This story contains detailed descriptions of sex. If this causes you offence, you may rest assured that I have done my level best to offend you as much as possible. If you live in an area where reading such material may cost you your liberty, then I would advise that you flee while there is still time. If you are under the age permitted for reading such stories where you live, please remember to clean out your browser's cache directory and history file immediately after reading. Otherwise someone in authority over you will probably find it. The rest of you can read on with a clean conscience. Any likenesses to persons living, or dead, is unintentional. I retain all rights to this story.
Hunter woke and saw that Jove had made it back in one piece although he was quite bruised up, that was not all that unusual, but the bruise patterns worried him for some reason. There had been many days where he wore a t-shirt around the house to cover bruises or bite marks on his chest or neck, even scratches on his back, but he had never had markings like Jove did around his wrists. He sent him to a classy club, not a sleazy joint, so he should not have been hurt. Jove didn't seem to be any worse the wear for his night out, though, he would know better after he had a chance to talk to him.
He smiled sadly at his baby brother; no longer a baby in the eyes of the law - he had his Hestial Cleansing and would now be considered an adult at least in the family. It was a burden to place on such young shoulders, but Hunter was glad to have someone to share the burden with now, with Mama sick, Papa gone, and Odessa still under Hestia's Protection although she was older than even himself. Odd how it worked, his elder sister was still considered a child in the eyes of the law but his baby brother was now an adult, although he was by age a child. It was for that very reason that Hunter believed the morals and ethics code was screwed up.
Hunter had hoped it would not come to sending one of his brothers out, but with his leg taking so long to heal, and mama's condition worsening, it had not seemed as if he had any other choice. He had called Franko to ask about some compensation, but his Guild Master had only laughed at him. He did not understand that either. He had been a good ganami, and so had his father before him. He paid his dues on time, and the guild got their fair share of his earnings. He had been out of work for months now, but before when he was working he had always been told "the Guild takes care of its own, you're one of ours, Hunter and don't you ever forget it". He had not forgotten it, but he thought they might have.
Hunter got up to head for the bathroom and saw that his bottom drawer had been messed with so he opened it. Inside he found four hundred sixty dollars in one-hundred-dollar and twenty-dollar denominations wrapped around his guild card. He looked over at Jove and smiled. What ever he had done, he had been paid well for; especially for a boy who was so inexperienced. Other than a Hestial Cleansing, which many people will pay top dollar for, everything is based on satisfaction and experience. Hunter wondered whom he had fooled into believing he was an experienced ganamus.
There was a soft knocking on the door. "Hunter, you up in there?" It was Odessa.
"Yeah, come on in." He covered Jove up with his blanket so that only his head was showing.
"Jove didn't come home last night. I know you had him in here last night before he disappeared. Care to share?"
"Jove is home, he is safe." Hunter told her quietly. "His things will need to be moved in here."
She noticed her younger brother asleep against the wall. "Hunter, you didn't!"
"No I didn't!" he scowled at her as he struggled toward the door. "And don't ever even think that again." He pushed her back out of his room and closed the door behind him.
"Then what is he doing in your room?"
"Jove went out last night and earned grocery money. Or did you forget we need to eat?" He disappeared into the bathroom and when he reappeared a few minutes later, she was still standing there.
"No, I didn't forget. I thought the Guild was going to help."
"They did, they just got an unofficial member." Hunter handed her one of the pairs of the shorts he had been wearing daily for the past few weeks so not to mess up too many pairs of his good pants. She helped him pull them up over the cast on his broken leg, and then led the way as he followed behind, maneuvering on the crutches to the living room. Once they were there, Hunter sat on the couch and Odessa asked him, "How is he?"
"Not sure yet, he came in while I was sleeping, but he looks like he got home in once piece. He'll be just fine I'm sure. You know I'm not supposed to be discussing these things with you, Odessa."
"You know I don't care about those rules. I'm only keeping my promise to Papa, just like you are."
"I know, but the less you know, the better. Cody and Elaina too, especially Elaina."
"Yes, I agree with you there. She will know something is going on, though. So how much did he make?"
"Enough to cover that turn off notice, and groceries for a while if we are careful." Hunter sighed.
"What's going on Hunter? You seem… sad."
"I am a little." Hunter sighed. "I didn't want this for him. He sold his virginity cheap for the family. A kid like that… even from this side of town, with a guild sanctioned Hestial Cleansing -- well, he could have gotten three or four thousand with the right client."
"Easily. And now that I've sent him out once, it's going to be easier to send him out the next time."
"What he brought home won't last long, my leg won't heal that fast. We will have to be careful, but there will be a next time."
"Only if he's caught."
"Well, we will have to make sure that does not happen, won't we?"
"We'll do our best." Hunter smiled at his sister. "We'll do our best. Now where are Cody and Elaina?"
Hunter nodded and stared out the window to the street below where somewhere his sister and brother were playing, protected in their innocence, while in the other room, Jove slept for a while longer dreaming of how he lost his.
It was mid-morning when Jove finally emerged from the bedroom and headed straight for the bathroom. Not accustomed to his new household status, or his newly gained permission to use locks for privacy he left the door unlocked as he always had in the past and prepared for his shower. As usual, he took an extra towel into the stall with him incase someone opened the door. He could not risk anyone seeing his bruises. He felt raw in places he did not know existed before now, but still he washed, touching some of his more tender places gently. His wrists were especially tender. He thought through his school clothes to figure what he could wear to cover them. Maybe he could borrow one of Hunter's old school shirts. He would talk to Hunter as soon as he dressed he decided and he cut off the water.
Standing on the rug in front of the mirror that hung on the back of the bathroom door, Jove looked at his body in amazement. The bruises on his neck, collarbone, and chest were the most visible, but the ones on his wrists and ankles were the most disturbing. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, his jaw ached but he was relieved to see there were no visible bruises on his face. He turned so that his back faced the mirror to survey the damage done to his backside just as the doorknob started to turn. He scrambled for the towel and barely had it around his hips when Hunter entered the room.
"Rule number one, you are no longer under Hestia's Protection, lock the door." He turned and locked it behind him then he smiled at his brother. "Do you have any questions?"
"Not really." Jove told him with a shrug that contradicted the ear-to-ear grin. "I mean, once it's done, it's pretty self-explanatory."
"You got fucked didn't you?" Hunter asked with a playful tug at the towel.
"Yes." He giggled. "I did."
"Did you like it?"
Jove nodded, "Very much so."
Hunter looked his brother over with a critical eye, he did have that fresh fucked look, but there was something else. "How many men were you with?"
"Yes, just the one."
Hunter studied his brother. "I see he bit you a couple times, did he hurt you?"
"Not really." Jove blushed. "I mean, I felt like he was going to split me in two while he was fucking me, but he didn't hurt me in a way I didn't want to be hurt."
Then Jove shrugged, "Besides, I really kind of liked it."
"You liked that he hurt you?"
"A little." Jove admitted, unsure if he was giving the wrong answer.
Hunter shook his head. "You best keep that information to yourself until you get your own card then. Were there any complications from where he um… fucked you?"
"Complications? Like what?"
"Did you bleed any?" Hunter asked.
Jove shook his head. "Not that I know of, I mean I didn't see anything in my underwear."
"Well that's good at least." Hunter said after a long moment, "Odessa's putting your things in our room. She's going to tell the Elaina and Cody that you've… grown up too much to sleep in there any more."
"They're not stupid. Cody will understand in a second what happened, but not why. He's going to think that I just…"
"Everyone is going to think that, Jove, at least at first. Are you going to school tomorrow?"
"I had planned on it."
Hunter sighed, "With bruises like that you best not dress out for gym."
"I have health this week, so no gym until Friday. Most of it should be gone by then. I hope. Anyway, I'm more worried about mama noticing."
"I'm worried too. I'm sorry you had to do this, but in a way I'm sort of glad, now we can talk about things. I don't have to be so alone any more."
"You didn't have to be alone before."
"Yes I did. Other than mama, I was the only other adult in the house. Now you share that responsibility, it's just a relief to know that's all." Hunter hugged his brother. "Did you count the money you brought home last night?"
"Yeah, I put four hundred and sixty dollars in your drawer."
"That's not bad for one night with one man. Would you be adverse to going out again in a week or so? Obviously you are doing something right."
"I'll have to see, I have gym week after, so it would be harder to hide the bruises, maybe the week after."
"The money should hold until then. I'll just be glad when this leg heals." Hunter thumped the cast. "Then I can handle things again."
"You're just horny, why don't you call up that one guy who is always after you? What's his name?"
"I just might do that." Hunter grinned at his brother, "Now remember to lock the door," and he left.
Jove locked the door behind him then finished his toweling off. He combed his hair, and brushed his teeth, then wrapped up in his robe.
By the time he was finished, there was a banging on the door. "Hunter, hurry up I got to pee!" Elaina yelled.
"Well I guess they're going to figure it out sometime or another." He sighed, picked up his underwear, and reached to unlock the door.
"Come on Hunter," Elaina said, then looked at Jove. "You had the door locked! Only Hunter and mama can lock the door."
"And now I can." Jove told him and walked past, leaving his stunned sister in his path.
Hunter was sitting at the kitchen table with Cody, helping him with some homework when Elaina came running into the kitchen. Odessa was cooking their dinner so she and Jove could head over to the hospital.
"Jove had the bathroom door locked and he made me wait until he was done to unlock it."
"Yes, Elaina, I know. Jove and I had a talk this morning and he will be locking doors from now on." Hunter looked at his youngest sister. "He will also be sleeping in my room from now on." Hunter looked as if he were going to say something else but Odessa gave him a sharp look.
"Elaina, honey, go make sure I got all of Jove's things our of our room. If I missed anything you can put them on the bed, and I'll make sure they get to him, all right?" Elaina looked between her elder siblings confused for a moment, then she left to do as she was told. When she was gone, Odessa turned back to Hunter.
"What about mama?" she asked. "What are we going to tell her about Jove?"
"Nothing, no need to worry her any more than necessary. I doubt she will ever need to know." He looked at his sister, "But if she does, I'll explain it to her."
Jove had finished dressing and came into the kitchen. Something smelled wonderful and he was starving. He wore an oversized sweatshirt and a pair of jeans, nothing special, but the bruises on his neck could be seen. Cody looked up at him and smiled.
"I heard you get to lock the doors now you lucky dog."
Jove blushed. "Yes, I do."
"Wish I could lock the doors." Cody told him.
"No, you don't." Jove told his brother. "It's… not pleasant."
Hunter looked at Jove, questioning.
Jove looked at the table, "Do you have a shirt I could borrow Hunter, mine are too confining and Cody and I wear the same size."
"Yeah, I'm sure I have one." He looked at his brother oddly, his behavior was so different from how he had behaved in the bathroom. "Things will be fine Jove, Cody's not going to tell anything, are you Cody?"
"Nope not me." He grinned. Then it was time to eat and Elaina came back in the room, and no one talked about Jove's new status any longer, but Jove kept looking at her as if he was unsure if she was able to keep such a large secret.
After their meal, Hunter took Jove into the bedroom and found an acceptable shirt for him to wear out in public. "Tonight we will do something about those bruises. Next time ask him politely to keep any marks below the collar."
"I'll keep that in mind." Jove said distractedly, then blurted on to the next subject, "Do you think Elaina will not tell?"
"I don't think Elaina wants you to go to Juvie, so she'll not tell. It might be hard for her, but Jove, she's not that much younger than you."
"I know… it's just… she seems so…"
"So did you to me… yesterday."
"I didn't think it would be this hard." Jove began to cry.
Hunter wrapped his arms around his brother and held him.
Jove couldn't explain what he was feeling, the deception had been wearing on him, only last week he had come home with bruises on his neck just like the ones he had today, but he hadn't dared to be seen. Instead, he went out to play all day, up on the roof, alone, reading. He bought books with some of the money Micah paid him, and left the rest in Hunter's account. He had no idea how much Micah paid him, he always had been afraid to ask after the first night. It was not something they discussed. Now -- he could talk to Hunter, he could ask questions, and he could have dinner with his bruises showing. It was too much. It almost made him want to confess all to his brother. Almost. Luckily, there was a knock on the door before Jove had a chance to give in to his need to confess his duplicity.
"Jove," Odessa called from outside the door, "we really need to be going if we are going to make visiting hours today."
Jove pulled off his brother and used the back of the sleeve to wipe his face. Hunter frowned and handed him a tissue.
"Go see Mama, spend some time with her Jove, she needs us more than she is willing to admit to right now. What ever you do, don't let her see the bruises." He pulled back the sleeve a little, "especially these."
Jove nodded and went out to Odessa. He may have been the so called adult now, but she was still his older sister, and he deferred to her as they took the bus to the hospital. They didn't discuss anything that happened the night before, but rather dull school things, and what he wanted to do when he graduated in a few years. If he had plans or not; he didn't. He asked her about her classes at the college, and found they were going well.
"Do you have a special friend, Odessa?" he asked. "You're well old enough."
"Why do you ask?" she asked him shocked at his inquiry into her private life.
"Well, you are a pretty girl, and I know you're keeping Hestia's Protection to pay for college, but is there someone special?" Jove chewed on his bottom lip.
"What are you thinking Jove?"
"I'm not thinking anything. What makes you think I'm thinking?"
"You're chewing your lip. You always chew your lip when you're thinking."
"I was just wondering if you have a special friend… someone we haven't met, that's all. I know Hunter has Cliff, although he will not admit it. They have been together since just before Hunter joined the guild. He had his Hestial Cleansing with him. I know you're not going to join the guild, but I was just wondering if there was someone special."
"Yes, there is," she said softly, "but it's none of your business, little brother."
Jove blushed. She was absolutely right; it was none of his business. He looked out the window and chewed his bottom lip until they came to their stop.
Odessa went to sit with her mama, another visiting hour of getting to watch her die. Sometimes she wished it were over and done with, and other times she wished her mama had never gotten ill in the first place. However, there was nothing that could be done about it now, but to accept the eventual death of her mama.
“Hey Mama,” she said softly so not to disturb her too much.
“Dessa, you came.” Geraldine rasped out.
“Of course I came, what would make you think I wouldn’t come?”
“Thought you might be with your young man.”
“Mama!” Odessa gasped. “I’ve not said anything about a young man.”
“You didn’t have to, mama knows these things.” Geraldine smiled, “so tell me, what is he like?”
“Well, his name is Sterling, I met him at the university, and he is very handsome.”
“What does he do at the university?”
“He takes classes.”
“And what does he want from you?”
“He asked me to marry him.”
“Maybe one day, when we are both ready.”
“What does he do for the guild?”
“Hmmm. I’m not sure that he does, why do you ask?” Odessa looked her mama in the eye and lied.
“Usually only ganami can afford college.”
“Or boys from Northside, Mama, not everyone has to be a ganami in the world even if it is an accepted practice for a young man to get established in life.”
“Will you bring him to meet me?”
“I can, on Sunday next. He works during the week after classes; his family says it builds character.”
“I will see him then.” Geraldine smiled at her daughter. “Now tell me about your brothers and sister, how are they doing?”
“Well, Hunter is holding everyone together, and he is still resisting Cliff, although I don’t know how. Cody is doing well in school as is Jove and Elaina. It seems the nurse is out to catch Cody in an unsanctioned act, but he is not doing anything he should not be doing. Jove is keeping his business his own as always, and Elaina is not talking to anyone again. She worries us, mama. Maybe you could talk to her when she next comes to visit.”
Geraldine nodded. “I will do that. Now how are you holding up?”
“I’m doing well, Mama. I wish you were home, of course, but we will survive.”
“Your papa said he fixed it so that you girls would be taken care of if both he and I passed. I know he contracted the boys, you will make sure that Elaina is taken care of, won’t you Odessa?”
“Of course Mama. I would make sure she was taken care of, Papa made me promise I would.”
“It was part of our agreement. I could study anything I wanted at the university and he would see to it that I had the funds to do it if he were gone, if I took care of Elaina until she was old enough to take care of herself. I know the funds will come from the boys being contracted, I just don’t know who they are contracted to, other than Hunter.”
“What else did your Papa tell you?”
“That if you fight the contracts I was to contact Franko immediately.”
“You’ve never contacted him.”
“You’ve never really fought them, not that I’ve seen. If whomever holds Cody’s contract shows up, would you tell them they can’t have him?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then I don’t know what I would do, Mama, I promised Papa, and I love you… but the law is the law and the contract is binding.”
“I don’t want your brothers to be ganami.”
“It won’t hurt them to serve a few years to an older man. It will help them to mature. They have not had a man in the house for several years. I could use some male advice sometimes, too. Elaina could benefit from having a man or three to turn to for advice if she needs it. Being a ganami is not the worst thing in the world.”
“It killed your Papa.”
“No, it didn’t. A man killed Papa, not a profession, Mama, a man.”
“You don’t know what you are talking about.” Geraldine whispered as Jove entered the room.
He looked at her with the various wires and tubes hooked up to their machines, which hummed in the background. She looked so small and weak in the hospital bed. Her flesh had once been healthy, but now appeared leaden. Dark semi-circles highlighted the undersides of her rheumy eyes in sharp contrast to the lack of eye shadow she no longer wore. Her hair, once a glorious auburn, was now dull and lackluster against the white pillowcase with the green stripe. At least she still had hair, Jove thought. When the doctors had first informed them of her condition, a fast growing brain tumor, they had offered her chemo to slow it down or just a few months to live. She looked at her children, and plainly asked the doctor how much time would it give them. He said a year maybe two. Then she asked how much it would cost. He explained about the various treatments and she nodded along, but Jove could tell his mother had already made up her mind. That had been two months before Hunter broke his leg. She aged in those two months, and now she was here, at the end of her life. He hated this place.
He hung back as Odessa approached the bed. They only allowed two visitors at a time, so only two of them came a day. He hoped the nurses had come and given her the pain medicines she now required so that she was not quite lucid. He had been lucky so far, in his dealings with her in the past few weeks, today he did not feel so lucky and he hated lying to her. It would help if she just did not notice.
While Odessa had her turn, Jove wandered the hall, going down and getting a couple sodas. He thought his mom would like a soda; besides, he had the money, even if Hunter did not know it. In the cafeteria, he smiled at the food service worker as he put the three sodas by the register.
"I left my card up in the room, can I just punch it in?" Jove asked.
"Yeah sure," she said and handed him the pad.
He smiled at her and calmly punched Hunter's numbers. The deduction was withdrawn from Hunter's account, and a receipt was printed; he stuffed it in his pocket without looking at it. "Thank you." He told her as he gathered his sodas and left the cafeteria.
When he arrived back in the room, Odessa motioned him over. He handed her the two unopened sodas and motioned one was for their mother. She just looked at him oddly but accepted the drinks. Jove went over to sit by their mother while Odessa opened theirs and prepared the one for their mother.
"Hey mama, how are you feeling?" He laid his hand over hers, trying not to bump the IV's in the back of her hand.
"Had better days, Janni; tell me about your life. Odessa says you are doing well in school."
Jove tried not to wince at the sound of her voice; it had changed since the last time he had come to visit.
"Yes mama, I'm doing well in school. With those three to precede me, you know I have to be sharp. Can't let those people at school think anything low about the Ward Family now can we? Have to make papa proud." He recited back to her what she had told him every day of his life since his father died. Odessa brought over the soda in the cup with the flex straw so mama could drink. Then she took hers and left the room, leaving the two alone.
"So you care to tell your mama why you're wearing a ganami shirt?"
Jove looked at his shirt in confusion, and then realized what his mother was talking about. Instead of the white shirts he was supposed to wear to school, Hunter's shirts had been blue. All ganamus wore blue shirts to keep them separate. The shirt had the school crest on the pocket; it was an official ganami shirt. He blushed. "I didn't have any clean shirts, mama, I asked Hunter if I could borrow one of his, he handed me this one. I didn't even think…" he looked down at the floor.
"You asked Hunter for a clean shirt? Not Cordell, Jiovanni?"
"Cody wasn't home."
"You never seemed to have a problem going through his things in the past when you needed something."
Jove shrugged. "It was just easier to ask Hunter is all, mama, it's no big deal."
"It is a big deal if people are going around thinking things about you that are not truth. So long as you wear that shirt people think, 'look at that cute ganami, I wonder if I can bed him'. One might approach you and ask you for services and then what will you do?"
"Politely refuse, mama. Even hesti know that ganami have that right." He patted the back of her hand gently.
"Jiovanni, you are too much like your papa, having all the answers but not knowing all the questions. Promise me you will be careful."
"I am careful mama."
"And if you get in trouble you will ask for Franko. He was your papa's guild master. You'll go to him the day you turn sixteen."
"Yes, mama, the day I turn sixteen, and before if I get in trouble."
"I don't like it."
"I didn't really expect you would mama."
"Did he treat you well?"
"Well enough." Jove blushed. His mother made a funny clicking noise in her throat.
"Well enough, he says. I never did agree with your papa about that man, a little too dark for my tastes, but your papa insisted he would be just right for you."
Jove looked at his mother a little confused. "What do you mean mama?"
"Oh you know, for your special night… he was supposed to wait until you were sixteen. I guess Franko sent him sooner. Those men, planning your lives like that -- Hunter to Cliff and Cordell off to some fancy house by the lake. Guess it was lucky that Hunter and Cliff reached an agreement shortly after your papa's death. He was always such a gentleman, that Cliff. I expect that house is out of business since they haven't come looking for Cordell." Jove waited patiently for word of the man he was supposed to have had relations with recently but his mother seemed to drift off, as she tended to do.
"And what about mine mama?" he probed gently.
"You Jiovanni?" his mama looked at him with a near blank eyed gaze, "why you were given to the gates of hell to cross into darkness when your blood burned. My sweet little Jiovanni." She lifted her hand to touch his face and he placed his hand on top of hers again on his cheek. When he did, his cuff slid down a little to expose the cuff bruise. She saw it and nodded at him. "But then you know the darkness, don't you Jiovanni? Did your blood burn first?"
"Yes mama. I sought him out."
"Good, at least now I know your papa wasn't a complete fool."
"Tell papa thank you for me."
"You'll take care of the girls?"
"Yes mama. He pays well to bruise me and he knows when to stop. The girls will be well cared for with both Hunter and I working together. You can rest now mama." He told her gently.
"Yes, rest. I need to rest." She smiled at him as he leaned over the bed and kissed her forehead.
"Rest well, mama." Jove picked up his soda and exited the room. Odessa was down the hall in the waiting room, waiting on him. "She's sleeping now. I don't think it's going to be much longer."
"I spoke to the nurse while you were in there. They don't seem to think it will be either. Cody is supposed to be bringing Elaina up tomorrow, and I'm supposed to come with Hunter the day after. Will you be all right waiting until Wednesday?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine, mama and I just said our good-byes. I think she knows." He looked at his sister. "I know you can't switch because of your classes. So, unless we all come and just hang out down here, I don't see any other way of doing it and I don't what good that will do when she's not lucid but for a few minutes each hour."
took the bus home, and once there Jove immediately went into the room
he shared with Hunter and stripped off the shirt he had borrowed and
tossed it in the laundry hamper, then he put on one of his own shirts.
He would have to figure out what to do about school tomorrow, but he
was not wearing the wrong colored shirt. He spent the rest of the
evening reading quietly and avoiding everyone. It was better when they
did not know. Hunter would have never given him the blue shirt before,
never. Them knowing was dangerous. He was glad they did not know
everything, he was not sure they would be able to handle it. He was not
sure he was able to handle it. The words swam on the page at times, but
he kept trying to read them anyway.
To be continued....
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