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In Edenridge 10 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay



Having closed his eyes throughout Tov’s panic attack, pissed at himself for letting his emotions dictate his actions, TNT nodded at Ransom’s words. Opening his eyes, Chase eased up off the breaks and drove toward the gas station, the one across from the police station. He stood silent, no longer smiling, no longer feeling those butterflies that Tiff gave him. He was focused on how much he triggered his brother. Time and time again, his explosive behavior put Tov in a rough spot. He really wasn’t good for him. That was clear. As he pulled by the gas tank, unlocking the doors and putting his car in park, his phone vibrated. He’d let Tov and Ransom do what they had to do while he filled up his tank.

When he noticed who was calling him, he thought to himself how weird it was that she chose now, out of all times, to call him. He wondered if she knew he wasn’t in a good headspace or did she simply want to hear his voice? Once he exited the car, he picked up the phone, observing a black mustang park on the other side of the gas tank he was at. “Hey,” he quietly greeted. His calm stare catching the sight of the ugly smug on the Mustang owner’s face, who was exiting the car now. He spat not too far from Chase’s right sneakers.

"Hi Chasey!" came the affectionate voice from the other side of the speakers. Its vivacious, cheerful nature happened to belong to the blue-eyed blonde who had taken residence in Chase's thoughts since their first meeting over a month before.

The stranger, obviously not from Edenridge, hooked his thumbs into his pant’s pockets and strolled toward the convenience store.

“Everything okay?” Chase worriedly asked.

"Mhm!" the girl replied as she settled into her bed and under the covers at the Belmonte home. "I woke up to give Auntie Silvia her 4AM medicine and I saw you were online a little bit ago, so I wanted to call you before I went to bed! You know I like to call you before I go to sleep. It helps me sleep better."

“That’s right. Glad to be of service to you, m’lady,” TNT joked as he watched the screen on the pump rise in price per gallon, while Tiffannie’s cute little giggle could be heard on the speaker. “She doing okay?” He inquired with a subtle concerned tone. The serpent boy tried his best to check on Tiff throughout his day because of everything she was going through with her family. Both immediate and the outer circle (the Belmontes). The last thing he wanted was for her to feel alone. He knew that feeling all too well. Tiff didn’t deserve that… So, he would go out of his way to make sure she felt wanted and safe.

The young woman gave a shrug he couldn't see, the previous happiness in her face now being replaced with sad sorrow. "Not really. She's still the same as before-- wanting to sleep a lot because of how exhausted and in pain she is. The morphine can only do so much, you know? She didn't even wake up when I went to give her the IV medicine this morning. I stroked her hair and kissed her forehead and made sure she was comfortable before I left, and even then she just stirred a little but didn't fully wake up…" she trailed off, getting sad at the image of her frail aunt in her hospital bed. "I just wish I could do more for her sometimes."

“Yeah, I get that,” Leaning against his car, Chase looked up, finally feeling tiredness creeping into his soul. Yeah, he needed a Red Bull. “But you’re doing your part and that’s all we can do. Sometimes life has its own plans for us and it ain’t always what we want,” He widely yawned, closing his eyes as he talked to the prettiest girl, “That’s just how shit is but you’re a good person, Tiff. Trust me when I say that.” Her voice was incredibly soothing. If he wasn’t out driving two drunk people around, he could definitely fall asleep listening to her voice.

Tiffannie let out a long, deep sigh. "Thank you for saying that, Chasey. I really needed it. It gets a little hard sometimes," she confessed with a soft smile she wished he could see. In times like these, all Peach could think of to make things even better was if her friend were to physically be there with her so she could hug, snuggle and cuddle with him. "It’s crazy, how you always seem to know the perfect way to make me feel so much better about myself and my situation. You are so, so, so amazing. I feel really lucky to have found you when I did and to have you in my life."

Opening his eyes to her words, feeling all her consideration and emotional warmth, Chase felt his chest ache. Not out of sadness. It was a feeling he felt more each day ever since that night at the diner. What he had with her wasn’t something he could replicate with anyone else and whatever it was brought peace to his mind, calm to his spirit, and hope for his tomorrow. “Hey, random, but… do you want to meet my family?” Was this the appropriate time to ask her this? He didn’t know. Still, it felt right so he did. “Don’t feel pressured to say yes, I just thought it would be cool… for you… to meet them.”

"You want me to meet your family?" Peach inquired to ensure she'd heard that correctly, perking up from her previous position in bed. Her heart was doing little somersaults of excitement in her chest, and the corners of her mouth were curling upward. She knew getting her hopes up could be a bad idea that would set her up for hurt. For all she knew, Chase just wanted her to meet his father and brother because of how much time they spent together as friends. But as much as she wanted to ignore it, Tiff could sense that what they had went beyond your typical friendship. She knew she liked her Chasey a lot more than just a friend. Maybe this meant he felt the same way about her too.

“Yeah? Is it weird?” TNT began regretting his decision to ask. He made things fucking awkward now. “I just… so you already know my family. Well, we’re not blood. That doesn’t mean they’re not my family. Francis… Demo… is my father and Oliver… Molotov... is my brother.” This would be the first time he gave her his family’s biological names, either out of panic or he was hoping she’d see there was no ill intentions behind his actions. “It doesn’t matter if I wasn’t born a Dawson. I’d die for my father. Same goes for my bro. They’ve done so much for me, Tiff. I don’t even know how I can put that in words.”

He was rambling. She probably didn’t want to meet them. Why the hell did he assume? “But, like, I was thinking ‘hey, maybe I could invite my friends too’ so you could meet all the people that help me, uh, be okay, I guess.”


His tired self was word-vomiting again. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to jump the gun. You just, I… you’re important to me, Tiffannie.” Finally, Chase stopped spitting out words in hopes to save face. He breathed into his phone, nervous as hell.

There was silence in the other line as the meaning of his words fully sunk in. He told her his father and brother’s real names. He trusted her enough to tell her their real names. He wanted her to meet his family and friends because, in his own words, she was important to him. She was important to him! Wouldn’t you believe it! He’d basically said he loved her!

The next thing that Chase heard was Tiffannie's squeal of excitement and small claps, both sounds appropriately toned down so as not to wake the other dwellers in her family's home. "Oh, Chaseyyyyyy! I would love to meet your family and your friends!" she cried out happily, positively beaming now and nearly in tears of emotion. "I've heard so much about them for so long-- it would be the best thing ever to finally get to meet them!"

His nerves relaxed when she reacted positively. Thank God. He thought he almost blew it. “Awesome! Great. Glad you’re excited.” If he was home he’d roll over in his bed and scream in his pillow but he couldn’t do that shit. Not at a public gas station. “I was thinking, noon, at Lyon’s park? I’ll text you to make sure everyone is down for a last minute get together. Even if they aren’t, we can have a day at the park, how’s that sound?”

"That sounds PERFECT!" she confirmed, still grinning so hard it almost hurt. How could she even sleep now knowing that she was about to meet the most important people in Chase’s life in just a few hours’ time?! This was amazing! “Ohmygosh, this is so exciting! I don’t even know how I’m going to be able to sleep tonight anymore!”

Suddenly, in the midst of her mind running a thousand miles a minute listing all of the activities she had to put on her schedule to make sure she was looking perfect to make the best impression on everyone, a haunting thought came to the forefront of her mind. “Ohmygosh, Chasey-- what am I going to wear!?” she wailed in despair, allowing herself to dramatically collapse onto the mattress. Her usual outfits, while considered very trendy and fashion-forward in Los Angeles, would always earn her second glances in Edenridge. She couldn’t wear her crop tops, corsets, tube tops, tiny skirts or mini dresses to meet Chase’s family-- and that was 95% of her wardrobe! Did she even have anything in her selection that was appropriate for such an important event? She sure hoped so.

“… clothes?” The serpent boy responded, not knowing how she wanted him to answer. “You look good in just about anything so I’m sure you’ll find something.” He complimented before realizing how late (early?) it was getting. Wasn’t she supposed to go to sleep?

Time always flew when he was talking to her. “Hey, you should get some rest. I have to head home soon and I don’t want you to regret not getting much sleep, okay?” This was the worst part, having to say goodbye and hang up but he had to take his drunk bros home, try to sleep, and inform his family about the luncheon. There was a lot to do in only a few hours. “You’ll see me soon.”

The young woman sighed deeply again. Okay…” Tiffannie replied sadly, lips pouted in resignation and displeasure. She hated when her conversations with Chase came to an end, even when the guarantee of spending time with him in person again was so near. She could listen to his voice and his stories all the time without getting bored or overwhelmed. It felt really nice to have someone like that in her life. "Be safe, okay? And will you pretty, pretty, pretty pleeeeeease let me know when you get home, so I know you made it back okay? Can you do that for me, my sweet, darling, handsome, beautiful Chasey of my heart?”

God. All the compliments made him flustered. Did she even know what her words sounded like? Was he the only one she talked to like this? Clearing his throat, making a low ahem sound, TNT nodded as if she could see him before responding assuringly, “Sure thing. I’ll text you the moment I hit the door.” The strange feeling crept within his stomach and upward, where his insides fluttered. This was a big move for him. Actually letting someone know his whereabouts because they were worried for him. He never had the leisure to understand since most serpents gained independence at a young age and if they didn’t, they still tried to be involved in town just as much as everyone else was. Look away for one second and the next thing you know someone died. “Be sure to text me when you’re up. I like it when you do… it’s nice to wake up to.”

The butterflies in Tiff’s stomach went into a frenzy at Chase’s words-- just like they always did whenever he said he liked something she did. The best part was that he seemed to like everything she did without her even trying. All she had done, from the very first time they had spent together at Dolly’s that night, was be her own unique, unapologetic self. It was so heartwarming to know that there were people out there who appreciated her true self.

"I definitely will! Pinky promise!” she said enthusiastically, basking in the warmth of the good feelings her friend stirred inside her before admitting a sad defeat and calling the conversation to an end. “I guess I’ll just go to sleep now…” Tiff lamented with one last dramatic sigh. “Good night, Chasey.”

“Goodnight, Peach.”

And after blowing the young man a loud kiss, the blonde ended the call and snuggled deeper into her bed. She fell asleep almost instantly, with dreams of her and Chase on her mind.

TNT stood there holding his phone in silence gawking at the gas pump. How long did their conversation go on for? Where were Tov and Ransom? What the fuck was his life?

Glancing down at his phone, he opened his text thread with her and stared at a picture she sent him two days ago.

He smiled.

In Edenridge 11 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay

A @BrutalBx and @Venus Collaboration
Featuring David O’Hara and Caitlin Cleary

David “The Duke” O’Hara sang at the top of his lungs as his worn-down pickup pulled into Mulligan’s Clearing. Some would call it a Lovers Lane of sorts and others just referred to it as a place with a chill vibe and a great view. Luckily there were no other cars in the area, it’s what tended to happen on game days. The town of Edenridge would all but shut down as everyone went to the game. Houses would be dark; stores would be closed and if it weren’t for the handful that didn’t care for basketball, Eden could easily be described as a ghost town.

Duke would try to do his best to avoid parties on the Southside; it wasn’t his scene. Yet somehow that’s where everyone always ended up, especially after a Celtics win. Francis was an unstoppable force that night and his protégé Danny was quickly soaking up his energy like a sponge. David got his assists for sure but tonight wasn’t about him: it was about the King and the Queens. The Clovers absolutely killed it at the cheerleading competition so the girls were hitting it hard tonight also. Speaking of Queens, David’s current passenger was one of the latter; Caitlin Cleary. She was one of his best friend's little sisters, a freshman, a cheerleader and someone who did not look at all comfortable at a party inside the house of ReyRey Gonzalez.

David couldn’t be more correct. Attending ReyRey Gonzalez' party was not something Caitlin had been particularly excited about in the first place. Even as a child, she had never been one for large, loud gatherings, or being in the spotlight: two things that were guaranteed to happen tonight. After snatching the win from Pinehurst at the Shining Star cheerleading competition, her and the rest of the Edenridge Clovers had become the hot commodity of the night. Young men from both high schools were prowling around the venue like predators on the hunt for their next prey-- their beady eyes leering at the cheerleaders' every move. Fortunately, the knowledge of how Rhett Cleary would snap their bones in half if he found out they made even the slightest move on one of his baby sisters was enough to deter any fraternization attempts from the Edenridge boys.

Unfortunately, the Pinehurst boys had not received the memo. Cece’s red hair and conservative demeanor had attracted the attention of a particularly persistent junior called Kiefer something or the other. He tried, unsuccessfully, to peak her interest with stories from his basketball team prowess. When that failed, he switched to bragging about his bedroom skills, insisting she should give him a chance to show her what he could do to her. Ever the lady, Caitlin had attempted to politely end the conversation to no avail. Eventually, she found herself backed into a corner with slimy Kiefer forcefully trying to kiss her. Her eyes desperately darted around for someone to help her out of this mess, panic setting deeper in by the second… Until, finally, she was saved by none other than David O’Hara himself.

Caitlin didn’t know what exactly happened or what was said. But after a brief exchange between the young men, a spooked Kiefer hurried away in the opposite direction. Grinning widely with his perfect teeth, David approached her, extending a hand out to her with the proposition of escaping the purgatory they found themselves at. The young woman didn't have to be told twice. With a timid smile of her own, Cece took David's hand and allowed herself to be led away from the party, into his truck, and driven away from the Southside.

She had watched David's karaoke session with a beaming smile and sparkling eyes throughout their trip, laughing in amusement at his enthusiasm while slowly melting with adoration on the inside. The further away they drove from the party, the more Cece unwinded. She could feel the tension previously straining her muscles fade away with every mile placed between them and that godawful party, replaced by the comforting feeling of safety only David could provide. Before long, she found herself singing along with her savior to the tunes on the radio, filling any gaps in the lyrics she didn’t know with dancing until the truck eventually came to a stop, followed by the sound of the music being abruptly silenced when the young man shut off the engine.

“You ok, Cece? Thought this place would be a little more your speed.”

"Absolutely!” she piped up enthusiastically, shooting David a blinding, grateful grin as she shifted to a more comfortable position in the passenger seat now that they were safely parked by the clearing. "Thank you so much for getting me out of there when you did. I'm not even exaggerating when I say I was seconds away from having a panic attack with that Kiefer guy cornering me like he did and trying to kiss me."

”Not really in for the hero thing but you looked uncomfortable and he obviously wasn’t taking no for an answer.” Removing the keys from the ignition of his truck, David smiled towards the young girl and motioned with his head for her to follow him. He climbed out of the driver's side and made his way to the bed of the vehicle.

Before he did anything further, the Duke was interrupted by the buzzing of his phone. He pulled his cell from his back pocket and scanned the screen. Four missed calls and all of his messages were blowing up. Not unusual on a winning game day but this was different, something else was happening other than the standard congratulations. The police and ambulances were at ReyRey’s. They weren’t crashing the party, something had happened, something bad. As David investigated the texts further, he began to feel a cold, clammy feeling in his gut.


Allison was dead.

He had known her his whole life. This couldn’t be real. This was some kind of sick joke. He moved his gaze up to the redhead walking towards him. God; if this was true this would destroy a whole lot of people. Allison was a fucking idol to these girls. He would keep it quiet until he knew all the facts, there was no need to upset CeCe even further with news that someone she knows may be dead.

Dropping down the door, he gestured with his arm and smiled.

”The VIP section, m’lady.”

“Oh, wow! Isn’t this fancy?” the short girl joked, hosting herself up into the truck bed with some help from David and taking a seat, crossing her legs together. She waited until her host had settled down next to her before wrapping the cozy sherpa blanket around them and speaking again. "You guys did amazing at the game tonight, Dave. I know most people give the glory to Danny and Francis, but if it wasn’t for your assists all season they probably wouldn't even have had the opportunity to get as many baskets as they did." To an outsider looking in, this would seem like an attempt to fluff David's ego, but praising one another came with the territory of knowing each other for so many years.

”You did really great tonight yourself. Stepping in when the rest of the team was sick, must’ve been a big challenge. We’re all super proud of you too.”

The blush in Cece's cheeks was instant-- it was the de facto response anytime David gave her a compliment. "Thank you so much," she graciously replied, shooting David a shy smile while tucking a strand of her red hair behind her ear. "I was so nervous throughout it all, too. You know I've never been a spotlight kind of girl, so the whole situation was something straight out of my nightmares. My knees felt weak the entire time, but considering we won the whole event I'm guessing I didn't do half as bad as I thought I did," she said with a small laugh.

“You’re kidding, right? You were phenomenal!” David offered a compliment to the performance. ”No one could keep their eyes off of you. To be honest, I think the basketball game was secondary at that point.”

The blush in Caitlin’s cheeks extended to her whole face at David’s enthusiastic praise. The only thing she hoped was that he was part of the people who, as he had just declared, couldn’t keep their eyes off her. “Thanks, Dave. Really, it means a lot.”

If David was being truthful, he didn’t really care for the basketball either. He was a player, sure and a decent one at that but he had no real passion for the sport. In reality, he didn’t really know what his passion was, he hadn’t found it yet. He had tried a few things, mostly sports. He did some time at 5 Tool Martial Arts thinking he’d be a karate master, but that didn’t pan out. He tried a summer out on the boats with Clay’s dad, that sucked. He even tried some time behind the deli counter at The Godmother, but he was prone to burning the bread. He knew the right thing could just be around the corner, that something special was out there. He just had to find it.

”Do you enjoy being on the squad?”

Caitlin gave a small shrug. “It’s okay, I guess. I only auditioned because Ma kept bugging me about joining a team so I could be a little more ‘social’,” she confessed, rolling her eyes before shaking her head and letting out a small chuckle. “I mean, I can’t lie and say that joining the squad hasn’t helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin, because it has. I certainly feel a lot more confident than I used to be. I just wish Ma would understand that I’m fine with being on the sidelines, you know? I don’t want to be a star on the mat, the field or the track like Rhett, Rowan and Brogan. I just want to live my life under the radar. I already get enough unwarranted attention as it is from being a Cleary. The last thing I want is to give people another reason to pay me even more attention or give them more opportunities to talk about me.”

David tilted his head in agreement. He understood her struggle all too well. Being an O’Hara was no walk in the park either, especially being the son of the beloved Coach and brother to someone who was once described as being as fragile as anyone could possibly be.

”I get it. Problem is, Eden’s a small town and when you’re someone like us, with history like ours, you can’t help but get the attention. If there’s one thing people in small towns love it’s a story. They’ll be talking about the cheerleaders and the competition for weeks but then no doubt someone on the Southside will burn down a building and then that’ll be the thing on their lips.”

"Heavy lies the crown, I guess…" Caitlin mumbled, crossing her legs in front of her. It wasn’t that she wasn’t thankful for what she had, but that she kind of resented the price she had to pay for it. "I'm hoping that one day I get the chance to start from scratch somewhere else, you know? As grateful and conscious as I am of all the privileges my family history has gotten me in Edenridge, I'd love the opportunity to begin a new journey someplace, with a clean slate and no expectations other than those I set for myself."

”It's true. As a Cleary, you’re under a lot of stress. I know your brother feels the same. Hell: all of us Foundlings do. I know that, for a lot of us, college and the outside world-- that’s the real dream. Leave this hell hole behind and be the people we want to be, not the people we’re expected to be.”

“Well, you’re closer than I am to living the dream, so make sure you let me know how things are on the other side, okay?” she said with a small laugh, lightly punching his shoulder.

David smiled softly at the girl. She really was as sweet as apple pie. ”Life is but a dream.” He locked his hands in front of him as he gazed out upon the lake. His life was far from the dream that Caitlin believed it to be. College was a pipe dream at this point. He had enough grades to graduate but getting out and starting fresh at college? There was no chance. He would likely have to ask his father for a job or maybe help out somewhere else in town. He was getting out of this place alive. Jamie was out. She was free and it was because of her issues. How very silly that mister perfect would be stuck in place whilst the flawed beauty would be the one to escape. David laughed, and silence settled between the two for a short while.

“So I take it this is where you take your innumerable conquests?” Caitlin asked playfully, shooting David a mischievous smirk. As bright and burning as her crush on him was, Cece wasn’t blind or oblivious. She was well aware of David’s playboy reputation, which is why she was trying hard to not get her hopes up. For all she knew, he only saw her as his best friend’s Rhett’s little sister, and this was just his way of cheering her up after a scary encounter.

”Conquests is such a dirty word,” David ran his hand through his curly brown locks before leaning back onto his palms.

Cece couldn't help but chortle and shake her head. "What would you call them, then? Lovers? Booty calls? Side pieces?”

"I like to think more so that they are the ones before The One, helping to prepare me so that I can be good enough for her.” He looked down at her and smiled softly. David had a record-- it was no great secret and he didn’t try to hide it. It was one of the things that made him unabashedly him.

"And I like to think that we’ll always be good enough for the person that we’re meant to be with,” Caitlin mused, pretending she knew more about love than she actually did. “And in case you were wondering: you’re more than good enough, Dave. The amount of girls lining up around the block praying you’ll give them more than the time of day proves that,” she teased with a small smirk, lightly elbowing his side.

David let out a small chuckle as he looked out across the lake. ”They just love the idea of being with Eden royalty with a pretty face-- and, yes: I know I’m pretty. Not many people actually want to date the real Davey O’Hara.” He looked down at the red haired girl, her face alight from the flow of the moon, shining like some kind of diamond. ”Would you say I was good enough for you?”

Caitlin's eyes widened in surprise at the unexpected question. "Come again?" she heard herself asking him, searching his face for any signs of him perhaps being playful or her having misunderstood what he'd said. Had she heard that correctly? Why would David be asking her whether he was good enough for her or not when, just hours before, he’d been calling her a kid? You didn’t ask someone whether you were good for them or not unless…

”You heard what I said.”

What was he saying?! This was his close friend's little sister! Not only that but she was younger than him…much younger. How could he even be entertaining the thought of even considering looking at her in that way? He had known Caitlin since she was in diapers, yet here he was looking at her as a woman; a woman he wanted to be closer to. Guilt was overwhelming him but it wasn’t stopping him.

Cece blinked a few times, her mouth slightly open but no sound coming out. Did he really mean what she thought he did? "You mean good enough for me as, like, a person? Or good enough for me in, um, a different way? Because you've always been more than good enough for me, Dave. 'Good enough' wouldn't even begin to do you justice."

Perhaps it was the way this night had gone? Or an adrenaline surge from the basketball game? Maybe the dredges of massive hype from the party? Or maybe it was the sadness that he was hiding having found out that his childhood friend was dead. It was probably a combination of all of them and something that was inside of him already. In that moment, all of it bubbled up to the surface as he tilted her chin with his finger and planted a soft, small kiss to her lips.

No turning back now.

For the better part of almost four years, David O'Hara had been the sole captor of Cece's young heart. She'd been nine years old when she'd found out the meaning behind the phrase ‘having a crush on someone’, and immediately the redhead's mind went to her brother's close friend. The feelings only intensified as time went on, taking on a deeper meaning as she matured and discovered more about the world. Whether it was his boyish charm, attractive features or the way he always seemed to be there for her whenever she needed him, she wasn't sure. But what Caitlin did know was that, in her eyes, he was perfect. No matter how many girls he slept with or how many hearts he broke, he was her David: the hard-working, funny, protective, one of a kind guy she cared for. She had always imagined how it would be if her feelings were reciprocated by the one she so desperately loved. What a relief it was to see her dreams materialize into the most delightful of realities.

Eventually, it was Caitlin who broke away from the heavenly kiss, eyes slowly fluttering open and latching themselves onto his green ones. Before she could help it, a soft smile crept up in her lips, and her blue orbs filled with sparkling tears of joy.

The young woman pressed her forehead against David's and gently cupped his face with both of her hands. "I’ve loved you for a long time, Dave,” she admitted to him, throwing all caution to the wind and surrendering herself to the moment. "And no matter what’s happened before, what happens now or what will happen next, you will always, always, be perfect to me," she proclaimed, letting her heartfelt statement sink in before capturing his lips with her own in the sweetest, deepest of kisses.

In Edenridge 11 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
December 4th, 2016
Pinehurst Academy’s Basketball Court
Celtics VS Monarchs Championship Game



Half time.

The Edenridge Celtics were leading by three points. The Monarchs' defence was strong: they had guys twice the size of Russell-- and he was built like a brick shithouse. Francis was playing the game of his life. Scoring point after point after point. The game plan was simple: get Fran the ball by any means necessary. David had taken an elbow to the stomach during the first quarter, typical dirty Pinehurst move. Coach had benched him and put Danny in the game. It seemed it was a day for freshmen on that court as Allison had done the same with her Clovers.

“You ok, Franny?” Allison asked as she massaged her boyfriend's shoulders and kissed the nape of his neck. “Those guys are big."

Francis glanced over at Russell, who was laying flat on the floor nearby, exhausted. “They’re huge but our speed is winning out, it’s killing us but it’s working.” He put a hand on top of Ally’s, his eyes never leaving the huge frame of his compatriot. “You ok over there, Russ?” The large boy did not say a word, he simply raised a thumb up to show his feeling.

Clay handed young Danny an ice pack as he sat down next to the young boy. He glanced over towards the bleachers where David was talking to his twin, Jamie as well as his mother and father. Directly behind them was the row reserved for players' families. He could see the Callahans, the Clearys and the Lords. No sign of the Costigans. What a shock. He returned his dark eyes to the O’Hara clan and nudged Danny in the arm. “What I would give to see Jamie O’Hara in the halls every day. What a babe.”

“Ah… yeah,” Danny graciously grabbed the ice pack and put it on his sore left leg. If it wasn’t for his mind shutting out the pain, it would feel like his leg got shot. This game was intense and the other team was absolutely vicious. One guy had already fouled him four times. He knew in the morning he’d be feeling it hard. This was the same guy that hurt David! And they didn’t call him on that?! Thank God he was running on adrenaline or he’d crash hard. Danny’s gaze scanned the bleachers and there he smiled, seeing most of his family aside from Vivia who was not at her art showcase but in a tiny cheerleader outfit helping Allison out with the freshmen. Dad wouldn’t be happy about that for multiple reasons. His eyes met with his mother’s as she gave a serene, beautiful, and appreciative smile. Silvia waved at him and mouthed ‘You’re doing great, baby.’

The moment was ruined when Cat’s mouth opened. She pulled Mira to her feet to hold a sign that had a huge ‘#27’ while she held a sign for the whole team, ‘Make the Monarchs kiss ass!’ Classic Cat. “Fuck yeah boys! You’re doing amazing. Keep up the good work. It’s your time to rise! LET'S GO CELTICS!”

“Wooo…” Mira (who was 11 at the time) whispered beside her sister, hating the attention.

“ALSO CLOVERS, SHAKE THOSE ASSES MORE! SHOW THE WORLD WHAT YOU GOT!” Beside her sat Danilo's twin Natalia, completely and utterly embarrassed at her sister’s audacious behaviour as Cat’s son sat on her lap. Beside (and on) Natalia, Cat’s children followed their mother’s lead. Franco held his mother’s old pom poms shyly, shaking it with team spirit. Dani hyped her mother up by putting her fingers in her lips and loudly whistling, and Sofia of course took charge of the pictures and videos. It was her duty to capture it all.

Taz turned to look at his eldest daughter and glared. His brows furrowed in frustration. She was something else. The town would think the Belmontes were uncivil, rambunctious, and wild. It seemed tonight Cat gave no fucks though which was annoying but something he was forced to accept. Silvia grabbed her husband’s hand and told him to hush. This was a night of fun. They were here to support Danny. That’s it. So what if Cat was loud? At least she spoke what she meant and felt passionately. As for the other two Belmonte girls, Elisabetta was sitting with Edenridge High teachers, right next to Beau, on another set of bleachers and Nina, sadly, couldn’t make it since Palermo still had to run even if the whole town was going to be here in good ol’ enemy territory. She cried but Cat told her she’d tell her all about it. “Don’t make me come down there and show you how it’s done. These boys need to be inspired! Allison, I’m watching you.”

Natalia, like her father, directed a scathing glare at her oldest sister. Leave it to Cat to embarrass their family and make herself the center of attention at the same time. It was why she'd been banned from attending Tal's volleyball games months ago. She shook her head in disapproval, glad to have the distraction of baby Franco in her lap that prevented her from hissing a few choice words to his narcissistic, immature mother.

“Dad, let me back in the game!” David pleaded as he felt his younger sister wrap her arm around his, something she always did when she began to feel overwhelmed. “I’m fine. Doc Samson said I was fine. The guys need me.”

Coach looked at his wife, Lizzie. She was a great anchor but when it came to the game, she knew nothing and never pretended to. These sorts of decisions were always best left to John. “I can’t do it, Davey. One wrong step and your ribs will crack more. One of those big fucks on D hits you, your lungs are filling up with blood and that’s it, game over. I’m not taking the chance.”

“Daddy, if Davey says he’s good, he’s good. Let him play.” Jamie tightened her grip on her brothers arm, doing her best to ignore the strong smell of sweat. “I know him better than anyone and…”

“Stop.” Coach put his hand out and halted his daughter in her tracks. “Jamie, don’t start with any of that twin magic stuff, alright? It doesn’t exist. Look at Costigan and his sister. That idiot's family isn’t even here. No mom, no dad, no twin. I love that boy and I’ll be there for him, but don’t start talking hocus pocus, baby. Okay? Your brother is hurt, he cannot play, end of story.”

Tears began to well up in Jamie’s eyes. She released David from her grasp and fled the auditorium towards the girls bathroom. Allison was soon to follow her after glancing up at the screaming Cat Belmonte. Oh, to be Queen. A second behind Ally, Poppy James in her cute red dress entered the washroom.

David clenched his fists and fought every brotherly instinct to not punch his old man in the face. He knew that he didn’t mean anything by it, Coach was old school. He didn’t understand Jamie all that well, how sensitive and sad she really was. Dragging Clay didn’t particularly offend him either, everyone knew Clay didn’t care about anything, right? “You have to watch what you say, Dad. Forget about the game and worry about her, okay? You know she needs our help and yelling at her doesn’t help. I gotta go cool down, I’ll see you both in a bit.” He kissed his mother's cheek before heading deeper into the bowls of Pinehurst Academy for a quiet breather.

A short distance away from the Celtics' bleachers, hidden from sight by her fellow Clovers, Caitlin Cleary had witnessed the scene between O'Haras with growing concern. David and his father had butted heads about different topics for as long as she could remember. The older David got, the more the two men seemed to argue, which the redhead could see always took more of a toll on the son rather than the father. That, along with the injury he'd sustained earlier at the hands of that Pinehurst caveman she'd been glaring daggers at, meant that Davey was probably not feeling his best right now. And, of course, Cece wanted to try her hand at lifting his spirits like she usually did.

With this goal in mind, the shy girl grabbed a bottle of David's favorite Powerade flavor from the nearby cooler and set out on the quest of finding her neighbor, which proved to be an easy one. She had been rounding the corner at the same time David had ducked into the last classroom down the hall, closing the door behind them. The blue-eyed girl waited a few moments to avoid suspicions before quietly approaching his hiding place, making sure she wasn't being followed and carefully shutting the door behind her once inside the room.

"Hi Davey. Are you okay?" Cece asked the young man in a gentle voice, slowly approaching his tall figure. "I brought you a blue Powerade. I know it’s your favorite." she declared, shyly extending the bottle in his direction.

David was a little taken aback to find Caitlin in the room with him and dressed like that? She looked a lot older and more mature than he thought he knew her to be. He knew she was a cheerleader but he didn’t know until an hour ago that all the other cheerleaders were sick and Ally and Viv had to deal with freshmen. “Hey CeCe, thank you.” He took the bottle from her and smiled. “Yeah I’m, I’m fine. We’re winning so it’s all good right?” He popped open the Powerade and took a light sip, just to quench his thirst. “You’re doing great out there.”

The redhead's cheeks instantly turned pink. "So were you!" she complimented right back, shifting the focus of the conversation away from herself as she took a seat next to David. "I'm sorry your dad pulled you out of the game, though. That Monarch guy is as classy as a caveman…" she trailed off, glaring as she visualized the face of that brute who'd injured her crush.

David smiled at her; Caitlin really was a sweet kid. “Dad’s doing the right thing I guess.” The curly haired basketball player responded with his usual affability. “He’s trying to make sure we win, I’m a burden. Too much weight to carry for the guys.” He lifted his left foot onto a nearby chair to tie a loose lace. “Don’t concern yourself with that goon of a Monarch, CeCe. These idiots don’t have any tact and like to play dirty; that’s just the game.” In reality, David was just trying to avoid eye contact with his friend's baby sister. Damn, she looked good. Why was he seeing her like this? Had to be the adrenaline right? That’s all it was.

"Don't talk about yourself like that," Cece chastised the young man, shooting David a stern look. "You're not a burden to anyone, Dave. You're the best assist the team has seen in a while from what I hear, at least. I don't know anything about basketball, really. But that's not the point…" she trailed off, clearing her throat to hide her embarrassment and red-hot face once realizing she'd been rambling under her breath. "My point is, you're one of the five reasons the team made it as far as they did. You should give yourself more credit than saying any of the guys carried you anywhere."

“You’re very sweet, kiddo,” He had to try and reaffirm to himself that the girl he was talking to was just that, a kid. He couldn’t be seeing her like he was. “Do me a favor tonight? Be careful.” David made his way a little closer to the redhead and placed his hands on her shoulders. “You put on that uniform and wear those colors and you become a target in a few different ways. Stay away from any Monarchs and stick close to your friends, ok?”

There was a split second in which the disappointment Caitlin felt at still being seen as a kid by David could be easily spotted by anyone paying attention, especially in the way she pursed her crimson-colored lips together in a tight line. Apart from appeasing her insistent mother, part of the reason why Cece had joined the cheerleading team in the first place was in the hopes that David would finally see beyond the whole ‘Rhett Cleary’s younger sister’ thing. She wanted David to realize she wasn’t the little girl who needed help riding her bike anymore, or the crying girl who he would carry in his arms and take care of whenever she had a scraped knee or twisted ankle or any other injury of the sort. She was a young woman now-- just like the ones he often got entangled with at school. Why couldn’t he just take the blindfold off and see that?

But rather than retorting defensively and proving his point by acting like the very same child he thought of her as, the redhead chose to bite her tongue instead. “Okay,” she resigned herself to muttering in response, offering David a fake half-smile. He had no way of knowing that, apart from Danny and maybe Jill, none of these people were actually her friends. But he didn’t need to know that.

“Come here and give me a squidge--” David pulled the freshman into his arms and held her in a firm hug, which was quickly reciprocated with the same enthusiasm. This is what he shouldn’t be doing but why couldn’t he help himself? She smelled amazing and the warmth of her body against his was lighting a fire that shouldn’t be sparked. This was Rhett’s little sister. This was the girl he had seen grow up essentially from diapers. This was crazy and he had to stop. Then why couldn’t he?

Clay had watched the O’Hara family drama unfold with Danny by his side. It felt nice to have a little sidekick, he had one once before, Lamb. His darling twin. Where was she on this fine evening? Likely somewhere in Boston, trying to score herself a fuck or a fight. Laura had barely been a part of Clayton’s life for the entirety of high school yet they literally slept in rooms next to each other. Then there was the fact that all of his friends' parents were there supporting them, cheering for them and manifesting greatness for them. Where were Clay’s parents? Ellie was off somewhere teaching a pottery class to pensioners. At that present moment, Sean was in the Bahamas, ferrying rich fuckers around the islands and showing them a good time. Clay hadn’t seen his Dad in six months.

“Hey yo Danny!” The older boy placed his hand atop the Belmonte boy's shoulder and gave it a little squeeze. “You’re killing it out there, buddy.”

“Am I? Thanks, Clay,” Danny moved his neck around to make sure there wasn’t a deep strain. After taking a sip of water, he chuckled, “And you got all the girls’ eyes on you.” The young Belmonte gestured to this group of underclassmen in the bleachers to the right of them trying to get Costigan’s attention. “I’m jealous. You have it all.”

“No. No that would be my cousin,” Clay pointed over to Francis who was talking to his little brother Roddy and his friend, what was her name? The Mayor's kid. “Fran has talent, skill, good looks, brains, the love of Ally Davies-- who, for the record, I dated first, thank you very much-- and a family” The long haired boy sighed a little. “A family that loves him dearly. You got one too by the looks of it.” God’s favourite idiot pointed up at the bleachers at the swarm of Italians cheering for his young charge. “I’d kill for that." He reached down into his bag to grab his own bottled water. After bringing it to his lips, Clay took another breath, exhaling the loneliness demon that had seemed to take hold as of this half time break. “Your sister looks crazy hot tonight. When’s Cat gonna leave her husband and be with me huh?”

That was forward, taking Danny aback. Briefly, Danny started feeling bad for his teammate. Behind that happy-go-lucky smile, there was a tone, an underlying sadness. However, that was thrown out the window the moment Clay brought up Cat. “Clay… that’s my sister and isn’t she a lot older than you? Hell, you’re always welcomed in our family but at least look at...” Man imagining his sisters getting with any of his idols just felt weird but it seemed like his comrade wanted some pasta or an Italian sub. “Viv. Look. Isn’t she like around your age?”

“Listen, pup. Viv is hot too, I would one hundred percent do unspeakable things to her….sorry. Hell that little twin of yours is coming alone nice too. HOWEVER!” Clay slapped his knee with the palm of his hand just to make Danny jump. “They ain’t my Kitty. Those hazel eyes, that silky voice, that fantastic and bodacious bodess.” Clay got to his feet and climbed onto the bench, locking eyes with Cat as she looked towards her little brother, he turned his hand into a mock phone and put it to his ear. “Call me.”

Danny’s face was beaming red. “Wait, you call her Kitty?!” He stood up, his eyes going from him to his sister.

Cat responded with an eye roll, pretended to pick up a phone, and shouted into it, “In your dreams!” Before hanging up and winking at him.

Danny wanted to die. To avoid further embarrassment he searched for the rock of the group only to notice him missing. He saw everyone else disappear but… “Where’s Rhett?”

Clay jumped down from the bench and surveyed the room with his friend. “Why am I constantly asking where is Rhett? He’s a fucking gypsy I swear to God.” He looked towards the clock that hung on the wall. The second half was very close to getting started and they needed to get the team back together. “Twenty seven, I’ll go find Rhett, I need to raid the vending machines anyway. You just distract the ref for a minute if I’m not back in time, savvy?” Clayton patted the kid on his cheek in a way he was sure old Taz probably did after watching the Godfather for the eighteenth time.

“Uh, yeah, sure. I can do that, Sixteen.” Clearing his throat after Clay touched him on the cheek, not knowing if he liked it or if it made him uncomfortable, Danny watched his teammate walk away and disappear. Bringing his gaze from the exit to his family, his attention went straight to his father’s serious demeanor and stern, piercing gaze. It was clear that Taz was watching his son like a hawk and expected him to win. Immediately, Danny diverted his attention to the loving and doting eyes of his mother, before smiling, “Right. Distraction.” After giving his family a wide wave, and sending Jill a fun-loving thumbs up (noticing Cece had disappeared), he turned to the court and jogged to the referee.

Clay wandered the halls of Pinehurst Academy in hopes of finding his squad and also some food, damn he was a hungry boy. God's favourite idiot of course found Rhett meditating in a science lab, Damn that Clearly was a strange duck but still a mighty one. He still had time to find food so Clay carried on his adventure through the annals of sworn enemy territory. Finally, after what felt like an age, he saw a vending machine down the corridor. He hurried towards it, salivating at the thought of even a Twinkie. The Big Tuna stopped for a second and turned his head. His dark eyes fell upon two figures tightly hugging in a classroom. It was Duke, he recognised his brother anywhere. But that girl… No, it couldn’t be. Was that…?
In Edenridge 24 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
Timestamp: The evening after the reunion events and Hyde's return to Edenridge.

A @Venus @BrutalBx and @metanoia Collaboration
Featuring Mikhail Zima, Aleyda, ReyRey & Big Rey Gonzalez
With Special Guests Rafael & Guadalupe Gonzalez

Family dinners were a tradition for the Gonzalez family. At least one evening out of the week, the infamous group came together at Big Rey and Lupe‘s house to indulge in some good company, delicious homemade Mexican food and polite conversation. Normally, these dinners occurred on Sunday, as a way to enjoy some futbol and catch up with each other before the start of a new week. However, this week’s dinner had been plagued with small details that seemed like red flags in Aleyda Gonzalez’ eyes. The first red flag had been Big Rey’s request to move this week’s dinner to Saturday night. The patriarch of the family was well aware of the fact that he had three young adult children with active social lives, who most of the time had plans for their Saturday nights. There were also no major sporting events or special events taking place, and only a vague explanation about the sudden change was offered when Ley asked for the reason why. If it hadn’t been for the fact that she’d observed an increase in the patrolling of their crews around the locations she frequented, then she would’ve just brushed her off as Big Rey possibly planning some obscure surprise for them. Her sixth sense, however, was telling her that something bigger was happening.

After they had finished the majority of their meal and silence had settled in the dining room, Ley decided it was time to voice her concerns in an attempt to get a response from her elders. "I've noticed the Carlisle crew is doing more rounds around my place and Tresses than usual," the brunette observed, turning her attention to her father at the head of the table. "That have to do with you moving dinner to tonight instead of tomorrow?"

"Just a precaution, hija mía,” Big Rey finished dregs of his black coffee before reaching forward to the center table and the aged bottle of fine scotch that sat there. "The streets have been very loud as of late. Still, that’s your brother's territory now. If you’re concerned, bring it up with him.” Rey did not particularly enjoy passing the buck. He would’ve handled things a lot differently were he still the King Snake. Alas, he was not, and his first-born son now sat in the big chair.

Alarm bells went off in Aleyda's head as she let out an exasperated sigh and rolled her eyes. Red flag #2. Even if ReyRey didn't listen to their father's advice most of the time, Big Rey was always aware of what was happening in their turf. Rarely anything happened in the Southside without the former leader knowing. Additionally, it wasn’t like her father to brush off her worries with such a generic answer like ‘the streets are very loud’. They were the family members of the current and former kingpins of the reigning criminal enterprise of Edenridge: the streets were always loud for them. What kind of bullshit explanation was that?

Fuelled by her annoyance, Ley chose to do as her father said and redirect her questions to the appropriate personnel at the table. "Then I guess I'll ask you," the brunette drawled, now turning her attention towards her older brother. "Is there any particular reason your crew has amped up the patrolling lately? Because I feel like something's going on that nobody’s telling me about. And if something's going on, I'd like to be aware of it so that I don’t get blindsided with it and I can keep Rafael safe."

With a mouthful of steak, ReyRey’s dark eyes fell upon his sister. As he prepared to speak, his father shot him a look that he had seen one too many times: don’t dare talk with your mouthful at your mother’s table. It was a simple enough message. Once he had finished chewing, he swallowed the tender meat and washed it down with a beer. "Like Papi said, it’s a precaution. This letter business has everyone on edge. Who's to say the Gorta or even the Angels don’t flip their shit and start a war? You and my sobrino are safe.”

“Do not curse at my table, Reynaldo,” Lupe chimed in with venomous intent in her native tongue. She was a strong and fierce woman, and a beauty that belied the stress she was under from her family's business. She had to be, with a brood like this. “Aleyda, can you pass me the peppers?” The older woman sighed greatly before grabbing the bowl her daughter handed her and brushing her long, raven locks back into a bun. “I heard from Uncle Pedro today. Your cousin Enrique is going to go on tour. Isn’t that exciting?”

Red flag #3: her mother purposely changing the subject. Much like her daughter Aleyda, Guadalupe Gonzalez wasn’t the type of woman who shied away from controversial or difficult conversations. She was one to bite the bullet and rip the bandaid right off to avoid misunderstandings or bigger confrontations down the line. By this point, nervousness started to settle in the pit of Ley’s stomach. Whatever her family was holding back from her (and she knew they were holding something back from her) must be serious.

”Rico is an idiot, ma. He’s lucky he can sing cos the boy doesn’t have a pair of brain cells to rub together.”

A hand came crashing down with a firm grasp onto ReyRey’s shoulder. His father was a huge man; much larger than the already imposing R2. ”Mijo, be happy for your cousin and shut up,” Big Rey returned his attention to his daughter and smiled. ”How’s my grandson? I might take him and you out tomorrow, head into Boston for the day if you don’t have plans?”

As if on queue, a pair of one small but mighty footsteps could be heard thundering down the hall and making their way to the dining room. It wasn't long before the figure of a small child came into view. With his sand-colored hair, fair skin, button nose and blue eyes, it was impossible to deny that this little boy was the son of Cameron Hyde. But the bright, innocent, pure-hearted grin on his chubby-cheeked face was as opposite from his father as it could ever be.

"Papa!" the little boy shrieked, running straight to Big Rey's chair and excitedly wrapping his arms around his grandfather.

The cute display of affection brought a momentary smile and relief to the tense Aleyda's face. The bond her son shared with her father had begun the second he had laid eyes on the little boy. That day he’d first met his firstborn grandchild, Big Rey had cried like a baby. He had cradled the newborn boy in his large arms, peppering him with kisses and cuddles while making promises to love, care and protect him unconditionally: just as he had done with his three children. In many ways, Big Rey was the father figure in Rafael’s life-- and Ley wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Mi nieto! Rafael!” Rey held his grandson close in a hug. He loved this little boy more than anything. In spite of the knowledge of the evil from which he was born, little Rafi was family. There was an overcast cloud, a specter that hung over their heads and Rey would not be lying if he didn’t worry that that same darkness sat in the blood of his grandchild.

R2 looked at his father and nephew and began to tap on the table rhymically, biting his tongue. He wanted to say something, he was desperate to say something. He loved his nephew but the older he got, the more physical features of his degenerate father he saw in him. Unable to contain his feelings any longer, ReyRey turned to his sister, gripping onto his beer bottle. ”He’s out, Aleyda”

Mika rolled his eyes at Rey Rey’s tactless approach in revealing that. It was one thing to let her know, but immediately Mika saw the sudden terror on his sister’s face. It was so obvious that silence befell the dinner table and midway through a sip of his Modelo, he closed his eyes only to open them back up when he noticed that very same feeling that he felt last night, the same expression of disbelief that he saw on Ley’s face.

“And he’s here. In Edenridge.” Mika’s words came as he looked to Ley, uncertain what else he could say, but more importantly, trying not to let it be known in both his words and his face the well-guarded secret he has been keeping about the true nature of his relationship with Cameron Hyde.

What did they just say?

As the meaning and implication of her brothers’ words sunk in, Aleyda froze on the spot. For the better part of three years, the Gonzalez girl had been able to live her life in a somewhat content state knowing that the man who had mentally and physically abused her would be spending at least ten years behind bars. Justice being served certainly did nothing to help her forget the difficult times she had faced when they were dating, nor did it appease her paranoia or keep her from sleeping with a knife under her pillow-- but it brought her a little ease to know that he’d be paying dearly for his crimes on the inside. With Cameron in prison, she was able to slowly start healing her trauma and putting herself back together, all while building a better life for her and her young son. Hyde being out meant that any peace she’d obtained was gone, and that her and Rafaei’s life were now in the gravest of dangers.

With this realization settling in, Aleyda felt as if all of the oxygen in the world had suddenly evaporated, leaving her deflated lungs struggling to breathe. Her heart was thumping wildly in her chest, eyes wide with terror as a heavy load settled on her stomach. She wanted so desperately to cry, to scream until her throat was raw, to bang her fists against the wall until her knuckles were bloody. But her body remained paralyzed in place instead, as if being held down hostage by the chair she was occupying.

“There’s no way he can be out yet...” the girl muttered hoarsely, as if speaking any louder would invoke the presence of her ex. “I thought he still had at least seven years left inside. They promised me he would do all of his time on the inside!”

Mika looked around the table and the expressions on his father and brother and his other mother said volumes. He couldn’t fathom what horrors his sister was entertaining right now. That volatile relationship with his half-brother was horrific and the fear that he saw in Ley’s eyes was equal to the dread and internal panic he felt last night when Hyde surprised him at his place. And after a few moments of thinking and after Mika took another sip of his drink, he let his eyes fall on Ley. “They let him out, Ley. On good behavior.”

"On 'good behavior'?" Aleyda repeated in disbelief, her eyebrows raised while voice took on that slight pitch it always did when she was about to start yelling. "On 'good behavior'?!" she cried out again, leaping from her seat so abruptly that the chair clattered backwards, scaring the wide-eyed Rafael into hiding his face in Big Rey’s chest and hugging his grandfather even tighter. "So you're telling me that that you can fuck with someone's mental state so badly they can't get through a day without nightmares or feeling like a worthless piece of garbage, threaten to kill someone numerous times, push and grab someone by the hair and all around hard enough to leave bruises, and beat someone up so bad they had broken ribs, a broken collarbone, concussions, contusions and had to be put in a fucking medical coma because of brain swelling while almost losing their baby in the process-- and get off on good fucking behavior?! That's fucking bullshit!"

As her chest rose and fell with panic and fury, Aleyda’s eyes fell on her small son. Still in his grandfather’s arms, she took note of Rafael looking up at her with the same wide-eyed terror she knew she used to have on her face when she looked up at his father, and felt her heart shatter into a million pieces with shame and regret. When her son had been born, Aleyda had sworn to be the best version of herself she could possibly be. The circumstances of Raf’s conception and his arrival to the world hadn’t been ideal, but his survival against all odds was enough to make his mother vow to offer him nothing short of everything he ever wanted and deserved. He was her little miracle, the calm after the storm, the sunshine after the rainstorm. This cursing, wrathful woman standing in front of him wasn’t the soft-spoken, affectionate, loving, patient, gentle mommy Raf knew. This was a woman that resembled a man she never wanted to cross paths with again: his father.

She couldn't let her little boy see her like this.

Before she could scare Rafael even further, the tearful Aleyda stormed into the hallway and leaned against the concrete wall. She tried to regulate her rattling breathing and racing heartbeat unsuccessfully, getting increasingly more desperate with each second. Eventually, her mind, spirit and body just gave up the fight, and every ounce of energy was drained from her. Slowly, Ley let her body sink to the floor underneath her feet, curled up in herself, and began to break down, sobbing so loudly and uncontrollably it set her throat on fire.

Big Rey looked at his two sons and shook his head. How could they be so blasé with this information? They know what that monster did to his baby girl. They know the pain that she endured at his fists. Idiotas!” The Emperor Snake hissed. He handed Rafi off to Lupe, pressing a kiss on top of his little head. “Take him in the garden, mi amor,” And once his wife and grandson were out of earshot, Rey’s large fist crashed down hard onto the table. “You happy now, Reynaldo? Mikhail? We could’ve dealt with this quietly!” He got up to his feet and followed his daughter into the hallway. Rey crouched down to her level and lifted her sobbing form from the floor and into his large arms.

"He almost killed me!" Aleyda wailed into her father's chest in between sobs, holding onto him in desperation as her whole world seemed to be spinning out of control and crashing around her. "He almost beat me to death, Daddy, and those motherfuckers just let him out like that to try and kill me again?! Why the fuck would they do that to me?! Why?! When is it going to end?!"

“We will figure this out, mija,” Big Rey held his little girl close, as close as he could possibly do so. Cameron Hyde was a psychopath, a rabid animal, he was the beast lurking beneath the collective bed of this town. Yet he was untouchable. His father, Mikhail’s father, was a friend and a partner: therefore any action from the Gonzalez' or the Serpents would end in war. Whatever they did-- and they would do something-- it would have to be done smartly. Cameron Hyde will not live to see his next birthday, count on that. “Papi will figure this out.”

Mika felt an immense weight start to swell inside him, building from his stomach as Ley went on an emotionally-charged tangent about his monster of a half-brother. He knew she would react like this. With how horrendously Hyde beat her, Mika wasn’t surprised but it didn’t make witnessing it first hand any easier and knowing that he kept such a large-scale secret from her about certain things any easier. To top it off? Big Rey made him feel even worse for saying anything regardless if he was probably just as afraid for Ley as Mika was.

As he glanced over at Ley, who sat on the floor with Big Rey consoling her, that feeling only worsened. “We did the right thing, right? The news would have reached her ears so it was better we told her than some slimeball looking to get a rise, right?” Mika asked Rey Rey, keeping his tone as low as he could but still loud enough that his brother heard him. He felt like he had to justify playing his part to make himself feel better, but the truth was Mika wasn’t certain if they should have said anything to begin with.

ReyRey looked at his uncontrollable sister. She had every right to feel as she did. The monstrosity she once claimed to have loved didn’t deserve to live. He turned his attention to Mika, his fist balled up against the table. “We did the right thing. Better she hear it from us rather than see him on the street.” R2 got up to his feet and went to his mama’s fridge to get another beer. He looked out the window to see Lupe playing with Rafi, who had seemingly already forgotten about his mother's outburst and was chasing his grandmother around the yard with his signature beaming smile. “You need to let us know what he does, brother. You’ll be our eyes and ears on him.”

I was afraid you’d say that.

But Mika knew that Rey Rey was right. He didn’t even disagree. Of course, he would keep them all in the loop. Because it wasn’t just Ley who feared Hyde — Mika had similar feelings of dread for his brother. The dread of what Cameron Hyde would do in any situation. Just being near him last night brought up all of those painful memories of his brother, but there was obviously more than that. “I’m meeting him tonight,” Mika admitted, his voice staying at the same, careful tone that it was before. “He wants breakfast, so I might know more about his plans… maybe.”

ReyRey turned and made his way back over to the table, placing his free hand on the chair he was previously sitting on. “Once we know what he’s up to, we’ll make our move. What he did, what he could do; it’s unforgivable.” ReyRey knew that he himself was not a good man. He was under no illusion on that but Hyde was something else entirely.

He remembered years prior, when he had just taken iced from his father as the Kingsnake. There were rumblings of a kid in the streets, someone so violent, so sadistic that there was a wash of fear running through the streets like blood. This was a person who wasn’t just shooting people or stabbing people, he was choking them. Drowning them. Breaking every bone in their body and forcing their families to watch. One paper decided to name him: ”The Hellmouth beneath our quiet town has opened and out stepped the Devil incarnate”. Rey knew then he would be trouble. Had he known then what he did now, Cameron Hyde would’ve been buried long ago.

ReyRey glanced at his grieving sister and father in the other room. Aleyda didn’t know everything. She didn’t know of her ex-lover’s connection to her adopted brother sitting at the table. They were all protecting her.

They had failed before. They wouldn’t again.

Mika lamented the complicated position he was in. Rey Rey talked with such confidence and conviction about dealing with Mika’s devilish half-brother. A large part of him agreed and may have been on board, but what was to do with these feelings that he had. Hyde was a monster who had proven to Mika that devils existed, but there were very rare moments that his older half-brother made him feel wanted and accepted by his own blood. So, suffice to say, his thoughts and feelings on the matter weren’t as simple as yes and no.

But no matter what he felt about it, the one thing he could agree on was that Hyde shouldn’t ever be allowed near Ley again. “Whatever the cost, we do it for our sister,” Mika heard himself say, but the words didn’t register in a way that made him hear it back in his head. He followed Rey Rey’s gaze and his priority to protect Ley was clearer to him than ever.
In Edenridge 25 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
Part 2 out of 2
Timestamp: Proceeding after Viv/ReyRey leave the Northside

@Venus & @LovelyComplex


Fifteen minutes after their arrival at Dolly's, Tiffannie Taccone sat at a corner booth of the diner, happily munching on her selected meal. A plate of strawberry cheesecake pancakes with whipped cream and fresh strawberry toppings and a glass of milk sat in front of her, being alternated to her heart’s desire. After the waitress had taken their order, she and Chase had sat in silence, getting used to each other’s company outside of the car ride they’d just shared. And once the food had arrived, the silence had been filled by the sounds of their enjoyment of the meal.

“So how long have you been a driver?” the girl asked him in between bites of pancake, hoping to kickstart some conversation while getting to know her new friend in the process.

Biting into some buttered toast, Chase finished chewing before shrugging, “Since I got my permit. Then again, Demo let me practice a bit before that too if that counts.” He took another slow bite. He didn’t know if redirecting the same question made sense. It was likely Tiff did not drive since she called Lyft. Then again, she could also not have her car with her and her family here was too stingy to let her borrow their wheels. He shouldn’t assume. “... do you? Drive?” Chase was eating light, four pieces of toast, three bacon strips, a cup of mixed fruit, and cherry coke. He didn’t need much fuel, he had a big lunch and after this he would likely head back home and knock the fuck out.

“Mhm!” Tiffannie nodded, taking a sip of her milk before elaborating. “I got my license as soon as I turned sixteen, and my parents gave me a Jeep Wrangler as a gift for my birthday!” Putting her glass on the table again, the blonde grabbed her phone from the table and fiddled around with it for a bit before eventually pulling up a photo of her posing next to the iconic hot pink Jeep Wrangler Convertible. In the image, the grinning Tiffannie could be seen standing up on the inside of the roofless vehicle, hands in the air in a sign of triumph, while a golden glitter gift bow sat atop the hood. Smiling at the memory, Peach handed the phone to Chase so he could see it. “That’s my baby! I’ve always wanted a Jeep ever since I saw Cher from Clueless had one, so that’s what my parents surprised me with! And it’s a really good car for someone like me who’s kind of… Clumsy on the road…” she admitted with a sheepish grimace, thinking back to all the curves and sidewalks who had suffered at her hands. “But I’ve only gotten two tickets so far, so I’d say I’m doing pretty good for myself!”

The man on the other end of the table held the phone intently observing the picture. He was trying real hard not to say anything to upset her, but this kind of stuff-- lavish gifts from parents, where they go the extra mile to put a big ass bow on top of it-- it wasn’t relatable. Still, that was the life she was born in and he was given a different hand. He couldn’t judge.

She was like the Queen of Hearts and he the King of Spades. Absolutely the opposite from one another, in all aspects. Giving a friendly smile, Chase handed her phone back and complimented, “It looks good. Suits you. I can’t say I’ve ever watched that movie but I’m sure it’s good if you like it.” Phew. He did well. He didn’t blurt out the first things that came to mind. Fin be proud. If he was being honest, he would’ve said a few unpleasantries unintentionally because he thought a gift like that was excessive. Shit like that should be worked for and earned. Not handed over all willy nilly as a birthday present.

Still, if they were going to make any sort of friendship work, he had to tell her that while he was happy for her and her fortunate upbringing, there would always be a disconnect from him, “I don’t know if my reaction was what you wanted. Nothing against you or anything, I just never had something that grand. Hell, I was adopted. My parents, like actual parents, were shit.”

While the first responses she’d gotten from Chase had earned him a beaming smile, followed by a mental note to introduce him to one of her favorite movies eventually, it was what he said after that stood out to Tiff. Immediately, her demeanor changed: her smile fell, replaced with a mixture of shame, guilt and sadness. “Oh my God, I am so, so sorry!” Peach was quick to apologize, her bottom lip sticking out. “I didn’t mean to be insensitive or anything like that!”

“Hey!” Chase raised his voice, startling the girl in the process. Shit. He really needed to figure out how to talk to her. This was not easy. She was so squishy. Putting his toast down, he wiped his hand on the napkin before offering it for her to grab, “Don’t be ashamed of your truth. And don’t pity me. I’m okay. I’m just honest, okay? And if we’re going to be friends, just know I wasn’t raised like you. I’ll listen. I’ll listen all you want. I can do that, but I wouldn’t know what to say back, okay? Don’t apologize for being excited about your life. It’s cute.”

“I just don’t want to make you feel bad with anything I sayyyyyy!” she explained, graciously holding the hand he was offering for her to take. She never wanted to come off as someone who flaunted her privilege with the intent of making someone feel lesser than. “Most of the time I don’t realize how I can come off to the people outside of my family or my friends-- and I’m sorry for that. I would really hate it if you got the wrong impression of me based on something I may have said without thinking.”

“Dude,” He squeezed her hand, trying his best to ease her worry. “I’m literally the same. It’s hard fighting our nature. I say whatever is on my mind and I get mad easily. You did nothing last night-- I had a rough day and then you and your friend kind of we’re a lot to deal with. But don’t blame yourself for my mood. I projected. And I’m sorry.”

As she listened to Chase’s explanation of how he was, their difference in upbringings and what had been going through his mind the night before, Tiffannie gained potential understanding as to why he reacted in the way he did. Kylee and her loudly going on and on about their privileged lives in front of a man who seemed to struggle to make ends meet was certainly bound to leave a bad taste in his mouth. Thankfully, she had gotten this opportunity to show him that first impressions could be misleading, and that she was more than just some spoiled, ditzy bimbo who was out of touch with reality. It also made her more aware of her behaviors and taught her the importance of not being tone-deaf. “Apology accepted,” she said softly, squeezing his hand again with a tender smile on her face.

Sighing to himself, he freed her hand, leaned back in his chair, and ran his hand through his hair, trying his best to stay composed and calm, “The best way to make this work is if we are open to telling each other how we feel, but I know me. And I’m rude as fuck. So how about this, when I’m overwhelmed I use a safe word and when you’re hurt you use a safe word? Does that make sense?” What the hell was he going on about? Would this even help? He didn’t know how to not hold back his words. This whole conversation was hard as is. Then again, if he hurt her, she probably would cry.

Peach nodded in agreement with the idea: it was both cute and incredibly useful in order to avoid potential misunderstandings. Now, what would her safe word be… “Mine will beeeee… Lemons, because I like lemony stuff about as much as I like crying: I hate it,” she said with a small laugh, making a playful disgusted face before taking another bite of food. “What will be yours?”

“Oklahoma. Because Oklahoma sucks and I would never move there.” Like what actually happened in Oklahoma? Once you hit there, the good times ended. The good times barely existed in Edenridge but at least he had his small family. The state was boring and there was never anything interesting to read about it in the news blogs.

“You know, you might be right…” Tiffannie mused, cocking her head to the left as she thought back to any times she'd heard anything interesting about the state and coming up empty-handed. "I think I might have driven past the city once during a road trip, but we didn't really stop anywhere except at a nice gas station on Route 66 for a potty and snack break. So I can definitely see where you’re going with this."

“Okay, cool. Now that we got that figured out, let's do those things they do at school.” He took a moment to figure out what the word was. Grabbing his cherry coke, he took a deep sip before the ice touched his lips. Tiffannie looked up at him, visibly confused. Oh that’s right. “Icebreaker. Let's do an icebreaker.”

"Oooooh, icebreakers! I love icebreakers!" She replied, her eternal excitement now restored to its former glory now that they had moved on past their small incident. "What do you have in mind?"

Going through the deep files in his mind that have been compartmentalized for a rainy day, like today, Chase grabbed his fork, stabbed some fruit, and stuffed it in his mouth. He never thought he’d use an experience from his highschool days, before he was expelled, but if it helped get him in the good graces of Tiffannie then it was worth it. He didn’t even know why he cared so much about getting this girl to forgive him and like him. If it wasn’t for his conversation with Fin, maybe he would’ve left Tiff at the curb. But that’s the thing. While he was stubborn and loud, he wasn’t innately a bad guy. He was just rude at times. He wouldn’t have left Tiff alone no matter how angry he was. “I guess ‘Have You Ever’ is simple enough. It’s just a question game to learn about each other. Just gotta’ answer yes or no, but if you want to explain your answer you totally can. I’m not going to stop you.” Before Chase knew it, his small fruit cup was gone and in his belly. Putting his fork down, he started, “Okay, I’ll go… have you ever skipped class?”

The blush that crept up on Tiffannie's cheeks was instant. "Yes," she admitted, looking away with an embarrassed smirk as she remembered the misdeeds of the past. "Only when I was a freshman and a sophomore, though! I was kinda sorta seeing this guy, Brandon: upperclassmen, water polo player, super tall, scorching hot. We'd skip study hall sometimes to hang out at each other’s houses when our parents were at work and we'd have the place to ourselves. We stopped after he graduated and went off to college."

Her response brought out a genuine smile from Chase as he finished his bacon. She was cute. Really fucking cute. She skipped out to be with her hot boyfriend. Such innocent intentions. Playfully, TNT teased, “So the Pink Princess isn’t as Disney as I thought, good to know.” Grabbing his cup of soda, he drank a bit. As he did so, he gestured with his hand, in a finger gun motion for her to shoot. It was her turn to ask him a question.

The blonde giggled nervously at his comment, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear while taking a long sip of milk. If Chase knew what she’d done to land herself in Edenridge or the mischief she’d been getting herself into since her arrival, he’d see her as more of a Playboy bunny than a Disney princess. But that was neither here nor there. It was time to ask her own question.

Tiffannie cleared her throat. “Have you everrrrrr…” she trailed off, suddenly struggling to come up with a question interesting enough but eventually finding one bound to open up more conversation. “...been anywhere outside of Edenridge? And if you haven’t: where would you want to go?”

“Nah, I wish. Just never been something realistic for me.” Chase shrugged, placing his cup down, before answering her follow up question, “First, in the states, definitely Cleveland. It’s where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is. Though hm, actually maybe Detroit. I’m a firm believer that the hall of fame should’ve been there. It’s the Motor City! It doesn’t only spawn artists, it spawns genres. Actually, yeah: that’s my state answer.” Chase pushed his plates away from him so he could rest his elbow on the table and put his chin in his palm, “Country I’ve never thought that big but if I had the money. Manchester for sure.” Conan always dreamt about visiting the UK. Memphis, Tennessee too but Chase wanted to see Detroit first. TNT hadn’t even realized how open he was being with this girl he barely knew. These were things he hadn’t even brought up to Tov or Fin. It was weird, but nice.

It was his turn now. Drumming the table, he thought of his next question, “Have you ever… done something you regret? Like not just buying the wrong thing. I mean something really fucked that bothers you to this day.” He did want to ask a follow up question but this might’ve been way too personal so he stopped at that. He didn’t know why he wanted to ask this but he was hoping to get a read on how moral compass and how she would judge him if she knew half the shit he did.

As much as Tiffannie hated to admit it, this was an easy question to answer. She knew the root of all her questionable decisions she’d been taking through the past year dated back to that terrible day when she got The News. “I completely stopped talking to my daddy a few weeks ago,” Peach confessed, using her fork to absentmindedly play around with a slice of strawberry atop her plate. “I used to be a big Daddy’s Girl. He was my favorite person in the whole world. But he and my mamma got divorced last year, and not even two months after it was finalized and he moved out he got married to some stupid bitch he’d met through work,” she explained, stabbing the defenseless strawberry slice with her fork over and over again.

Chase couldn’t help but watch her subtly violent actions on the poor slice of fruit. He took mental notes of all the major points she brought up like her parents getting divorced, from daddy’s girl to daddy issues, and a step mom she hated. He did find it weird she was putting all the blame on the woman and not her father but he kept quiet, allowing her to continue to express herself. As he watched her, his stare surveyed her face, taking in her crisp, long golden hair like Rapunzel, her deep ocean blue eyes, and her flawless and soft looking skin. She was really pretty now that he had time to look at her.

“He begged and begged for me to meet her, but I told him I’d rather jump in a pool of acid than meet that tramp-- which he didn’t appreciate, of course. He gave me a long lecture about not speaking of his wife that way. I told him I’d lost all respect for him for running off to be with another woman so soon after the divorce when the ink on the papers was practically still fresh. We got into a really big argument, and we quit speaking for a while. He stopped coming to some of my school activities then, giving me bullcrap apologies and using work as an excuse. But I knew it was because of what I said about his stupid new wife. He always denied it, but I know it was.”

Damn, she really hated this new wife person. Still, did she notice how sugary sweet her voice was? It was on the higher pitched side of things with a sultry undertone. Kind of hot. Kind of perfect for a stripper. Her voice aside, Chase couldn’t relate with the lingering feelings of being a child of divorced parents. Both his biological parents loved each other to a fault, they loved each other so bad that they protected the other with their crimes. Then there was Demo and Zippo. They were a dream when it came to love. Partners in crime sort of deal. Then his ma died. Divorce was like death, right? Sure, she didn’t lose her dad or mother, they were still alive, but she lost the fantasy of them being together, in love, and as a family. That must be hard to deal with for someone like Tiff.

“After that, I started staying out late to mess around with older guys. I’d lie about my age on Tinder and set hookups with guys that were, like, years older than me. Eventually, the night I was celebrating my eighteenth birthday, I met this guy at the club and went home with him. What I didn’t know was that the guy was married, and that his wife’s flight for her work trip had been delayed for a day. So she came back home to find me on my knees blowing her husband in the kitchen. She grabbed me by the hair, with a knife to my throat, and dragged me to the door screaming about how she was going to slice my neck. I called Daddy in the middle of my panic attack-- he’s a cop--, and they arrested the lady and granted me a restraining order against her. But because he and Mamma were so rattled over the whole thing, they decided it was best to send me over here to Boston to my uncle Tazzy’s house-- Taz Belmonte, the Palermo owner? He’s my Mamma’s big brother. Of course, Daddy couldn’t let me go without one last lecture, that turned into another argument where he said some really ugly things to me… And I haven’t spoken to him since.”

Woah that was intense. Not the age difference thing but the knife part. Chase had almost slipped from his resting position of watching her talk. Adjusting himself so he was sitting up once more, he processed everything she had said. So, she was here as punishment or protection or both and she was staying at the big fucking house on Scott Street. Fuck, she was that rich? And now she doesn’t talk to her dad, or hasn’t because of the beef. Got it.

Realizing the amount and type of word vomit she’d just spewed out, Tiffannie’s face grew red with mortification again. “I’m so sorry, Chase. I didn’t realize I would go on this long about something that’s probably nothing compared to what you’ve gone through. I haven’t really talked about the whole divorce thing so in depth to anyone else before, so it just sort of came out and--” she trailed off, feeling her eyes getting hot with the tears that soon began to fall from her sapphire-colored eyes. As safe as Chase made her feel, it didn’t make her any less embarrassed to have overshared so much of this touchy subject during their first meeting. He probably thought she was doing it to gain sympathy at this point.

“Shuuuuush, it’s okay. There’s nothing to compare. Your pain is your pain, mine is mine. I’m no better than you and you ain’t better than me. We’re just humans trying to make it by, okay?” He had a lot of follow up questions but he didn’t know if it was right to overwhelm her even more when she was in this state, so instead he repeated, “Okay?”

Peach nodded slowly, wiping away the tears from her cheeks. “Okay,” she mumbled, grabbing the nearest napkin to wipe off the mascara stains on face and blow her nose. “I’m sorry I killed the mood with my oversharing,” Tiff sniffed, looking at Chase with teary eyes. “Is there any way I can make it up to you?”

“You do that a lot,” Chase bluntly pointed out. “I don’t know who invalidated you, but your emotions, your feelings, your issues: they're valid, Tiff. And you don’t need to do a damn thing for me. You just have to be yourself and keep finding reasons to smile. I like when you smile.” And back to his coke he went to finish it off. He was talking way too much. It was weird. Yet, this girl was so warm and honest, she made him want to talk. After downing the rest of his drink, he gazed at her with his chocolate coated eyes, “Your turn.”

“Have you ever realized that you’re, like, a really good listener and super good at making me feel better even though we’ve just met?” she asked him with a small, watery smile. It wasn’t lost on her that, so far tonight, he had directly complimented her twice, indirectly done so a couple more times, and had successfully kept her from bawling her eyes out more times than she’d liked to admit. So she figured it was only fair that she returned the good karma. “I actually think you’re pretty cute yourself, and you smell so, so good. And, you know: I also like it when you smile. It looks a lot better on you than when you’re being mean or frowning or scowling!” Tiff teased lightly with a giggle.

She liked when he smiled.

Chase drummed the table slower. She saw good qualities in him already? He must be doing good. “Thanks, uh, I’m trying. To listen and pay attention to you! Not the whole cute thing. Me, cute? Ha. Yeah right.” On impulse he reached for his now cold toast and stuffed his mouth. Chew, chew, chew, swallow. “It’s cool I’m just telling you that you shouldn’t be ashamed of how you feel. You’re going through a lot, that’s neither greater than or less than what I’ve been through. And I’m honestly honored you thought me, a stranger, out of all people was someone worth telling all that shit to. So thank you.” And another toast. This was too sappy for him. Toast could keep him distracted.

“First of all, you so are cute. And second of all: do you still think we’re strangers to each other after all of this?” she inquired with a playful smirk, taking the last few bites of pancake and downing the rest of her milk. There was no way Peach considered Chase a stranger after impulsively blurting out her entire life story to the poor guy.

“I guess not,” He shyly answered before coughing, almost choking on his bread. This would be the first time Chase Warren connected with anyone on the other side of the tracks. He lived in Edenridge all his life but never did he ever try to get to know people who had better lifestyles than him. Tiff? Tiff was different. She wasn’t like those people that shoved their fortunes in your face and laughed at you. She was… humble. Okay, it was his turn. It looked like they were finishing up so the check would be coming soon. “Have you ever realized you’re really fucking pretty, inside and out?”

Tiffannie let out another little giggle, her sparkling eyes making contact with Chase’s chocolate pools before looking away, her cheeks now tinted in her favorite shade of pink. It wasn’t the first time the LA native had been complimented on her looks by a member of the opposite sex. But there was something different about the way Chase said it: with such genuine, wholesome intentions that it made her heart happy, and her whole body feel all warm and fuzzy inside. “Have you ever realized that you’re really, really sweet, and charming, and really, really pretty too-- even if you don’t think so?” she countered, reaching out for her companion’s hand again while giving him her biggest, brightest smile yet.

“Uh, no,” Chase countered. “I’m rational, sure-- but I have issues, Tiffannie. Like a lot of fucking issues.” TNT brought his soda to his lips as he observed the blonde bombshell, contemplating how they got this far. He was genuinely finding things he liked about her and she was nothing like him whatsoever.

The blonde shrugged her shoulders. "Everybody has issues, Chase. That doesn’t take away from you being charming or sweet or cute. If having issues took away from someone’s redeeming qualities, then we’d all be considered ugly. You should believe in yourself a little more.”

“Thank you... It means a lot to me that you see more in me than I see myself. ANYWAYS!” Diverting the conversation, Chase asked, “Do you still want to go to the airport or do you want a night to think about things? I don’t want you to make a decision you’ll regret. My dad won’t mind if you stay with us for a night.”

Ah, yes, the reason why she’d come to be in his company in the first place: the drive request to the airport to fly back home to Los Angeles. The young woman shook her head. That seemed like such a silly idea now that she thought about it with a clear head. As tempting as Chase’s offer was to stay somewhere else for the night, she had some very important responsibilities to uphold. Just because stupid Cat had decided to stick her nose into Tiff's business, physically assault her and expose Cousin Viv's relationship out of spite or intoxication or insanity didn't mean that Auntie Silvia had to suffer the consequences. She should've thought about her before ever setting foot outside the house, but hurt had been guiding her actions.

"Can you drive me back to the house, if you don't mind?" she politely asked Chase. "My Auntie Silvia's very, very sick, so I take care of her a lot. Bathing her, helping her with her clothes or dressing her, making sure she eats and takes her medication, making her stay as pretty as she always is… You know, things like that! I don't want her or my Uncle Tazzy to be worried about me or wake up tomorrow needing something and I'm not there to help."

“Huh,” TNT gazed at the girl across from him, pleasantly surprised and impressed. This blonde bombshell was considerate of her family. Something he valued. He might not be related to his family by blood but he would die for them. Staring for a little too long without saying anything more, distracted by her sincere and gorgeous blue eyes, Chase’s mouth could be seen slightly ajar. Snapping out of it, he apologized, “Sorry to hear that. About your aunt, I mean. Mrs. Belmonte was always pretty welcoming at Palermo when me and my bro were barely making by. She’s a nice lady. Told us to always come by if we needed some food. I felt bad for always getting free shit from her though… so I tried to repay her through errands when she was too busy. It’s pretty neat she’s your aunt. But sorry again.”

The Belmontes were a core family in Edenridge even if they weren’t part of the founding families. They did their part, especially Taz and Silvia, when it came to making the southies not feel completely like outcasts. Mr. Belmonte was good humored for the most part but TNT didn’t ever want to get on his bad side. He seemed like a guy who was cool with all types of people but when it came to his family, he wanted things done ‘right’. His eldest three all had perfect looking families and each were well loved in the community in their own right. Socializing and making sure there was a sprinkle of Italian at every corner of Edenridge. It really seemed like Taz was painting this ideal image to make it seem like his family was strong, put together, and full of role models. Chase couldn’t relate. He just wanted to make it to the next day.

“Hey, save my number? Should have me already from the Lyft texts. If you need anything, let me know. That’s a lot of shit for you to deal with.”

"Thank you so, so much!" Tiffannie said sweetly, the gratefulness shining clear through her blue eyes. "And you can save my number too! I can't really think of anything you could ever need from me, but I'm always free to hang out or something like that! I don't have any friends in Edenridge right now, and you and I seem to get along pretty good, so maybe this cute little diner date doesn't have to be the first and last one? I would love to hang out with you again if you're ever up for it!"

“Yeah, same,” Chase’s brain was malfunctioning. This whole night was unexpected and Tiffannie was a whirlwind of emotions. He found her endearing. He didn’t even understand how they got this far but here he was at a diner with the most gorgeous blonde babe he ever did see. He didn’t know if this was a good thing or bad thing seeing how he still didn’t know if they had anything in common. Still, he was intrigued. “I mean for the friend part… I’m not that great with opening up. I have Fin and my brother Tov but that’s really it. I can hang with their friends but I haven’t really clicked, if that makes sense? You’re different,” TNT admitted. Was this called growth? Was he actually being an approachable and reasonable person? This was extremely sappy for his liking so when the waiter brought the check he was quick to slap cash on the table, stand up, and nervously laugh to himself, “You can choose the next place! And the date. I’ll make time for you.” Fuck. He was just vomiting emotions. This was so unlike him.

“Yay! More dates are happening!” Tiffannie squealed with joy, clapping her heads together like she always did when she was excited about something. What had started off as a yucky night that had her questioning whether she wanted to remain in town or not had taken an unexpected turn for the best. Not only had she redeemed herself in the eyes of this former stranger, but she had gotten a new friend from it, too! Hopefully this meant her stay at Edenridge would be a lot less lonely. “How about in Palermo on Tuesday night-- maybe at seven?” she asked Chase, following his lead and standing up to leave. “I can get us the best seats in the house, and it’ll be my treat for you! Does that sound good?”

Having left the booth, Chase fixed his dark and kind stare at the girl he had randomly befriended. A shy smile appeared on his face as he took in how certain, confident, and cheerful she was. Tiffannie was really something else and she was really fucking cute. Hooking his thumbs in his pants’ pockets, he nodded and agreed, “Sounds perfect.”

It was a date.
May I have the following post removed/hidden from the thread?

Thanks in advance!
@LovelyComplex@Aces Away I don't know why you guys put it in the OOC for approval when we all know they will be LOL
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