A Dash Of Him

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DASH Chapter 19

Duke was quiet until he gently gripped my hand before we went into the support group. "Sorry, I just don't like talking about how Emilio died. It's not your fault, thank you for asking but we should move on. Let's go inside and let out some frustration," a sense of relief took over. He was slowly healing himself and I should do the same. There is plenty of time to ask my brother but right now I want to build a future with Duke. I'm pretty sure he wants a healthy future as well.

We walked in as the same woman, Abby, was there. She gave us a charming smile and walked over. She noticed our hands interlocked as her eyes glistened with happiness. "So it looks like the group brought you two closer?"

We both gazed at each other. "Yeah, it's a work in progress but Duke is an amazing guy," he squeezed my hand and that made my heart thump a bit harder inside my chest.

"Well, I'm glad. We are about to start, take a seat," we moved forward to the center of the room. Everyone's eyes immediately went to me, some had faint smirks, others were curious about what I was doing there. I'm pretty sure everyone knows who I am. I was a hot topic not so long ago and then I remembered I never texted Jackson back about the pictures of me and Duke. I took a deep breath and sat down. Duke sat next to me. I glanced at him as his blue eyes swirled with happiness. I'm so glad he's getting over his heartbreak.

"Good afternoon everyone. I see familiar faces and new ones as well. You've made a great accomplishment by just walking through those doors," Abby stopped as her eyes averted to the entrance. We all turned around as my eyes widened. It was Cooper. His eyes were puffy and red. It looked like he's been crying then his eyes shot at me. His demeanor changed and now he glared at me. "Hello, you can take a seat," she said sweetly.

"I'm in the wrong building," he was about to leave when Abby quickly walked to him. She grabbed his hand as his head went downward. His eyes softened. Abby cupped his cheek as he began to cry. I couldn't hear what she was saying but I'm pretty sure it was her words of wisdom. He nodded and then came walking behind Abby. He sat across from us but he ignored my gaze on him. His eyes were stuck on the marble floor.

"It's a pleasure to meet all of you. I know it's difficult to be here but you're here and that's a big step," my eyes went to Duke who was curious about Cooper as well. He seemed like a tough guy but right now I'm seeing a vulnerable guy, it's like he lost someone.

"Let's go around the circle and introduce ourselves. Let's start with you," Cooper's head shot up as his eyes were still red.

"I hmm I'm not sure how to start. I've never been to one of these support groups," his word choked, and his sorrow radiate from him. "My name is Aiden Cooper hmm," he stopped as his eyes got glossy. My eyes were glued to him. "My mom has breast cancer and now she's terminal. It's only a matter of time until she's taken from me," he covered his face with his hands and that brought back memories of me. I could sense his heartbreaking just like mine. Abby stood up and kneeled in front of him.

"Aiden. I know it's hard but that's why we are here to help your pain," she took his hands away from his face.

"But she's my mom. How do I say goodbye?" Fuck this was slowly slitting my heart. I swallowed the knot that was forming in my throat. Aiden needs me as much as he may hate me right now. I know I could make him understand that I went through this too.

He nodded and Abby went back to her seat. Aiden's eyes set on mine, it was a mixture of sadness and hate. I'm not sure why he dislikes me so much. If he wants the center position so bad he can I have as long as I don't have to have this animosity between us.

For the rest of the meeting, we went around and introduced ourselves. Duke told his story again and then I told mine. Aiden's eyes softened when he heard my story but then his eyes would get rigid. It's like he was fighting himself from accepting that I went through this. I'm pretty sure he knows what happened in my life. It was all over the news but thankfully Jackson cleaned it up, well what he could.

The meeting was over as Aiden got up quickly and rushed to the exit. I glanced at Duke who had a handsome smile on his face. "Do you know him?"

"Yeah, he's one of my team members. Crap I forgot to tell you that I'm on a team," his smile blasted with happiness.

"I'm so happy for you. Go quick before he gets away. I'm going to help Abby fix the chairs," I leaned over it peck his lips. I burst through the front doors as I saw Aiden putting on a helmet.

He got on his motorcycle as I yelled out. "Hey!"

He stopped and held his helmet on his waist. "What do you want?"

"I know what you're going through. I'm pretty sure you knew that right?" his eyes softened but then became rigid. "What the hell did I do to you for you to hate me so much?"

He lifted one leg over and got off his motorcycle. He placed his helmet on the seat and walked over to me. His dirty blonde hair waved in front of faces and his emerald eyes flamed with hatred. "You don't know what it is having a father that repeatedly tells you to do better. He was happy when I made center but I told him yesterday that I was an alternative, he went ballistic on me. He said I was a fuck up, he thought it was my fault for becoming an alternative. Now my mother has stage four cancer. Don't tell me how I feel," he was close to my face as his nostrils flared and his chest heaved. But I wasn't going to back down. Yes, he's hurting but deep inside I know he's tough like me.

"Fine, play center. I don't care, I'll be an alternative. I'm not here to step on anyone's toes. I'm trying to get my life back. So take center, I can play whatever position," our eyes glared at each other. He stepped away as his eyes were now a mossy green.

"We can face-off, tomorrow after practice, winner plays the lead, loser plays alternative," I smirked because he doesn't know how competitive I am.

"Very well then," he finally smirked and walked away. He put on his helmet and got on his motorcycle. He turned on the engine and took off like a rocket. Suddenly I felt soft hands grab mine. I turned around and it was Duke.

"Hey, everything ok?"

"Yeah, I know that pain," I gave him my charming smile even though my heart broke a bit just thinking of my mother. Aiden is going to need someone to lean on when his mother passes. I just hope he can handle the pain but if he ever needs a shoulder I'll be there to console him.

My phone started to ring as I saw my dad's name on the caller ID. "Give me a few," I winked at Duke.

"Father," I held my stern voice.

"Son, how are you?" His voice was different, a little sympathetic like he cared.

"I'll live and you?" I heard him take a deep breath. Was this my dad?

"I miss you, son," I swallowed the knot in my throat. My eyes got watery but I held the tears back.

"Yeah, what about your other son?" I closed my eyes. I hope Duke isn't paying attention. I glanced over and he was a couple of feet away on his phone as well. I didn't even notice he wasn't holding my hand. He smiled at me and continued talking on the phone.

"Listen I'm busy at the moment."

"Meet me for dinner, I'll send you the address. We need to talk," I took a deep breath because he ignored my question about Kieran.

"Fine, I'll see you tonight," I hung up without saying goodbye. I hated that he pushes Kieran away, that's his son too. I raked my hand through my messy hair. I averted to Duke who had a smile on his face.

"It was good to hear from you too. I'll see you tomorrow," he hung up.

I scrunched my brows and walked over to him. "Who are you meeting tomorrow?" ok I might have sounded like a jealous boyfriend.

"I got a message from an old friend. Well, he was Emilio's best friend in high school. I just tagged along but we lost touch after high school. He plays for the Los Angeles Royals, Donovan Graystone."

Woah, he knows Graystone. He's a killer quarterback and was damn good-looking. I heard he's married so I shouldn't be worried.

"Well as long as he keeps his hands off you," he gave me an adorable smirk.

"He's married so you don't have to worry about that," he's getting more comfortable with me and that's a win. "So are you meeting up with your dad?" Damn, he did hear my conversation but how much I'm not sure.

"Yeah, he wants to catch up. I'm not sure."

"I have to clean the house and do some errands."

"What are you doing the rest of the week?" I quickly changed the topic. I didn't want him asking about my brother.

"I'm not sure, find myself. Be bored at home. I still have this whole week off."

I pulled him closer to me as he wrapped his arms around my neck. "Come see me practice tomorrow morning, it's at 5 am but it would be nice to have you there," his blue eyes gazed at me. They swirled with confusion. I know he's trying to protect himself from being hurt but I'm not going to hurt him.

"Sure why not but I do have to go to lunch with Donovan in the afternoon," I know I shouldn't be jealous but I was.

"I'll make sure you're not late," the evening breeze was approaching as I pulled him even closer to me. He buried his head on my chest as we stood in front of the building. It was perfect, the orange-blue sky was slowly changing into a purple constellation. I glanced up and saw a few stars glowing brightly. Duke's hands wrapped around my waist tightly and that's all I need to know. He was slowly warming up to me but deep inside I had this guilt of Emilio's accident but I didn't dare to bring it up, at least not right now. But sooner I'll find the truth and my guilt would further deepen.

******

I met my dad at an expensive seafood restaurant. The fine silverware was placed delicately on the satin white table cloth. My reflection radiated off the shiny plates and the wine bubbled up from the crystal flute that was placed in front of me. My dad worked for a Fortune 500 company in finance. He had the money. I was born with a silver spoon but I never let it get to me nor did my brother.

I took a sip of the dark wine as I scanned the restaurant. It was quite busy and I'm glad we got seated away from the crowd. I talked to Jackson after I dropped off Duke at his house. He said the tabloids are burning hot for me, they are wanting to know who Duke was and it was only a matter of time that they'll find out. I wasn't worried about myself, I was more worried about what they found out about Duke. I gulped down more wine as my father's eyes softened.

"Son, take it easy, you had that drinking problem," I chuckled and glared at him. His fine wrinkles were showing more around his eyes but he always took care of himself so he doesn't look his age. He was always dressed in a fancy suit and always combed his hair back.

"Since when did you care. Where were you when I drank my sorrows away, huh? Where were you when Kieran drank the last of the tequila body ?!" My voice was getting louder as my dad glanced around.

"I know I haven't been the idle dad but I want to make our relationship work?" I saw sympathy in his blue eyes but I wasn't buying it.

Our waiter brought our dinner. He placed the steak in front of me and the salmon for my dad. I quickly cut my steak and began to eat. I wanted to get out of here, it was futile into trying with my dad. I wiped the side of my mouth. "If you want to make our relationship work then help Kieran. He needs you more than anything. Why don't you ask about him instead of always calling me?"

"Because I have talked to him, damn it!" He has never screamed at me. He slammed his hands on the table as I noticed a couple of people eyeing us. "Dash, I lost her too. I lost both my boys in the process. I know I wasn't a great dad. I see that now. You with your lifestyle and Kieran with his rebellion," the way he said lifestyle didn't sit with me well but at least he acknowledged it.

He poured me some more wine and took a piece of salmon from his plate. "I'm trying to get him out of jail. I hired one of the best lawyers in town. He's trying his best but he killed a man, Dash," then that unwelcoming ache twisted in my stomach. I need to talk to Kieran and see if he knows anything.
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