway station and I continued to hold J.C. hand which he gripped mine pretty tight. He wore his sun glasses and hat for disguise. We got on the subway and rode a bit more uptown to where the new place was. We exited the train and headed above ground and made our way to the new house. It looked really small to me but when we got inside it was huge. There were 5 finished levels and an elevator too; the place was really nice. We walked straight through the house and out to the terrace. There was an older man standing there talking with Jack that I hadn’t seen before. I saw Liz off to the side with her partner and there were 4 teenagers sitting at the picnic table. Turns out Liz had two sets of twins and both sets were boys. They were 16 and 14 so Beau and Grayson age. I found out Michael and Jeff were the older two and Gavin and Jamie were the younger set.
We sat around and talked while Tracy and Jack prepared the food.
“Who’s the guy talking to your dad?” I asked JC
“That’s Grandpa Paul, he’s Liz’s father, the former Mayor of New York and New York Governor. He is also a lawyer and partner where dad works. He’s the original James in Barton, James, Woolery, mom is the main James now.”
“Hey TJ, this is my father Paul James, he was with me down in Maryland.” Liz said
“Nice to meet you Mr. James” I said shaking his hand
“Could I talk to you in private TJ.” Mr. James said
“Could my mom join is?”
“Certainly, Liz will be with us too.”
We went into the house and went to the front of the house where there was a huge office. We walked in and Paul closed the door behind us and turned a knob on the wall.
“OK, I just gave us some privacy by activating the sound proofing. Now, I wanted to talk with you in person which is why I came over here. I spoke with the States Attorney this morning. Apparently they don’t think Dylan and Sebastian ran away. There is reason to believe they were kidnapped due to Mr. Carmine’s involvement in the drug trade. They haven’t been able to prove it yet but they don’t think the boys are still alive. They still have the endangered missing tag in the system and will remain on the FBI’s most wanted list. That way if they do show up they can be held if need be. Now since charges were filed and the case is on hold you don’t have to worry about them not being able be charged due to Maryland’s law surrounding rape. The case will remain active so if they show up at age 50 then they will be charged.”
“Now as far as the civil suit goes, we received a settlement offer from the Corse’s and Mr. Carmine that would cover your treatment but I rejected it as this trauma will be with you for your whole life, hopefully not but I used that to our advantage. I told them if we go to court they are going to risk all their dirty laundry being publicly aired out. That must have scared them as the submitted a much better offer. The final settlement the judge agreed to was to give you $30 million and they pay all your legal fees.” Liz said
I sat there in shock. I’m a millionaire? No way.
“Now you aren’t going to get direct access to the money. Since you are still a minor it is going into a trust account. I made the firm the trustee of the account. I just need you to decide if you want me or Jack to handle it. We will get you an investor and help you grow the money.” Liz continued
“I also want to say that the parents are admitting guilt and they had to agree that this will be on record and can be used if Dylan and Sebastian are found. Mr. Carmine is going away for a long time due to his drug case and all his assets are being liquidated. It also appears the Corse’s are moving out of the area and maybe the country. The FBI is aware of this and will be keeping an eye on them as moving whenyour kid is missing it’s highly suspicious. Also before I forget, last night the County Council unanimously voted to remove the Chief of Police. He will no longer be able to interfere in the case and the detective that accused you of kidnapping was docked pay and striped of the detective title, so we have some small victories to celebrate also.” Mr. James said
“Thank you both for your help. TJ everything said here is between us and no else will find out” Mom said
They left the room and I sat in the chair for a bit when J.C. walked in.
“Hey the food is ready if you are hungry.” My stomach decided to let him know I was by rumbling and it made him laugh. I stood up and pulled him into a kiss. He was not expecting it and we nearly fell over. When he pulled away he smiled at me. We walked out back and had some BBQ.
When we finished eating I told Jack, Tracy, Mom and J.C. I wanted to talk. We went into the study and I took the big overstuffed chair.
“Figures you’d like that chair still, when you were little and you’d visit our house, you and JC would sit in the chair together and stare at the people walking below on the street” Jack said
“So what’s up TJ?” J.C. asked
“I made my decision but wanted to tell everyone at the same time. I want to move in with J.C. and Trace but I don’t want to move in until August. I want to spend time with my brothers and mom before I start school in the fall.”
“That sounds fair. I told you mother that we will have your stuffed moved here and you can bring the truck too. We have a few extra spaces in the garage for the law office so we will let you keep it safe there. When you are ready just say the word and I will make everything happen” Jack said
“Ok. I am really looking forward to this”
When it was time to head back to the apartment I was surprised that Kellan and Jordan went with us, something about wanting us to be safe and all. As we were ridding the train I noticed Kellan’s shirt ride up and he had a gun. Why would Kellan be carrying a gun, things are just too strange lately. We got back to the apartment safe and locked up for the night. I had J.C. sleep with me and we closed the door and we slept. For the rest of our stay we hung out with Liz’s boys and chilled. We went to Broadway and saw a show and also saw a concert at Carnegie Hall. Next thing I knew we were on the plane back to Cincinnati.
My last day of school was before Memorial Day. I am so glad to be done with high school. I made one new friend and her name was Joyce. She was in most of my classes and was super nice. I told her off the bat I wasn’t interested in dating just looking for a friend. She understood and we became good friends.
My birthday was June 2nd and I woke to find the house empty. Not surprising as it was a school day and mom was hard at work helping the school get things in order for the end of the year. I was sitting on the couch watching random shows and channel surfing until I landed on HGTV and got caught up in watching a home renovation. I texted J.C. but he and Trace had graduation today. I was trying to decide what to do for lunch when Mom texted and said we were going out to lunch together. She came by the house and picked me up and we went to Panera and had a leisurely lunch. When we finished Mom said there was a meeting I had to attend.
“I don’t have any appointments today.” I said
“I know this one was last minute and I made it for you:”
We got into the car and starting heading into downtown Cincinnati to an obscure looking building. She seemed to know where we were going and walked right up to the door and pushed a button and a voice said we could enter after a few minutes. It reminded me of some kind of Government building I’d seen on TV shows. We walked down a really long hall and then down some stairs and we came to another long hallway.About halfway down the hall mom stopped at a door and knocked three times. The door opened and inside was Uncle Brayden, Kellan, Jordan and Caroline Carmine.
“Have a seat TJ, we need to talk.” Uncle Brayden said