Time Goes On: Chapter 9

Title: Time Goes On
Chapter: Chapter 9 of 10
Author: Chelle
Rating: NC-17
Warning: This fictional story contains mature content such as; alcohol-usage, profanity, sex and violence, consider youself warned.
Excerpt: It was a happy family again, we weren’t pretending. No one thought about what had happened or what could possibly. We just soaked up the jubilation we were all feeling at that moment. It was a lot, almost too much. I felt Zac’s arms slide around my waist. I leaned back onto him as he hugged me gently. If only it could have stayed that wonderful. If only Joshua would bring and keep peace and happiness among us like we’d all expected him to do. If only we could have had some sign at what a disaster was right upon all of us. One that no family could every prepare for. The ties that had held us together were about to come unraveled.

Chapter 9

“I don’t understand. How could he have possibly pulled something like that off?” Diana said as she sat back in the chair. “I don’t know mom. He managed it somehow. We still don’t know the whole story. There’s lots of pieces still missing.” Taylor replied. “How did Karen get in the middle of something that is obviously between Zac and Courtney?” Walker asked. “That’s one piece that still doesn’t fit. We don’t know.” Isaac answered. Diana sighed heavily and looked over at me. “Do you still have the pictures?” she asked. “Uh-huh. They’re upstairs in my purse. I’ll go get them.” I answered as I stood up.
I could faintly hear Ike and Taylor talking with their parents as I walked upstairs. Tori’s soft voice trying to keep order in the conversation could also be heard. I walked into the room I shared with Zac and began to dig around under the luggage and clothes to find my purse. “This is unbelievable. Home less than forty eight hours and there’s shit everywhere.” I said to myself as I stepped over a suitcase. “Looks like a fucking hurricane hit this place.” I continued to mumble out loud as I found my purse and quickly unzipped it. As I looked through the pictures once more, everything about the last two weeks flooded through my mind. I was glad we were home though. I’d slept better the night before than I had since we’d been on tour. Everyone was relaxed and enjoyed catching up with each other. Diana had made an amazing dinner and we’d stayed up late talking and laughing. Now, Zac had taken Zoe and Mack out for lunch at McDonald’s and for ice cream afterwards and Jessica had gone to the store with Avery. Diana and Walker had basically pounced on us as soon as Jess pulled out of the driveway. They had waited long enough and had not intended on waiting as long as they had. We’d convinced them that no one else needed to be at home when we told them about what had been going on. We were all sitting in the living room and they had listened, though shocked to say the least, to the story of the latest discoveries we’d made about Zac.
I came downstairs and handed Diana the pictures. Walker stepped over to his wife and looked over her shoulder. Diana’s hand went to her mouth as tears filled her eyes. “Oh my Lord.” she said as Walker placed a hand on her back. He just stared and then nodded. “Well,” he sighed “I think we need to get in touch with Courtney first. Honey, do you still have her number?” he asked Diana. “Yeah,” she said composing herself. “It’s in the book by the phone.” Walker picked the book up, flipped through it and then began to dial a number. Diana turned to us. “You all better brace yourselves. Zac’s gonna loose it when he finds out that we know all of this.” She sighed again. “I have a feeling this is not going to be a pleasant situation and unfortunately, I can’t promise that no one will get hurt.” She then turned to her husband and said “Walker, it’s almost time for them to get back. See if she can come over this weekend. It’ll be easier to think of a way to get Zac and the kids out of the house. Tell her Saturday afternoon.” Walker nodded and began talking to Courtney again. “Well, actually,” she said quietly, “Maybe it’d be better of he was here. Let her come over and then that way, we just might get the truth.” Taylor glared at his mother. “I don’t think that’s a good idea mom. If he and Courtney are here together, then things will really heat up.” Tori slowly stood up and said “I’m sure it’ll be all right. I agree with your mom, maybe there’ll be a less chance of either of them lying.” She began to walk toward the stairs. “Tori, are you ok.” Ike asked. She turned back and nodded. “Yeah, I just want to go wash my face off. I feel like a hot flash is coming on or something.” she smiled and then continued on upstairs. Diana looked at Taylor and said “Go check on her. She don’t look good.” Walker hung the phone up and said “Courtney will try to be here around one o’clock. She sounds worried. I just told her it was important but I didn’t say anything else about any of this.” Diana smiled slightly. “Who don’t look good?” Walker asked. “Tori.” Diana answered. Walker turned and watched Taylor go up the stairs and then said “Maybe she’s just tired.”
We sat quietly chatting for a few moments. Ike and I answered all the questions we could about everything we’d found out but it was clear that his parents wanted to know as much as we did. Suddenly, Taylor came running down the stairs yelling. “MOM! Mom, c’mere! I think Tori’s in labor!” Diana jumped from her seat, as did Ike and me, and the four of us filed up the stairs. Taylor led us into his and Tori’s bedroom. She was panting, with one hand on her stomach and the other hand holding her up as she leaned back on the bed. “Oh for crying out loud Taylor, why don’t you put your things away?!” Diana said as she stepped over a backpack and clothes to get to Tori. “Baby, how are you feeling?” She asked in a soothing voice. Tori smiled sweetly and said “Oh I’m fine. I think, um, I this one’s ready to make a grand entrance.” We all kinda laughed and Walker said “Taylor, go pull the car around to the front. Ike, you go call the hospital. The number is by the phone in the kitchen on a note pad. I’ll get your things, Tori. Which suitcase is it?” She grunted in pain and said “That little one, over on the chair. It’s all packed.” Diana and I helped Tori stand up and walk down the stairs. “The hospital is calling the doctor.” Ike yelled from the living room. I grabbed Tori’s purse off of the doorknob as Taylor met us in the hall. With Taylor on one side and Diana on the other, Tori was led down the stairs. When we got to the living room, Ike said “Smile pretty mommas!” We glanced up and there stood Ike with a video camera! “Isaac, did you call Zac?” Walker asked. Ike backed out of the front door, still filming saying “Yes, but I had to leave a message. His phone’s turned off. I called Jessica too.” Tori got into the backseat with Taylor and me as Walker climbed into the driver seat. Diana sat between her husband and Isaac as Walker drove to the hospital.
There was a very noticeable thickness in the air of the waiting room. A lot of uneasy glares were exchanged and no one said much. Zac and Jessica were reading a magazine article together while Walker sat quietly watching the news. Mack and Zoe were playing a game with a deck of cards Zac had just bought for them, Isaac was walking around looking at different pictures on the wall and Avery had been wandering up and down the hallway. Taylor and Diana were in the delivery room with Tori. Diana had taken over the video camera, explaining that Ike had gotten her on film quiet enough since we’d been home. I felt as though the walls were closing in around me. I thought about a lot of things and wondered what would happen after all was said and done that Saturday. Zac had hardly said two words to me and I began to think that maybe he’d noticed the pictures missing or maybe he’d gotten a call from Courtney. That made me feel so sick to my stomach that I had to shake the thought immediately. Diana came down the hall looking exhausted. When she saw the expressions everyone gave her she held her hands up and said “Not yet. She’s doing good though.” We all gathered around her. ”
Everything is going really good. She’s gonna deliver any minute now. I thought that you’d all want to come to the waiting area close to her room instead of being a floor down.” We all went to the elevator and rode it to the next floor. After turning the corner, there was a much larger waiting area that was empty. We waited there while Diana went back in to help Taylor and Tori.
Another hour went by and then two nurses came out of the room. They walked right past all of us. We were almost about to sit back down when Diana came out of the room and motioned for us. We all walked up to the door where we heard the baby crying. Diana had tears in her eyes and said “They’re fine. They’re all fine.” Walker hugged her tightly. The uneasy feeling that had formed among us were gone and replaced completely with excitement and joy. A little while later, Taylor came out holding the tiny new Hanson family member in his arms. “Look y’all! I’m a daddy!” he said, a huge and proud smile plastered on his face. With that announcement, laughter filled the short hallway as we stepped closer to look at the new baby that we knew would make life better. “Ok, ok now can we please know what this child’s name is?!” Avery said rolling her eyes. We all laughed again and Walker said “Son, you don’t have a choice. You have to tell us what we will be calling this little fellow.” Taylor smiled at us and said “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you all to our son, Joshua.” A series of “Awws” came from everyone. Tay then turned and looked at Isaac. “Joshua Angel Hanson.” Our mouths dropped and our eyes widened. We all glared at each other as Taylor slowly handed the baby to Ike and said “If you don’t mind.” Isaac stared down at the baby with an expression of happiness and surprise. Then he whispered “Joshua Angel Hanson. No, Taylor, I don’t mind.” The family felt so close there, gathered around the newest addition. It was a happy family again, we weren’t pretending. No one thought about what had happened or what could possibly. We just soaked up the jubilation we were all feeling at that moment. It was a lot, almost too much. I felt Zac’s arms slide around my waist. I leaned back onto him as he hugged me gently. If only it could have stayed that wonderful. If only Joshua would bring and keep peace and happiness among us like we’d all expected him to do. If only we could have had some sign at what a disaster was right upon all of us. One that no family could every prepare for. The ties that had held us together were about to come unraveled. However, a new beginning was about to start. It would be one that would prove how as time goes on, pieces fall into place right where they should be… right where they stay.


“Tori, I have to tell you something. I’m not sure how to put it. I had no plans of ever telling anybody. Not now anyway. I just don’t think I can keep it to myself anymore.” Tori sat up and wiggled her finger out of Joshua’s grasp. They’d brought him home just the day before and Tori and I were finally alone in her bedroom. The house had been crowded with visitors coming in and out all day and I had gotten caught up in helping Diana. Taylor and Tori loved showing the baby off to everyone. They were the proudest parents I had ever seen but all of us were thankful when things finally settled down and it was just the family.
“I won’t tell anybody, I promise,” she said. I stood by the window and turned to face her.
“Tori, I, um, I think that…” suddenly I felt as though I couldn’t talk. It was like my mind went blank. I couldn’t think of what to say. “Melissa, look at me,” she said. I raised my head and our eyes met. “What? You have been acting really weird, now tell me what’s wrong?” I looked down at my hands and tried to think of a way to tell her. “Melissa? Please! You can tell me anything. I won’t tell I swear,” she said with a pleading look in her eyes. I got the feeling that maybe I really had no secrets from anyone in the family. She stood up and walked over to me. She began to rub my arm and I finally looked at her. “What?” she whispered. I felt tears burning my eyes and we were both startled when Joshua cried out. “C’mere.” Tori said pulling me to the bed. We both sat down and she softly sang for a minute until Joshua drifted back off. Tori turned to me and said “Now, please tell me what’s bothering you so much.” I slowly lowered my head into my hands and quickly said “Ike kissed me.” After a few seconds I looked up at her and saw her eyes as big as they could possibly get. Her mouth hung open and she just stared at me. Finally she said “Oh My God! What?! When? How?” I shook my head. “He did. Once at the venue. Remember the note? He asked me to meet him. I went and he pulled me into a dressing room. He said he cares about me and how much I mean to him and he kissed me. It was on the lips but it wasn’t, ya know.” She nodded and I continued. “Then on the bus, coming home…” She gasped and asked “You mean he did it more than once?!” I nodded as tears began to fall. I saw Tori’s hand go up and cover her mouth. “He said he was taking back the apology that he gave when he kissed me at the venue. Then we talked for a while and he kissed my face a few times then my lips. Oh God! Tori I…” I paused unable to say anymore. She squeezed my hand. “You kissed him back?” she asked raising her eyebrows. I wiped the remaining tears away and said “Well not the first time, but on the bus I did. That’s what seems so awful to me. What am I gonna do.?” I buried my face in my hands, surprised that my crying had abruptly stopped. She slung her legs over off of the side of the bed and I felt her take my wrist. When she pulled my hands away from my face she smiled at me. “Melissa, he wouldn’t have done that for any other reason except that he meant it. It’ll be all right. This explains a lot. I’ve seen the way he’s looked at you the last couple of days and even a little before that. Taylor has too. Whatever happened between you and Ike, you will have to work out with him. I strongly suggest that you do that as soon as possible. Saturday, all hell is going to break loose in this house, excuse my language, and then we will all be in for it. We’re more so worried about Zac than anything.” I nodded, “Me too. Why did I let that happen? Why did I kiss him back?” I whined. “You want to know what I think?” Tori said smiling. I took a deep breath and said “Yeah, I guess.” She sighed and looked straight at me. “I think that you wanted to kiss him because he wanted to kiss you. I think that lately you have needed more affection and attention that you will admit to. I also think that you care about him, possibly love him, and you are scared and worried and have pushed those feelings so far down deep that you have forgotten they were there.” Everything she said made perfect sense. I knew that she was right. I did care about him. I wasn’t sure if I really loved him but I knew that I did want to kiss him. I had finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t sorry either. I just smiled at her. Tori sighed and put her hands under her legs. “I think that you and Isaac need to talk about it instead of trying to avoid each other.” I sighed heavily. I agreed with her but I just didn’t know how to start the conversation with Ike. It had been clear to me that he was a fantastic actor. I had to hold on to the hope that Tori and Taylor were the only ones that had noticed anything different about Isaac and me at all. Although, I also had to accept the fact that it was very likely Diana did too.
Joshua started to whine and squirm and Tori smiled and rolled her eyes. “I’m really in for it,” she said as she turned back to him when he began to cry. We both laughed a little and she scooped him up and gently cradled him. “Hey, sounds like somebody is ready to eat?” Taylor said as he came through the door with a bottle. “Can I feed him this time?” he asked. “Sure, here.” Tori said, standing up. “Get on the bed and you can lean back. That’s the most comfortable way in here.” Taylor got on the bed and sat up, with his back leaning against the headboard. “Now, take him,” Tori said. As she bent down and started to hand the baby to Taylor, there was a flash that illuminated them. After the moment of being startled, we looked toward the open door. Zac stood grinning with a camera in his hands. “Zachary! I look awful!” Tori said as she stood up, placing her hands on her hips. “No you don’t.” Taylor and I said at the same time. “Sorry, but that was just picture perfect.” Zac said with a smile. Joshua began to whine again and Taylor said “All right. Shhh.” He began to readjust the baby so that Joshua was laying in his arms. Then, as Taylor picked up the bottle off of the night stand, Joshua began to kick and cry. “Ok, ok, it’s right here.” Taylor said. He placed the bottle in the baby’s mouth. “I want that picture cropped.” Tori said, taking hold of the bottom of the the bottle and gently pulling on it so it was tilted up more. “Just crop me out of it.” she finished walking toward the door. “No can do mommy. It was a total kodak moment.” Zac said laying the camera on the bed and stepping closer to look down at his nephew. He gently stroked the baby’s head. I had to smile at the sight. “I’m going downstairs to rumage through the fridge.” Tori said. She walked out and closed the bedroom door. Zac glanced at the door and then turned back to the baby, who was sucking his bottle and seeming to take in the surroundings. His blue eyes moved from his own hands, to the wall, to his teddy bear on the bed, and back to his own hands again. “Oh this is just too much.” Zac said, sliding off of the bed and picking up his camera. He fiddled with the controls for a moment and then started snapping picture after picture of Taylor and the baby. “Zac, would you give it a rest? You’ve been taking pictures of that child for the last four days!” I said rolling my eyes. “Oh, yeah, I guess you’re right.” Zac seemed to agree. “What I haven’t done is take pictures of you!” Suddenly he was snapping over and over with his camera aimed at me. Taylor laughed as I took up about twenty poses covering my face. Zac stopped and hung his arm around me. Then kissed me, much to my surprise. “Smile everybody.” Isaac said in a singing voice as he walked through the door with a video camera in hand. “Awww, and here’s the new daddy and baby Joshua.” he said stepping closer and clearly getting a closeup. Diana and Tori walked in and the three of us laughed at the spectacle taking place. Taylor smiled and said “Hi uncle Ike!” in a baby voice, lifting Joshua’s hand and waving with it. Ike waved back, purposely putting his hand in front of the camera. “Now, Joshua, this is your uncle Zac…” Ike said as he turned and pointed the camera at Zac who grinned and replied “The one who will teach you everything you need to know.” Everyone laughed at that. “And this is Melissa…” I glanced up and looked right at Isaac with a big smile and said “Who don’t like being on camera.” Zac stepped over and kissed me then said “Joshua, someday I’m gonna get the nerve to kiss my bachelor days goodbye. Then, probably by the time you see this, she’ll be your aunt Melissa.” Everyone laughed and I desperately tried to hide the fact that I suddenly became sick at my stomach. Ike, as always, picked up on that right away and turned the camera back to the bed where Tori and Taylor were laying with the baby. Zac began to take pictures again and Diana and I walked back down stairs. When we got to the kitchen, she poured us both a glass of ice tea and we sat down at the small table by the window.
The house was peaceful. Zoe was at a friend’s house to spend the night and Avery and Jessica had gone to the mall. Walker was taking a nap and Mac was at a birthday party. “Glad to be home?” Diana asked. “Yeah, it’s nice waking up in the same city more than once or twice.” I replied. She and I both kinda laughed and then she placed her hand on mine. “Melissa, you know as well as I do that a lot of things are going to change Saturday.” I knew it, I just didn’t want to think about it. “I know.” I said softly. “Well, I just want you to know that you will always be a part of our family. There is no excuse for any of the things that Zac has done to you or anyone else. He was not raised that way. I don’t understand it and I am disappointed in him and heartbroken about what he has done.” I felt tears come to my eyes again, but quickly fought them back. “I just don’t know how to handle any of this. Oh Diana, there is so much more that you don’t know.” I wanted to tell her everything about Isaac and me. I knew she’d help me figure things out. I felt her hand on my chin and she lifted my head. “You mean about you and Isaac?” Once again, I felt as though I was hit with a brick. “How did you kn…” she smiled and said “Surprise.” I just stared at her. She took a sip of her tea and then said “I’m his mother. I know when something is wrong with my children. It took a while to figure it out but it finally hit me. All the little pieces fell into place and then I asked him, well confronted him. He told me everything and then Taylor admitted that he has suspected it for a little bit.” She rested her chin in her hand. “I really can’t say that I was shocked but I do want the two of you to be careful. At least for now.” I slowly nodded and asked “Why does he avoid me?” She sighed. “He cares for you very deeply Melissa and this hurts him and it’s just as confusing for him. All this with Karen and Zac and now, finally, telling you how he feels. He’s scared honey, he don’t know what’s going to happen anymore that you or I. He doesn’t know what the outcome will be anymore than anyone else.” I understood what she was saying. I knew it was hard on him, hard on Diana, on all of us. I wanted this all figured out and dealt with. Zac’s voice pulled me away from my thoughts.
“Melissa. I need to talk to you. Please come upstairs.” I turned to face him as he stood just inside the kitchen. His face held no emotion. I turned back toward Diana and she just patted my hand. I stood up and followed Zac into our bedroom. He shut the door and pointed to the chair. “Sit down,” he said sternly. I sat down and felt a feeling of fear creep over me. He was upset, too hard to tell if he was really angry, but upset for sure. “What’s going on?” I asked quietly. He turned and faced me. His arms crossed over his chest, he stood looking down at me. “I was going to ask you the same thing,” he stated. “What?” I asked confused. “Melissa,” he got on his knees in front of me and placed both of his hands on my thighs, “Do you love me?” I glared at him, unsure of what was on his mind. “Yes,” I said plainly. He slowly slid his hands up to my hips and leaned closer to me. “Really?” he asked quietly. “Uh-huh,” I answered. I wrapped my arms around him. “Please don’t keep any secrets from me. I know something is going on,” he said as he began to kiss my neck. I bit my bottom lip… Oh God, I thought. He knows. He probably knows everything. “Tell me,” he whispered, sliding his fingers under my shirt as he bit down gently on my ear. “Nothing. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I said as I gripped his shoulders. He pulled away and looked at me. “Meelissssaaa.” he sang, “You’re hiding something from me.” I couldn’t speak or even think at that moment. His fingers dug hard into my back causing me to wince. He leaned close to me again. “I just want you to tell me what you’re up to. It’s not a good idea to keep such secrets.” My heart sank. Oh God, what now? I thought. I didn’t know what to say… what could I tell him.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. He glared at me and smiled a half evil smile. He stood up, walked over and opened the door. “Hey guys.” Jessica said sliding her hands into the back pockets of her jeans. “Zac you have a phone call. I’m not sure who it is. They wouldn’t tell me. They just said it was important.” Zac stared at her and then turned toward me. “Later baby.” he said with a wink. He stepped past Jessica and walked downstairs. “Sorry to interrupt.” Jess said with a grin. I rolled my eyes and smiled at her. She shrugged and walked away. My heart began to beat normally again and after a couple of deep breaths, I stood up and walked out of our room. I stood in the hallway for a few seconds. “Melissa, are you okay?” Ike asked coming out of Tori and Taylor’s bedroom. “Yeah, fine.” I tried to sound assuring. “Would you come here. I need to talk to you.” he said. Well, he had been talking to Tori obviously. “Sure, I guess.” I smiled and walked with him into his room. He shut the door and I stood facing him. “What did you want to talk about?” I asked. He walked toward me and I began to back up. I felt my back hit the wall. “Ike, I don’t think…” He gently placed his finger over my mouth. “I can’t stop thinking about you. I just can’t.” he said. My breath quickened as he nearly pressed against me. Surprisingly though, I wasn’t uneasy at all. I wasn’t scared. “Isaac, we can’t do this.” I looked at him and watched as his face came closer. I didn’t stop him though… I didn’t want to. For a few minutes, he just looked at me, his face so close to mine. He’d barely brush his lips against mine, still looking into my eyes but would quickly break the contact before a kiss. It gave me a rush and I have to admit that the idea of the house being full of people lifted the level of excitement. He whispered “All you have to do is let me know you want me to.” I stared at him. “Let you know I want you to what?” I said with a teasing smile. I felt his fingers grip my hips and I had to lean harder on the wall for support. A small laugh came from him as he said “That you want me to kiss you again.” I wrapped my arms around him. “Yes.” I said. “Yes what?” he asked looking unsure. “Kiss me again.” I replied. He smiled and then lowered his head. I felt a small shock wave hit me when our lips met. His hands slid around my waist as I gripped the back of his neck. His lips moved over mine and his tongue slid into my mouth. I whined just a bit but immediately relaxed back into the kiss when his hand touched my face. He was a passionate kisser. He seemed to linger with each movement. My hands gripped his shoulders and then his back. I felt guilty but at the same time, more pleasure flooded through me in that kiss with Isaac than I’d ever felt in bed with Zac. Isaac’s hand slid off of my neck and down to my back where he held my waist. I wanted more. I didn’t want to be limited to a kiss. I gently brought my hands up to the top button on his shirt. I unbuttoned it and then stopped, expecting him to not want to go any farther. He broke the kiss and pulled away, just a couple of inches from me. “It’s all right.” he whispered. He lowered his head again and kissed the side of neck. I turned my head to give him better access and began to unbutton his shirt. I wasn’t thinking about anything but him. I didn’t think about Zac, or Courtney, or anyone else. I didn’t think about getting caught or Zac’s threat about Ike and me. He continued to kiss my neck as I finished unbuttoning his shirt. I didn’t pull it off though. I was having too much pleasure to rush things. His hand went up my shirt and ran across my stomach, sending chills all over me. He raised his head and said “You’re so incredibly beautiful.” I grabbed the front pockets of his jeans and tugged him closer to me. He was leaning against me now and I could tell that he too was getting a rush from the experience. I slid one hand down to his thighs and then gripped him. I felt him get harder as I ran my hand up and down his crotch area. His eyes closed and a long, though quiet, moan escaped his lips as his head tilted back. “God dammit woman, you better not have any intention on stopping anytime soon.” he said as he looked at me and placed one of his hands on the wall just above my head. “I don’t.” I slightly laughed. His other hand slid up my shirt and he bit his bottom lip as he touched my breast and I had to suppress a scream. He suddenly kissed me again and our arms wrapped around each other.
I don’t remember ever hearing the door open but I do remember the sudden fear that flooded through me when I heard her gasp. Ike and I pulled apart and both looked at her in shock. With one hand on her mouth and the other hand on the door knob, Avery stood frozen just inside Isaac’s bedroom. Ike and I let go of each other and he quickly started to button his shirt. “Oh God, oh God, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean… I should have knocked.” Ike and I both watched as she bolted away. We heard her run down the stairs. He ran after her and I heard him yelling through the house “Avery! Avery wait!” I waited for a moment until I heard Diana. “Hey! Is everything all right?!” I walked out of Ike’s room and met Diana midway on the stairs. Everyone now stood around with concerned expressions. “What is going on up there?” Walker asked from the bottom of the stairs. “Avery just ran out of here looking like she’d just seen a ghost!” Diana said, horror in her eyes. “I think things just got a whole lot worse.” I said. Jessica came up to all of us and said “Mom, Avery is crying. Isaac caught her and told me to come inside ’cause he had to talk to her.” They all then looked at me and Diana asked “Melissa, what happened?”


I still don’t know how Isaac managed to put everyone off. I knew from Tori and Diana’s expression that they’d guessed Avery had probably walked in on Ike and me but they didn’t know how far things had went. He’d come back inside a few minutes later and had told his family that things were fine and that then was not the time to discuss it. The next morning, I’d discovered that Taylor and Walker had been informed, though I was unsure of who exactly had told them. Zac had been watching everyone very closely. Thankfully, no one had mentioned to him what had happened with his sister. We tried to go on through the next day as normal as we could but a thick tenseness had settled over the house. It was Friday, the day before Courtney was supposed to come over. Diana and Walker were finding little things to keep Zac busy. I had noticed that afternoon that Avery had disappeared and I had found her about an hour later sitting by a huge oak tree in the field behind their house.
“You mind if I join you?” I asked quietly. She shrugged and scooted over. I sat down on the ground beside her. “What are you doing out here? We were kinda worried when we couldn’t find you.” I said softly as I pulled my knees up to my chest. “I just needed to be alone for a while,” she said with a shrug. “Aren’t you cold?” I asked, noticing the chill in the breeze. She shook her head. She faced down and didn’t say anything. “Avery, what’s bothering you?” I asked bluntly. She shrugged her shoulders again and still remained quiet. “No Avery. Tell me. Maybe I can help.” I said leaning a little bit closer to her. “Well you haven’t so far!” she snapped. “What?”I replied. “Melissa, what is going on around here? Are you and Isaac together now? What about Zac?” she asked, nearly all in one breath. “Avery, Isaac and I aren’t together. There’s a lot going on that you don’t know about. I wish I could tell you but I can’t right now.” I said as gently as I could. Avery just picked a piece of grass and looked out at the field in front of us. “Ya know, I don’t know exactly what you think. I’m not a child though.” She turned and faced me. “I’m not stupid. I know more than any of you think I do.” she said. I felt that familiar tightening in my stomach. I didn’t say anything, bracing myself to be hit with another brick in what had become a never ending story. She continued, turning back to look in front of her. “I know what happened. I know Zac hit you. I know that he hit Jess that night too. He wasn’t visiting anyone, he was in a treatment center.” She sighed and started pulling on pieces of dead grass. “That night, when we couldn’t find him, he came to your house. He raped you didn’t he?” She looked straight at me. I honestly didn’t know what to say. “Avery, how did you know about all of this?” I knew that Diana and Walker would have gone into fits if they knew that Avery had somehow found out what they’d been trying to keep from her. “I just figured it out. I know he hit Courtney. That kind of stuff doesn’t just stop without help. I saw the marks on you and the way you’d get tense when he touched you. I also know that I’ve seen you and Zac kiss a lot and it’s never been the way it was when you kissed Isaac.” I stared at her. “What do you mean? How was it different when you saw Isaac and me kiss?” She glanced up at me and then replied “Because you meant it. I’m not a ignorant person. I know what a real kiss looks like. The way you still held on to each other until Ike came running after me. You meant that kiss. Both of you did. I never saw Ike and Karen kiss that way either.” She re-adjusted herself and then looked at me. “Mel, I didn’t tell Mac or Zoe. Jessica knows that I know this stuff though. I didn’t tell anyone about you and Ike. He asked me not to, not yet anyway. He said that by next week, a lot was going to change and that right now it had to stay between the three of us. He promised that I’d be filled in later on.” I slightly smiled and shivered as a cool wind rushed through the trees. “It’s getting cold. Let’s go back in, all right?” I said standing up. Avery followed and as we walked back to the house I tried to reassure her. “Everything will work out for the best. Isaac is right, this has to stay between us. Don’t tell anyone and don’t ever tell Mac or Zoe what you already know. This is not going to be a good weekend I don’t think. I need you to try and be patient and understanding and do what your mom tells you to without arguing.” She nodded and we walked into the house. I had manged to calm her nerves a little… I wished I could have calmed mine. Avery was the type that would keep her cool in stressful situations and was patient when she’d been told to be. I knew that she’d expected to be filled in completely once all was said and done. For the time being, however, I also knew that she knew enough if not too much. She knew all she could handle anyway.

“Zac! C’mon!” Mac yelled up the stairs. “Hold your horses!” Zac replied. “I wanna go to McDonald’s!” Zoe said as Diana helped her get her shoes on. “No. We’ve been to McDonald’s twice this week!” Jessica said as she slid her foot into her boots. “Yes! I wanna cheese burger.” Zoe retorted. “You can get a cheese burger anywhere.” Avery replied. “But not McDonald’s fries.” Zoe said as Diana stood up and carried Mac’s jacket to him. “I wanna eat pizza!” Mac said. “No!” Avery Jessica and Zoe said in unison. “Can’t we go out for a nice lunch somewhere? How about the diner?” Jessica suggested. “You can’t get pizza at the diner.” Mac replied. “We’re not getting pizza.” Avery said glaring at him. “No, we’re getting McDonald’s.” Zoe said. “Mom!” Mac turned to Diana whom replied “It’s up to your brother.” She then stood at the bottom of the stairs and yelled “Zac! You’ve got a debate to settle!” Zoe turned to Diana and said “Tell him to take us for cheese burgers.” Diana stood with one fist on her hip and said “What did I just tell Mac? It’s up to Zac where you go.” Zac came into the room. “That’s right and pizza and McDonald’s are both out.” Zoe and Mac whined. “And the diner is too crowded on Saturday’s.” he said looking at Jessica as he pulled on his jacket. “So where are we going to eat lunch?” Avery asked as she opened the door. “For crying out loud, be thankful you’re getting anything.” They began to file out as Diana said “Have fun. Seat belts!” Then she lowered her voice and said “Zac drive carefully and remember, keep them out for a while.” Zac nodded as he gave me a quick kiss and then hugged his mother. “I called shotgun!” Avery yelled. Suddenly we heard the beginning of another argument. “Hey!” Zac shouted and all four siblings turned to look at him. “We are going to be out for a while. You can take turns sitting up front.” They all then looked at each other. “Well, who first?” Mac asked. Zac rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Avery. She’s already sitting there.” he said walking to the car. Avery slammed the door as Jessica, a whinny Mac and Zoe climbed into the backseat. “Later.” Zac said as he climbed into the car, started it, and pulled out of the driveway. Diana and I stood at the door and waved as the car went by the house.
After it disappeared, we shut the door and both breathed a deep sigh of relief. “He didn’t ask a lot of questions like he has been. Do you think he knows somehow?” I asked Diana as we walked into the kitchen. “Oh Lord, I don’t know. I hope not. He’s been just watching all of us but not really saying anything about the air being so thick.” I raised my eyebrows and smiled. “Let’s clean up a little. Courtney will be here in about thirty minutes if she’s on time.” I nodded and she and I scurried around the house. We didn’t say much but it was clear we were both worried and tense about what would happen. “Hey, did Zac leave already?” Taylor asked, walking into the living room. Diana replied “Yes, a bit ago.” Taylor shoved his hands in his pockets and let out a sigh. “Mom, what if we’re wrong somehow? What if we’ve totally got the wrong idea?” Diana stood up and looked at him. “This is the only way to know for sure. If we do then fine. No one ever has to tell him anything about this. Taylor, you have to accept that there are some things we are not wrong about.” she said gently. “He sighed again and said “Yeah, I know. I know.”
Walker came in followed by Isaac. “So, are we ready for this?” he asked putting his arm around his wife. “Not even close.” I answered sitting down. I felt a hand on the back of my neck and glanced up to see Ike standing behind me. “It’ll be fine. I’m not sure I’m ready either but I’d rather go ahead and find out than to keep wondering.” The phone rang causing us all to jump. “I’ll get it.” Tori said walking in. “Hello.” She said as the rest of the family sit down to wait. “But why? Is anything wrong?” Tori said. We all looked at her. “Well, it won’t take long. We just need to…” She got quiet and looked at us. “Zac is gone and he will be until…” We grew tense. “But, this is really important. We need to know some things.” Walker then stood up and walked over to stand next to Tori. “I know but…” she dropped her other hand and sighed. “Well, we can’t force you.” she said as she looked at Walker. “Okay. Will you talk to Wa…” Tori’s shoulders dropped and she said “All right. Bye.” Then she hung the phone up and sat down beside Taylor with a worried look. “Babe, what is it? Who was that?” Taylor asked. “Courtney. She’s not coming over.” Tori replied. “What?! What did she say?!” We all started asking questions and Tori answered. “She said that nothing was wrong but that she thought about it and decided that she didn’t want Zac to get into trouble. She said for us to talk to him. That he needed to be the one to tell us about the baby and everything else. Not her or Karen. Then she said she had to go. “Diana put her hand to her mouth. “I don’t believe it.” she said. “Wait.” Isaac said. “How did she know we needed to ask her about the baby and Karen? Dad, you said you just told her we needed to talk to her and that it was important.” We all glared at each other. “The phone call.” Taylor said. “The one Zac got the other day. I was getting something to drink and he was on the phone talking really softly and he turned away from me when I walked into the kitchen.” he finished sitting up and resting his elbows on his knees. I said, “Yeah, Jess came into our room and got him. She said that who ever it was wouldn’t tell her their name but just said it was important.” Diana and Walker looked at each other. Walker nodded and Diana sat back in the chair. “Well, that’s it then. Zac talked to Courtney. Or maybe it was Karen but she knew what we were going to ask her.” Tori said. “I wonder if they just talked and he said he’d tell us or if he scared her to death.” Ike said. “All right everyone. Get ready.” Walker said standing up. “What? Where are we going?” Taylor asked. “To see Courtney. If she won’t come to us, we’ll just go to her.” Walker answered.


Courtney sat with her legs crossed in the chair, one arm laid over her knee and the other bent where her chin was resting in her palm. The room was so quiet. It had been that way for about fifteen minutes while we all tried to think of some way to start the conversation. Courtney had been surprised to see us but had invited us in and offered us something to drink. We’d all sat in the living room and things had come to stand still. Finally, dropping her hand down and casually looking at her nails, Courtney spoke. “I really don’t know what you all want me to say.” Her head lifted and she raised her eyebrows as she looked around the room.
“Tell us what happened. Tell us about the baby.” Walker said. Isaac added “And then you can tell us how Karen got involved.” Courtney smiled a bit and pointed toward Joshua. She said “He looks a lot like you in your baby pictures Tay.” Taylor glanced at her and then turned toward Tori, who was sitting in the rocking chair holding the baby. “Yeah, several people have told us that,” he replied. “Please Courtney, you have to tell us what happened. Zac is not doing so good and we have to know how to help him. We need you to tell us everything.” Tori said.
“I don’t know where to start.” Courtney replied as she uncrossed her legs and brought one foot up under the opposite knee. “You can start by telling us our grandchild’s name.” Diana said. “Bryce. His name is Bryce Zachary Hanson. He is almost six months old now.” Courtney answered as Walker put his arm around his wife. “He’s in daycare right now but you are more than welcome to see him. I want you all to be a part of his life.” Courtney said as she slowly began running her fingers through the ends of her hair.
“Tell us what happened Courtney. You have to tell us the whole story.” Walker said. Courtney sighed heavily and began to rub her forehead. “I didn’t want this. I didn’t want any of it to happen and I certainly didn’t want to hide anything from anyone.” She then turned toward Ike. “Karen never meant to hurt anyone either. She got caught up in it kind of by accident and she wanted to tell you all but Zac was so insistent on no one finding out until he thought it was the right time. He kept promising that he would tell you all soon and that everything would be fine.” Isaac lowered his head and asked “How did you and Zac even get together?” Courtney looked at him and then looked down at her hands. “He e-mailed me. I was surprised but it was a nice e-mail. He said he was just checking up on me. It was a while ago. I e-mailed him back and it just kinda became a regular thing. We were just talking and then it went to online chats. We’d just have casual conversations at first. Then, one night, he called me out of the blue. We talked on the phone every night for a few days then he asked me to meet him.” She sighed and looked at me. “He told me that you and him weren’t as close as you had been and that he was almost certain you were seeing someone else and that all of you were helping to cover it up. He said he felt like his whole family was against him.” She then looked back down and continued. “I honestly don’t know why. We met two more times after that. That last time, we were talking and we just started kissing and then, I don’t know, one thing led to another and we went to this roadside motel and…” she slightly shook her head. “Anyway, afterwards, the e-mails and conversations got shorter and within a week, they’d stopped altogether. He seemed to forget about me. I’d found out I was pregnant but I was so scared that I never told him. Then you guys went to New York. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t tell anyone for about five months. I wasn’t sure who to tell. I thought that if I told any of you, things would get ruined somehow and that everyone would hate me.” I glanced around the room and saw the sympathetic expressions that Diana and Tori had on their faces. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her too. I also couldn’t help the anger that I felt or the sense of betrayal. I looked back at her as she went on.
“Karen and I had stayed in touch. I thought that she would be less likely to be angry so I called her. She and I talked a lot and she kept telling me that I’d have to tell him. I kept saying no and finally she said that she was giving me another week to tell him or she would find you guys and tell him herself. She helped me get a flight to go see Zac so I could tell him. I was seven months along when I finally got the nerve.” Taylor leaned forward. “That’s when I saw you, at the hotel.” Courtney nodded. “I guess so. I was only there for one night.” Tori turned toward Taylor. “You told me you saw her. You never mentioned she was pregnant.” Taylor shrugged.  “I never could have imagined what has taken place since then. It never crossed my mind that Zac was the father. I mean, I was trying too hard to figure out why she was even there to think about anything else.” Courtney laughed. “I guess that was a surprise.”
She sighed heavily and readjusted herself in the chair. “Anyway,” she continued on, “He took me to his hotel room and, oh God, he was so mad at me. He told me that I must be crazy and that it was the biggest mistake I could have made even coming there. I started crying and told him how scared I was. He said for me not to worry ’cause he would take care of me. I told him I wasn’t ready for a baby. I begged him to give it up for adoption but he got really angry and started screaming. He told me to come back to Tulsa and that he would find a way to take care of everything.” Diana reached over and took my hand as I felt tears in my eyes. Courtney said “I never wanted to hurt anybody. I didn’t know it would cause so much trouble.” She began to cry and Tori leaned over and rubbed her back. “It’s okay,” she said soothingly. Courtney wiped the tears away from her face. “Well, I knew I’d have a hard time so I called Karen when I got back. She didn’t want to get involved. She came back to Tulsa to help me find a lawyer. I was going to see if I could give the baby up for adoption without Zac’s permission. Karen stayed the night and planned on leaving the next morning. That night, I was having cramps. They only lasted for a few minutes and it didn’t seem to be that big of a deal so I just went back to sleep. The next morning, though, I woke up and I was bleeding. Karen drove me to the hospital and the doctor said they had to deliver the baby then. He was born two months early but he was fine. I couldn’t even think about giving him up once I saw him.” Diana took a tissue out of the box on the table and dabbed at her eyes. “I had a fever the next day and Karen stayed with me. Then when I got to come home she stayed to help with the baby. I e-mailed Zac and told him and I also told him that you all needed to know but he kept saying no, that it wasn’t the right time and for me to keep my mouth shut. He kept saying how if people found out that it would ruin everything.” She began to cry again and Diana went into the kitchen and brought her a glass of water as Walker handed her the tissue box.
We all sat silent and, although it was hard to hear, it was nice to have more of the story. None of us really reacted for a few minutes. Diana looked at Courtney. “Honey, has Zac ever seen the baby? Are you just sending Karen with pictures and he’s sending her back with money?” Courtney took a deep breath. He’s seen the baby a couple of times, yes. Very briefly. Karen has arranged meetings here and there. I’ve stayed in Tulsa. Karen gets the money from him and brings it to me. We pay the bills, get groceries, take care of the baby. I send him pictures just so he’ll have them. He’s been really good about taking care of us and things are going fine.” We all sat stunned as slowly things began to fall into place. “So Karen’s in Tulsa?” Ike asked. “Yeah, she moved back almost four months ago,” Courtney replied. “Where is she living?” Tori asked her. Courtney didn’t have to answer. We heard footsteps on the porch and a key in the door. We glared at each other and a tenseness came over us all.
“I swear, I’ve never seen the store so crowded! It’s like Christmas Eve or something! Courtney, could you get the other two bags out of the…” Karen stopped mid-sentence, frozen in her tracks. She had put the grocery bags she’d been carrying down, taken her jacket off and laid her purse on the small table by the door before she’d ever turned and faced us. “Oh my God.” she said quietly as she stared at us. She glared at Courtney and said “I thought we decided not to do this. I thought you and Zac talked about…” she was interrupted by Courtney’s wide eyes and then her face dropping into her hands. Karen put her hands on her hips and looked around the room. “So Zac did talk to you about this. What did he say? Did he threaten you?” Walker asked. Courtney looked up. “No, no, he didn’t. He left a message on my machine the other day saying that he needed to talk to me and for me to call him back right away. He told me that I didn’t need to tell anyone and not to worry about anything because he would tell all of you.” Karen spoke softly “We didn’t mean for this to cause any trouble. Zac said that he’d tell you all everything. He said he’d have to tell Melissa ’cause she already knew anyway.” Everyone turned and looked at me. “I didn’t know. I swear. What would make him say that?” I asked. Courtney answered “The pictures.” I looked at her. “What?” Diana’s hand grabbed my wrist as Karen replied “He said that you’d seen the pictures. The ones I gave him of the baby.” A familiar and sudden fear came over me as everyone once again became quiet and tense. “Shit.” Ike whispered. “Mom, dad, I think we need to get home and talk to Zac.” Taylor said as he and Tori took each other’s hands. “Yes, I think so too. I think Courtney and Karen have told us all they can.” Diana said slowly standing up. We all stood and began to pull our jackets on and prepare to leave. “I’m sorry. Please tell him I’m sorry.” Courtney said with tears in her eyes. Diana nodded and hugged her. “We’d like to see the baby.” Walker said. Courtney smiled and said “That’d be nice. Just give me a call.” He smiled and with a single glance and nod to Karen, he walked out followed by Taylor and Tori. “I’m so sorry. I wanted to tell you.” Karen said as Ike stepped in front of her. “It’s all right. I know.” Ike said and after a brief moment, he walked outside. “I’m so, so sorry Melissa.” Courtney said quietly as she hugged me. “Me too.” I whispered. Diana and I smiled at Karen and quickly walked out. They watched as Walker carefully backed out of the driveway and pulled out onto the street.
The drive home was quiet except for the slight noise from Joshua once in a while or Diana sniffing. I felt tears burning my eyes but I didn’t let them fall. Taylor was holding Tori’s hand and both of them had their heads laid back on the seats. I glanced at Ike but knew that as bad as I wanted to, reaching out to him wasn’t a good idea. His face was pale and he was so still and quiet that if his eyes hadn’t have been open I would’ve thought he was dead. After what seemed like hours, we were home. “Looks like Zac and the kids aren’t back yet.” Walker said as he turned the key and the minivan shut off. It was a relief to us as we walked into the house. Things were peaceful at the time but I think we all wanted to get the whole thing over with. Tori carried Joshua upstairs and put him in his crib. When she came back down she sat next to Taylor on the couch. Diana went into the kitchen for a moment and when she walked back into the living room, she said “Well, I’ve got coffee started. Maybe I can call Mary Lynn, down the street, and see if she can have the kids over tomorrow. I know we need to find out everything now but I think we’ve had enough for today. It’s almost supper time and I know all of you are tired. I am too. So why don’t we just start fresh tomorrow.” We all agreed. No one really said much as we waited for Zac and the others to get home.
I was feeling an emotional roller coaster. I was angry, hurt, worried, scared and lost all at the same time. I leaned back in the chair and closed my eyes. I felt a squeeze on my knee and when I opened my eyes, Ike’s face told me that his feelings weren’t much different than my own. I reached down an took his hand. We all raised up and looked at each other when we heard the sound of the car door and the chattering as they came closer. The door opened and they walked in. Diana put on a smile and said “Did you all have a good time?” Jessica and Avery went into the story of all the things they had done and began showing their new clothes to all of us. We all glanced at each other and smiled. The girls had succeeded in talking Zac into a shopping trip. Avery had gotten a pair of jeans with jewels on the pockets, a shirt and a necklace. Jessica had two shirts, a pair of earrings and a pair of fishnet stockings. Mac showed off his new haircut and cowboy boots. Walker looked up as the door opened again and he began to slightly laugh. Diana asked “Honey, do you want some help?” with a snicker. We all turned to see Zac shutting the door with his foot, carrying at least four other shopping bags and trying to keep his balance with Zoe sleeping on his shoulder. “Naw, I’m all right,” he said, sounding out of breath. “And I want to thank the three of you for not even leaving the front door open for me after you all bolted away from the car carrying only one bag,” he said glancing at his younger siblings with a sarcastic smile. “You’re welcome,” Jessica replied. She and Zac stuck their tongues out at each other and laughed. “I’m gonna put her to bed and let her sleep for a bit longer,” Zac said walking up the stairs. “Okay sweetie. Well, I guess we need to get supper on.” Diana stood up and continued. “Tori, Melissa, could you two chop those vegetables on the bottom shelf of the fridge.” Tori and I got up and started toward the kitchen. Avery and Jessica picked up the bags Zac had dropped by the door. “Jessica!” Diana yelled. “I want to talk to you later about those pantyhose with all those holes in them. “The room filled with laughter as Diana threw her hands up in the air and said “Now I ask you all, what is the point of buying something like that?” We all laughed again. “You two go wash up and then come set the table.” Walker said as Diana, Tori and me walked into the kitchen. Diana took out a big pot and began peeling potatoes as she hummed Amazing Grace. Once again we put our uneasiness aside. Things would have seemed to be normal to anyone else. Even Mac and Zoe thought that everything was fine. God, we’d put on a good show for those kids. I had decided though that if we waited until the next day, it wouldn’t be any easier… I’d have to at least talk to Zac that night about the pictures if nothing else.


The wind was chilly but actually felt somewhat nice. It was late, everyone except Zac and me had already gone to sleep. The house was quiet. “Aw, a full moon. Look at that.” Zac said as his hands gripped my hips. “Yeah. It’s beautiful, clear.” I replied. “Mmm hmm.” he said as he kissed my neck. I felt his chin rest on my shoulder as a gentle breeze came through the open bedroom window. Nighttime in the country was something I’d begun to love so much. It was peaceful. Just the faint sounds of crickets and other insects, sometimes an owl, could be heard late at night. “Zac,” I said turning to face him. “I have to ask you about something.” He never let go of me. He looked down and then kissed my forehead. Raising back up, he took a deep breath and led me over to our bed. We sat down and he reached up and brushed the hair away from my face. “Zac, I want to talk to you about…” His fingers laid on my lips to stop me from saying anything. “Shh, I know what you want to talk to me about.” He moved his hand away from my mouth and ran his finger down one side of my face and then the other. “Oh my sweet baby. You don’t think I’m stupid do you?” he said with a sarcastic laugh. “No Zac, I don’t. I just want to know…” His fingers again covered my lips and he replied “Uh-uh.” He laughed quietly again, only this time it was I can only describe as an evil laugh. “You never have learned how to be quiet.” I looked into his eyes. There was something there that’d I’d never seen before. I wouldn’t call it anger or even sadness. It was like a signal of some kind. His eyes told me that he was far from as calm as he appeared. “Now,” he said standing up. He quickly walked over and locked the door. “I’m going to ask you a question and you are going to tell me the truth.” I nodded as a uneasy and frightening feeling crept over me. “Have you and Ike slept together?” Zac asked. He crossed his arms over his chest and glared down at me. I shook my head and replied. “No Zac. I swear we haven’t. I’ve never been with anyone else.” He sat down beside me again. “You have thought about it though, haven’t you?” I didn’t answer. He smiled and took my hand. “It’s all right. I know you have. I understand you not wanting to tell me. Hell, he wouldn’t admit it either. I’ve seen the way the two of you act around each other. I’ve seen how he looks at you like you’re some kind of piece of meat he just has to get his teeth into. He’s thought about you for a very long time. He wants you Mel, I know he does. He thinks about you, he talks about you.” I felt his hand squeezing mine tighter and tighter as he spoke. He looked over at me and laughed slightly. Then continued. “I know that you saw the pictures of Bryce. I know you all have been trying to figure this out. I know you also went to see Courtney today after she called and said she wouldn’t be coming over.” I felt my hands begin to tremble. He looked at me and smiled. He tapped the end of my nose with his index finger as he said “See, I told you that you can’t ever keep anything from me.” His hand went around to the back of my neck and into my hair. He jerked my head back, hard, causing me to let out a whine of pain. He leaned in close to my face and whispered in my ear. His heavy breathing and clenched teeth gave me a flashback to the times I’d been hit. “I told you all to mind your own business. I told you all to just stay the fuck out of it. But you couldn’t, could you? No, you just had to know every, single god damn detail. You had to keep digging and digging until you knew everything. You are just like them now Melissa. Just like my family. They never could leave things alone. You can’t either, you just can’t keep yourself out of MY damn business.” I reached behind my head and took his hand. I was about to speak when he let go of me with a hard push. I felt tears burning my eyes. He became blurred in my vision. “I just wanted to protect you. Why couldn’t you just stay out of it? Don’t you see, knowing has made things so much more difficult for you.” I began to cry as I listened to him and watched him pace up and down in front of me. He was sweating slightly and digging his fingers into his eyes. I had seen Zac this worked up before but not in so long. It really scared me. I have to say that at that time I was more scared of him than I’d ever been. He had a rage in his eyes and a calm in his voice that was never a good mix. He easily sat down beside me and pulled me into his arms. I leaned against his chest as he whispered to me while stroking my hair. “I never wanted to hurt you. I was so lonely for you. It just happened it wasn’t planned. I just wanted to save you all of this heartache. You wouldn’t let me though. You were just too curious and now you’ve made things worse.” He softly held me for a moment and then lifted my head up for me to face him. He gently ran his hand down each side of my face. “Shh,” he smiled “Don’t cry anymore Melissa. I’m going to fix it. You’ll see.” He took one hand away from my face and reached behind me over to the night table. Then he pulled me up holding both of my hands with one of his. I never saw his other hand, he kept it behind me. I had learned very early not to look away when he spoke to me so I never even tried to turn and look at his other hand. He led me over to the window and stood behind me. “Look at that beautiful night sky.” he said. “That moon is incredible.” Another breeze rustled the trees and a train whistled in the far distance, barely noticeable. He hummed in my ear and kept one arm tightly wrapped around me where his hand held my chin. “I love you Melissa.” he whispered after a few minutes. “I love you too.” I said back. “Kiss me.” he said spinning me around quickly to face him. He held me to him as his lips touched mine. He kissed with the gentleness and passion that he had when we first started dating and even a few times after he’d begun hitting me. I was lost in the worry and unsettling feeling that had by then taken me over. His lips parted after a moment and his tongue easily slid into my mouth. He pulled away quickly though and still held me tightly to him. Once my breathing had slowed down he brought his hand to my chin and guided my head to tilt to one side. I watched as he came closer. I felt his warm lips on my neck as his fingers dug into my back. I moaned a bit, both from pleasure and pain. In a way, he was calming my restless thoughts from the day. At the same time though, I was feeling a tightening in my stomach and a lump in my throat. He stopped kissing me and raised his head. I felt his hand moving against my back but he held me so close that I couldn’t even begin to move away from him. I looked into his eyes as he whispered again “I love you.” Suddenly I felt a sharp sticking pain in the side of my neck close to my collarbone. I couldn’t scream though… No sound came when my mouth opened. It was a stinging pain that I’d never felt before. I couldn’t speak or move. I watched as a small smile crept over his face and I felt my arms and legs get weaker and weaker then finally numb in a matter of seconds. My body tingled and my throat felt as though it was closing inch by inch. My breathing felt so restricted and my vision became blurry. I began to slide out of his grasp as he carried me to the bed and laid me down. I felt so dizzy and couldn’t really think. I was somewhat disoriented as a bright light began to take over everything before that quiet darkness sit in. I finally gave in and closed my eyes. I could still hear but the sounds were faint and echoed so much that I can’t even to this day tell what they were. I slowly drifted out as the noises became more and more quiet.

The first thing I remember hearing as I started waking up was music. Soft music. A girl’s slightly high voice singing a slow song. I began to hear other sounds. Loud cars and trucks going by me very fast. I slowly opened my eyes and blinked to clear my vision as the song faded and a man began to speak. I didn’t know where I was. My head hurt and I was still a bit dizzy. Slowly, things came into focus. There was a phone and I was on a bed. The sunlight was dim and there was a TV. The room was pale white and the comforter on the bed was soft. I tried to figure out where I was. Then it hit me… Zac. I turned my head and tried to sit up. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t move very much. Looking down I saw that my hands were tied together and then to headboard of the bed. I sat up as far as I could and looked toward the slightly open door. Laying on my side I saw that wherever I was, the highway was right outside. Which highway though? I heard a creaking sound and as I rolled onto my other side, the other door opened. Zac walked out dressed in jeans and running his fingers through his damp hair.
“Hey baby.” he said glancing at me. “Sleep well?” he asked smiling as he pulled a t-shirt over his head. “Zac, where are we?” I asked trying to talk though my throat and lips were extremely dry. He reached over and switched the small radio off and then walked over to shut the door. He walked back into the bathroom and came out with a small cup of water. “Zac, please tell me what happened. What are we doing?”
He sat down on the bed beside me and lifted my head. Slowly he tilted the cup into my mouth. I drank the water, thankful for the soothing effect, and laid my head back down. “We’re at a motel. Don’t worry, we won’t be here long.” Zac finally answered. He stood up and began to empty a bag out on the bed. I immediately became scared when I saw the things he had. Some duct tape and a longer piece of the same thin white rope that my hands were tied with. He also had a needle and a small bottle of some sort of clear liquid. “What’s that stuff for?” I asked. He looked over at me and smiled. He took out the last thing in the bag-a map, and started to look over it. “Zac? What are you going to do?” I asked shakily. He looked up and out the window.
“We’re going on a little trip.” he answered with a smile. He was calm and spoke softly. He gathered everything back up and put it all back into the bag. “Here,” he said, “I want you to go take a shower and wash your hair.” He started to untie me and as crazy as it was, I was so scared that as soon as he had taken the rope off of my hands, I ran. I bolted to the door but that’s as far as I got. I cried out as I felt a hard jerk. He pulled me down to the floor on my back and, with one knee on each side, he climbed on top of me. His hand covered my mouth for a moment until my screaming subsided. I looked into his eyes as he glared down at me. “Now that Melissa,” he said reaching into his back pocket, “was most likely the stupidest thing you could have possibly done!” I looked at his hand as he brought it in front of him. My arms were pinned at my sides by his legs so I was unable to move… although I did squirm as he put the slender black object in front of my face and smiled. Then I watched as his thumb slowly slid down the side of it and with one flip of a tiny switch, a long, shiny blade suddenly snapped out only a couple of inches from my face. I gasped and started crying. “Nooo, Zac! Please don’t!” He put his hand over my mouth and softly ran the blade over my face. “You are a very bad girl. Now don’t you try that again. If you do you know what will happen?” I wiggled as tears ran down into my hair. Zac slightly laughed and ran the blade down to my neck just under my ear. “I will slice your throat open from one side to the other.” As I heard his words I felt the blade run across neck to the other ear. “Now,” he continued calmly, “I want you to go take a shower and wash your hair.” He slowly stood up, pulling me with him, and walked me into the bathroom. The door was left open as I showered. Afterwards, he wrapped me in a towel and walked me back to the bed where he had laid out some clothes for me. “Get dressed. Hurry.” he said. I quickly put on the undies, sweater and jeans he had laid out. He tossed me a pair of socks from a small suitcase and I pulled them on. “Put your shoes on, we need to leave now.” I did as I was told and remained quiet. He gathered things around the room and then said “When we get outside you behave yourself.” We walked to the door and as he opened it, he said close to my ear, “I have no problem slicing your face in this parking lot!” I felt a sickening feeling come over me. There were a few people outside but I didn’t dare make an attempt to disobey Zac. He cheerfully greeted them as he put the bag and suitcase in the backseat and ushered me into the front. He quickly got in and started the car. We drove out and onto the highway. The air was cold out but the sun was shining bright with the sunset. Zac slipped on a pair of sun glasses and lit a cigarette. “When did you start that?” I timidly asked. He switched on the radio and as he blew a puff of smoke out of the cracked window he answered “In New York, on the promo tour.” I had to take up something after I found out about Bryce. It was either this or drugs.” I finally got up my courage and asked him “Where are we going?” He glanced at me and back to the road. “Not sure yet.” he answered. “What about your family and the tour? It’s supposed to start back at the end of the week.” He placed the cigarette between his lips again and took a long drag. Slowly blowing the smoke out of his mouth he said “Yeah well, the tour will have to wait. I’m going to call home at our next stop.” I watched as a semi-truck passed by the passenger side of the car. “Zac, what about…”
He suddenly shouted “WOULD YOU JUST SHUT UP! DAMN, JUST STOP WITH THE FUCKING THIRD DEGREE ALL RIGH?!” I realized that I was not really going to get anywhere. I turned and looked out of the passenger window with a sigh. After a moment, I felt something cold on my arm and glanced down. Zac was holding a bottle of water out for me. “Here, this will help you feel better until we stop again. After we get some road time, I’ll get you something to eat.” he said. I just stared at him. “Do you want this damn thing or not?!” he shouted. I took it and began to sip from the bottle. Zac sighed and then said “Shit, Mel you know I love you?” After I didn’t answer he looked over at me. “Huh? You know that right?” I nodded and took another drink. “Want some?” I asked holding the bottle out to him. He smiled and patted my hand shaking his head. “No baby, I’m okay.” he said softly. He continued to drive as I tried to remember what all had happened. The last thing I could remember was being in our room, he was holding me and then he kissed me. Then, that sharp pain in my neck and I had laid down… and I felt dizzy and weak… I sighed as my mind went blank. I watched the world go by as the car sped down the highway. I laid my head back against the seat and started to wonder about a lot of the things. Where were we going? What was going to happen? Would I ever be back in Tulsa? Would I see any of the family again… ever?

*Chapter 8 / Chapter 10*
*Go Back to Chapters Index*

This fictional story is hosted at The Gifted Ones,
with permission from the author Chelle.

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