Brady heard the bell ring from the basement. It was his domain “The Party Pit”. He raced up the stairs in hope it was Loret, early for her weekend with them. He ran to the door only to have been beaten by Sara Heldem-Curuciuo-Walker, his step mother. Sara was a small woman with long black hair and tiny green eyes, and a deep dark tan. She was maybe five foot, but she was very sweet and baked cookies anytime he had friends over. Brady’s real mother had died when he was ten, and when he was fourteen Sara met his father and married. He felt a strong bond to her, like she really was his mother.
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“Who is it?” he popped up then froze. Nathan. Shaggy and yet still straight black hair, just to his ears, deep blue eyes hidden behind silver framed glasses. Pale, ghostly pale, and with the most sour expression on his face.
“Mother.” he said quietly.
“Nate...honey.” she opened the door wider. “Come on inside.” She let the boy in, and Brady examined him closer. The boy looked smug, and didn’t say much. He wore a gray tee-shirt and blue flannel over top with dusty blue jeans and black vans. “Brady be a dear and help with his bags would you?” Sara said motioning to the door. Brady kept his eyes on his step brother and reached down for one of the bags only to feel a hand on his.
“Need help hottie?” he looked up into Loret’s crystal blue eyes and smiled.
“He’s here..” he said with a “Poltergeist” mocking voice. Loret looked inside to see Sara leading Nathan into the living room.
“So I see.” she said walking in, taking one of his bags. “Hey Mrs. Walker!”
“Oh...Loret...when did you get here?” Sara smiled at the younger girl. She had always approved of Loret, and loved when she came over.
“Just now. Sorry about being late...got into a traffic jam on the Martin Bypass...” she smiled and put her hands in her pockets standing in the living room beside Brady.
“That’s alright. Loret, since you’re here...I want to introduce you to my son, Nathan Curuciuo. Nathan, this is Loret Behm, she’s one of Brady’s best friends.” Sara smiled. “She’s staying with us this week.”
“Down in the basement.” Brady added. “With me.” he was slightly possessive. He and Nathan had met a few times before, but never really took to each other. To Nate, Brady was taking his mother away from him, and to Brady, Nate was abusing his mother. Loret picked up on the hostility and elbowed Brady.
“I have brownies! In the car!” she said handing him her keys. “Go down...get them out please.” Brady looked at her, then sighed and did as she requested. Loret smiled at Sara.
“Sit down.” Sara offered. “Nathan’s coming to live with me now.” she told her. “His father...” she looked away. “Died.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Loret said quietly. “I understand how that is...kinda. My Great-Aunt Hilde just died...that’s why I’m here. I’m not going to the funeral...” she felt like an idiot. Why?
Nathan didn’t speak, he just looked at her, then back to Sara.
“Can I go unpack?” he asked in a flat voice.
“Nathan.” she looked at him and sighed. “Your room isn’t ready yet, Alex didn’t have time to clear it all out. Until then...you’ll be staying in the basement with Brady, and Loret while she’s here.” She said in a flat tone to match his.
“Uhm...” Loret stood up. “I’m just gonna go pull out the sofa...”
“Nathan, why don’t you go help her.” Sara said and grabbed her purse. “I’m late for my date with Alex.”
“Of course.” Nathan said standing up. “Night.” he waved to her and started down the stairs to the basement. Loret followed him, and Brady her, brownies and Loret’s overnight bags with him.
“Soo....Nathan.” Loret said her hands in her jeans pockets again. She was wearing an over sized “Tool” baseball jersey and baggy blue jean pants with one knee ripped out.
“What?” he asked entering the basement and looking around.
“You got some backbone to back up that attitude you were carrying around up there?” she asked walking over to the old pull out couch she always slept on and taking the cushions off.
“Excuse me?” Nathan looked at her. She may be hot...but he wasn’t going to take that attitude from her.
“You heard me.” she looked back at him. “You come waltzin’ in here like your shit don’t stink...actin’ like your mom is the biggest bitch in the world...” she glared at him. “She’s a wonderful--”
“Just shut your mouth right now.” Nathan growled. “You don’t know jack shit about my mother you little bitch...so just shut up!”
Brady started walking toward Nathan. “What did you call her?!” he growled his hands in fists at his sides.
“Brady!” Loret walked between them. “Let it go.” she gave him a warning look.
“If Little Nate here thinks he has the balls to hang with me.” she looked back at Nate, walking up to him and getting in his face. “Let’s see if he’s right.”
“Is that suppose to be threatening?” he asked raising his eyebrows. She grinned and licked her lips.
“Or promising.” she raised her eyebrows at him suggestively. Nathan took a chance and leaned in, kissing her softly on the lips.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” He warned. Loret stood in shock. Did he just ... Kiss her?
Brady pulled her away from him and glared at Nathan. He spoke with a growl. “What the hell...do you think you’re doing?!”
Nathan whipped his lips off.
“Giving Princess there her first kiss.” he replied, back to his flat voice. Brady punched Nate quickly sending him back a few steps.
“BRADY!” Loret pushed him back away from his step brother. “It’s ok.” she whipped the smeared lipstick off her face. “It’s ok.” she pushed Brady into the cushion less couch and pointed a slender finger at him warning him to stay put. Nathan burst out with laughter. He pulled his glasses off and brushed a hand over his eyes like he was whipping tears away.
“That’s rich.” he laughed and looked at the other two. “That was your first kiss wasn’t it Princess.” Loret slapped his face before he could continue.
“Stop.” her voice held the slightest hint of anger. “Calling me Princess.” she hated being made out as something she wasn’t. There was only one person in the world that she let call her Princess...that was Adrian, and Adrian was dead...so was that nickname.
Brady was shocked, but Nathan looked her right in the eyes.
“Or what? You’ll sick Mr. All American here on me?” Loret had to laugh. It was a quick snort...she’d never heard anyone else refer to Brady as Mr. All American. Just then the phone rang, the upstairs phone. Brady made a move to go answer it, then thought better of it.
“Go.” Loret sighed. “Go answer it ... It could be mom or dad or someone..” Without argument Brady ran up the stairs to the kitchen, where the nearest phone would be. Loret looked at Nathan, who still had his eyes locked on her.
“You are a bastard you know that.” she walked back to the couch and finished getting the bed out.
“Ah...well..” he shrugged as he went to help her. “You looked like you needed a kiss.”
“Shut up already.” she hissed. “Just...” she shivered. “Drop it ok?”
“So it was your first kiss?” Nate smiled down at her.
“I thought....you and...” he motioned upstairs. “Ya know..”
“No.” Loret shook her head and stiffed a giggle. “Brady and I are just good friends.”
“No!” she laughed. “No...Brady’s like a brother to me. He’s real sweet...anyway, my cousin has a crush on him...so...I could and would never. Besides...we live in two different worlds when it comes down to things. I’m a horror buff, he likes historical. I listen to rock, he likes country. I’m into theater and art and music...and he’s into social sciences and Freudian slips...” she shook her head again. “We’re too different to be so alike. Anyway...he’s such a sweetie...” she smiled lightly. “He’s too good for someone like me...he‘s just not my type” Her speech made Nathan laugh again, only this time he wasn’t smiling as much.
“What is your type?” He asked her quietly, moving in closer as they pulled the bed into position and straightened out the sheets.
“Excuse me?” Loret felt her heart jumping at his voice.
“What’s your type?” He repeated. “Since Brady’s not.”
“I don’t know.” she shrugged the question off. “I’m into drummers...” she answered honestly. “Quiet...artsy non-political....” she stopped herself. “None of your business.”
“Sounds like I’ve got three out of three.” He winked at her.
“You do not play drums.”
“Used to...was in a band before I was forced out here.”
“You are not the type of quiet I was talking about.”
“You just met me...how do you know?” he raised his eyebrows.
“You are NOT the artsy type.”
“Then why did that school in New York accept my college application?” He crossed his arms. “Admit it--”
“Admit what?” Brady asked from the stairwell.
“That I’ve never been kissed before.” Loret spoke up before Nathan could answer. The phone rang again. “Go get it!” she shouted, but Brady was already after it.
“Would you just stop that around him.” She half slapped at Nathan’s arm.
“Because...Brady likes me...but I don’t like him back and I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” she sighed. “Ok?”
“O-Kay.” he gave her a cocky grin. “But you owe me.” He added to the end.
“I don’t know yet, but you owe me.” he grinned again. “I’ll let you know when the time comes.” he winked at her and walked over to the other couch. “I guess I’ll be sleeping here?” He pointed.
“Not unless you want a spring up your ass.” she laughed. “That chair’s comfy.” she pointed at an old recliner. “Let’s back and all...just gotta remember not to turn over.” she winked at him.
The storm hit before anyone knew it. Rain splattered the windows and dripped down the gutters of 1012 Todd Lane. Loret and Brady’s plans for partying were dropped as soon as Sara came home with dinner. Three large pepperoni pizzas were under her arm as she fought with the wind to walk inside. Loret sighed and looked out at the rain. Some drama blared from the television upstairs, but she paid no mind to it. A copy of Dante’s “Inferno” lay in her lap as she watched the rain.
“Mad?” Brady asked bringing her a can of Vanilla Cola.
“Nah....slightly disappointed, but not mad.” she admitted and popped open the can. She smiled lightly at him. “What about you?”
“I’d kill to get away from Mr. Personality over there.” He growled and drank his cola.
“His dad just died...sure he’s an ass...but he’s hurting. Give him time, maybe he’ll chill out.” she shrugged.
“Yeah...maybe.” he shook his head.
“BRADY!” Sara called coming down the stairs. “Brady.” she repeated herself. “I just got a call from your father. He needs us to drive into town and help him out with your grandmothers old house.” Sara had come back without Mr. Walker from the date, he was caught up with his Mother and working at her house.
“HAS he looked outside?” Brady exclaimed.
“Brady, don’t argue just get your shoes on.” Sara said. “I’m sorry Loret honey...just...” she looked around. “Make yourself at home. We’ll be back before you know it.”
“But what about Nathan?” Brady asked quickly. “We’re not leaving him here are we?”
“He’s out like a light over there.” she pointed to Nathan, who surely enough was spread out on the spare couch, uncomfortably so and appearing to be asleep.
“It’s cool Mrs. Walker.” Loret smiled. “There’s still plenty of pizza, and I know my way around the house to find anything we need.” she nodded. “Go on...” Sara smiled at her.
“Thank you Loret dear...Brady.” she turned her attention back to her step-son. “Come on. We don’t have all day!”
“Right Mother.” he sighed and walked upstairs. “Right.”
Within moments Loret heard Sara’s little mini-van roar to life and peel out of the driveway.
“Are they gone yet?” Nathan popped one eye open.
“Why...afraid they’re gonna make you go help?” Loret put her book down and stood up. “Why were you faking sleep?”
“If I have to listen to Sara and her pathetic ’But I’m your mother’ speech one more time...I’m going to puke.” He stood up and put his glasses back on. “That’s why.”
“What’s your problem with her anyway? She’s awesome.” Loret ran a hand through her hair quickly, since Brady wasn’t around they more than likely wouldn’t get in an argument.
“Sara wasn’t the perfect mother...let’s just say that.” Nates face grew cold. “She hated me since I was born...because I looked like my father.”
“But I thought your father was the one who divorced your mom.”
“He was...” he nodded. “When he found out I wasn’t his.” he walked over to the basement door and looked out its window.
“Wha...” she sighed. “I’m sorry. I had no idea.”
“Neither did mom.” he replied, his voice calmer. “He just told her he didn’t love her anymore. He told me and showed me the D.N.A. tests when Mom got ready to remarry. That’s when I decided I was staying with him....I mean all my life he was my father...he always took care of me, spoiled me gave me what I wanted...” he added. “Well...as much as he could. Even when he found out I wasn’t his...he wanted me to stay with him. He loved me. I can’t say the same for Sara. She doesn’t understand the meaning of love, family.” he put his fist against the framing of the door. “She’s a fake.”
“That’s why you hate her?” Loret walked up, slowly and carefully putting a hand on his shoulder.
“In a nutshell.” he looked over at her. She was beautiful with the reflection of the rain on her face. She smiled lightly. Her heart went out to the guy, she understood what a rough family life was like all too well. There was something in his eyes though, something that made her heart beat faster. Slowly he turned to her and leaned in closely, she wasn’t stopping him. He smiled inwardly. That was always a good sign. Closer, he could feel her breath. Closer, the vanilla smell on her. Closer still, until their lips touched ever so softly. She leaned into the kiss. YES! He thought, Connected! YES! She thought, He likes me. The kiss was simple at first, soft pecking of the lips, then he dared it further. That was when the power went out. Loret pulled away and sighed.
“Wow.” Nathan grinned. “Never had that effect before. Turing the power off and all.” he winked at her. Loret blushed crimson and turned away. She couldn’t believe she just kissed Brady’s step brother! She turned away. “It’s ok...Sara has candles down in the bathroom down here. Hold on.” she walked away and back to the back bathroom, reemerging only seconds later with a long candle lit and a box under her arm.
“We should light one upstairs, incase the power isn’t on before the others get back.” she smiled handing him the box and taking another couple of candles out.
“Prepared are we?” Nate smirked at her and took a couple of candles out. “You handle the upstairs...I’ll stick down here.” With a nervous nod Loret walked quietly up the carpeted stairs to the main floor. She put candles near every entrance, the front door, the side door at the garage and the back door with the deck. She paused in the kitchen and grabbed a couple of sodas, a thing of brie cheese and French bread with two knives. Her favorite stormy candle lit snack, and something she could always count on Mr. Walker to have handy. The stairs creaked as she walked back down into the basement as she’d never seen it before. Candles were lit along the walls, on the tables and leading back to the made up back bedroom, no one had really used it, due to Sara having used it for storage. Loret nearly gasped.
“We only needed a few...” She said quietly putting the sodas, bread and cheese on the little oak table that was strategically placed by the stairwell’s foot so that Brady could throw his wallet and keys there when he got home everyday.
“So...” Nate smiled at her and took her hand. “You looked like you could use a little romancing.” he winked. “Unless you want to be left to your copy of Dante’s Inferno.” he pretended to pout for added reaction. Loret looked him over skeptical eyes. No. She thought to herself. This will only end in trouble.
“I would like to be left to my copy of Dante’s Inferno very much so thank you very much.” she handed him a soda and walked over to the pull out and grabbed her book. “I’ll be upstairs.” She didn’t even look at him. Nathan could have growled. What the? How in the?
Was she just rejecting him before he got started?
“Fine Princess.” Loret didn’t turn around to stop him. She didn’t want to go through that fight again, she just walked upstairs, curled up in the family den in a nice oversized comfy chair, and started to read.
Hours passed...slowly. Loret felt her eyelids grow heavy. She looked over at the grandfather clock as it chimed twelve times. Little by little she started to fall into the darkness of sleep...All thoughts of Brady, Nathan, Adrian, her parents, the band...anything went right out the window and into the rain, getting washed away as she let herself fall into her private dream land.
If I did it...I didn't mean to.
If I hurt you...I didn't mean to.
If I left you...I didn't mean to.
If I scared you...I didn't mean to.
If I loved you...I didn't mean to.