Waves roll onto the sand, the rush of the water energizing me and soothing away my disappointment over Dad’s sudden decision to have only Steffie and I spend the day on the yacht with him. Maitland and Adam understand, and Quint is surly anyway, so I’m not taking his annoyance personal.
“Fuck, man, I got up for nothing!”
“Yeah, well, dude. Life happens. Deal with it or suck my dick.”
He decided to deal with it.
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On the bright side, I won’t have to bother with Kiln and his death glares or Jaeger and his superiority. It’ll just be me, Dad, and Steffie. I can live with that. Steffie is anxious to hear the song I wrote. Me and the guys have been in the studio at home, for days, working on the exact melody for it.
We’ve been putting the room Dad converted into the studio—at Mom’s urging—to good use. We spend most of our spare time in there. I say most because we have school and we have dicks that need attention from more than just self-stimulation.
Last weekend, we invited a few girls over to listen to one of our sessions. Somehow, it turned into…an orgy. My face heats up every time I think of it. It was the best fucking thing ever, but I’d never fucked in front of another dude nor had I ever fucked more than one girl in the span of several hours.
I want a repeat. Instead, we’re at our beach house for this weekend.
I halt at the sound of my sister’s voice. Turning, I grin when I see her at a dead run, her hair flying. She has a skirt thing around her one-piece bathing suit. I think she calls it a sarong, but I’m not into girls’ fashions, so I’m not sure.
Reaching me, she looks me up and down and makes a face.
I know her problem, so I just fold my arms and smirk.
“Speedos, Slo? Like, really? Who wants to see the imprint of your junk?”
“You’d be surprised,” I retort.
“Uh, disgusting. You’re sixteen. Not some badass rocker—“
“Yet,” I interrupt. If I have my way, I’ll soon be a very badass rocker. Me and the guys already have the name for our band. It’s a fucking spaz-ass name. Phoenix Rising.
Fire and flames are already in my head, shooting high into the air, as I ascend from a stage and girls are screaming my name. I jerk off to those thoughts and come all over the place when I imagine how much girls will love and adore me.
“I can still be your manager, right?”
“Who else would we have?” I ask in all seriousness.
Steffie is the one who gifted me with my first guitar. I still have it, even though I’ve moved on to lead and rhythm. I’ll always love it, and her, for helping me to find my talent.
“Can you imagine?” she whispers. “My baby brother and his band rising up like the Phoenix. In spite of Daddy.”
“Why’d you have to go and ruin my fucking day, Stef?”
My father, the great Rand Mason, wants his sons on the same team. He doesn’t doubt my talent but since Kiln is an asshead and Jaeger is an asslicker, he wants us all to work together. As in they play some type of role in my band, behind the scenes.
Why the fuck would I allow that? We may be related because of his blood, but we fucking despise each other. They’d sabotage me, before they’d do anything else.
Dad has sworn to not lift one finger to help us. He has contacts coming out the ass. Entertainment, politics, business. You name it, he has it.
At one time, my father could do no wrong. Ever since he decided to connect with his children from his first marriage, he’s changed. As a result, I’ve changed, too.
A growl grabs my attention. The sound goes off again. I realize it’s Steffie’s stomach. I hoot with laughter.
“I’m hungry,” Steffie mumbles, her face reddening.
“Yeah, well, I’m not.” More like hung over, but she doesn’t have to know that. She’d disapprove and cluck in disappointment.
I dislike disappointing my sister almost as much as I hate doing it to my mother.
Yawning, I scratch my chest.
She scrunches her nose.
“You need to…I don’t know…you look older,” she complains. “My friends like you.”
Some of them really like me and are giving me quite the education on the art of fucking. This is a far cry from the night, last year, that I lost my virginity. A fucking disaster from start to finish.
I lift my arm and flex my biceps, earning an eye roll.
“God, can you get a little more modest?” she says with sarcasm.
“Probably not,” I retort. “I can flex my dick, too. Wanna see?”
“You’re such a fucking perve, Slo!” she yells. “A gross one at that.” Her blush spreads down her neck and along the modest line of the scooped top of her bathing suit.
I’d bet my fucking inheritance that Steffie’s a virgin.
“F.I.O.M. alert,” she chirps, biting down on her lip.
Father in our midst.
Dad is striding towards us, dressed in swimming trunks, his chest bare. He still has a decent body, and doesn’t mind showing it off.
“You two ready to spend your day with me?” he asks in greeting, looking between the two of us.
Steffie sidles closer to me. She can handle Kiln and Jaeger, but she’s scared shitless of Dad. I’ve always wondered why.
“Sloane, your mother needs to talk to you for a few minutes. Meet Stefanie and me at the dock. We’ll be waiting on the yacht for you, so there’s no need to rush.”
“Mom needs to talk to me?” I ask skeptically.
Mom is the one who woke me up this morning, knowing I’d dismissed my alarm clock, as usual. It stands to reason if she’d had anything to say, she would’ve told me then.
“Yes, son. She needs to talk to you. Don’t keep her waiting.”
Of course not. My father is over-the-top everything where my mother is concerned. If she’s not happy, no one is. I’ve heard Adam’s dad joke that if all’s right with the wife, then all’s right with life. But, fuck, there’s them and then there’s Rand and Bryn Mason.
If Mom wants a fucking cloud from the sky, Dad will find a way to lasso that motherfucker and give it to her. It’s some serious shit. Like, fucking scary serious.
As in if you hurt my wife, I’ll take your life.
Of course, as Mom’s one and only child, I’m special, too. But Dad’s still Dad. The concessions he makes for Mom, he’ll do for no one else. Which means I’m either going to have to claw my way to the top of the music world or give in to Dad’s demands with Kiln and Jaeger.
Working my ass off, it is.
I fucking hate those jealous, overbearing, sadistic motherfuckers. Kiln’s an overgrown ape. If I hadn’t started to bulk up, he probably would’ve killed me by now.
Irritation shoots through me at Dad’s peeved tone. Steffie is rigid, her eyes pleading for my rescue. “Okay, Dad. I’m going. C’mon, Stef,” I say casually. “Walk there with me. While I’m talking to Mom, run up to my room and grab my phone.”
I really did forget it. Now, I’m happy about that. It gives me the excuse I need to bring my sister with me.
Her brow smoothens and she beams a smile my way. Steffie knows how to make me feel as if I’m a hero. It’s a good feeling. There’s a sense of satisfaction, as if I’ve earned something, instead of having everything handed to me.
That’s one reason I don’t give a fuck that Dad won’t help me and the guys with our band. When I get to the top, it’ll be because of the music I love to create. That we all love. We won’t become superstars because we’re entitled, rich boys with connections out the ass.
And we will become world-famous. We’re fucking awesome and we have a pact to succeed.
I’m shoved to the ground without warning. Landing on my ass, I stare at my father, stunned. He’s never once put his hands on me. He can be a complete dick, but he’s never been physically abusive.
Steffie flinches and steps back, her face going pale.
I’m trying to process her reaction, process my father’s actions, when he grabs me by my hair and drags me to my knees.
“Your mother wants to talk to you,” he repeats on a snarl. “Get the fuck to her. It’s still early and I have to get this over with. Steffie stays with me.”
The only reason my father is manhandling me is because he’s stunned the fuck out of me. I’m already over six feet, taller than he is. I can stomp him into the fucking ground if I choose.
But I don’t choose. Because I don’t know what the fuck is going on. Has Dad hit the blunts we have stashed in my room?
I get to my feet. “Fine, Dad.” Anger hardens my voice. I’m not the most level-headed person. I’m so fucking furious right now, I want to pound on my chest like a gorilla about to charge. “I won’t be long, Stefanie.”
Enraged, I ignore Steffie’s plea. Black and red paints my vision. Red for my father’s fucking blood, and black for the carrion that will pick apart his fucking carcass. He hit me? He fucking hit me!
It isn’t until I near the house, and my temper is calming that I think of Steffie’s attitude. Her mom’s bitterness. Kiln’s viciousness.
Did my dad abuse them?
No way. Fucking impossible. Dad…he wouldn’t do that.
No, not my father. My father has always revered my mother and me. He’s respected and connected.
A chill sweeps through me as I reach our veranda. It’s a balmy, breezy day, certainly not fucking cold enough for these goose bumps to be rising on me.
Scowling, I open the door to the house. It’s quiet, with no sign of anyone waiting to see me. The guys are upstairs, dead to the world since Dad changed his mind about them coming. Kiln is probably just rising from the toilet that I swear he sleeps in. Motherfucker just cavorts in shit. Abby, my eighteen-year-old aunt, is still out, on the other side of the island, fucking the waiter she’s having an affair with.
My granddad was a dirty old fuck, but Abby’s mother was a money-grubbing cunt.
“Mom!” I call.
As expected, I receive no answer.
I turn to head out the door, but hesitate. If I go to Mom, I can look Dad in the eye and tell him I checked in with her. If I don’t go, I’ll have to lie, and there’s a risk he’ll discover that.
Then, we’ll get into a full-on brawl. No fucking way will I allow another man to put his hands on me, father included.
Stalking to my parents’ bedroom, I knock on the door.
“Come in,” Mom calls.
When I walk into the room, she frowns at me. She’s wearing a sundress, her hair in a ponytail. Typical mom, prepared for the day, bright and early.
“Something wrong?” she asks.
“Dad said you needed to talk to me,” I say tightly.
Sweeping her gaze over me, she shakes her head. Fuck, I’m wearing Speedos. I usually keep my cock less prevalent around Mom.
Heat sweeps through me and my blush must match hers.
“Cindy called. She was looking for you,” she says, walking to her desk and sitting at it, her back to me. “I did want to talk to you about that, but it wasn’t so urgent that Rand had to interrupt your day on the water.”
“Cindy?” I echo. All I fucking need is a date with the first girl I fucked. “What did she want?” I ask carefully.
“A visit here for dinner with us later tonight.”
“Of course,” I mumble under my breath.
“I thanked her for her desire to catch up, but told her you had other plans.”
I fold my arms, without commenting, but I’m so fucking thankful for my mother’s fortitude, I’m sucking my own dick in celebration.
Clearing her throat, she faces me, but only looks at my face. I can’t remember the last time Mom saw me in less than shorts. She’s shy and easily flustered.
“I hope that’s okay, son.”
“What? Mom, you’re a lifesaver!” I tell her with enthusiasm.
Cindy is the daughter of a family friend. Mom wouldn’t be too happy to hear I stuck my dick in her.
Fuck. Mom would be as unhappy to discover I’m having sex as I am imagining her finding out.
“Anything else, ma’am?” I say with as much little-boy charm as I can muster.
Her eyes twinkle at me. She’s on to my bullshit. “Get to the dock,” she orders.
With a mock salute, I turn on my heel and get the fuck away from Mom. Note to self: ditch the Speedos after today. I don’t want to so blatantly offend her sensibilities. The moment I found out it would only be Dad, Steffie, and me on the boat, I pulled them out. Who knows what hot girl we’d run into if Dad decided to sail somewhere else for the day. But the Speedos are supposed to only come out when Mom isn’t with us.
Thoroughly frustrated with both my parents, I make my way down the beach, heading towards Dad’s boat slip. I growl under my breath when I get to the curve in the beach that takes me to a little cove. Dad has pulled out of port already. The asshole has left me! Well, fuck him. The yacht’s idling in the water and it isn’t that far from shore. I’m a strong fucking swimmer.
What the fuck do I have to do all day, but recover from a long-distance swim?
My unconcerned thoughts float away when I hear Steffie scream. It takes me a moment, but I realize she’s in the water, bobbing up and down, struggling to stay afloat.
Jesus. What’s going on? Is she caught in a riptide?
“Steffie!” I yell, wondering if she can hear me.
She’s panicking. She’s fucking panicking, and that’s going to get her killed.
Just before I dive into the water, I see my Dad. He gazes at me, at Steffie, and then jumps in.
Let him save her. He’s right there. He’ll get her out…or get caught in whatever she’s caught in.
Fuck. I have to get to them.
Don’t let anything happen to Dad and Steffie. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.
I come up to the surface for air, and doggy paddle, circling three hundred sixty degrees. Both Dad and Steffie are gone.
Fear and adrenaline surges through me, and I propel myself through the water. It’s taking me forever to get to them. I’m going to lose them, and I can’t. Along with my three friends, my father, mother, and sister, are everything to me.
I have to save them, find them, help them. Or…Jesus…recover them.
My eyes are stinging and after a few more yards, my lungs are beginning to tingle. Air. I need air, so I come up again. I’ve been timed at staying under water one hundred fifty seconds. So I’ve been swimming for a total of five minutes now and…
Dad. I see him. He’s there, not far from me. I think he’s trying to drag Steffie up…I think…Holy God, he’s…he’s not helping her up, he’s holding her under.
Deep down, I know Steffie’s already gone. I know it, but I don’t want to believe it. I know it, though. I saw the back of the upper half of her body and it was still, and Dad had his hand on the back of her head, holding it in place.
Dad killed Steffie.
I barrel into him, and he releases her. She’s sinking. My sister is going to be lost if I don’t get her…
Steffie, please, don’t leave me. Come back. You have to.
I grab hold of her body and wrap my arms around her. She’s still. She’s gone.
Dad grabs hold of me, and I start to panic. He’s going to drown me, too. But he’s strong and I’m devastated. When he tightens his grip, I stop caring. Let him do it. I want this water to overcome me and take me away from this nightmare. If I survive, I’ll have to live without my sister and live with the knowledge that my Dad, the man I once worshiped, her father too, is her murderer.
What is going to happen to Mom?
Somehow, he gets me and her back onto the yacht. I’m standing, then I’m not. I’m sobbing against her body.
Fuck, no, Sloane. Do CPR. You can get her back.
Yes. Right. My Steffie can come back to me. I put to use the knowledge of the CPR classes Mom insisted I take two years ago. For five minutes, I work on Steffie, but she refuses to cooperate. She refuses to breathe again.
I shake her and roar in helplessness.
Without warning, I’m shoved backwards. Dad again. No, not Dad. The man who was my dad. Now, he’s Steffie’s killer.
“Motherfucker,” I snarl, shooting to my feet and tackling him. I’m going to fucking kill him, then and only then will I put myself out of this misery. He doesn’t fucking deserve to live.
Somehow, Dad gets the upper hand and he’s whaling on my chest and stomach. He’s on his feet and grabs something from the corner of the deck. It’s a gun, and he aims it at my head.
“Do it,” I order. Hatred is most powerful when it has been formed from love. I. Despise. Him.
“I should,” he says hoarsely. “For killing your sister. Jealousy leads to ugly souls.”
No. No. “No,” I utter, knowing what he’s about to do to me. He’s about to ruin my entire life, pin my sister’s murder on me. “No!”
I stagger to my feet and start for him, but Dad cocks the gun.
“You do this my way. Or you die. Or go to jail.”
This is a nightmare. Yes, that’s the problem. I’m asleep after drinking too much shit, and smoking that blunt, and I’m going to wake up. When I open my eyes, I’ll still be in my bed. Late in getting to the dock. Maybe, left behind.
Breathing hard, I squeeze my eyes shut, ignoring the tears leaking from them. God, please, please. This is a dream. Please. I pop my eyes open again.
It’s still the same. My sister is still dead at my feet. My father still has a gun on me.
And I’m still broken, never piecing myself back together.
P.S. FROM KAT: I haven't forgotten about Misconduct. Stay tuned for a Digger update.