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Justin and Josh pulled Finn backwards, the three other musicians surrounding Jake, helping the young man to his feet, his hands cupping his nose.
"You've broke my nose, Finn! I see you're still a brawling twit!" the young man moaned, Finn's face flushed with anger.
"Come closer and I'll break your fucking neck!" Finn screamed, Jimmy walking in front of the man, trying to help Josh and Justin hold the man back, looking between Finn and Jake.
"What the hell's going on here? You both need to calm down!" the producer said, looking at Justin and Josh with confusion.
"What's going on here is this man's an abusive bastard! Let me at him!" Finn said, still trying to get out of Justin's and Josh's clutches, Josh's arms still around him, Josh's blue eyes now focused on Lucas.
Lucas stood back from everyone, his eyes having never left Jake's face.
His face showed a soft whiteness, his violet eyes staring with confusion.
Trish moved, her hand going to Lucas' shoulder, the man jumping from the touch.
"Luke, are you okay?" she said, her words met by two violet pools lowering.
Lucas moved, the young man rushing silently out of the room.
Trish and Skyler watched him leave, their eyes focusing back on Finn and Jake.
"Will someone please tell me what the hell's going on?" Jimmy said, Drew walking up to Justin and Josh, Drew looking at Josh, Drew's hands now grasping onto Finn.
"We'll calm Finn down, Josh. You go find Lucas." Drew said, Josh nodding.
Josh released Finn, Drew's arms going around the struggling young man.
Josh rushed out of the room, Drew focusing on Finn.
"Calm down, Finn. Step back!" Drew said with authority, Justin looking at him with surprise.
The lawyer moved, pulling a silent Finn down onto a couch by the wall, sitting down beside him, Justin moving with them, sitting down as well.
"Justin? Anyone? Would someone care to explain this?" Jimmy said, Drew looking at the producer.
"This man has previous
connections with the band, Jimmy. At one time he was Orion's drummer. He's actually Lucas' former boyfriend. And their
past wasn't one of mutual respect. Lucas had filed charges in England against
the man, Jacob Addison then fleeing that country."
The musicians and the producer looked surprised, the three musicians releasing their hold on the young man, Jake's blue eyes glancing around the room.
"False charges stemming from a misunderstanding. Luke's just delusional."
Finn began to rise again, anger again etched across his face, Justin and Drew pulling him back down.
"Delusional! You beat the crap out of him, you asshole!" Lucas screamed, Jimmy's eyes widening in surprise, the man staring at Jake.
"Is that true, Addison?" he said, the young drummer looking at Jimmy.
"Hey, he threatened me! I was defending myself!" Jake said, Finn struggling, Trish moving forward, stopping beside Jimmy.
"This man was once my brother's boyfriend, Jimmy. They'd had an abusive relationship for over a year, culminating in this man almost beating my brother to death. If Finn hadn't stopped him, Lucas would have died." she said, her blue eyes glaring at the man.
"Lucas carried the scars you gave him within his soul for a long time, Jake. He's now finally put you behind him. I suggest you leave and never come back. Stay away from him, Jake. Or next time I'll let Finn really release his anger on you." Trish said, Skyler at her side now.
"That goes for me too, scumbag." Skyler said, Justin standing up and walking to Jimmy's side.
"Your employment isn't wanted, Addison. Leave now." Justin said, the door of the room opening.
Two uniformed security guards walked into the room, looking at Jimmy and Justin.
"Mr. Chasez summoned us." one of them said, Jimmy looking at Jake.
"This man is to be
escorted out of the building and denied access. Understand?"
Jake sneered at Jimmy, then looked at Justin.
"I'm unionized, you assholes! You can't just fire me!"
"We never actually hired you, Addison. So there's no need to fire you. Get out." Jimmy said, beckoning the guards over, both men standing beside the young man, their hands clasping onto his arms.
"Looks like Lucky's got a new posse around him. Which one of you is fucking him now?" Jake laughed, blood dripping out of his nose, Justin's face clouding with anger, moving forward.
Jimmy's arm went across Justin's chest, stopping him.
"He's leaving, Justin. Right now." Jimmy said, the young man shaking the hands off his arms.
"Fine, I'll leave. But tell Luke I'll be around if he needs me some more. I know the bitch loves the pain."
Finn was on his feet, Drew tossed off him quickly, Justin turning and grabbing onto the younger man before he could reach Jake.
"I'll kill you if you come anywhere near him again, Addison!" Finn yelled, the other young man grinning, holding his nose as the two security guards followed him out of the room.
Trish, Skyler and Finn traded looks, Finn brushing off Justin's hands.
"What the hell is he doing here?" Skyler softly said, her arm around Trish.
Trish's eyes were on the closed door, her thoughts on her brother.
Josh opened the glass door, his blue eyes adjusting to the bright sunshine.
His eyes scanned the garden, focusing on a young man sitting on a bench in the corner, the man's head lowered.
Josh had rushed out of the recording studio, stopping briefly at that floor's reception desk, the woman behind it having told him Lucas had left in the elevator.
He'd told the secretary to summon the security team to the studio, Josh walking into an opening elevator.
At the front desk downstairs the receptionist had told Josh that Lucas had walked out into the outdoor gardens on the left side of the building.
Here now Josh stood at the door, staring at his boyfriend sitting alone in the corner of that garden.
Josh closed the door, Lucas' head remaining lowered, Josh quietly walking towards him.
Josh sat down on the bench beside him, Lucas remaining silent.
"That was a hell of a surprise,
Lucky. Are you okay?"
"Not that much of a surprise, Joshua. Pain has a way of following me. I knew he'd walk back into my life one day."
Josh's hand went to Lucas' shoulder, the young man tensing, Josh pulling his hand back.
"You're not alright, are you? I'm sorry you had to meet him again, Lucas. Jimmy will throw him out. We'll do our best to keep him away from you."
Lucas raised his head, Josh staring into two violet pools of wet emotion.
Josh saw a lot of relived pain in those eyes.
"Why. . .why did he have to come back now? Why does pain always follow me?" Lucas sobbed, Josh enveloping the young man as Lucas sank into his arms, Lucas sobbing against his chest, Josh's own eyes tearing.
"It's life, Lucas.
Life has a way of making things come full circle. I'm sorry he showed his face
again, I would do anything to ease the pain I just saw in your eyes. I see on
your face and in your beautiful eyes the reliving of that pain."
"He hurt me so much, Josh! He was so. . .he was so brutal! Seeing him...seeing him again brought it all back."
Josh nodded, holding the young man against him, pulling him into his protective love.
"He'll never hurt you again, Lucas. I'll see that he never comes near you again." Josh said, his face showing a determined love.
Lucas raised his head, staring into Josh's blue eyes, seeing the look there.
"No, Josh. You can't
stop life from flowing. I have to accept that as well. I saw him again, I faced
that hateful face again. I just have to deal with that truth. He'll always be
out there, I can't stop him from living. I just thought. . .I just thought
that. . ."
"That now you could go on with your life? That now the past could be closed off?"
Lucas nodded, Josh kissing his cheek, their eyes meeting.
"You can go on, Lucas.
Because now you have love in your heart again. That past is over. He'll
never hurt you again. I'm here to love you. You've been given a new happiness, a
new path to follow. It leads to my love, which you already have."
Lucas softly smiled, Josh softly kissing his lips.
Lucas looked around, no one seen in the garden.
"Josh. . .we're. . .we're
"You're hurting, my Lucky. I don't give a damn about anything but that. I love you."
Lucas smiled, wiping his eyes.
Josh smiled at him, their eyes meeting.
"Let's go home, Lucky.
I think you need my love."
Lucas nodded, standing up, Josh rising at his side.
"Let's go back
upstairs first, Josh. My friends are waiting."
Josh nodded, their hands going together.
"You have so much
courage, my love. That and my love will be enough."
Lucas smiled, leaning forward and kissing Josh's lips, the two parting.
"The beam of life I'll
always need, Beamy."
Josh smiled, the two walking back into the building.
Justin's eyes met Lucas' violet pools, then Josh's blue.
The young man walked back into the recording studio with Josh, his sister in his arms before he was barely through the door.
"Are you alright, Lucas?" Trish said, tears showing in her eyes, her arms around him.
Lucas smiled at her, kissing her cheek.
"I'm alright, Trishy. It was just such a surprise. I needed to group my emotions together." He softly said, Skyler walking up to the two, Josh smiling at her as her arms went around Lucas' waist as well.
Lucas smiled, the young woman kissing his cheek.
"You okay, Lukey?" she said with love in her smile.
"I'm handling it, Sky. Where's that brawler you love so much?" Lucas said, his eyes meeting Finn's, the man rising from the couch beside Drew, walking slowly up to him.
Finn stopped in front of the four, the two men's eyes meeting.
"You okay, Luke?"
Lucas smiled, his eyes showing wetness, Lucas moving forward, his friend's strong arms wrapping around him.
"I love you, Luke. I'd take on the world to keep you safe from him." Finn said, his blue eyes staring at his girlfriend and Trish, both women showing tears.
Lucas' eyes were filled with tears as well, Finn patting his back.
"Thank you, Finnegan.
Your love I cherish."
The two men broke their embrace, both wiping their eyes.
Lucas smiled at Finn, his hand going to the man's shoulder.
"I can't take you anywhere, Finny. We definitely have to buy you a new leash."
Finn lightly laughed, Lucas smiled, looking around the room, Jimmy and Justin walking up to them.
"Are you sure you're okay, Luke?" Justin said, their eyes meeting.
"I'm dealing with it,
Justin. Your friend's been a big help."
Justin nodded, his and Josh's eyes meeting.
Jimmy looked at Lucas, the young man staring at him.
"I'm sorry, Lucas. If I'd have known your past with him, the man wouldn't have set foot into the building." he said, Lucas nodding, smiling at him.
"It's not your fault,
Jimmy. You had no way of knowing who he was, or our connection."
"I'm sorry, Lucas. He's been banned from the building and we'll make sure he never gets near you."
Lucas nodded, patting the man's shoulder.
"You can't stop life, Jimmy. I think I've finally realized that."
Jimmy nodded, looking at Justin.
"The man came highly
recommended. I would never have imagined that. . ."
"You can't always judge a book by its cover. Especially when it's missing a few pages." Lucas softy said, Josh's eyes staring at him.
"We'll deal with this later, Lucas. You take off." Jimmy smiled, Lucas looking towards the three other men standing and staring at him.
"Alright, Jimmy. But first, please introduce me to these three musicians. And I guess you'll have to look again for a drummer."
Jimmy nodded, the three men stepping forward, Lucas shaking all of their hands as Jimmy introduced them.
Lucas smiled at all three, seeing a look of compassionate respect in all their eyes.
Lucas knew that his bandmates had told all of them about his relationship with Jacob Addison.
Lucas talked with all three, Josh shaking their hands.
Justin pulled Jimmy quietly away from the group, their eyes meeting.
"Who recommended Addison, Jimmy?" Justin said, Jimmy looking at him.
"One of your friends, Justin." Jimmy said, telling him.
Justin's eyes widened a bit, his blue pools focusing on Josh and Lucas.
Jake Addison stood at the bathroom mirror, his fingers rubbing his nose.
He saw the bruising beginning to show, the man's blue eyes darkening.
"You're an asshole, Delaney! I'll make you pay for this." he muttered to himself, his blue eyes examining the damage.
His left eye was showing a bruise as well, his nose not broken, but swollen.
"Yeah, I'll make you pay, Finny. I should have fucked your ass when I had the chance." the man said, rubbing his nose.
He stood at the mirror, his shirt gone, his muscled chest on full view.
A knock came to his hotel room's door, the man walking out of the bathroom.
Jake sighed, walking up to the door, flinging it open.
He stared into two piercing blue eyes, a look of shock registering on the man's face in the hallway.
"You look like shit, Addison." the man said, staring at him, the drummer glaring at him, then turning and walking over to the bar fridge in the hotel room's corner.
The man in the hallway walked into the room, closing the door behind him.
"I take it you weren't met with jubilation and love?" the man smiled, Jake's dark blue eyes staring at him.
"Finn Delaney's as much an asshole as he always was." the drummer said, pulling out a bottle of rye whiskey from the fridge, sitting down on a wing chair by the room's window, the other man staring at him.
"I take it Finn is the result of that bruised face of yours?"
"Yes, the bastard sucker-punched me, caught me off guard, otherwise I would have swept the floor with him."
"You two seem to love to fight each other." the man said, reaching for the bottle from Jake's hands, grabbing two glasses off the top of the fridge, handing Jake one, Jake taking it.
The man opened the bottle, pouring each of them a glass of whiskey, setting the bottle down on the nightstand by the bed, sitting down on the bed in front of the wing chair, sipping at his glass.
"And Lucas? How did he react to your sudden appearance?"
"The little bitch ran off like a scared little pussy." Jake smiled, the other man smiling.
"So your appearance rattled him, did it?"
"He's terrified of me, I saw it in his eyes." Jake said, downing his glass of rye, the other man pouring him another.
"Good. The boy needs to be kept on edge."
"What's your game anyway? Why did you bring me here? And why throw me into the mix?" Jake said, taking another drink.
"You know your appearance was necessary, to keep the mix flowing."
"Whatever. As long as
you keep paying me I'm okay with making the boy's life miserable. What do you
want me to do next?"
"You stay here and keep your mouth shut. When I need you to do something I'll let you know."
The drummer stared at the other man, his eyes scanning the man's slim muscled form.
"You want me to stay shut up here, that would be as boring as hell."
"No worries, my friend. I'll keep you entertained. You enjoyed last night's entertainment, didn't you?"
The young drummer smiled, his thoughts going back to last night's surprising wildness.
And the surprising participants doing the entertaining.
"Yeah, I enjoyed it. As I'm certain your celebrity friends did, too."
"Yeah, they all texted me this morning about your insatiable ass and your cock-hungry mouth. For someone who beats the shit out of young singers, you've got a real submissive side."
Jake smiled, staring at the man seated across from him.
"Hey, I aim to please your celebrity stud friends any way you want. As long as the money flows I'll be anyone's bitch. They all loved every inch of me and my amazing techniques."
"Yes, I'm sure you got quite a few tips last night, monetary and physical."
"I bend as the wind blows, or as the star blows." Jake smirked.
The other man sipped his drink, his blue eyes locked on Jake Addison's blue.
"Your morals are nonexistent, slut."
Jake smiled, spreading his legs, the other man's eyes going to the prominent package showing.
"Care to sample your merchandise, sir?"
The other man smiled, his blue eyes staring into Jake's blue.
"In a moment, slut.
I'm just waiting for the other half of this sandwich."
Jake looked confused, the man smiling.
A knock came to the hotel room's door, the man seated on the bed rising up, walking to the door, Jake staring at him as he stopped at it.
The man opened the door, smiling at who stood in the hallway.
A curly young blond haired man stood in the room's entrance, his face rugged and smooth, his body sculpted and muscular, the man wearing a long sleeved white t-shirt and black jeans.
The t-shirt showed off his taut chest, his abs outlined under its whiteness.
"Come in, my friend. I'm glad you're back in town." the man smiled, the other man walking into the hotel room, the man closing the door.
The new man traded looks with Jake, the young drummer standing up.
"Who's your abused friend? He looks like you played too rough with him. You becoming a bitch-slapping brawler now, Adam?"
Adam Levine smiled, his eyes going to Jake and then back to the new stranger.
"All part of the plan, my friend. All part of the plan."
The other man shook his head, staring at Adam, then at Jake.
"You always were a devious bastard, Levine. So what's my part in this charade? And what's your offered price?" the man said, Adam smiling.
"I've got one part of
the duo now out of sorts, your part is to work on the other half."
"What--or who--the hell are you talking about?" the man said, Adam smiling.
"I'm talking about your lost love, angel face." Adam laughed, sipping at his glass of rye which still was in his hand.
The man's eyes widened in confusion, Adam's hand going to his shoulder.
"What would you say if I could offer you your wildest desires?"
"What are you talking about, Adam?"
Adam smiled, his eyes going between the two men.
"All in good time, sexy. Right now I'm in the mood to see you two get better acquainted. I know what kind of slut you've always been my friend, and I think this young drummer stud here may be an even bigger one." Adam smiled, the man sitting down on the bed's edge again.
"Show him your talents, Jake. And then I'm going to take both of you."
Jake stared at Adam, his eyes then turning to the blond-haired man staring at him.
"It's your dime,
Levine. And I'm always game to take on a hot stud."
The man stared at Jake, the drummer's eyes scanning over his rugged torso.
"What's your game, Levine?" the man said, looking at Adam.
"My game's my own, sunshine. And I can make Josh welcome you home with open arms."
Bryce Hartwell's eyes widened, staring at Adam.
"Josh? My Josh?" he said, Adam smiling.
"Your Josh is banging a new hot little morsel, Bryce. Seems he's forgotten all about you. I think it's only fair you get from him what you deserve, what you were denied before. Am I correct?"
"Josh. . .he's. . .he's with someone else?"
Adam smiled, standing up and walking up to the younger man, his hand going to his shoulder.
"He's banging a hot little number that's well above his means. That young man I want. And I'm going to use Jake here and you to get him. Understand?"
The man looked confused, Adam smiling, nodding towards Jake, the young drummer walking up to both of them.
"Lucas Carver's mine. Or so he'll soon understand. And you and this slut will get your desires. What do you want, Bryce? The same thing I gave you four years ago, or is it money now? The same as you desired from Josh."
Bryce stared at Adam, the singer smirking at him.
"I want Josh to pay, Adam. I want everything from him."
Adam smiled, his hand going to Bryce's face, rubbing his cheek.
Jake smiled at both men, Adam smiling at Bryce.
"You've experienced my
energy, Bryce. Jake here's experienced my friends' energy. Today I'm going to
feed off both of you. And then we go forward to what we need."
Bryce stared at Adam for a moment, the man feeling a hand rubbing against his center, his eyes turning to two blue pools of lust staring at him.
"Get his clothes off,
Jake. I want to fuck both of you."
Jake smiled, his hands going to Bryce's belt.
"I hate you, Adam." Bryce said, Adam smiling as he pulled his own shirt off, his tattooed torso coming into full view.
"I don't give a rat's
ass what your opinion of me is, Hartwell. We've gone through that before. Today I'm only after your ass,
and that I've had before. You'll both give into my needs. And then I'll guide you to
yours. You game for that, Bryce?"
Bryce slowly nodded, his mind on Joshua Chasez.
"Alright, Adam. I'm game for everything."
Adam smiled, sitting back down on the bed again, leaning back on his elbows, staring at both men, Jake opening Bryce's pants, pulling them and himself to the floor.
Bryce sighed, then gasped, feeling a mouth cover his rising center.
Adam smirked, staring at the scene of developing lust displayed before him, his thoughts on someone else.
I'll fuck you both, and have you both.
And then you'll
lead me to what I want.
And one hot little Welshman will be mine.
You can't run from me, Lucas.
I'll claim you and have you.
And then I'll own them all.
Josh, Justin, you, maybe that muscle man Finn.
Yes, you will be mine, and I'll best them all.
I do love the game of conquest.
Adam smiled, closing his eyes as the two now naked younger men moved toward him, the man feeling two sets of hands going towards his center.
Adam grinned as he pulled a blond Justin Timberlake look-a-like down to his waiting lips.
He smiled, thinking about Josh and his former lover Bryce, who bore a striking resemblance to Justin.
Tsk, tsk, Josh.
You showed your true needs in banging this look-a-like.
I know you and Justin were one time sluts together.
I've now had you both.
Now I'll best you both.
Adam smiled, flipping Bryce over, watching Jake guide his large cock to Bryce's waiting mouth.
Adam grinned, sinking forward into Josh's one-time lover.
Yes, I'll best you both.
Adam smiled, joining the passion.
"He did what?"
Justin stood against the kitchen counter, sipping on the glass of ice water he held in his hand.
"It was Adam, Josh. Jimmy told me Adam Levine recommended Jake for the band."
Josh stood by Justin, a tray of ice cubes in his hand, the two men alone in the kitchen.
The man wore a look of confused surprise, dropping ice cubes into the two glasses before him, Justin staring at him.
"How. . .how the hell did Adam find him?"
"Not sure, Joshy. All
I know is that it was Adam who guided Jake to Jimmy's door. And if that's true
then this was another of Adam's devious, cruel jokes."
"I'll. . .I'll kill the bastard!" Josh said, his face flushing with anger.
Justin's hand went to Josh's shoulder, the man feeling the tensed resolve in Josh's posture.
"Calm down, Josh. You can't go off half-cocked after him. You know he'll have some made up excuse for this. The man's nothing if not bold and thorough."
"He hurt my Lucas, Jus. I won't put up with that."
Justin nodded, rubbing Josh's shoulder.
"Yes, and that
Josh looked confused, staring at his friend.
"You and I both can deduce the reasoning behind why he did it."
Josh stared at Justin, Justin sighing.
"His joke with Joey
was meant to hurt you, this was meant to hurt Lucas. I think the man's next plan
is to play both of you against each other. And there's only one reason behind
that. He wants you two broken up so he can go for his prize."
Josh stared at Justin, a look crossing his face.
"Lucas? He's. . .he's after my Lucas?"
"That's what I
believe, Joshy. I think he's set those craving eyes of his on our Lucas. And
damn if I'll let him hurt either of you, Lucas especially. I saw the terror in
his eyes today, and I know those violet eyes would show an even deeper hurt if
he ever lost you."
Josh stared at Justin, Justin smiling at him.
"I see the love
entrenched in both of your eyes, Josh. There's no way I'll allow Adam to ever
Josh smiled, his blue eyes staring into Justin's blue pools.
"I won't put up with this, Jus. And I'm going to make Adam see that." Josh said, Justin seeing the determination in Josh's blue eyes.
"You leave Adam to me,
Josh. I'll make the man see the truth."
Josh stared at Justin, the man's blue eyes filled with determination.
"What's your story,
Justin's eyes met Josh's again.
"I know you and Adam had something, Justin. I see a look in your eyes when his name's mentioned. Were you. . .did he. . .?"
Justin sighed, the man pouring water into the two ice-cubed glasses for Josh.
"Adam and I had a
brief interlude, Josh."
"Justin, what happened?"
Justin lowered his eyes for a moment, then raised them, Josh seeing deep hurt there.
"Nothing much. I was
just another notch on his well-notched bedpost. It's over between us."
Josh nodded, staring at his friend.
"I guess the man's a master at deception. I was just as easily used."
Justin's eyes met Josh's, seeing the truth there.
"You. . .you never told me." Justin said, staring at his friend with surprise.
"It was brief and forgettable, Justin."
Justin nodded, rubbing Josh's shoulder again.
"The man's a bastard, Josh. And it's time someone made him see that." Justin said, Josh seeing the determination in his friend's blue eyes, his hand now going to his shoulder.
"Stay away from him, Jus. I don't like the look in your eyes."
"He needs to understand what you and Lucas have, Josh. I won't let him interfere with that. I love you guys."
Josh smiled, leaning forward and kissing Justin's cheek.
"We know that, Justin.
But we don't need you defending us. Adam will never drive a wedge between Lucky
and myself. I love Lucas. Nothing or no one will ever change that."
Justin smiled, patting his friend's shoulder.
"Your Lucky's waiting for you in the living room, Joshy. That's what you need."
Josh smiled, picking up the two glasses of ice water Justin had filled, the man walking out of the kitchen.
Justin watched his friend leave, his mind flooding with determined thoughts.
I don't know what your game is Adam, but I won't put up with it.
They're my friends.
I love them both.
Keep your damn hands off of them.
I'm going to make sure you understand that.
I won't let you get anywhere near Lucas.
You're the opposite of me, Adam.
I love him, you want him.
And damned if I'll let you have him.
Justin's eyes focused, the man walking quietly out of the kitchen.
Lucas smiled, Josh sitting down beside him in the living room, the young man surrounded by his friends.
Josh handed Lucas one of the ice water glasses, Lucas smiling at him as he took a sip, Josh smiling back.
Josh's smile widened, Lucas smiling lovingly at him, their friends smiling at the two as well.
"I'm alright guys. My mind's focused on the truth surrounding me. The love that surrounds me conquers my fears."
Finn smiled at Lucas, Skyler snuggled against him, Trish and Drew snuggled on another couch.
"We're all here for you, Lucas." Finn said, Lucas smiling at his friend.
"You need to conquer your aggressiveness, Conan." Lucas smiled, Finn lightly chuckling.
"I protect those I
Lucas nodded, the two men trading glances.
"Thank you for doing
that, Finn. But you didn't have to flatten the guy."
"My anger took over, Luke. When I saw him. . .I saw you in pain that day. I wanted to finish what I'd started."
Lucas nodded, everyone quietly watching the two men talk.
"Violence is never an answer for pain, Finnegan. Acceptance and understanding is. I've tried to wash that man from my memories. Today those memories all came back."
Josh's hand went in Lucas', Lucas smiling and squeezing it gently, feeling Josh's love.
"I'm sorry you had to experience that all over again, Luke. I hate him for that." Finn said, a soft look of emotion showing on his face.
"I'll never truly be rid of those memories, Finny. But perhaps that's part of life. We all carry our own baggage. We just have to decide how we want to handle it. Our bags are packed with memories. One day we just have to open the suitcases. Sometimes we've forgotten we packed the wrong things."
Everyone's eyes were on Lucas, the young man's violet eyes scanning around the room.
"I just realized today that one of my suitcases was packed by an asshole."
Josh stared at Lucas, Justin standing in the kitchen doorway.
"I think it's time I unpacked that suitcase. I can't live with the stink coming from it anymore."
Josh's blue eyes met Lucas' violet, the young man softly smiling at him.
Lucas looked around, then sighed.
"Jacob did more than
physically abuse me, everyone. The man was nothing if not controlling."
Finn stared at his friend in shock, their eyes meeting.
"He. . .he. . .oh no, Lucas?!"
"Yes, Finnegan. Jacob
Addison had total control over me. For the last six months of our relationship
he owned me, body and soul."
Finn lowered his head, Skyler's eyes filled with tears, the young woman rubbing Finn's back.
Trish stared at her brother, her eyes filled with tears, Drew's arm around her.
"I wasn't strong
enough guys. The man tortured me sexually and emotionally. In every sense of
the word he raped me, my mind and my body. I wasn't strong enough."
Trish began to cry, Lucas looking at his sister.
"Don't cry for me,
Patricia. I was a coward who didn't have the strength to stand against him.
Finnegan's love and strength stayed the man's total destruction of me. But my
mind's carried a lot of guilt since then. The guilt I have for not being strong
enough. For not being man enough to fight against the pain, the humiliation."
Josh's arm moved, going around the younger man, Lucas' violet eyes meeting his blue.
"But a love now
surrounds me. A love of truth, hope and acceptance. A love I always longed for,
a love I never received from him. Seeing him today made me realize what I now
have. I have a love I've earned."
Josh smiled at Lucas, the man staring at him.
"My love is yours,
Lucas. You've earned it with the beauty of your smile, the giving love of your
heart, the need of your soul. You never have to feel guilty for letting that man
hurt you. You were controlled, you were hurt. None of that was your fault."
"I know, Joshua. I finally, in my heart, know that. Seeing Jake today unleashed that uncertainty in my soul, the revisiting of all that pain. Standing back now from it, I truly see the control he had me under. I finally realize that I was the victim. I was the victim of his hurtful needs and anger. I never did anything to deserve any of it. I've always been a good, loving man. Your love made me see that. All of your love made me see who I am, who I've always been." Lucas said, his tearing violet eyes going around the room, everyone staring at him with compassion and love.
"The suitcase is open and I've emptied it. I can now refill it with a nicer cargo."
Josh smiled at Lucas, leaning forward, their lips meeting.
"I love you, Lucas.
Wash your mind of the past, it's the present and the future that you need to
focus on. Your suitcases are packed and the voyage of a lifetime begins before
Lucas smiled, his teary violet eyes locked on Josh's.
"Way to ruin my metaphor, Beamy."
Josh laughed, everyone in the room chuckling, wiping their moist eyes, Lucas smiling and looking around the room.
"I'm okay, guys. The
past is gone, the happiness of my future is ahead. I have love all around me. I
can live now."
Everyone smiled, Lucas looking at Josh, the two trading a deep look of love.
Lucas patted Josh's knee.
"I'm tired, Joshua. Care to cuddle with a nutcase?"
Josh looked into Lucas' violet eyes.
"I'd sooner cuddle with my man."
Lucas smiled, a soft look of happiness flooding his face.
"Come on, Beamy. He's
Everyone smiled, the two men rising, their hands together, both walking down the hallway.
Justin's eyes followed the two, his mind on his own suitcases.
Arlo Hammond stretched his old muscled arms outward, the shovel leaning against his knee.
He stood tall at six foot three, the man's brown eyes scanning the cemetery surrounding him.
He'd been caretaker here for almost fifty years, the job his life.
At seventy-three his life had flowed down its own tumultuous path.
And through it all death was his constant companion.
His eyes scanned the freshly dug hole before him, taking in the revealed depth he'd just unveiled, and its small size.
"Children going before their parents. Such is the tragedy of God's confusing plans." he muttered to himself, moving the shovel and planting it in the mount of dirt beside the hole.
He sighed, walking around the new grave, sitting down on a marble tombstone on its other side.
His eyes scanned the graveyard again, a soft breeze meeting his face, its gentle warmness hinting of a warming season ahead.
"Summer's a-coming, Rosa Sharon. But you'll miss it now forever." he softly said, his eyes taking in the quiet deadness of the place he called home.
Surrounding him were tombstones, mausoleums, unmarked graves and old crypts of forgotten death.
"Life lives with death. Your new friends here feel not the sun's warmth. But you'll feel their welcoming acceptance. Your life's over child, you'll sleep the long sleep now." he muttered, reaching to his left, picking up the brown paper bag which contained his supper.
His eyes scanned towards the sun, its golden sphere sinking behind the cedar trees that lined the left side of the embankment at the cemetery's entrance.
"God's marked your spot, child. Here your body shall stay, your soul gone to Him." the man said, biting into the ham sandwich he'd made himself that morning.
The man ate his meal, staring at the small hole he'd just finished digging.
The man's solemn thoughts were interrupted by a clanging sound, then a loud thud.
The old caretaker set his supper down, his brown eyes scanning the cemetery as he stood to his feet.
"Who's a-wandering out there?" he yelled, his eyes scanning the tombstones.
No voice returned any answer.
The man wrapped his coat around his neck, walking around the newly dug hole.
He glanced around, a soft darkness now flooding the cemetery, the sun now sunken in its nightly travels.
Arlo's tired eyes scanned the tombs and tombstones, seeing no one.
He walked through their now shadowing shapes, his eyes darting everywhere.
"You young whipper snappers best not be playing games. The dead need no amusement!" he called, no answer returned.
He walked down the right side of the graveyard, following the cobblestone path that was older than his own life.
This cemetery dated back well over two hundred years.
His eyes looked through the shadows, seeing no one.
"Where are ya, ya minx? Time for games is over. My work's near done and I've a warm bed awaiting me. I don't need this!" he shouted, the only sound the rustling leaves in the shadowy trees surrounding him.
He looked ahead of him, a large marble tomb showing, embedded in the side of a grassy slope, the tomb's top and sides covered in ancient moss, the years casting it into shadowy neglect.
Arlo's trained eyes saw an irregularity in the tomb's face, its single iron-gated entrance showing a slight difference.
"Wandering into tombs? You should never disturb the dead, fools." the man said, his fingers tightening around the shovel he held in his hand, the man having picked it up when he'd risen off the tombstone.
He walked slowly down the stone path, his eyes darting everywhere.
He felt a bristling on the back of his neck, a soft fear taking shape down in his soul.
Wandering in a graveyard at dark's commencement.
Are you a fool, Arlo?
He shook off his thoughts, courage gaining in his heart.
The man stopped in front of the old marble tomb, his eyes scanning its front surface, his eyes raising to the name etched above the old iron-gated door.
The name was covered in moss, the man making out only two letters.
His eyes lowered, going to the two iron gates that sealed in the entrance to the tomb.
One gate was slightly opened, its black ironed facade lightly swinging in the flowing breeze.
The old caretaker's eyes looked past the iron gates, staring at the stone doorway into the tomb.
He saw a lifted edge on one side, the stone door slightly moved outward.
"Opening a crypt? Do people have no souls?" he softly said, tightening his grip on the shovel in his hand even more.
"Who goes there?!" he shouted, his voice softly echoing off the stone facade of the crypt.
No sound came from ahead of him, Arlo's hand going to the iron gate that swung outward to him.
The man's forward motion was met with a new sound behind him.
Arlo froze at its sudden clarity.
A soft giggle filled his ears, the man turning his body around quickly.
What met his eyes totally stunned his soul.
Ahead of him through the tombstones stood a little girl, the child smiling at him, the man taking in her small beautiful countenance.
She wore a soft pink dress, a ribbon tied at her waist, her long blond hair shining in the dimness, her face a radiant cherub of youthful beauty.
She giggled again, smiling at the stunned caretaker.
"The shadows are fun, Arlo." she said, her voice soft and clear on the evening's air.
The man's voice stuttered, trying to focus on what stood before him.
"Rosa. . .Rosa Sharon? It. . .it cannot be!" He stuttered, the child giggling, moving now, running with apparent happiness through the tombstones, her small form skipping with glee.
The man's tired eyes followed her, the child suddenly disappearing before him.
The graveyard was once again silent, the caretaker's hand letting go of the shovel it held, the implement landing on the cobbled stones below him.
Its contact rang out as a loud clang, the man's eyes still lost in the reality it had just witnessed.
"She laughs upon the threshold of the next life. She will shade herself in its wonder."
Arlo's blood ran cold, his body moving around slowly, his eyes taking in another vision of ghostly wonder before him.
Two green eyes stared at him, a cloaked man standing in front of the tomb's doorway, the stone door now pushed back.
The man was tall, handsome and wore his own cloak of masculinity and ruggedness.
"Who. . .who are you? What are you doing. . .what. . .?"
The vision smiled, staring at the now visibly shivering man in front of him.
"Stoke your courage, my good man. I
have need of you tonight."
The old caretaker backed up, the other man unmoving.
"Need of me? I'll. . .I'll not aid you in grave robbing!" Arlo said, backing up more.
"Do it for a friend then. I am here to guide you forward."
"You are no friend of mine. You are. . .who are you?"
"I am your guide, Arlo Hammond. I am here to guide you into the shadows. But first I need your assistance. It has vanished."
The caretaker moved, his feet carrying him now, the man heading up the stone path, not looking back at the tomb.
The man ran up the hill, heading for the entrance of the cemetery, his fear carrying him.
His feet suddenly stopped on their own, the man staring ahead of him at a scene that totally froze his blood.
His eyes took in the spot before him.
He stared at the small hole he'd dug himself all afternoon.
The emptiness of the hole wasn't what shocked him.
What lay on the other side of the hole seared his mind like a total truth.
Laying on top of the marble flat tombstone on the other side of the hole was an old man, his body laying flat on the ancient marble.
Arlo's old tired eyes stared into his own face, his body laying lifeless on the stone, a half-eaten sandwich laying in his hand.
"A good way to die, in the silence of one's own thoughts."
The old man turned, staring into two green eyes staring back at him, the man only feet from him.
"Who are. . .are you death? Am I dead?"
The man smiled a soft smile, staring at the man with silent compassion.
"You have crossed the void, caretaker of their dignity. It is time for you to seek the answers."
The old caretaker went to one knee, lowering his head.
"Take me death, I am ready to walk
that final path."
The man felt a hand go to his shoulder, his head raising, staring into two green eyes of intense glowing heat.
"I am not death, Arlo. I am the shade of truth. Death comes soon enough in the shades of our own truths."
The man looked confused, the other handsome man smiling at him.
"What. . .what is your name?"
"I am Joshua, Arlo."
The caretaker stared at the man, seeing a deep look of compassion in those glowing eyes.
"What. . .what do you need of me?"
The man smiled a soft smile of warmth.
"I need you to find my soul, Arlo. The young monster's hidden it."
End of Chapter 21
Okay, what the hell does that mean?
What does an old caretaker in an old cemetery have to do with the mysterious Joshua?
What is Joshua trying to find?
Who's the young monster who's hidden it?
I hoped you liked the introduction of Jake and now the young Bryce.
Seems Adam's got some wild plan in place to capture Lucas.
Will Josh and Justin stop him?
Will Lucas see through it?
I love all the questions!