This story is dedicated to the memory of Jessica Jordan Blue. 1986-2003

Prologue: Then

A thick spray of raindrops pounded the window continuously and the ever-present barks of thunder seemed to shake the tiny Motel to its foundations. Lightening struck through the thin transparent cloth currents and lit the room in a wild natural light. Eriq couldn't bear to look at it; the storm ragging outside was nothing compared to the storm that he was feeling on the inside. He kept his eyes away and concentrated only on Jessica, who was folded sweetly inside his arms as they both lay stretched out across the bed. The sound of Jesse's breathing made the pounding of the rain rhythmic and gentle even though the storm was in its most deadly hour.

The thunder rolled again, sending a slight tremor through Eriq's bones and he tightened his arms around Jesse's torso, the ends of his fingertips curling and twisting at the tips of her smooth brown hair. The movement disturbed her rest and she stirred slightly, but still she remained asleep.

Lightening splashed again through the curtains and Eriq closed his eyes to escape the severe luminosity. With his eyes closed he could clearly see the face of his father, and with that sight came the hurtful words that he had last spoken to his son. "Never have I been so ashamed of anyone as I am of you right now!" Eriq opened his eyes again, but his father's cruel words still stung in his throat like a raw liquid. Ashamed; could his father be so dense that he was ashamed that his son had found true happiness for the first time.

Eriq's fingertips lowered to the ends of Jesse's hair, his skin folding the silky strands into circles around his finger. His bent his face down, being careful not to wake or disturb her and he brushed his lips lightly across her forehead. It will all work out, he thought, somehow, everything will all work out.

The lightning roared again, louder this time, the loudest that he had heard it that night. Small goose bumps burst up from his skin like tiny daggers exposed from his veins, and as though he were outside he could feel the ferocity of the storm within him.

The room went silent, no lightning, or rain could be heard; it was almost like his fears had calmed the storm suddenly. Eriq turned a noise much more terrifying came into his earshot. He felt Jesse wince, and knew that her eyes were open, she had heard it to. Eriq and Jesse both watched as the doorknob to the Motel that they had locked before they laid down was turning and the door began to creep open.