Book One: The Innocent Heart

All Rights Reserved ©

One Crimson Dress

Part 24.1 of 1.10: Tyler’s official invitation

Tyler inhaled his cig and took it out with an exhale blowing a puff of smoke. Standing to his five feet nine inches height, a smile crept across his shaven features. Aside from his small shaven beard, his short hair had a small ridge across his scalp like a small fohawk. Nodding, he ignored Cam’s oblivious growling at him and held the cig beside him. Looking at her, Ty spoke, “Hey Ash, I thought I would catch you here so I’m extending my invitation. Come with me. You’re better off with me than him anyways-“

Ash stared at him coldly. She felt a rising anger within her even the cold couldn’t numb it. Turning to Cam, she watched the boy advance the Stryker with fists clenched and drawn. The grinning nineteen year old turned as Cam spat pointing his finger at the pro fighter, “You watch it! I asked her first!”

Tyler’s face fell. Looking at the five feet three inches boy with disgust, he spat, “Did you, now? How did she respond? Was it in a bashful or a joyful yet hesitant manner? You’re too rash and quick to decide. That’s your weakness, boy. Let her decide if this is what she wants or not,” looking him over, Tyler blew another puff of smoke and spat with a scowl, “but in the end, if she’s smart. She’d pick me.”

Cameron growled tensing his muscles while clenching his fists. His hands turned white with the pressure on his skin. Ash glared at the boys and listened to Tyler, “You know, Cam. I have no idea why you got the invite in the first place. Sure, you live in a little orphanage that my father funds and he invited everyone, but I have no idea. You’re fourteen. The party’s for people over the age of sixteen. You’re better off staying home anyways. Ash doesn’t abide your weak presence-”

Offended at being called weak, the fourteen year old yelled and approached Tyler. Tyler expected the charge and stood his ground taking his cig out of his mouth. The boy punched the fighter across his jaw. Tyler grunted stumbling back feeling the harsh punch. Touching his sore jaw, he gathered spit and spat blood onto the ground. Growing angry, the nineteen year old growled glaring at the boy. Curling his lips, he tossed the cig and grabbed the edges of his shirt pulling it off.

Cameron backed and gasped watching him remove his shirt. It revealed his ripped chest and defined pecs. His eight pack abs was solid. A shark tooth necklace hung. Compared to the boy, the nineteen year old fighter was stronger. Turning to Ash, Cameron offered a pleading stare. However, the cold beast stared back in her dark eyes. She stood by and crossed her arms as her face told him everything. He started the fight, so he will end it. Turning back to his rival, Cam gulped and raised his fists forward expecting his attack.

Tyler growled removing his shirt through his defined, nineteen inch arms. Wrapping the shirt into a ball, he tossed it aside and pumped his arms. Hunching his shoulders forward, it revealed his bulged traps as he exhaled a cold vapor. Shaking his head, he smirked putting his hand forward and beckoned him with a shout, “Come at me, bro. Come on!” His necklace bounded against his chest wildly.

Cameron backed a few steps as Tyler stormed toward him. Taking his arms, Tyler pushed the boy onto the ground. Getting angrier, the fighter flaunted his chest pumping his arms. Cameron scampered to his feet and ducked Tyler’s punch. He countered it onto his abs. Tyler grunted putting his arm under Cam and thrust him back. Clenching his fist, he rammed another punch.

It caught boy on his jaw as he stumbled back into the nearby parking lot. He fell on his butt as Tyler advanced sharply. Ash uncrossed her arms and followed with an angry growl baring her fangs. Her eyes flashed red in the cold as a vapor of cold breath escaped her mouth. She watched Cameron on his back putting his feet up as Tyler put his hand forward and raised his fist.

Moving his legs to the side, Tyler grabbed Cameron’s chest and lifted to deal a blow across his face. The boy grunted painfully as his head hit the frozen concrete. Tyler growled and dealt another blow before crossing his other arm across the boy’s chest. Pushing him back, he compressed the boy and spat, “Smart idea, boy. Pick a fight with the Stryker. You really showed me, huh?”

Cameron grunted as he struggled against his stronger rival with a gasp, “Get off me, Tyler! Ash!”

Tyler smirked increasing his hold on the boy and raised his fist. Dealing another blow, he spat, “Ash won’t save you. I should have killed you when I had the chance. You know, this wouldn’t have happened. She would still be in the Underground with me if you were dead and gone.”

Part 24.2 of 2.10: The Beast feeling anger again toward the two boys

In the middle of the parking lot, Ash watched Tyler beat Cameron down. He was crouched and hunched over pushing the boy back. With a snarl, the beast had enough. Storming forward, she grabbed Tyler’s wrist just as he prepped another blow. Pulling him off, she roared, “Tyler that is enough!”

Tyler felt himself pulled and faced Ash with a confused angry look. The beast growled grabbing his chest and pushing him back. Tyler stumbled as Cameron rolled to his side and stood. The bruised fourteen years old shouted in triumph and pointed, “Hey! Why don’t you scram or Ash will-”

Tyler stumbled on his feet and offered his hands backing up from both Ash and Cam. Curling her lips, Ash ripped a snarl grabbing Cameron. Thrusting him harshly onto the ground, another vapor of cold air expelled as the beast hunched her arms over and flexed her muscles. Cameron fell on his butt painfully again and gulped staring at her.

Finding her words, Ash roared baring her fangs, “Who are you to bicker and fight over me you pathetic children? Pick your own battles and fight but do not pull me along because I’m not along for a ride! The moment you open your mouths and the first word that comes out I don’t want to hear, I’ll soon kill you and nobody is stopping me this time!”

The boys gulped fearing the unleashed beast. They said nothing while waiting for her to calm down. Seeing that they were silent for the time being, Ash bared her fangs at them with a glare. As the cold cooled her down, it started snowing. Ash’s dark hair strand fell across her face. Turning to Cameron, she spoke directly at him and spoke furiously, “Cameron, go back to the orphanage. Now! I don’t want to see you again for a while.”

The bruised fourteen year old gulped. He nodded lowering his head and painfully got to his feet. The boy ran off toward the car. Turning to Tyler, she snarled watching the Stryker. Tyler stood his ground and took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. Taking a piece out, he placed it into his mouth. Taking a lighter, he puffed his cig and blew a smoke cloud before putting away his lighter. Taking the cig from his mouth, he exhaled another puff of smoke.

Keeping his head lowered, he flaunted his defined, strong bare chest while keeping his cigarette to his side. Flicking the ashes from the edge of the cig, Tyler placed his finger across his chest touching his hanging shark tooth necklace. Clenching his fist, his bicep rose as he approached his beast. Flexing his muscles, he grunted softly facing Ash’s dark eyes.

Ash scowled and growled with irritation, “Ty, what are you doing? Why do you push his buttons?”

Tyler shrugged. Putting his cig in his mouth, he exhaled the puff of smoke at the snow drifts. Puffing his chest up, he touched her waist and responded, “Cause I can. Look, Ash, I’m sorry if I’m doing this. I do it cause it’s fun, but I’ll back off if it bothers you so much. I just wanted to extend the invitation. You don’t need Cameron,” baring his teeth, he growled, “In fact, don’t even bring him.”

Part 24.3 of 3.10: Ty, don’t you ever give up? Apparently not…

Ash growled baring her fangs. She shook her head and inquired, “Don’t you have Teena?”

Tyler shrugged scratching his nose. Keeping his hand behind her waist, he clenched his fist before his chest and flexed his defined arm muscles in front of her face. He spoke, “Well yeah, but she doesn’t mind if I invite a second girl, so you’re sort of my second girl, uhh-“

Ash ripped out a low angry growl scowling at the Stryker. Her fists clenched as her muscles bulged. Ty gulped offering his hand. Letting go of her waist, he backed replying, “Okay, apparently that came out wrong.”

She advanced him and pushed him back with a roar, “Ya think!”

The beast was getting angrier. Tyler stumbled back and stuttered, “Wait, uhh okay, time out please. Lemme start over again. Look, Ash, I really like you and I am trying really hard to figure out what’s the best way to talk to you. Apparently I suck at that, so this is me beating a hasty retreat. Take Cam, since I know you’re gonna be in the party anyways. I’ll see you then. See you later Ash.”

Putting the cig back into his mouth, the Stryker beat a hasty retreat as the Beast glared. Her dark eyes shimmered red before it returned to the normal dark eyes. Soon as he was out of sight, she calmed. The snow drifts fell as she turned away. Walking out of the parking lot, she made her way across the sidewalk. Ahead of him, she saw Cameron still leaning against the car. The beast snarled.

Cameron looked up and gulped as he spoke, “Ash-“

The beast scowled at him and snarled snapping at him, “What?”

He replied hesitantly, “Let’s go back together. I still want to talk. Maybe we can discuss this. I still want to invite you to the party.”

Hunched over in a threatening stance toward him, Ash spat, “You think this is the best place or the best time to talk about it? You’ve got to be stupid.”

Cam gasped holding his hand up. He gulped and tried again, “Ash, please calm-“

The snow fell among the two. Advancing him, Ash spat, “You want to talk? Fine, let’s talk but not about this. Let’s talk about Ty! Why do you persist to bicker with him like little children? Why do you let him poke buttons at you! Why?”

The boy stared at her and gulped. He shrugged unsure, “Umm-“

Part 24.4 of 4.10: Getting mad at Cameron…

Ash pointed her finger and jabbed it toward him releasing her anger. She shouted, “You are fourteen years old. He’s nineteen! You are a boy and he’s already a man and a pit fighter. Who are you? Don’t you realize what he’s doing to you? He is pushing your buttons and you fall for his trap as you keep snapping at him like a pup in a tussling cage match! He knows you are only fourteen, yet everything he does to you is him egging you on and making you go after him. The thing is he enjoys it very much which pisses me off. Just from now on stay away from him because he is not worth fighting against!”

Cameron nodded but remained silent as he listened to her rant. Ash finished off with a snarl, “And you know what pisses me off too? The fact that you two fight over me like I’m some damned trophy to fawn over. I’m not an object to be won or desired. I’m a damned human being!”

Cam sighed unhappily. Lowering his face, he was downcast and shuffled his feet in the snow. Ash finished, “Now, I’m going back home and I don’t want to even see you again. Don’t even ask me again for the invite because I ain’t coming with you or Tyler. I am already pissed off. I am this close in killing you both. You want to know why I haven’t? Because for some damned reason I can’t even raise my hand against you. Something prevents me to, so just give me my space for awhile!”

Ash turned away from the boy and stormed away in a fury as the snow hit against her strong form. Tapping her wrist device, she vanished in a blinding light along with several wisps of snow. Cam gulped and sighed unhappily. Opening the door to the car, he entered and slammed it closed. The car’s auto-drive activated as the boy spoke, “Take me home, now.”

The car shifted in gear as it pulled out of the snowed in side street parking and drove against the sleeting snow. The snow increased in momentum as it covered the streets and blanketed the entire town in white snow under the gray clouds. Cam remained in his seat as he moaned unhappily covering his face and lying back at his seat.

Back at the orphanage, Ash laid on the bed. The beast scowled at the ceiling of her room fuming and boiling with rage while trying to calm down. A knock came from the door followed by a yelp. Looking at the door, Ash listened to the calm voice of the Tricetra headmistress, “Ashlyn? I’m coming in.”

Ash sat up as the knob twisted with a click. The door opened as the white blur of the toy Maltese dog blazed by with a bark. She jumped up and panted walking toward the beast. As An’Pol opened the door completely, she watched Ash offer her hand at her dog. The headmistress smiled as Ash picked up Delphi and held her close.

Looking up, Ash sat and watched her headmistress walk over to her. The dog panted and licked Ash’s hands. Ash stroked the dog’s head. An’Pol spoke with calmly, “How are you feeling, Ashlyn?”

Staring at her, Ash shrugged responding, “Still angry.”

An’Pol nodded touching Ash’s head stroking her dark curled hair. She replied, “I bet. Cameron told me everything and he is sorry about the whole thing. He is depressed, you know? He feels bad.”

The beast shrugged uncaring for him. She petted Delphi. The Tricetra sighed touching her shoulder and spoke, “You know? Boys will be boys. They fight all the time. It doesn’t matter which or how. They just do and guess what? Tyler and Cameron are not the only ones. There are other boys who do the same exact thing. It always happens over the generations since the dawn of time.”

Delphi whimpered cocking her head as Ash looked up inquiring, “Why do they have to though? It doesn’t make sense. It’s pointless and stupid.”

Part 24.5 of 5.10: The Beast listening to the wise words of the Tricetra

An’Pol smiled and explained, “That’s the thing. It doesn’t have to make sense. They just do. It’s part of their engineering and how they grow. If boys don’t do this fighting over who wins or over a girl, then how would they grow? Fighting is a part of human culture, you understand this right? It used to be mainly for men and boys once long ago. Now, since it evolved to women and girls fighting men and boys and they still do the same thing. Like I said, boys will be boys. Let them be. There really is no reason to get mad over it especially if they fight over you. Some girls actually take it as some sort of honor and compliment. There is nothing wrong with it. Take the compliment.”

Ash nodded understanding what she is trying to say. Looking back at Delphi, she stroked her white fluffy hair. An’Pol retrieved a holo chip and responded, “Now, as I understand, you have been invited. You should go. You are growing up fast and you do need to catch up on current events. This is a chance for you to meet new people.”

Ash looked at the chip and shook her head responding, “I don’t want to. I don’t even-“

The beast uttered a low growl turning away. Looking down, Ash tried to understand her feelings. The wise navy colored Tricetra replied placing the chip on her leg, “You should go. Even if you are mad at Cameron whom I don’t believe you are, you should at least attend one social party. You are now sixteen which is the age where you become a young woman. There are people out there who expect you become one, so this is your chance to learn something new. Since you have never been at an event like this before, this is your chance, okay?”

Ash looked at her again and at the chip on her leg. Delphi growled, cocked her head and yelped at her. Picking it up, she inspected the chip as An’Pol replied, “Cameron made this for you. It contains a wardrobe of dresses available for you. Just look through it. Buy a dress. I will pay for it. If this is a first time for you, there are instructions within. Study it.”

Finally, Ash nodded responding, “Okay.”

Delphi yelped and growled as An’Pol smiled picking up her dog replying, “Good. We’ll be waiting.”

The Tricetra carried her toy dog out of the room and closed the door. Studying the chip, Ash inhaled and exhaled a long sigh. Calming down, her beast became casual as she walked over to the holo-vision device attached to the socket on the wall. Putting the chip in, it activated thrusting her room into a new room. The room was bright with a shade of blue. It was the template design the chip came with the Blue Suns School. In front of her was a wardrobe with a thousand dresses available.

A holo of a woman appeared and responded cheerfully, “Hello. Welcome to the Wardrobe. If you will stand there, we will find the current dress that will match you by compatibility. Each dress is compatible with the person wearing it. We draw dress historical entries and family history information. It is very easy to use and convenient. Most people end up happy with the choices!”

The confused beast stared at her and exhaled, “Huh?”

Before Ash could react, a blue light scanned her body. The wardrobe spun with an intermittent clicking sound. As it slowed, a ding was heard as a number appeared. The holo responded with a smile as a red dress appeared before her, “Ding-ding-ding! We found a dress that has an eighty-seven percent compatibility match to you! I hope you like this choice! Please let me know what else I can help with!”

Under the cheerful eye of the VI holo female, Ash walked forward toward the dress. She stroked the crimson color feeling the silky fabric on it. With a gulp, she responded, “Okay. I’ll take it.”

The holo smiled and cheerfully replied, “Excellent. I am ever so happy you are satisfied because customer satisfaction is always an A plus! Since the orphanage is paying for the dresses for the current party they are attending, you need not worry about the charges. The dress will be sent automatically and will be on your bed as soon as this holo ends. Have a pleasant day!”

The holo shimmered off. Ash turned to the humming whoosh of the teleport. The crimson red dress lay on the bed waiting for her. Approaching it, she took the dress by the hanger and picked it up. Inspecting it, the beast uttered a low snarl baring her fangs at it. Taking it, she walked toward the mirror and placed it over her body. Inspecting her figure, she noted that the dress would fit. With hesitation, she gulped trying to figure out what to do next. A sudden door knock was heard as the beast turned toward the sound with a snarl.

Part 24.6 of 6.10: That one Crimson Red Dress...

Several light steps from her sturdy low heeled slippers clinked on the wooden floor. Ash made her way toward the stairway. The long skirt of the crimson red dress flowed over her sturdy legs and was tied up to her other leg. Her hand held onto it as she made her way down the steps. As her defined legs were fit and her feet were sturdy, the beast managed to fit into her medium sized low heels with the help of the other girls. They were summoned by the headmistress to help her out. Her other hand gripped the banister as she made her way down the spiral steps.

Her crimson red dress fit her body snugly. Her arms were bare as her fit muscles showed. Her body was calm as her beast stopped feeling the tension. Her medium curled hair was shined and clean. It was braided into a ponytail and rested over her shoulder onto her bosom. The girls helped the beast fit in her dress. Even the dark tanned sixteen year old girl had more color in her cheeks than she had before. A glossed lipstick was applied along with an eye shadow that matched her dark eyes.

As her final footstep clinked onto the ground floor, she looked up straight at both Cam and An’Pol. She remained silent staring at them coldly. Cameron wore his black tux. His brown hair was short and cropped.

Ash wore earrings and around her neck was a choker that Cameron gave her for her tenth birthday. Approaching them, she inquired, “Cam?”

An’Pol turned to Ash and offered her smile while readying her holo-camera. Cameron approached her in a tux and carrying a flower bracelet. He responded taking her hand, “You look beautiful. Smile?”

Ash stared. The cold beast was unsure. She looked down as Cameron placed the flower around her wrist. He responded, “Look. It’s the Baur-Sun Kym hyacinth, remember?”

Before Ash could respond, the Tricetra headmistress responded motioning them together, “Okay Ashlyn, Cameron, get together. I want to take a picture. I want to capture this moment!”

Cameron was excited gripping Ash’s hand and turned. An’Pol raised the camera as he replied, “Okay!”

The boy smiled. Ash looked at the camera. With a defeated sigh, Ash made a slight smile just as the Holo-camera flashed. The beast closed her dark eyes with a groan. The flash from the camera blinded her momentarily. Rubbing her eyes with a groan, she felt the tug of the boy as Cam pulled her. Getting her eyesight back, An’Pol stopped the boy and responded in a scolding tone, “Now Cameron, listen to me. Let the car do the driving. Never ever turn that auto-drive off. It’s for your own safety!”

Cam pouted and sighed nodding at his adoptive mother responding, “Okay, fine. Don’t need to tell me twice. I got it,” he looked down and muttered softly out of earshot, “Mum.”

An’Pol heard him and chided him softly with a smile, “And don’t you forget it, darling. You should always listen to your mom. Now, you two kids have fun. Be safe out there and enjoy the party!”

As the older Tricetra walked away with the holo camera to process the photo, Cameron led Ash across the hall toward the underground garage. Ash allowed the boy to pull her along. Outside the orphanage, it snowed as the sky grew darker from the clouds. It was the eve before Christmas.

Part 24.7 of 7.10: The Christmas Eve party at the Tiarus Mansion

As the car stopped before the huge mansion, Cameron and Ash got out. Walking around the car toward Ash, Cam offered his arm. Clearing his throat, he got the beast’s attention. As Ash looked at the arm being offered, she coldly stared at him. They were under the roof of the parkway. The snow fell as the dark blue sky remained but the lights were all on in front of them. Letting out a sigh, the beast wrapped her arm around Cam’s arm. He led her toward the doors.

The windowless sliding doors opened automatically as they entered through the large doorway. There was a long line headed into the party. The check in person on the podium checked all the guests in as he announced. When it came to both Cam and Ash, the man responded into the microphone, “Cameron Sheppard has arrived with Ashlyn Techryn.”

He welcomed them in as they entered the large ballroom. Stopping within the room, Ash gasped lightly at the large room. In the middle was a huge staircase leading to the upper floor. On the right side was several plate settings, pictures and a piano. On the left of the staircase was another hallway with more plate settings and pictures. There was light chatter as there were people clustered in front of them. A light whimsical music was heard while keeping the mood lively.

Cameron led her in as they wandered among the crowd. Ash snarled baring her fangs at the people. She started to feel constricted because of the invasions of private spaces. As they walked across the ballroom, a barely noticeable Welsh accented voice called her name, “Hey Ash!”

Ash turned to the voice stopping Cameron. She recognized it as her personal weight trainer as she inquired, “Dale?”

Cameron looked at her and wondered, “Huh? Who’s Dale?”

Ash nodded toward the large, heavily built bulked eighteen year old teenager approaching them. Dale carried a plate of hors d’oeuvres. He smiled placing the cracker with food atop it into his mouth and chewed before swallowing it. Wiping his hand off on the napkin, he responded, “Hey Ash. Long time no see. Nice dress. You look pretty. How’ve you been?”

Ash nodded casually at the boy responding, “Fine Dale. What are you doing here?”

Dale shrugged offering his plate of hors d’oeuvres. He responded as Ash took one of the crackers with the diced lobsters on it, “Oh I got invited. Basically everyone affiliated with both the Admiral and the

Stryker’s team is involved which means half the team from ‘Fight Training Inc’ is here too. It’s odd, really but at least there’s free food. That good?”

Part 24.8 of 8.10: Talking with Ash’s personal trainer Dale

Ash tasted it and exhaled out of disgust. She chewed it and swallowed. Cameron behind her cleared his throat. Shaking her head while ignoring the fishy taste, the beast remembered and responded turning to him, “Oh Cam! This is my personal trainer from the fitness gym. His name is Dale Haynes. He’s a friend. Dale, this is Cameron Sheppard.”

Dale offered his hand toward the boy as Cam accepted his handshake. He gasped as Dale gripped his hand hard with a smirk and responded, “Pleasure.”

As Cam got his hand back, he muttered, “Wow, such a strong grip. How long-“

Dale responded boasting while raising his arm flexing his strong twenty inch bicep, “Since I was three and able to walk while lifting small weights. I’m Welsh. My family history is chock full of strong bodybuilders and wrestlers. Even my grandfather was known as the Welsh Wrestler.”

The eighteen year old grunted stiffening his upper body torso while pumping his muscles. The muscles in his tux expanded and stretched the fabric not tearing it. As he relaxed, Ash uttered a snarl scowling at him. Cameron exclaimed as he spoke, “Wow. Three years old? I don’t think I never could-“

Dale shrugged. Ash waved it off as she responded, “Did you come alone, Dale?”

Dale blew a sigh as he shrugged again, “I don’t have anyone. I’m one lonely son of a sod and still single. You two know of anyone who will dance with me? I hear there’s gonna be slow music.”

Cameron misunderstood as he scowled at him and responded gripping Ash’s hand, “She’s taken.

Ash turned to Cam with a snarl baring her fangs. Dale offered his hand and quickly responded, “Sorry little man. I didn’t mean to rain on your parade. I’ll just slink about till I find someone. No worries. Good to meet you, Cam. Enjoy the party Ash. I’ll see you later?”

Dale offered his plate. Ash shook his head as the bodybuilder shrugged talking another cracker and stuffed it into his mouth. He walked away. Watching him leave, Ash glared and turned to Cam sharply. She snarled gripping his hand while harshly scolding him, “That was rude.”

Cam gulped and set his head down a bit replying, “Sorry Ash. I misread him. It won’t happen again.”

Ignoring him, Ash pulled him along across the room toward the stairway. From the stairway, Tyler walked down escorting his Tricetra girlfriend. Teena smiled at both of them warmly. Ash stared at Teena coldly as Cam scowled at Tyler.

Part 24.9 of 9.10: Trying to enjoy the party…

Tyler spoke coldly, “I see you came, Cameron. I wouldn’t want you to come without your escort.”

Cam snarled at him lightly, but quieted when Ash gripped his hand harshly to remind him. Teena smiled unaware of the tension between the two boys. Before Ash could respond, Tyler gasped looking up and spoke, “Father!”

The four turned to see the middle aged uniformed dressed Admiral Joriah Tiarus approach. He was carrying a glass of wine and smiled broadly speaking with a softly, “Tyler, how are you? Any trouble?”

Tyler smiled and wrapped his hand around Cam’s shoulder as he beamed, “No not at all. See, I told you! My friends came!”

Cam snarled at being touched but managed a weak smile in front the Admiral. Joriah looked at each of them before looking at Ash. Suddenly, he gasped with surprise. Ash stared at him coldly. Seeing his father’s expression changed, Tyler removed his arm from Cam and inquired with concerned, “What is it, father?”

Joriah sighed as Ash looked at him curiously. Shaking his head while raising his glass, he responded, “You look just like her, you know? You have the exact same dress and the exact same beauty. Ms. Techryn, you look so much like your mother.”

Ash snarled at the mention of her mother and glared at him. Joriah shook his head and responded with a wave of his hand, “I apologize. I do not mean to overstep my bounds. It was long ago before you were born. She came here with your father. I’m sorry but I couldn’t help notice. I danced with her once and she was a wonderful dancer. It was beautiful. She was beautiful.”

Ash stared at the longing gaze of the Admiral. They all looked at him. Joriah shook his head and cleared his throat finishing his words, “Again, I apologize Ms. Techryn. I didn’t mean to burden you with the past. I came here to make sure you enjoy yourself. So, enjoy yourself.”

As he raised his glass, he wandered away from the group stumbling a bit. Ash recognized the swagger of a slightly drunk man as her father used to be one. Teena looked at him with concern cocking her head. Tyler mumbled trying to get his mind around what his father was saying. Ash turned to the group confused. However, Cameron glared at Tyler. He opened his mouth with a snarl.

Turning to Teena, Tyler whispered softly into her ear. Teena turned to Tyler and nodded. Stroking his cheek, she responded, “Okay Ty. You two have fun, okay? I’ll be wandering around. Somewhere.”

Touching his cheek, she gave him a kiss and walked away. Tyler noticed Cam’s anger and gulped offering his hands. Realizing that he invaded the boy’s personal space, he spoke, “Hey, hey, don’t forget where we are. This is neutral ground. It is where we all get along with each other. Respect, remember, respect.”

“Right,” Cam mumbled pointing at him. He spat, “But put your shoulders like that one more time and you’re looking at your future as a one armed mannequin-“

Tyler’s eyes widened and muttered, “Whoa! Hey time out. What did I do to get you so mad? All I did was say a few things-“

“You-“ Cam snarled, but Ash pulled at his arm with a snarl as she whispered silently, “Do not push this Sheppard. Go! Remember what I said! Calm down and get your head on straight! Now!”

Cameron scowled at the beast with anger. He was getting wound up. With an irritated sigh, the fourteen year old boy scoffed and let go of Ash’s hand. He stormed away from both of them with the knowledge that she was right. Cam was getting testy around Tyler again. He had to learn to cool down and control his anger. He hated the nineteen year old boy who pokes his button so much.

As they watched Cam walk away, Ash turned to Tyler and muttered, “I don’t understand the anger.”

Part 24.10 of 10.10: After sending Cam away, Ash hangs with Ty…

Ash scowled at Tyler and sighed approaching him. Taking his arm, she got his attention touching his upper arm muscle and spoke, “Forget about him, Ty.”

Distracted, Tyler forgot about Cam and smiled at her. Puffing up his chest, he took her arm gently and responded, “Okay.” He led her up the stairs to the second floor.

Keeping her hand on his arm, she placed her other hand on the railing and walked upwards while looking around. Her dark eyes observed other people do their thing while the same music played in the background.

Clearing his throat, Tyler got her attention as Ash looked at him. She listened to him speak, “My father. He built this mansion with his bare hands. Of course, he had help and he paid them wisely. It’s been standing for nearly sixty years now and we are just celebrating its sixty-first birthday on a Christmas Eve. I grew up here with my little brother. He’s about Cameron’s age. He’s fourteen.” They walked up the steps side by side as he talked while taking her along a little tour.

Meanwhile as Cameron walked toward the food table, he fumed with anger. Taking the cup, he sighed furiously watching the plastic he was holding on his hand. They boy was lost.

Dale came behind him and inquired, “What’s up little man? What’s got your britches in a bunch?”

Distracted, the fourteen year old looked at the teen and inquired, “Huh?” Cameron was still dazed.

Dale gulped as he took a hors d’oeuvres cracker and put it into his mouth. Licking his thumb, he spoke, “You got something on your mind or maybe I misunderstand and you’re trying to do a little mind trick on the plastic cup. In that case, I apologize. Magic away! Abracadabra.”

Cameron smiled at him and laughed a bit. Dale smiled warmly with a shrug. Cam responded, “Thanks. Hey, I wanted to apologize about before.”

Dale shook his head waving it away, “Eh no worries. I don’t hold grudges, mate. Remember, I’m just here for the snacks. I’m more of a lurker, really. Say, where’s Ash?”

Cameron uttered an annoyed sigh putting the cup down. He responded with a shrug, “Oh with Ty at the moment. She sent me away. No offense, but I hate Tyler.”

Dale nodded understanding. He responded with a casual shrug, “Feeling’s mutual, really.”

Looking up at the second floor, he spied Ash and Tyler leaning against the banister overlooking the party. Dale spoke, “I mean, look at him right now. He was involved in a lot of things to get where he went. In doing so, he made a lot of friends and enemies. People have loads of respect for him, but his attitude toward certain things leaves much to be desired. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate the man. I have respect for him. Loads of it. It’s just, sometimes he does things that people wouldn’t normally do, you know? He’s spoiled.”

Cameron nodded looking at Tyler with Ash on the second floor. Tyler’s mouth was moving as he was talking to Ash. The beast remained silent and watched in front of her. Turning back to Dale, the boy replied, “Yeah you’re right. I just don’t like it when he talks to me, you know?”

Dale nodded repeating an earlier quote, “Don’t get your britches in a bunch. You know what that means? Don’t overreact or get upset over the little things. He says a lot of things that get people upset, but you know what? Just forget about it. Get pass it. Ignore him, little man. You are better than him.”

Cameron sighed with a nod. Feeling better, he responded, “Thanks Dale. I’ll do that.”

Dale smiled and picked out one of the sparkling non alcoholic apple cider for his new friend. He poured it into his plastic cup and nodded as Cam took a sip. Pouring the sparkling cider into his own plastic cup, the eighteen year old responded toasting his cup toward the boy, “Cheers mate.”

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.