No laughing matter
***POV - Meleana
I wake up with a jump, coughing frantically as a bunch of water is dumped on my face. I holler as the now wet shirt clings to my body and I glare to find whoever is responsible for this brutality. My eyes fall on my oh-so-lovely doggone cotton-picking brother, the evidence of the crime still in his hand. He grins from ear to ear before sprinting away.
“Jackson blooming Blackburn!” I scream while pulling back the blanket from my soaked body and bolt after him.
“I’m going to kill you and then make sure your sperm can’t reproduce!” I hear him howling from somewhere in the house and I run point-blank into a hard chest. Strong arms grab my waist and hoist me in the air before I can fall smack on my face.
“Careful, angel.” I see Jackson’s face watching me with a huge grin from the kitchen and I feel like slapping him to smithereens. I narrow my gaze while looking at him over Damion’s shoulder. Then Damion drops me on my feet and tilts his head while his eyes move over me.
“You’re wet.” His eyes land on my chest, the wet tee accentuating my breasts and nipples.
“Ghee, wonder how that happened? Ask the bloody idiot behind you!”
“Let me get you a dry shirt.” He walks with me up the stairs and hands me yet another one of his shirts. I wonder how many pieces of clothing the man has and who’s doing his laundry. He also hands me my bag with my athletic gear in and I remember I went to the club straight after practice. Maybe I can find something to wear in there. I hear him chuckle as he walks downstairs again.
“Dude, was that necessary?”
“Of course! I owe her for making me worry,” Jackson gives another deep laugh. I shake my head. I’ll get the little bastard back, that’s a promise. Maybe I must raise my disappointment to the little cocksucker’s coaches because he’s way too chirpy for a guy who just finished a 6-hour flight after a few games in New York. Obviously, they didn’t work him hard enough.
I grab my shorts and sports bra and pull on Damion’s shirt, and my sneakers. I’m thinking of going for a jog later on to clear my head.
“Mel, breakfast is ready!” Jackson shouts and I just give him a grunt while walking into the kitchen. Damion hands me a cup of coffee and although I still feel like strangling my sibling, I work up a smile.
“You better hope karma gets you before I do, little brother.” I pull out the word little, knowing Jackson hates it.
“Just so you know, this is meal number two of five,” Damion whispers in my ear walking past me and putting a plate full of delicious pancakes and bacon on the counter.
“Heard you screamed out Damion’s name over and over. It must have pissed off a couple of people in the process. One of them that dumb-ass ex of yours. Oh, and don’t forget Chloe. Shit, wish I could have seen that bitch’s face.” Jackson talks while stuffing a piece of bacon in his mouth. He covers his pancakes with syrup and then he looks up into my eyes with a big ass smile and I flip him the finger.
“Ug, I don’t even remember what happened.” I groan. Did I really call out to Damion? I quickly steal a look in his direction and the smile on his face tells me that it’s all true. Snap.
“He’s not her boyfriend anymore! Can’t the man take a fucking hint?” Damion mumbles softly between chomping on his food earning a stare from Jackson. Then they turn the conversation to Damion’s upcoming race. It’s not a MotoGP race, but a MotoCross race.
“Can we girls come too? I never miss a race on the TV, but I’ve never been to one for real.” Jackson looks at Damion as if they’re sharing a secret with their eyes. I frown cause they look awkward suddenly shifting uncomfortably on the chairs. And then I realize just what slipped through my mouth and how it might be conceived. Damn.
“Uh, you never miss a race?” Jackson asks with pulled-up eyebrows.
“Eh … well … usually … it’s like … um …” I can’t find anything to say so decides to rather change the subject, hoping for the best. “Is there a reason why I shouldn’t go?”
“Uhm, the press!” Jackson frowns.
“Oh, I forgot,” Damion looks at Jackson as if he’s waiting for him to give permission. Jackson just shrugs his shoulders and pulls his mouth into a lopsided grin.
“Ug, okay droopy, you and Kiara can go with us,” Jackson says. Suddenly I remember Kiara was also drugged.
“Enrique and Logan took her home this morning. They came here after they fetched me from the airport. I stayed ’cause I wanted to see you.” I put my plate in the washer and grab my brother around his neck.
“I love you two dipship.”
“Ah, you’re my most favorite sister.” Jackson coos.
“I’m your only sister.” I hit the back of his head.
“Love you too but the only thing I would love more than hugging you right now is a bed,” he looks at Damion, “Okay, if I crash in the one guest room?”
“Sure” Damion complies and Jackson walks up the stairs with a yawn.
“Oh, Jackson, hope you don’t drown in your sleep,” I shout after him before walking outside.
Sometimes I wonder how my brothers cope with their busy lives … flying around the world all the time, being in the spotlight. It’s not a life I want, but they seem happy with it, doing what they love.
For a while, I just sit and watch the waves break on the sand. Just for a moment, I feel at peace, while I watch the sun dance on the water, creating mirror-like images that jump from the ocean.
I look at my phone and swipe the screen to open WhatsApp and I read my messages.
Kiara: I’m fine. Logan is sleeping in your bed. Stay safe bitch. Enjoy Damion (red-chili-pepper emoji)
I reply, just to let her know I’m okay.
Mel: I’m good, C U soon. #PizzaNight #JustUs2
She almost immediately replies with a thumbs-up. Great. I notice Uncle John called, and I know he’s pretty worried about me. Especially, as he knows exactly what the monster’s capable of. I make a mental note to call him back. Then I take a deep breath and open Ren’s message.
Ren: Just want to know if you’re okay?
Although we’re not together anymore, I feel obligated to call him to tell him I’m okay. I press the green button and hear the phone ring. After just three rings he answers his voice husky and full of sleep.
“Hi,” His voice sounds as if he’s in a daze and then he speaks to someone else with him “Wait, not now, babe.” Then he’s back on the phone again
“Mel? Shit.” It’s as if he only now registers who he’s talking to. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine Ren. Thanks for asking.”
“Mel, I’m sorry, I wish I could have done something.”
“It’s okay, Ren.” He gasps and I hear some giggling and a woman’s voice. Somebody is with him. “Is this a bad time?” I ask quickly.
“No, sorry … uh … eh … TV is on.” Yeh, right. I’m not stupid, but frankly, I don’t care. I’m not even in the least bit jealous. Now if that were Damion … no, I’m not going there.
“Anyway, just wanted to let you know I’m okay.”
“Mel, are you in love with that …” I’m hungry – the TV voice in the background says.
“Ren, please. I just felt obliged to let you know that I’m okay … don’t read anything else in it,” I interrupt him cause I don’t want to get into it with him. “Bye, Ren.” I end the call before he can say anything more. Feelings of relief flood through me, making me feel light and so much better.
Damion hands me some coffee and sits down next to me on the sand. A few seagulls are fighting for scraps of food.
“I talked to Ren. I think he finally moved on.” I blurt it out, not sure exactly why, but I want him to know for some reason. I keep my eyes on the ocean, too scared to look at him.
“Why did you break up with him?”
“Does it matter?”
“It matters to me. Why did you break up with him?” I don’t think I’ll ever understand this man. He always seems to dig his nose into my life, and for what? To get me agitated?
“Because … apparently to quote a certain asshole, we had no passion like gay rats.“ I know he’s looking at me but I’m not turning, my eyes are fixed forward.
“Clever asshole, you should listen to him more.” Now I turn toward him to catch his goofy expression.
“Why do you want to know anyway?” He moves his head and now his lips are just millimeters away from mine. I stare at them like a turkey that survived thanksgiving. His mouth curls at the corner, suggesting his thoughts are not at all pure and innocent.
His lips come crashing down on mine and an unplanned groan escapes my body while my betraying hands move up his muscular torso and land in his thick hair. Traitors! I know by now that nothing in this world can dampen the strong pull he has on me. He moves me onto his lap so I’m cradling him without breaking our kiss. He tastes like minty chocolate, recklessness, and everything bad-boy Damion, and even though I know this is wrong in so many ways, I can’t get enough.
His hand strips under my shirt, his sensual fingers touching my bare skin, my body vibrates, and my heart pumps hummingbird fast. I’m keen with need; his tongue licks the burning spot where he just bit my bottom lip; his other hand cups my face.
An alarm rings in my head - warning me. I’m sitting on a time bomb and it’s going to blow up in my face big time! My heart twitches and for once mind, body and heart are on the same side - I push him away and take a deep breath.
“Damion, stop,” it’s only a whisper and I try to get away from him, but he keeps his hand on my back, his forehead leaning against mine. I wiggle to get free, but he cups my chin with his hand and holds me in place with a big smirk, cocking his head to the side. His eyes swim with emotions, intrigued, excited, and amused as if everything’s a big joke to him. I bite my lip and his thumb grazes over my mouth gracefully, seductively.
“I told you not to do that several times, it drives me hornably crazy.” His eyes are the color of leaves after the rain - dark green. This time my fanny twitches. I let out a deep breath and stay quietly on his lap, too scared to move. Silence falls between us.
It’s as if he wants me to acknowledge something, to admit to feelings I don’t want to; to accept and absorb; to verbalize what’s running through my heart. But I can’t. How can I tell him that I’m in love with him when he only sees me as a little plaything? A sexual attraction.
“Please let me go.” I plead, not trusting my lusting body to not do something I’ll regret. He removes his grip and I quickly move away to sit on the sand again, making sure I leave a gap between us.
“So shoot, what’s the problem?” He asks, waiting for my answer. Okay, so he wants to know what the problem is … I’ll tell him the freaking truth! Maybe then he’ll leave me be.
“Firstly, I don’t want a guy who’s in love with another woman. I heard you telling your mom at Uncle John’s party that you’ll die for her. For Chloe. And I wasn’t eavesdropping if you’re thinking that.” A frown forms between those sexy brows, but he doesn’t say anything and I’m not going to give him a chance anyway.
“Secondly, I’m not into one-night stands. Maybe it’s corny, but I want something real, something epic … someone who loves the whole of me to the bones and not just my vagina for the night. You know, a happily-forever-after love - but you are not a forever kind of boy. And lastly, there are my brothers and they will for sure not be happy if I hook up with their best friend just for a fling.” I know I’m babbling awkwardly, but I’m borderline neurotic, almost hysterical, feeling skittish and scared. Let’s just say I’m emotional at this moment sharing my feelings with him like this and his freaking beautiful eyes watching me are not making things any easier.
“So even though I like spending time with you and kissing you, I’m not that little girl you played around with. I’m mature enough to know not to risk you breaking my heart … again.” His lips are pulled in a tight line and his eyes seem to be mocking me, but I hold my own and continue. I need to do this, need to tell him exactly where I stand. He needs to know that I’m not just a bimbo that he can dip his stick into and then chip off on his bedpost.
“I can’t put my heart out there just so you can have a new girl on your bike tomorrow. So you kissing me ain’t going to happen again. This lab rat is not available for any more experiments.” I give him my most serious look.
There are a few moments of silence and then he burst out in laughter, and the first thing that pings into my mind is that I love his laugh. How stupidly pathetic is that? And then I get a little of my emotional rollercoaster ride under wraps and I push anger to the front.
“What the fudge is wrong with you?” I’m trying to be all serious here … to explain my feelings and he freaking thinks it’s funny! He’s laughing at me. And not just a giggle, no, a full uproarious unrestraint snickering.
“That’s it, I’m done!” I jump up and start running in a direction, any direction.
“Mel, stop! Don’t you dare run away!” His voice ripped from any laughter. I stop and I can hear him letting out a deep breath.
“You’re not my boss!” I shout furiously, looking painfully back at him. “Actually, you’re not anything to me! You’re just my brother’s stupid ass friend.” I don’t look back again and just stick my arm out, throwing him a big deserved middle finger, before sprinting away again.
He’s still dressed in only boxers and he’s also barefoot, so I know he can’t follow me right away. He knows it too.
“Mel, I warn you, for fuck sakes, stop running!” But I don’t. Hah, look who’s laughing now asshole! I hear a few more swear words and then I’m too far away. I notice that I’m running into some kind of wood, but there is a definite pathway, and I decide to keep on it so as not to get lost.
I love to jog, it’s one of my most favorite activities. Running, horseback riding, dancing … it helps to cleanse my busy mind a little. I soak in the stupendous beauty of my surroundings. I’m in awe and at least it drives Damion from my thoughts for the time being. I brush away my tears and try to take it all in. The sunlight battles to penetrate the green tree canopy and only bits and pieces reach the ground where verdant fields flow seemingly indefinitely. Colorful flowers break the sea of green and I even spot some little critters attempting to hide in the lush forestry. Even in broad daylight, this place feels like it belongs in a novel by the brothers Grimm … I’m thinking ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ here. And no guesses as to who’s the big bad wolf in my mind.
I wonder where the pathway leads, and keep going, increasing my pace, just in case I’m being followed. Suddenly the forest clears into a pasture and the bright light of the sun blinds me for an instant. I blink a few times, strutting to a walk.
The scene unfolding in front of me is mesmerizing. Horses graze carefree in a paddock not far from me, drawing my eyes further to where a mansion hides in the shadow of a small mountain that runs deep into the ocean. It must be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, everything seems to just flow into one another as if it’s meant to be like that. Wow!
“Hi, what are you doing here ?” A voice suddenly jolts me from my lovestruck dream, making me jump. I look around for the owner but find no one. Okay, Mel, you’re definitely losing it, you’re officially going crazy. I glare behind me into the forest thinking that maybe Damion is playing with me again.
“Hey, I’m talking to you, beautiful!” Now I’m slightly getting panicked. And then a shadow jumps from the trees and lands next to me.
“Holy ship!” I scream, ready to run again, but something grips my arm, leaving me frozen in shock.
“You’re so funny. But seriously, what are you doing here?” I look down into Luke’s shining eyes. He takes my hand and starts dragging me to the house in the distance.
“I was jogging. Is that your house?” My heart tumbles back to an almost normal rhythm. He laughs again.
“No silly, it’s my dad’s.” I smile back at him and I start to relax.
“So, are you going to invite me for some coffee?” His grin spreads from ear to ear.
“Of course. And maybe we can play ‘Call of Duty’?” His face grins with excited anticipation. How can I say no to that? And it would give me an excuse not to go back to the big bad wolf.
“Definitely, but I must warn you, I’m pretty good.” His hand in mine pulls me a little faster and then he opens a big wooden door.
“Mom! Mom! We have a guest! MOM!” Luke shouts excitedly as soon as we enter the house.
“MOM, your daughter-in-law is here!” I pinch Luke’s arm, but he just laughs.
“Why would you say that?” I scold him.
“Listen, I may be young but I’m not stupid. I just know you’re going to marry my brother one day,” he says rubbing his arm where it hurts.
I hold up my finger to tell him exactly what I think about his loving brother, but Hayley appears drying her hands on her apron. Her surprised face lights up when she sees me and she walks forward, pulling me into a hug.
“Melaena, I didn’t know you were coming? Is Damion with you?” She looks around expecting to see her son.
“No,” I say, not quite knowing how to explain, so I change the subject quickly, “You have a beautiful home! Very very beautiful.” She smiles softly and her green eyes are full of love.
“Thank you. Come, let’s go to the kitchen. I’m dying for some feminine company. I’m stuck with these blockheads all the time.” She lovingly rubs her hand through Luke’s dark locks.
“I found her, so she’s going to play with me!” Luke pouts and I laugh at him.
“I will, I promise. Let me just talk a little bit with your mom, okay.” He agrees and walks up some stairs.
“I’ll go pick out some games.” He winks at me and then disappears. Hayley gestures for me to follow her and we walk into the most amazing farm-style kitchen, decorated with loads of wood, iron, and brick. The huge windows light up the room, helped along with the mostly white color scheme, with patches of red here and there to brighten things up.
“I’m surprised that Damion is not with you, given what happened last night.” She looks at the cut on my throat while pouring us some coffee.
“To tell you the truth, I think he’s rather pissed at me at this moment. I ran away from him because he was being an asshole.” She throws her head around, a proud, surprised smile on her face, and her eyes dance with the same fire sparks as her son’s.
“Is that so? Good. I think you deserve some cake for putting my son in his place.” She hands me my coffee and takes a red-velvet cake from the fridge, putting a slice on the counter for us. We start talking as if we’ve known each other our whole lives. She’s so easy to talk to, the total opposite of her pain-ass of a child.
“Please fetch me some milk from the fridge,” she gestures holding a fork. I get up and remove the carton from the fridge. When I close the door, I notice the photos posted to it with magnets. Some are of Damion, some of Luke and then there’s some of a small girl with ice-blue eyes and light brown hair.
“That’s my daughter, Lori,” Hayley says. I see tears welling in her eyes.
“Damion never told me he has a sister.”
“He doesn’t talk about her. Lori was 8 when she died. Damion was devastated and it broke him, that’s when he started acting out.” I gasp a deep breath, holding it for a while. I don’t know what to say.
“I’m so sorry for your loss.” Nice Mel, that must be the most cliché words ever!
“Thanks.” She pauses for a while, looking down at her hands. “They say that the best way not to break your heart is to pretend not to have one. Unfortunately, since her death, Damion does a very good job of acting heartless.”
“You can say that again.”
“Mel, don’t throw him under the bus just yet. He needs you more than you know.” There are tears in her apple-green eyes, the pain she suffered clearly visible.
“And, I’m a big believer of fate and destiny, that everything that happens is predetermined by a supernatural power. So Damion meeting you at the worst time in his life was not a coincidence. And it also made us cross paths, maybe to replace a little part of what we’ve both lost.”
She looks at me as if waiting for me to say something, but I’m still trying to figure out what she means, and then it hits me right between the eyes.
I take her hand in mine, lots of cropped-up feelings bubbling now to the surface, leaving me unable to speak, so I just nod my head. Hayley squeeze my hand with a big warm smile on her face. We stay like that until I eventually gain back my power of speech.
“We can go shopping, and talk boys, and you can teach me how to cook … and anything else that girls do …” Excitement takes over my voice.
“I can’t wait! I never had that since … OMG … I can buy pink girly clothes again.” I take her hand. I’m for sure not the frilly girly type … but I’m not going to tell her that right now.
We laugh together. “You don’t know what this means to me, Hayley.” I need to swallow down some tears again. “Since my mom died it’s always just been me, Kiara, and the boys. And no matter how much I love my brothers and uncle, even Kiara, they could never replace the gaping hole in my heart. There are just some things they’ll never get.” Maybe that’s why Kiara and I are such good friends, we just had to cope without any feminine guidance. We got through our first period together; bought our first bras together; cried about our first crushes (mine being Damion of course). But now, we would have somebody to share it with, someone to give advice and teach us stuff. She grabs me into a hug and some tears flow.
“What’s going on here?” I jump up and see Deimos leaning against the door, his mouth pulled into the same sexy grin as his son's.
“I just found myself a daughter.” His eyes suddenly change and it seems to get misty, but then he blinks and it’s as if his emotions just switched off. So that’s where Damion learned it.
“Well, can I also join? I can for sure do with a girl that can man up those two sissy mama’s boy of mine,” he teases and walks forward to pull us both into his arms.
“Of course.” Hayley and I say simultaneously and I giggle a little – I’m sure his two sons are anything but sissies – they’re as macho as can come – but I’m not going to speak my mind. Right now, anybody that says something bad about Damion earns a place in my good books.
Then Luke runs with the force of Jupiter into my legs, wrapping his body around them like an octopus.
“I have a sister!” We break up the intimate family hug and Luke runs out the door, arms outstretched like a fighter plane. Deimos runs his fingers through his air, exactly the same way his son does.
“So, where’s that wuss by the way?” Hayley hits him playfully on his chest.
“She ran away from him.” The way she pulls her face says more than her words.
“Is that so?” He pouts his mouth, trying to hide a smile, but not succeeding.
“I’ll wait for him at the pool.” As if he knows Damion is going to show up, he walks away and then chuckles softly, talking to himself, “Poor boy is fucked.”
“May I ask why you ran?” Hayley sits closer as if we’re going to gossip and talk secrets.
“Ug, he’s just so … I don’t know ...” I put my finger on my lip to try and find the right adjectives to describe his sorry ass, but Hayley beats me to it.
“Cocky, full of himself, obnoxious, annoying, wild, demanding, stubborn, exhausting …”
“Exactly, see, you get it. So I was telling him the truth, that he needs to stop kissing me 'cause I’m not going to be his toy until he gets together with Chloe, and he just laughed at me. Sorry, but I really think he has no heart, not anymore.”
“Chloe? I think I must have missed something.” She frowns at me, her face pulled as if she just heard that the quidditch match got canceled.
“I sort of overheard you guys talking at Uncle John’s party … him saying how much he loves her and that he’ll die for her and everything,” I look down not to see her face.
“Eh … I think you misunder … “ She gets interrupted by the loud bang of the front door … and I’m sure it got slammed straight off its hinges. The next moment a very VERY angry Damion bursts into the kitchen. His T-shirt is clinging to his body, glistening with sweat. He must have sprinted all the way here.
I continue the trail of adjectives that Hayley started in my head … hot, handsome, strong, manly, godlike, sexy, perfect …
“What the fuck, Mel, I know you heard me!” He slams his hands on the table in front of me and his eyes are fuming green, shooting daggers right at me. The look is exactly what they had in mind when they created the saying ‘if looks could kill’.
But unfortunately for him, I’ve grown up with 4 of his type, so I’m used to handling my own. Hell, if you can survive an angry Jackson, you can survive anything!
I get up and mimic his stance, putting my hands on the table, leaning forward until my face is close to his, my eyes meeting those angry sapphire ones.
“Yes, I heard you! Now greet your mother, you mannerless ape!” I hiss, my eyes staring into his, and I’m not going to back down, even if he kills me. His eyes narrow and I take in how the muscles of his arms are flexing and my mouth drops open. A notice a vein throbbing beneath his perfect skin and I swallow imaginary spit down my dry throat. I move my look back to his face and his jaw is tense as if he’s biting on his teeth.
“So why didn’t you stop?”
“I didn’t feel like it. But mostly because I knew it would piss you off if I kept going.” Then he turns around and pushes his hand through his already messy hair. By now I know that it’s his signature mark when he’s frustrated. He turns around again and I know he’s still angry.
“Hello, son. Good to see you.” His mom’s voice is dripping with sugar and honey and everything sweet. This irritates him even more.
“Not now mom!” He glares at her and her eyebrows pull up, but I notice a small smile pulling at her mouth. Then he turns back and eyeballs me as if pondering what to do next.
“I know it must be hard for you, being the brainless moron you are, but use freaking words to talk to me instead of that fucked up glare you have on your face,” I remark. Hayley gulps, sounding almost like a lama giving birth, probably because I used a real swear word, but Damion’s gaze does not wander even a little. Instead, it gets even scarier and more intense. He grabs my arm and I shake him off.
“Go to hell!” I hiss at him.
“Oh, darling, where do you think I came from.” He gives me a devilish smile and a shiver runs down my spine. I knew he was the son of Hades from down under. Damn, I was right, I really am in love with the devil.
Observing my almost full coffee cup on the table I grab it without hesitation and empty the contents on his head. He makes no attempt to stop me, just closes his eyes as if he’s counting to ten or something, and then he opens them slowly.
Now, look, I’m no scaredy-cat, but the glow in his eyes will make even Chuck Norris pee in his pants.
“Why don’t you two go and talk in your room, I need to cook dinner and the atmosphere is making it hard to breathe.” Hayley sounds amused.
He pulls his wet T-shirt off over his head, throwing it onto the ground and my insides tremble in awe.
Damion grabs my arm again, still keeping his magnetizing gaze on me. Hell, I’m dead anyway, so I’m not going to give in, not to him, not today.
“I’ll rather help you, I’ve got nothing to say to this buffoon.” I intentionally make my voice sound sweet as a cupcake. This time he cocks his head and his face looks like Hannibal Lecter before he has someone for dinner, the eerie smile curling at the corner of his mouth makes me want to gag. The next moment he picks me up and throws me over his shoulder.
“Good, then you can listen, ’cause I have plenty to say to you.” My fists collide a few times with his back. Then I feel a slap and a sharp sting on my buttocks. Did he just HIT me? No, he didn’t dare, the crazy-ass caveman.
“I’m going to fucking cut your testicles out, you shithead.” Hayley is of no help, cause she’s trying to contain her laughter and he made me swear again. Another slap on my bum, while we walk out of the kitchen.
“Doggone it, let me go, moron!” He just gives me another slap. Hayley can’t contain her laughter anymore and I can see her leaning on the counter to keep herself from folding double. Even Deimos is now standing at the door, but instead of helping a poor girl out, he has the same BEASTLY smile as his son.
“Had enough?” The devil grunts and I can hear in his voice that he’s beyond furious. In fact, I’m not sure there is a word in the English dialogue that sums up how angry he is. So for self-preservation right now, I keep my mouth shut, but my mind is working overtime thinking up ways to kill my newfound mom’s beastly son.