Banner didn’t know why his parents had insisted on him coming with them to Canada. They’d been on their phones the entire flight, and while they’d been walking through the airport. It was a miracle they hadn’t run into anyone.
He’d kept his head down and his thoughts to himself. It didn’t matter what he said; his parents ignored him.
They hadn’t even sat together on the plane. His parents had purchased first class seats, but his had been a few rows behind them.
There’d been no explanation as to why the separated seating, but Banner hadn’t expected one.
He couldn’t remember a time when his parents had actually spoken to him.
Now, here he sat, at a large dining table. His grandfather was at the head, with his grandmother at the other end. Banner was in the middle, with five empty chairs on either side of him. His parents were across from him, but hadn’t looked his way once.
Banner pulled out his phone. He thought about texting Aubrey, but decided against it. He had his dad. He had his mom. He had people. He didn’t need Banner calling him.
He put his phone away.
A man dressed in a black tuxedo served red wine to the adults.
“Can I have a beer?” he asked the older man.
His gray brows furrowed for a moment, before he put a straight face back on.
“Ignore him,” his dad said, without taking his eyes off his dinner plate.
Banner stared at the man, but the man didn’t look at him again. He merely nodded once, then walked away.
Banner was so bored. He hadn’t been to his grandparent’s place since he was a little boy. And it had been just as boring then, as it was now.
The huge mansion was dark and gloomy. The interior was done in browns and more browns. Everything was dark wood and ancient relics. It’d scared the shit out of him when he’d been a child. Now, he just thought it was depressing as hell.
The dining room was half the size of their downstairs house in Florida. It was only dimly lit, by a 1700s Crystal chandelier, and the candles everywhere. There had to be fifty candles all together, including the ones in old scones on the walls.
Banner just watched the ones on the table in front of him. The tiny flames flickering, the wax dripping down the off-white stick. It fell in hot splats in the large gold rim surrounding the base.
“Your offspring has left his senses again,” came the calm, cold voice of his grandmother. “Perhaps you should take our advice and have him analyzed.” The soft clicking of silverware sounded.
“I don’t have time for that.” That was his dad.
Banner didn’t look away from the melting wax.
“You should.” His grandfather. “I am not leaving my legacy to someone who is mentally unstable.”
“You’re leaving your inheritance to me,” his dad said.
“The boy is fine,” his mom said. She sounded rather bored. But that was how she always sounded.
“When you die,” his grandfather continued. “Which could be soon, my wealth and businesses will go to your son.”
Banner didn’t glance away from the candles. He didn’t want to. These people were strangers to him. He had nothing to say, nothing to give, and nothing he cared to share with them.
“I am perfectly healthy,” his dad said, taking a deep breath.
Banner didn’t know what they were doing. They probably weren’t looking at him. They never looked at him.
“Have you noticed?” His grandmother said.
“Noticed what?” His dad sounded annoyed now.
Banner didn’t flinch at his grandmother’s words. He didn’t even acknowledge that he heard them. It was true. There was no reason he should hide it.
“Your point, Mother?” His dad’s dishes clanked together as he pushed his chair back.
“Sit down,” his grandfather grumbled. “It is a valid point. We will not leave —”
“Then don’t.” And with those words, his dad left the room.
Banner finally blinked. He lowered his gaze back to his plate of untouched food.
He wouldn’t care. He wouldn’t.
How he hated the ache in his chest that never seemed to go away.
High School Graduation Day
Where the fuck was that idiot? Jeremy rolled his eyes to himself. Ferris was such a pain in the ass. He was a year older than Jeremy, but he acted like a moron. Why did their moms have to be twins? And close twins? Whatever happened in Jeremy’s life, idiot Ferris was right there too. Because his mom and Aunt Sherry couldn’t bear to have their own lives.
Jesus, how did their husbands deal with it?
Jeremy pushed the people out of his way, annoyed that he’d been the one sent to look for his wandering cousin. Wasn’t it his graduation day? Wasn’t he the one they were supposed to be celebrating today?
He saw his scrawny cousin. His poor fashion sense, and his unruly brown hair, made him easy to spot.
“Ferris, what the hell are you doing? Your mom has been looking —” he stopped short when he saw who Ferris was talking too.
Banner Chambers and Aubrey Anderson. Both hot. Both nerds. And both standing there with Ferris. Surely Ferris wasn’t friends with them?
He put a smirk on his face and forced himself not to give a shit about a certain green-eyed boy. “Friends of yours?”
“Oh joy,” Banner drawled. “You’re related to the captain of the world’s worse football team.”
Ferris raised wide eyes to Banner. “You can’t...” he hastily shook his head.
“I can’t tell the truth?” Banner shrugged. “I think Jeremy knows he’s a loser.”
“Banner,” some woman chided softly.
Jeremy just grinned at Banner. “Is this the part where you offer to suck me off?”
Jeremy couldn’t deny he looked forward to whatever sexual offer Banner would make next.
Ferris’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “You are—”
“Is this the part where you admit you want it?” Banner said, staring at him like...like he knew. Jeremy’s eyes widened a fraction. The smile dropped from his face.
Banner didn’t look away. He just stared at him. And in that stare, Jeremy saw himself reflected. He saw the truth there. Banner knew. Banner had always known. All those girls Jeremy had dated, all the sports he’d played, all times he’d told Banner he was a sick fuck...none of that mattered.
Because Banner knew.
No. He wasn’t going to let Banner ruin his facade. He wasn’t going to admit to anything. He wasn’t that person.
Suddenly, Jeremy scowled. “Let’s go, Ferris. Your mom’s looking for you.” He spun on his heel and marched off into the crowd of people.
A plan was already forming in his mind.