Continuation of Chapter One.
“Go, go now. Burn rubber.” Ethan slumped down in his seat as if his personal bogeyman might start peppering the car with machine gunfire.
Leah, not understanding his need for speed, after checking her rear view mirror, pulled leisurely away from the curb. Instead of flooring it, she felt the need to question his actions.
“What’s your problem? Why did you feel the need to come tearing out of the building as if it were on fire?”
Ethan inched up enough to check the mirror himself. Yep, they stood in the street watching the car leave. Thank the Goddess none of them possessed a license, although that small legality wouldn’t have stopped them if there were a car to drive. What if they followed him home?
“Leah, let’s not go straight home.” Ethan tried to think of some reason that might appear reasonable to his suspicious older sister. “We could stop for ice cream.”
She braked for the red light and gave him an odd look. Oh great, he had forgotten about her lactose intolerance.
He tried again. “I have a library book that is overdue. We need to go to the library.”
Leah continued to make all the appropriate turns toward home. A quick glance assured him Caulb and his gang were not following on foot or using a ‘borrowed’ vehicle. Thank the Lord and Lady for that.
His sister’s hand landed on his arm and squeezed hard. “Tell me, what’s going on? You were happy when I dropped you off earlier. You had on so much cologne I practically choked. You were excited about seeing your new friend.” Her voice emphasized the word friend in a playful fashion.
Being read so easy was embarrassing. Leah and Nana were the two people he was closest to his family. Nora was ten years older than him, which always made her seem grownup and distant in his eyes. His grandpa had disappeared into the past for the first ten years of his life. His mother loved him, but her entry into nursing school had made her too busy to spend much time with him.
As the only boy, she probably expected him to spend more time with his dad, the man who seemed continually disappointed in him. He never said it, but Ethan could tell. The best they managed was watching television shows filled with explosions, car chases, and barely dressed women. It was hard to swallow his urge to ask if something else was on. That would only cause his father to give him a baffled look. Only Leah never expected anything from him.
Leah might call him an annoying little brother, but he was still her little brother. He’d remember when he was ten and came home with a black eye. Leah hunted down the culprit and had a talk. ‘Just a talk’ was as much as she’d confessed after the fact.
Then there was Nana, his grandmother, the resident clairvoyant you had no secrets from, but she usually kept them to herself. Could be that Leah could give him some advice on how to handle the situation. He couldn’t exactly bring it up with his father. It would be just another way he failed as the only son.
“Yeah, that friend, I thought I had. Stabbed me in the back. A regular Brutus. For Pete’s sake, Brendon enjoys the opera. How long does he think it will be before Caulb comes after him, too? He’s only a tool.”
Leah snorted her response as she cruised through the intersection. “Hmmm, not exactly what you expected when I dropped you off.”
Talk about an understatement. When Brendon showed up the second week of school, something inside Ethan shifted, bringing his life into focus. Suddenly, all the uncertainties about what he wanted fell away. Mr. Zimmer paired the two of them together for a duet. Brendon’s rich baritone blended well with Ethan’s tenor. Rather like the two of them blended together.
“I thought Brendon and I were developing a friendship. We had so much in common.” His mind shifted back to the moment he saw the grinning face of his nemesis before the lights went out in the hallway outside the soundproof practice room, courtesy of Brendon. At the time, he couldn’t believe his recently made friend would resort to such a stunt until Caulb entered. Brendon had directed the thug to his location without hesitation.
His only alternative was to not be where he was. Silently, he climbed on top of the upright piano and slid down the other side, making his way out of the room while Caulb and his buddies slammed around in the corner where he had been moments earlier.
Leah turned the car into their neighborhood. “So, your friend Brendon did what to stab you in the back?”
What did he do? Besides turning him over to the one person who was intent on cracking his skull open like an egg. His simple action not only allowed Caulb the opportunity to pulverize him, but it also made him doubt everything he thought he knew. How could he explain the life he thought he had did not exist?
“I thought he was my friend. I thought he liked me. I thought we were close and clicked on a deeper level, but obviously, I was wrong. I must have been wrong. Why would he team up with that redneck Caulb to run me down like a hen in the chicken yard?”
Leah’s nostrils flared, as her hands tighten on the steering wheel. “Someone needs to do something about Caulb and his bully friends. Doesn’t your school have a no bullying policy?”
Ethan normally didn’t have a problem with bullies since he was a likable guy. In grade school, he entertained his classmates with his clever wit and a few simple magic tricks. Middle school was more of the same, especially since he hung with so many of the popular girls. The guys wanted to be his friend to get closer to the girls. One of the reasons he had so many female friends was because he understood them. They often shared similar interests.
“Bully policy, Ha!” He snorted his disdain. “They plastered a few posters in the hall. The captain of the chess team ended up being slammed against one of those posters. Not exactly the result the administration expected.”