Authors: J.M. Darhower
book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or
real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and events
are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events
or places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
2014 by Jessica Mae
rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof
in any form whatsoever. Except as permitted under the US Copyright Act of 1976,
no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in
any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without
the prior written permission of the author.
, DeMarco, get up."
Carmine grunted, his eyes slowly peeking
open as something struck his leg, sending a sharp pain through his calf.
"What the fuck?"
The cluttered room was dark, clouds of
hazy smoke hovering in the warm air, muddying the view of the boy standing in front
of him. Carmine blinked a few times, each second like slow motion as blackness
obscured his vision before the unfocused scene once more came into view.
Inhaling deeply, the smoky air infiltrated
Carmine's lungs, the woodsy aroma of marijuana washing over his body. His eyes
drifted closed again as he teetered on the edge of unconsciousness.
"Get up!" the person said again,
raising their bare foot and kicking Carmine in the knee. "Lazy
Carmine sat up and rubbed his blurry eyes,
trying to shake off the exhaustion that weighed him down. Glancing across the
room, he watched as his half-assed aggressor strolled to the only window and
shoved the makeshift curtain out of the way—a thick blanket, tacked there
to keep the sunlight from streaming in.
Grimacing, Carmine raised his hand to
block the blinding glare. "What the fuck?"
Laughter rang through the
room—familiar laughter—as the form approached him again. Carmine
stared at him, taking in the sight of the worn cargo shorts and dingy white
undershirt, the blue ball cap pulled down low on the boy's eyes.
He was in Nicholas's bedroom in the house
out on Aurora Lake… that much Carmine knew… but how the hell he got there, or
for that matter, was beyond him. The last thing he remembered was… was… fuck,
he couldn't even remember. "What the fuck?"
Nicholas laughed again as he paused right
in front of him. "Is that all you know how to say?"
"No," he scoffed, running his
hands through his chaotic hair. "Christ, what did we do tonight?"
corrected him, motioning toward the window. "It's daylight."
Carmine glared at the sunlight for a
moment. "Well, I don't remember shit from
"Not surprised," Nicholas
muttered. "You were fucked up."
"I'm still fucked up," he grumbled,
climbing to his feet and swaying a bit. "How am I still high from last
"This morning," Nicholas
corrected him again, laughing some more. "You don't remember getting up an
hour ago and smoking?"
"No," he said. "Must've
been some good shit."
"Got any more?"
Carmine frowned, looking around as he
tried to clear his head and gather his wits. The room was a
disaster—clothes strewn everywhere, trash spilling over the can, empty
bottles cluttering the desk and every inch of shelf space. Certainly wasn't
anything out of the usual in Nicholas's room… it reminded Carmine of his own.
Probably why it was the only other place
in the world where he felt at home.
"Come on," Nicholas said,
slapping him on the arm. "It's already after four o'clock. The weekend
"Friday," Nicholas said.
"Shit," Carmine muttered.
"Guess I missed school."
"You and me both."
It was fall, memory of summer long gone,
but the weather showed little sign of changing seasons. A perk of living in the
middle of No-Fucking-Where Carolina: already late October and it was still
sweltering during the day. Carmine had a hard time getting back into the
routine of normality, with school and homework and all the other shit society
expected from kids his age.
He would rather just sleep and fuck his
Carmine stumbled out of the room, wearing
yesterday's jeans and gray V-neck shirt, the sleeves shoved up to his
shoulders, his Nike's untied and flopping on his feet as he shuffled through
the house behind his friend. He plopped down at the kitchen table, the wooden
chair legs scratching the linoleum floor, as Nicholas got them both bowls and
slid them on the table with an open box of Lucky Charms. Carmine
unceremoniously poured some into his bowl, still trying to blink away the haze,
as Nicholas plopped down in the chair across from him with a carton of milk.
Nicholas poured himself a bowl of cereal
and started eating as Carmine reached for the milk. He picked up the carton and
Carmine looked at Nicholas's bowl, nearly
filled to the brim with milk, some sloshing out onto the table whenever he dug
his spoon in. "You used all the milk."
"You snooze, you lose."
Carmine couldn't even be mad. Hell, he
would've done the same had he been coherent enough to beat his friend to it.
Shrugging it off, he plucked handfuls of cereal out of his bowl and tossed them
in his mouth. Fuck it—he'd eat it dry.
Wasn't the first time, wouldn't be the
"God, you boys are pathetic."
Carmine's focus turned from his evening
to Amy Barlow as she strode in, wearing a hot pink two-piece bikini, the top
untied and barely concealing her breasts, the bottoms covered by a pair of tiny
unbuttoned jean shorts. Her tanned skin shined, a combination of baby oil and
sweat from lying out in the sun. She was eighteen and gorgeous… or about as
gorgeous as a girl related to Nicholas could possibly get.
Which, Carmine had to admit, was pretty
senior. Carmine had had a hard-on for her since the first time he laid eyes on
the girl, but she was off-limits. The only girl he figured was off the menu for
him, in fact. He was only sixteen, but he'd already had his fair share of girls
over the years. If he set his mind to it, if he tried hard enough, he got it,
but her? Amy?
You don't fuck with your best friend's
It was an unspoken rule.
"Look who's talking," Nicholas
grumbled, mouth full of cereal. "Don't you own any damn clothes? Walking
around here half-naked. I don't wanna see that shit, Ames."
Carmine thought, smirking. Instead of saying it, though, he stuffed a handful
of cereal into his mouth.
Safer that way.
"At least I don't
Amy countered, opening the fridge to pull out a bottle of water. She unscrewed
the top and took a drink as she leaned back against the counter to glare at
them. "Seriously, do you smell that? What reeks?"
"That's DeMarco," Nicholas said
nonchalantly. "I showered already."
Glaring at his friend, Carmine raised his
arm, instantly getting a whiff of his armpit. He involuntarily grimaced.
stink. Smelled like stale bread and burnt fucking rubber.
What the hell did I do last night?
He shrugged it off, though, going right
back to munching on his Lucky Charms. He was too damn hungry to give a shit
"By the way, Dr. DeMarco called a few
said, her attention focusing
right on him, a small smile tugging the corner of her lips that Carmine could
tell she was fighting to restrain. Smug bitch. "Said something about
Carmine not showing up for school today. He asked if you boys were
"Did you tell him we were
sleeping?" Nicholas asked.
"No," she said. "I told him
I hadn't seen Carmine."
Nicholas groaned. "Jesus, Amy,
"Because it's true," she
replied, shrugging. "I was at school all day… unlike you two. And I'm not
lying for you so you can sneak around, doing God knows what, God knows where,
with God knows who."
"It doesn't matter," Carmine
chimed in before they could start arguing. "Not like he's got the time to
come look for me. I'm surprised he even took a minute to try to
It was only because the school had called
him, Carmine figured. Had Principal Jack-Ass Rutledge not ratted him out, his
father would have never known. Carmine's appetite was suddenly gone, dissolving
at the thought of his father. He shoved his bowl away from him as he stood up,
stretching his arms and grimacing once again at the odor that clung to him.
"I'm going to shower."
"Please do," Amy said. "I can't
take much more of that stench."
He flashed her his middle finger as he
strode from the room, kicking his shoes off as he walked, leaving them lying on
He passed Nicholas's father in the
hallway—a middle-aged man named Joshua, prematurely gray from stress he
openly blamed on Nicholas for even existing. Joshua cast Carmine a disapproving
as he strode by, but the man said nothing.
He was about as
It only took Carmine about ten minutes to
shower, the perpetual cold spray in the old ass house with the prehistoric
plumbing enough to jolt him wide-awake. He put on fresh clothes
afterward—he had about as much of his shit here as he did at
home—and made his way back toward the kitchen, slipping his shoes back on
as he went, his shirt clutched in his hand. He could hear fighting off in the
other side of the house, Nicholas arguing with his father about something-or-
Probably school. Or me
Carmine didn't bother to investigate, knowing his friend preferred it that way.
They had an understanding. They fought their own battles, no matter how ugly.
It was just the way it was.
Instead of seeking out his friend, Carmine
plopped back down in the chair at the table and eyed Amy as she washed out
their bowls from breakfast. As long as he had known her, she had been more of a
parental figure to Nicholas than anything. When their mother died, she had
stepped up and taken on the role of woman of the house, taking care of her
brother and her father. Carmine sympathized with her… he knew what it was like
to practically raise
"Don't you have a house?" Amy
asked, shutting off the water to turn around and look at him. "Don't you
have your own family?"
Carmine stared at her for a moment,
expression blank. "Why do you care?"
"I get a little tired of looking at
you every day."
"Then don't look at me."
"So?" She threw up her arms in
annoyance. "The least you can do is put on a damn shirt."
Raising his eyebrows, Carmine glanced down
at himself and rubbed his bare chest. He had gotten soft over the summer and
was just now
into shape thanks to Junior Varsity
That struck a chord with him, hazy memories resurfacing. They'd had a football
game last night… hell, no wonder he stunk. He figured they'd won, since he'd
partied so hard in celebration. Or else he was drinking to forget the loss.
Either way, it worked. He barely
"You're not wearing a shirt, either,
you know," he pointed out.
"Yeah, well…" She stepped closer,
pressing her palms flat against the surface of the table as she leaned across
it to look him in the eyes. "Unlike you, I'm grown. I can do what I want,
Carmine narrowed his eyes at her,
purposely avoiding glancing down at her breasts as she practically thrust them
toward his face.
Such a fucking tease
Amy stood up and walked away as a door
slammed down the hall and Nicholas stormed in, ignoring his father's yelling
stay out of trouble…
… mind your fucking manners
... I'm not running a fucking boarding house for
your delinquent friends...
Nicholas immediately searched through the
cabinets before groaning and instead opening the fridge. He pulled out two cans
of beer—the American flag colored cheap shit that tasted like
piss—but Carmine didn't complain when his friend tossed him one. He
popped the top and took a sip. Best cure for a hangover was just to start
And in the Barlow house? There was always
an abundance of alcohol to be found.
"So what are we doing today?"
"Same thing we did yesterday."
"And what's that?"
Nicholas raised his beer. "Getting
Carmine chuckled. Sounded about right to
* * *
They were drunk again before nightfall, roughhousing along the
sandy beach and commandeering a neighbor's jet skis, having no regard for
anyone or anything.
. They raced around the lake, shouting
and dodging obstructions, before playing a game of chicken. The jet skis sped
along the water straight at each other, neither one making any move to divert
from the path.