Rough Boys Ch. 18byroughboy18©
This is a copyrighted work of fiction. All rights reserved.
All characters engaged in sexual acts in this story are at least eighteen years of age.
Warning: this chapter contains offensive language. Please read at your own discretion.
Kaeden's phone beeped, signaling an incoming text message. He groaned. Physically he was fully recovered, but his body felt achy and sluggish as he leaned over to his nightstand to pick up the phone. He glanced at the display. He had thirty-one unread texts and twelve new calls.
Suddenly he was suffused with anger. Why the hell does everyone want to talk to me? I've made it clear that I don't want to talk to them!
And he didn't.
He couldn't bring himself to even think about the Event—he certainly didn't want to talk about it. And he didn't want pity. He didn't want people scrutinizing him, looking for changes, searching for scars from the torture he'd endured. It was bad enough suffering through those looks from his family; he didn't want his friends gaping at him as well.
Luckily he had few visible scars, most of which were easily covered with clothing. The only noticeable one was his torn left ear where Mark had ripped out an earring. They had put a few stiches in it at the hospital and assured him that it would heal. He didn't care. He was never going to wear earrings again.
The torn ear had been the start of it. Things had escalated from there. Had they ever! Kaeden shuddered and closed his eyes, wishing he could close off his memories too.
His phone beeped again, reminding him of his unanswered texts.
Fury flashed through him. He picked up the phone, stalked into the bathroom, and dropped it into the toilet. He flushed, but the device got caught sideways and didn't go down. He watched as water washed over it and it winked out, dead.
He felt nothing.
He stood staring at it for a long minute before he turned to leave the bathroom.
Dad will be mad. This thought made him hesitate. The family will think I've gone completely over the edge. They already know I'm seriously disturbed.
He returned to the toilet, fished the phone out, wrapped it well in toilet paper and hid it in the garbage can. Then he washed his hands thoroughly and returned to his darkened bedroom.
Now he didn't have to deal with anyone—except his mom.
Dani wiped his palms on his jeans again. How the hell am I supposed to play the piano with my hands so slippery? Butterflies careened around in his belly, fluttering against the sides of it, causing small cramps. This is way worse than playing at the café.
Nigel smiled at him encouragingly from where he sat behind his drums.
"Whenever you're ready," came a disembodied voice.
Dani jumped slightly and took a deep breath. I guess it's now or never, he thought. He settled the headphones on his ears, wiped his fingers one last time, and brought them up to rest lightly on the keys. Shifting his focus to the music, he started to play.
The notes flowed easily. He didn't have to think about this part much, he'd practiced enough. Nigel joined in with percussion at the proper time. Dani swallowed and got ready to start singing.
He didn't miss his cue and his voice didn't warble. It was strange to hear himself sing through headphones rather than directly—it sounded different, but good. He gained confidence and focused on the music rather than the potential outcome of his audition. He tried not to think about the possibility of taking Taylor's place and suddenly becoming a singer in a successful rock band. That would be a dream come true.
Focus. Don't fuck up! He pulled his mind back to the music. He had chosen to sing "Angels" for them because the music company was hopeful that they'd be able to negotiate most of their songs away from Taylor.
He poured himself into the song and before he knew it, he was singing the last refrain. Shortly afterwards he finished up on the keyboards and breathed a big sigh of relief. Of course, it wasn't over. His stomach wouldn't quit flip-flopping until he heard the verdict.
"Thank you, Dani. Do you have something else you could sing for us?" The producer's voice came into his headphones.
Dani had been prepared for that. Nigel had told him Dave might want to hear more than one song, especially if they couldn't decide. Nigel gave him the thumbs up and he nodded silently. He took another deep breath. His nerves were more settled than they had been with the first song.
For the second song, he'd decided to sing one he'd written himself. He and Nigel had practiced it together. Erin had even joined them, adding her own twist to the guitar bits. She wasn't playing today though. Nigel had told him that it had been difficult to get the producer to agree to listen to Dani—he'd said he believed in talent, not nepotism. But Nigel had managed to convince him finally to give him an audition. He was hopeful that after Dani was in, he'd be able to get the producer to listen to Erin as well.
Dani made a small blunder in the lyrics for his own song—singing a previous version on one of the lines—but he knew that no one except Nigel would realize it.
When he finished, Dave's voice came over his headphones again. "Whose song is that you just sang?"
"You wrote that?"
"Everything? Music and lyrics? Nigel didn't help you?"
"Not really," Nigel interjected. "I just helped with a little tweaking at the end. Dani wrote the song himself—before we even got together."
"Okay, thank you."
Dave said nothing more and Dani waited with growing impatience for some feedback. The time seemed to stretch into hours, but watching the clock on the wall, it had only been eight minutes. Dani took off his headphones.
They must be discussing me, deciding whether or not I'm going to work out, he thought. The butterflies had turned into bees now, and they were buzzing mad.
Finally, after twelve minutes of excruciating silence, the voice came back over the speaker.
"Okay Dani, can you sing "Angels" again?"
WTF? Is it that hard for them to decide? Dani glanced at Nigel who shrugged as if to say he had no idea why they were making him redo a song.
A tiny bit of anger flared in Dani, but he pushed it down. If they want 'Angels' again, I can do that.
Just as he was about to start, the producer's voice said, "Just like you did the first time, please."
Okay. What the hell does that mean? Dani didn't have time to analyze the statement. He just nodded and started to play. This time the song seemed to flow more easily. His nerves had finally stretched so thin that they had snapped. He felt almost relaxed.
When he was finished, he looked up at the sound booth window. He couldn't see anything behind it, but he knew they could see him. He smiled. There. That's it. That's what I've got. If that's not good enough for you, then I'll just keep plugging away on my own like I have been.
Up in the sound booth Dave was watching Neil, the branch manager, for his reaction.
"You weren't kidding, that boy can sing! And look at his face—his smile! He's not very tall, but we can work with that. We'll have the girls going wild."
Dave cleared his throat. "Except he's the boyfriend of the drummer. Somehow I don't think we'll be able to hide that. I mean, once you see them together...."
"Oh, we'll deal with that. After all, it's the new millennium. People are more accepting. The girls will love him anyway, all the more so because they make such an adorable couple." Neil watched as the drummer came up behind the blond and nuzzled his neck.
"Shall we go talk to him?" Neil was already heading out the door.
As Dani realized how stiff all his muscles were, Nigel's arms slid around him from behind. He felt the headphones moved gently off his head and then he heard his lover's voice in his ear, "That was wonderful, sweetheart. If they don't pick you up, they're all a bunch of idiots. You're so much better than Taylor."
Dani snuggled back into Nigel's warmth. "I think you might be a bit influenced by my hot body. It's clouding your judgment."
"Not a chance!"
Dani was expecting the voice to come over the speaker and was starting to wonder about the further delay, when a man he'd never seen before barged into the room followed closely by Dave.
"Danny, is it?" the man boomed. He was all smiles. "Welcome to Discord Records."
As happened most years, Christmas arrived two days after Thanksgiving—or at least that's how it seemed.
Abe's mother did not fly up for the holiday, much to his disappointment and Ty's relief. Ty was afraid that Abe's mother would have seen right away that he wasn't good enough for Abe.
He had managed not to have any more drug-hunting episodes. Indeed, he'd been so busy in the days leading up to Christmas that he hardly had time to think about them. And he was happy—happier than he'd been in a very long time. He wasn't without problems or concerns, of course, Kaeden being a big one of these, but personally he was at peace. He'd gotten his GED without issue and had filled out the paperwork to be readmitted to MIT, so he was playing the waiting game for that. To hedge his bets, he was also applying at several other universities for admittance in the fall. His life was back on track—and now it came with a big bonus: a gorgeous, considerate, stable man who loved him dearly.
Abe had to work the morning shift on Christmas Eve, but he had Christmas Day off. Ty had invited Abe and Kate to his mom's house for Christmas. After checking with his mom, he'd also invited Dani, Nigel and Erin. But Erin's parents flew her home for Christmas, and Dani had declined, saying he wanted to spend the holiday with his mom. Ty had then invited Dani's mom, Cecelia, as well—the more the merrier for Christmas, right? After Ty's mom called Cecelia, everything was settled.
The house was full for Christmas Eve, but there was enough room for everyone. Dani's mom was put up in the guest bedroom. Dani and Nigel slept on the foldout couch in his dad's study, and Kate was delighted to stay in Jeanie's room, saying it was just like a slumber party.
When Ty started to lead a bag-burdened Abe up to his bedroom, his mother spoke up, "Ty, I've set up the couch in the family room for one of you."
"Uh ... mom? We live together."
His mom looked startled for a second and then blushed.
"It's okay, Ty. I'll take the couch if that's what your mom wants."
Julie watched Ty's face fall and she had second thoughts. He's been through so much. He needs Abe. And they are living together already.
"No, it's all right. You can both stay in Ty's room—don't ever accuse me of not being a modern woman." She let out a small laugh. "I keep forgetting that my little boy is all grown up now."
Ty rolled his eyes, but grinned at Abe.
"If you're sure," Abe said hesitantly, not wanting Ty's mom to feel uncomfortable.
"Of course, honey. You two are practicing safe sex, right?"
Now it was Ty's turn to blush. He had been in twice for testing and was clean. Abe hadn't been with anyone since Evan and he'd tested clean as well. He was about to admonish his mom for even asking that question when Abe answered very seriously and politely.
Julie smiled and disappeared into the kitchen.
"Jeez, I can't believe she even asked that," Ty said as he led Abe up the stairs.
"She cares about you."
Later that afternoon, Ty, Abe, Dani and Nigel sat around the Christmas tree drinking cocoa and watching the lights flicker. The women were all somewhere else in the house. Ty was happy to see that his mom and Dani's mom seemed to have a lot to talk about even though they came from different worlds, and every time he saw Kate and Jeanie they were huddled together giggling.
Turning to Dani, he asked the question that had been on his mind. "Have you heard from Kaeden yet?"
"Not a word. I've called him, texted him, and emailed him. He's not answering anyone—not even Tommy or Sally."
"So it's not just me. How hurt was he? I mean, it's been six weeks. He's not still in bed is he?"
"I don't know. From what I've gathered from Tommy, he should have been out and about weeks ago. Sally offered to pay for counseling for him, but he's refused. I wish he'd answer my calls."
"Yeah, I'm worried about him."
"Me too. And I miss him."
"I miss Sean too," Nigel added.
"Does Sean even know about Kaeden?" Ty asked.
"No. I don't have any way to contact him except email, and I don't want to tell him in email. There's nothing he can do about it, so I thought I'd just wait until he gets home to tell him."
"How's Sean doing? Does he like rehab?" Abe asked. Does anyone like rehab?
"I guess he's doing okay. He's only sent two emails so far and they've both been short. He says they're keeping him really busy; he doesn't have time for email—and I guess his mother is still freaking out on him, so he spends what little time he has responding to her instead of me. He claims he's exhausted, but he hasn't given me any details of what he's doing."
"That's interesting. When's he due back?"
"Two more weeks—the second week in January. Damn good thing too. I think Discord is out of patience with us."
Sweat poured off of Sean's forehead, stinging as it dribbled into his eyes. He blinked and closed his eyes, trying to focus on his breathing instead of how hot he was—Christ it's early morning and it's already sweltering. His arm muscles were shaking. He wasn't sure how much longer her could hold this position. How long had he been in plank pose, top of a push-up? It seemed like hours.
He opened his eyes and cut them over to Swami Sripal. His teacher was sitting in lotus position, eyes closed, deep in a meditative trance. Sean had no doubt that if he lowered himself quietly to the ground, Swami Sripal would detect it immediately and chastise him. Then he'd invent a torture that was even more strenuous than the one he was currently enduring. He wasn't going to give the old man any excuse to be disappointed in him. He was going to hold this position until the Swami released him or until he passed out, whichever came first. He was betting on passing out.
Sean had a long list of complaints about rehab. He'd never been worked so hard in his life—not even close. He hadn't had any idea that this was what he was signing up for. He felt like a prisoner of war. The days started before dawn—they'd taken away all his technology so he didn't know what time that was—and they didn't end until long after dark. At the end of the day he dropped onto his hard pallet on the floor and was instantly asleep.
He was hungry most of the time even though the food was good. It was all vegan—what he wouldn't give for a very large, rare ribeye! He hadn't had so much as a cup of coffee or cigarette since he'd arrived. The cutoff had been cold-turkey. They hadn't even let him have any Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen for his pain when he'd arrived—fresh from the hospital. Swami Sripal's words were, "Pain is good for you. It helps focus the mind." Going without drugs was the least of his problems.
He wondered if this method of rehab had long-term success or if shortly after he was no longer under Swami Sripal's watchful eye he'd go right back to his vices.
After six weeks of intensive torture, he felt great. Really great. Better than ever. The changes in his body had been nothing short of miraculous. Gone was the bit of fat he'd had around his belly. His biceps bulged. His abdomen was rock hard. His stamina had increased exponentially. He knew that because the Swami took them on long runs up the mountain in the blistering sun. The first day he'd passed out. Now he was the fastest runner, and although the runs were still grueling, he was really proud of the gains he'd made. Swami Sripal was as tough as leather, but also compassionate and encouraging.
What impressed Sean the most about the Swami was his ability to maintain a calm demeanor no matter what was going on around him. Sean had seen several inmates—that's how they thought of themselves—freak out to the point of violence, but Swami Sripal responded to everything with exactly the same Zen demeanor. And he was unbelievably fit. Sean was sure the Swami could kick his ass even though he was probably forty years older and only half his size.
Sean's focus had drifted from his breathing to thinking about how soon he might get to eat again. Suddenly his arms gave out on him and with a yelp of surprise he landed flat on his face.
"Initiate Falvey, I did not release you," the Swami said sternly, but his voice was tinged with amusement.
Sean let out a small groan.
"Don't you dare breath a word of this to Sally!" Tommy warned, his voice high-pitched and full of angst. "Don't tell anyone who might tell her. If she finds out, I'm a dead man!"
"Why's that?" Ty asked, confused. "Why wouldn't she want us to visit Kaeden?"
"Actually, I'm sure she'd love us to visit Kaeden, but if she finds out how I got his address, I'm a goner. Kaeden didn't share his address with us and told Sally not to give it out. The confidentiality of her employees is even more important to her than that of her clients. She keeps everything locked up."
Tommy drummed his longer fingers against each other and smiled wickedly. "Of course that didn't stop me from getting what I wanted."
"Okay, mum's the word," Dani said. "Which stop is it?"
"I'm not really sure, actually."
"Here, let me punch his address into my phone and we'll have directions."
Tommy yielded his crumpled piece of paper to Dani who moments later pulled up a map. "It looks like we should get off at the next stop. The one after would work as well—it's hard to tell which one's closer."
The boys made sure their coats were buttoned up, their scarves were in place, and their gloves were on. The day was bitterly cold. A frigid wind had blown in slate-gray clouds that looked heavy with snow.
They exited the light rail and headed down a street in an upscale neighborhood. The four inches of snow that had dumped three days earlier still covered the ground. Some patches of sidewalk had been cleared, but the stretches that hadn't been were slow going. Ice crunched under their feet, uneven from earlier footprints in snow that had partially melted and then frozen again.
The houses in the neighborhood had been built in the nineties. All were large with good-sized front yards, but very uniform in style and color.
"What do you think?" Tommy joked. "That house is beige, that one's taupe, and that one's ecru. Those seem to be the only three colors, if you can call them colors."
"There's a green one over there." Ty pointed out a light green house with darker trim on the next corner.
"Finally!" Tommy said. "At least someone has some gumption. If I lived here I'd have to paint my house bright purple."
"I doubt they'd let you," Dani commented. "They probably have covenants or something. You can only paint an 'approved' color."
Tommy shuddered. "I'd never live here anyway."
"Too bad they don't have covenants about keeping the sidewalks cleared," Ty said as they picked their way through an exceptionally icy stretch.
Dani checked his phone when they reached the next corner. "His house is down this street. It should be the third one on the left."
"Do you suppose he's home?" Ty asked.
"Where would he go?" Tommy replied. "If he's hiding from everyone, he's likely home."
They walked together up the front steps and hesitated at the door, looking to each other for support. Tommy smiled grimly and rang the doorbell.
Ty found his heart in his throat, worried about what they might find.