Dionne made a mental note to apologize to Rocky the next chance she got. She knew that Gerald could be bullheaded sometimes, but she didn't think he could be so outrageously obnoxious enough storm right up to her in public, grab her arm, threaten Rocky, and drag her away without explanation. He didn't even let her go back to their spot on the beach to retrieve her belongings. He just outright dragged her up to a group of people she didn't know, and told her to not make a sound. She stood there glaring at him as he sheepishly laughed and apologized to them, claiming that there was a family emergency. He called out his farewells to them as he dragged her away again.

Once they were inside the car was when he let loose on her.

"Dionne, what the fucking hell?" He bit out. Dionne rolled her eyes as she crossed her legs and folded her arms across her chest, trying to melt into the door.

"What are you so mad about?" She asked him, seething. "You have nothing to be mad about! I'm the one who she be mad!"

"I'm fucking pissed that you are out acting like a whore with some little shit! Just what the fucking hell!" he exclaimed.

Dionne snapped her head around to face him, jaw dropped in shock at his incredulous accusation. "Excuse me?"

"You are out in public hanging all over that kid, practically naked–"

"I can't believe you, Gerald!" she yelled in his ear. "You let that kind of thing happen all the time with you! You are such a hypocrite!"

"It's different with me!" he burst out. "I'm a guy–"

"So therefore it's okay for you to have some half naked girl hanging off of you? For God's sake, Gerald, I'm in my fucking bathing suit!"

"Will you shut up? I'm trying to protect you!"

"From what?" she exploded. "There was nothing going on! I was only walking with him and then you had to go on some maniac rampage–"

"He's a guy! I'm a guy! I know exactly what's going through his mind! I know exactly what he wants from you!"

"He likes me, Gerald, and I like him. You act like we're about to go off into some alley and fuck!"

"Wait," he said. "What did you just say?"

"You heard me," she bit out.

"That's him, isn't it." It wasn't a question. "That's the kid I caught you with at that party with!"

Defiantly, Dionne raised her chin and stared directly into his eyes. "So what if he is?"

"I knew that little fucker looked familiar. I knew it–"

"What's your point, Gerald? Rocky is my boyfriend!"

As soon as the word "boyfriend" left her mouth, Dionne knew she had made a mistake.

0000000000000000

Dionne was on unofficial lock down for the rest of the week. Gerald had made a point to not inform their parents, knowing that they wouldn't see the situation as serious as it was, so instead, he told Aaron and Jaylen. It was summer, so Jaylen didn't necessarily have to be at college, and Aaron was free for the most part, aside from working occasionally. The three of them brought down a reign of terror over Dionne, watching her like a hawk, and keeping close tabs on her movements. Dionne felt like she had become a prisoner in her own home, and the worse part was that she knew she couldn't go to her parents for relief. Her brothers had learned their overprotective tendencies from them, and besides. It was their anniversary. She didn't want to call them up all the way in Hawaii, just to worry them about trivial sibling issues.

She was trapped.

Her family was close knit, and they had always seemed like best friends as well as blood.

Dionne felt like she was outside, looking in.

She had no idea what to do; she hadn't seen Gina in a few days, much less talked to her. Her phone calls were monitored and her excursions beyond the front yard were chaperoned by at least one of her brothers. They were afraid that she would go to Gina's house, only to later leave and go meet up with Rocky. Of course, that's what she was going to do, but could anyone really blame her? Her rights as an individual had been restricted because her brothers felt like she couldn't be trusted (most of all, Gerald). Dionne felt hopeless.

And then one evening, salvation came in the form of Sidney.

Sidney Miller was Gerald's girlfriend (that HYPOCRITE!). In many ways, Dionne felt that she and Sidney were a lot alike. They were both the youngest of their families–Sidney had five older siblings instead of three–they were both the only girl, they both came from overprotective families. Dionne knew that Gerald had to go through a lot just to be accepted by Sidney's parents, and he eventually was, but it was like war whenever he had to face her brothers. Dionne, at first, felt sorry for Gerald, and sympathetic to his problem, but after having been put in a similar situation, she was more furious than anything.

Of course, now having first hand experience, she felt downright remorseful to Sidney.

One night Dionne had answered the door, only to find Sidney standing in front of her, eyes red and puffy from crying, with dried tear streaks down her face. Gerald had left with Aaron earlier and wasn't home from wherever he was, but Dionne let the older girl inside anyways, knowing that she would catch heat from the youngest of her older brothers if she dared turn away the love of his life.

Into the livingroom they went, and down on the couch they sat. Dionne's heart squeezed in pity as she listened to Sidney's story.

"I just don't know what's wrong with them!" Sidney sobbed. She covered her pretty tanned face with her petite hands to muffle her cries. She shook at the restrained effort she put forth in trying to stay quiet, knocking silky strands of blonde hair over her shoulders and arms. "My parents! My parents had enough sense to see that Gerald isn't some loser punk, so why can't they?"

The "they" she was referring to were her five older brothers, all of whom Dionne had heard numerous stories about from both Gerald and Sidney herself. If they were bad enough to make Sidney leave in violent tears, then maybe, Dionne decided, Gerald was worthy of a small amount of pity.

"What did they do?" Dionne wanted to know, handing Sidney a tissue. Sidney took it gratefully and dabbed at her eyes as she tried to calm her ragged breathing.

"I told them that I was going to the movies tonight, on a group date. They asked if Gerald was going and I told them that of course Gerald was going, then they just started–I don't know! They just exploded!"

"They really hate Gerald that much?" Dionne questioned.

Sidney shook her head. "It's not really Gerald, they just don't like the idea of me with any guy. Gerald was actually friends with Jacob and Alex before they knew that we liked each other."

Dionne knew who Jacob and Alex were. They had been over their house all the time before Gerald started dating Sidney. They were fraternal twins that had been in the same class with Gerald since junior high. She had no idea that they were Sidney's brothers.

"They said I couldn't go on the group date, just because Gerald was going. It's a group date! It's not like we would be alone! My parents even said I could go, but they just had to go on a rampage and throw tantrum's like little children!" Sidney was on the brink of crying again and Dionne's heart fell. Thinking about similar her own situation was to the older girl's made tears sting her eyes.

"I know how that is," Dionne slowly said, sadly staring at the floor. "Gerald and Jaylen and Aaron have been keeping me trapped within my own family trying to keep me away from Rocky."

Sidney stared at her young friend. "They–what?"

"See, I've liked Rocky–" Dionne knew that Sidney didn't have the slightest clue who Rocky was, but she was so close to crying that it didn't occur to her to explain. "–since the sixth grade, and when we were on the pier one time, he had just told me that he's liked me for a really long time too, and we were walking and holding hands and then all of a sudden Gerald comes out of nowhere and drags me away, and then he told Jaylen and Aaron, and they won't let me see him. They won't let me do anything without them. I can't even call Gina–" Sidney knew who Gina was. "–without someone listening on another phone somewhere in the house!"

Dionne couldn't take it. All of the pent up anger, all of the sadness came rushing at her at once, and she just broke down crying.

Sidney sat there, shock at the confession. Her heart went out to the younger girl, but she didn't know what to do! Ever since she could remember, she had been the only one with that kind of problem, and even as she grew up with it, she hadn't learned how to escape. She didn't know if anything she said to Dionne would help.

Gerald and Aaron chose that exact moment to walk into the room. They had been talking about something but then stopped and fell silent at the sight of the two girls before them. Dionne was crying so hard that she didn't even notice two new presences in the room, but Sidney saw them, and her red and puffy eyes instantly went to Gerald's confused ones.

All of a sudden, Sidney was no longer shocked, no longer sad and miserable. She was more pissed than anything. Immediately she stood up and placed her hands on her hips, glaring daggers at her boyfriend.

"How could you?" she hissed at him.

Gerald's eyebrows furrowed. "What are you talking about?"

Sidney scoffed. "Don't give me that! Look at her! Look at Dionne!"

Gerald's eyes fell to his sister's sobbing form on the couch. His heart sank down into his stomach at the sight of her, but he still didn't understand.

"Do you see her? Do you? You too, Aaron–"

"M-me? What–" Aaron stuttered.

"–do you see what you guys have done?" Sidney all but screamed at them. "Gerald, I don't believe you!"

"I don't even know what's going on!" Gerald exclaimed incredulously.

"What's going on is that you are turning her into me! You are making her as miserable as me!" she raged. "After everything you have to go through, just to see me, just to call me, and after you have seen how much pain I go through just to be with you, you turn around and do the exact same thing!"

Gerald finally understood. "Hey now, that is completely different!"

"Oh really? How? How is it different?"

"The fact that she is thirteen, for one."

"As if THAT'S an excuse! Gerald, you were thirteen when you met me, and even back then you liked me. Don't even try to deny it. But you were scared of my brother's, but even son, you waited a few years before you confronted them about me, and you've been at war ever since!" Sidney's throat burned. "You know how much I like you, and you know what I have to live with. You know what it's like, but then you go behind what I thought you believed in, and do the exact same thing!"

"Okay, I think we should really talk about this som–" Aaron cut in.

"Oh shut up. Both of you." Sidney started to walk towards them. "Do you know how much I hate my brothers? Hm? Do you? Do you know how much it kills me to be torn between my boyfriend and my family? If you don't get some common sense you will all lose her–" she motioned to Dionne, who had calmed down a bit and was staring at them with confusion in her eyes. "–and you," Sidney said softly to Gerald, "will lose me."

Alarm attacked his senses. "Don't you think that's a little dramatic?"

Sidney laughed bitterly. "With the kind of life I have, I'd say it's justifiable. I cannot deal with this kind of thing at home and then come running to you knowing that you are just like them." she looked at him tiredly. "I just can't."

Sidney looked over her shoulder at Dionne and smiled encouragingly. "I hope you can forgive them in the future. Resentfulness ages the soul."

Dionne only stared at her, letting the words sink in. She watched as Sidney left and as Gerald went after her. She watched as Aaron came over to her, and grabbed her gently by the elbow and led her upstairs to her room. She listened late into the night as all three of her brother's argued in the kitchen. She stared blankly at the ceiling through the darkness, thinking about her parents and if they were enjoying their anniversary trip to Hawaii, which was only about fifty to seventy miles off shore. She wondered if Rocky hated her as she slowly drifted off into a dreamless sleep.

The next day she found out that Sidney had broken up with Gerald.