Chapter 4 ~ The Cookout
A cookout was always a favourite of mine growing up, anyone in the town was invited, etiquette was simple, bring a plate and your own booze and enjoy the night with great company, great food and some good old fashioned dancing. Now of course, rather than looking forward to some harmless fun, I was full of anxiety.
Dad had made it very clear that while usually, there was an open invitation to anyone in the town, now specific families such as Mac’s, Ivy’s and in fact, any of the old crew I used to be friends with, were uninvited. He made sure to inform the town gossips first, so the news spread faster, I had asked him why? He just simply replied with, 'they do not deserve our company'. I loved my Dad so much, I knew he was looking out for me and I appreciated it. No one in my family spoke about the supermarket incident but I knew they all knew.
It was like my overdose, no one spoke in detail about it and we just carried on. I have no doubt in my mind, that if I had of opened up, they would listen and give opinions, but, I had no idea what to say. The reality of my situation, which was a slow realisation, was that, I wanted those drugs. If someone offered me a hit of anything, the way I’m feeling right now, I would take it.
Anything to stop all of these feelings and thoughts.
Being high you become invincible, you march to the beat of your own drum, you’re not weighed down by every, day to day, life. You ‘think’ you are thinking clearer but it is nothing but a drug induced fog of euphoria. You love everyone, even if they are bad people and you find a better reason to spend money on, rather than responsibly taking care of things within reality. That’s when you end up in an infinity loop, going around and around.
My wonderful loving parents had caught me, pulled me from my vortex before things got too bad; they’ve given me a chance at redemption. I’m not stupid, I knew exactly what this was, but I still craved that high, I guess how smokers yearned that nicotine hit. The down side to the gear I was using, Toni had me swapping sex from payment, which was a very dangerous circle, so thank god, I had no feelings for him because it would have made this whole situation worse.
I was able to combat the fidgeting everyday, by getting into farm work and it kept me exhausted enough that I didn’t actively seek another high to replace the taken one. Things were definitely looking up.
Theadasia had helped me dye my hair, we had decided on a natural fawn colour and I was happy to let go of the strawy platinum blonde and relax into a nice calming, soft brown. I had chosen a lilac off the shoulder, sleeved midi dress, that stuck to me like a second skin. If this was the city then heels would have been appropriate but since this was the country, with grass and dirt, I went with suede black ankle boots that I had a feeling were going to be ruined by the end of the night, but hey, there wasn’t really any other choice.
I knew I was dressing up in the hopes I would see him, my chances are that the other night, was simply fabrication. I probably didn't really hear, what I thought I heard. There was also a possibility that he was simply being friendly… right?
Daisy had borrowed a baby doll dress which she looked beautiful in, it was nice being able to do sisterly things. Kaeron and I simply didn’t do that. I forced him to play Barbies once, when we were little but that didn’t go so well and my dolls ended up with no heads.
The guests had started to arrive and Daisy and I were back and forth, from the kitchen to the tables. It seemed as though mama and her friends had cooked up a storm, while Dad and his friends manned the meat and the fire pits. I was bringing out the last of the buttered bread rolls when I spotted him walking toward the food tables, our eyes instantly connected and I gave him a shy smile, to which he returned.
My insides where flipping out of control and I could feel the perspiration covering my body, I had to breathe calmly before I dropped the dang rolls everywhere.
I couldn’t help but swoon, he looked gorgeous. He wore his black Stetson hat, a black dress shirt with the top three buttons undone and a black dress jacket. With navy blue Levi’s with black boots, all I could see was his eyes, those cognac browns glowing brightly against the afternoon sunlight.
“Take these around will you? See if anyone wants a drink of lemonade.”
“Mama, it’s a cookout, why have you gone to such extremes?” She looked flustered and we'd only just begun.
“Baby girl, you are home and alive, we needed this.” My heart sank, all this time thinking mama didn’t feel anything by what happened, when in truth, she just kept it all inside.
She went to walk away, I quickly placed down the lemonade and paper cups and held her elbow. “Mama, did you think I wasn’t going to wake up?”
A lonely tear fell from her Green eye, “I'm thankful you’re here with us, I love you far too much to let you go.” She kissed my cheek but I snaked my arms up around her.
“I’m so sorry mama,” I whispered in her ear, “I should never have done that to you, either of you.”
“It doesn’t matter, it brought you home,” she gently squeezed my biceps and then walked away.
Guilt washed over me as I stood there breathing deeply, trying not to cry, her words filtering through my mind on repeat, ‘baby girl, you are home and alive, we need this… home and alive’. How could I have been so reckless and selfish?
I turned on my heels, making a direct B-line for the stables. I just needed five minutes to regain my composure and then I will hand out the lemonade, just need to calm. My hands began to shake, I grabbed a brush, intending to rub down Darla but as I reached her, I had to focus on controlling my breathing before I passed out.
I was sitting on top of a turned over bucket with my head between my legs, breathing deeply, when I heard approaching footsteps. “Sorry mama, I’m coming,” I called out.
“You’re cumming? What here?” His modulated, smoky voice seductively licked at my ears, my head snapped up in surprise. That was a rather filthy comment, what the hell?
“That was below the belt,” I teased with a smile.
“You left it wide open.” Pierce tipped another bucket and sat down beside me, then huffed in confusion, “what are you doing?”
“Hyperventilating, what are you doing?” I watched him from my position, against my knees.
“Do you… hyperventilate often?”
“Oh you know, only when it comes to whole town cookout’s really.” I shrugged awkwardly, then return my head to in between my knees.
“Well, if you’re done? I believe your mama asked you to hand out the lemonade and then we’re going to hang out with my mates.” I sat up straight, realising he heard mama. With a furrowed brow, I turned slowly to him.
“What else did you hear?” He sat back and folded his arms.
“Nothing that needs to be repeated,” I nodded looking at my suede ankle boots, “you look amazing tonight.”
“Thank you,” I mumbled, "you do too."
“Ready? I’ll pour, you hold the cups.”
“You wanna serve with me?”
“Sure.” We both stood and walked out the barn, why on earth would he want to serve with me? Pierce slipped off his jacket and hung it on the back of his mama’s chair, giving her a peck to her cheek before collecting the pitcher off of me.
Pierce oozed charisma and charm, talking to everyone as we served, introducing me to the folks that I hadn’t met and explaining how they were connected to everyone. It seems as though a lot had changed since I left, then again some things hadn’t.
Pierce collected my hand in his, so comfortably and natural. I couldn’t hold back the fire that blazed across my cheeks at the intimate connection. We wandered over to a reversed in Ute, which had some people sitting on the tray and my brother and his friends, scattered in chairs in front of it.
“Hey, ya’ll remember Avaleria, Kaeron’s sister?” He dropped my hand and pulled up a chair for me to sit, while Kae stuffed his face with Hot Dogs.
Kae shoved the Dog in my face, “try this, it’s good.”
I opened my mouth, taking a bite. After a few solid chews, I swallowed enough to actually talk, “holy shit, that is good.”
“Told ya, Dad’s mastered his technique since you been gone,” he wiggles his brows at me.
“So, why do we have a member of the bitch pack sitting with us?” A petite looking woman with green eyes and blonde hair was staring right at me, I remembered her from school.
“Cole? Isn’t it?” She gasped sarcastically.
“Oh my god, she knows my name,” her attitude was not appreciated. I stood and walked to the tray she sat on and thrust my hand towards her.
“Cole, nice to meet you, my names Lyera, former bitch pack member, currently shoveler of animal shit and hopefully a new friend, I’m sorry for school.” I could feel all eyes on us, wondering what Cole was going to do?
“Well, that’s good enough for me,” she shook my hand enthusiastically. “Should have converted years ago, you seemed more like our kind of weird anyway.” She jumped off the Ute tray and threw her arm around my shoulder, “c’mon new friend, I’m starving.”
I liked Cole instantly, she was loud and outgoing, she gave as good as she got and was not afraid to go toe to toe with anyone, she was spunky. I had a feeling she was one of those true, decent and loyal friends, that I always dreamed I’d have one day.
“So Lyera, rumour says that you came back from the city, why?” In my head I was singing her praises, right now, I wanted to kick her in the shin. My face paled, thankfully Kae stepped in.
“My sister here murdered someone,” I chuckled.
“God Kae, how long do you reckon it will take for that rumour to make its way around?”
“Well, I’m hoping by the end of tonight but I’d give it more like two hours.”
“Okay, so if we’re going to commit to this, why not makeup something really good?”
“Like what?” Cole cut in, her interest was clearly piqued.
“Ummm, how about…” I sat there thinking for a moment and then my eyes grew wide in pure excitement, I lowered my voice to make it sound like we were watching a movie trailer. “After joining the air force, the plane I was in got shot down behind enemy lines...” my eyes flittered backwards and forwards between everyone as they hung on my every word.
“Alone on a tropical island, bleeding from a severe gash on my left arm, I was forced to find food and shelter. Dehydration was wreaking havoc on my exhausted limbs, when I happen to stumble across an all-male village…” The men groaned as I giggled.
“Andtheyallworeloinclothsthatweretoosmallfortheirgiganticpenisesandsculpturedbodies.” Cole screamed at me without breathing as I burst into laughter.
“What did you just say?”
“And they all wore loin cloths that were too small for their gigantic penises and sculptured bodies.” Cole shyly repeated, which had the men throwing tufts of grass, half eaten hot dogs and paper plates at her and groaning.
I was in hysterics, “how have we not been friends before?” I chuckled, “I love that story.”