Timber Creek

Chapter 1 : Forbidden Attraction

(Rick, Esmerelda)

It was the stale smell of bleach and blood that drew him into work every morning. It was knowing that he was saving lives every day. But not today. Today, as Rick Anderson looked down at the charred woman, he wished for her to die. First of all, she had burns all over her body, and if those firefighters haven't pulled her out, she would have died with less suffering.

Her hair was gone, no longer the dirty, tangled, black locks he had seen before. He knew her, he knew Esmerelda Gonzalez vary well, he saw her in his adoptive son everyday. Esmerelda couldn't raise her own child. To her, staying doped up and high all the time was more important then her family, so she gave him away. Rick wasn't even interested in adoption until he met Diego on his operating table, trying to save the kid because his mother was high and drunk and decided to throw glass objects at her little boy. Diego wasn't little at that time, he was fourteen and he thought he was an adult. He thought he could run away and make a living all by himself without the help of anyone. Yeah, because money grew on trees. Rick gave Diego his home address and then, a week after Diego ran away from Esmerelda, Rick's family got a visitor. Wonder who? After he was cleaned up and fed, Diego realized that living with the Anderson's was a lot better then the streets.

Esmerelda lived on the streets. She pick pocketed for money, and sometimes crashed in one person's house, sometimes another person's house. That night, she had crashed in an abandoned house on the south side of Timber Creek. That house caught fire. She nearly burned to death.

"Take me out," he heard her whisper.

Esmerelda slowly picked up her arm and reached out toward Rick. "Kill me." She spoke in a croaky voice that seemed as old as leather.

"Hello, Esmerelda," he said, surprised to see that she could even talk. But since his records indicated that she fell asleep on the floor, and smoke rises, her lungs where miraculously on the clearer side.

"Kill me," she begged. "Or give me something."

"Diego's doing fine."

It had been five years since Rick had adopted Diego as his own, and it downright hurt him to see Esmeralda give him a dimwitted look of confusion.

"You know, your son."

"I know who he is," she confessed after a minute. "Where my little boy is concerned, I prefer he thinks of me as dead." She started crying.

He already thought of her as dead, or at least that's what he always said when asked about his mother. Truth was, Rick didn't know how Diego truly felt, he kept a lot to himself.

"Will you kill me?" Esmerelda asked, pleadingly. "I don't want to live."

"Too bad," Rick said and checked her IV, then increased the flow of Morphine into her. "I heal, not kill. . . Besides," he said after a pause, "You will like this, this drug will give that little high you've been chasing after your entire life.

---

(Linda, Sage, Brianna, Frankie)

"Once, again, from the top," Linda instructed to Sage Anderson and the girl sang again. At seventeen, she was pure talent, but highly untrained. Her voice was vary pop, vary fresh and modern. It wasn't what the industry was looking for. If she were to break into the industry, she'd be just another Britney Spears wannabe, rather then a gem. Brianna was a gem, she was a real diamond. She had the musical talent and the looks to go with it. Unfortunately, Linda couldn't lie to herself that much. Her daughter was certainly good, but she wasn't a musical diamond,she was just the diamond of her mother's life.

"I'm tired," Sage complained while flipping her long black hair, "Can't I take a break?"

"Not if you want to be a real star."

"Come on, Mom, give her a break," Brianna chipped in, "We all need a break."

Linda looked around the room. Maybe the girls were right. Sometimes, she got carried away when it came to perfecting songs in her little basement studio. Now as she looked, it was late on Monday night and the girls had both had a hard day at school. Maybe they were tired indeed. Besides, she was supposed to have a dinner with her fiance, Rick in two hours and she needed to get ready.

"Okay ladies, you win. I'm going to go take a shower and then I'm making dinner." She turned to Sage. "So when your father comes over for dinner, it will all be ready."

Sage simply shrugged her shoulders. "What's for dinner?"

"Roast chicken with mashed potatoes and carrots."

"I like carrots," Sage said as she stood up from the bar chair that was placed in the studio to compensate for lack of seating and stretched. Then her cell phone chimed the little tune and as she pulled it out she smiled for the first time that day. "Hey, Baby," she answered happily.

Brianna rolled her eyes and whispered, "Frankie?"

Sage smiled and nodded. "I miss you too, honey." She listened for a few minutes and her smile disappeared. "That sucks."

"What's up?" Brie, as Brianna liked to be called, asked.

Sage covered up the mouth piece of her phone. "Frankie is canceling our date tomorrow."

"Has he had dinner yet?" Linda asked as she thought about Rick. If Rick ever canceled dinner on her, she always liked to see him any chance she could to compensate for it.

"Have you had dinner yet?" She listened and then shook her head.

"Invite him over then. I'll make enough for everyone." Once again Sage covered the mouth piece. "Are you sure?"

"Of course, honey. I'm going to need to meet your boyfriend soon anyways since you're almost my step daughter," Linda said.

Sage arranged for Frankie to come over to dinner which he agreed.

---

(Adrianna, Diego)

"What's with you?" Adrianna asked her adoptive brother after a whole day of odd behavior.

"Nothin' leave me alone."

She walked deeper into his room and sat down on his bed. "What is wrong with you?" she said, enunciating every single word.

Diego got off the bed and turned the metal music he was listening to off and closed the door that Adrianna had left open.

She was glad for the lack of that annoying sound that he called music. It was trash that no one could comprehend, how could anyone call that music, she thought.

Diego stood with his arms crossed over his chest.

"So?" she asked, obviously not put off by his defensive stance. "You've been acting like a little shit ever since last night. You were rude to Linda after that wonderful dinner she prepared, you were rude to Frankie even though he has never been anything but good to you. You wouldn't even look my father in the eyes.

Diego didn't say anything. He wouldn't even look at her.

Frustrated, Adrianna got off the bed and walked out of the room, not saying anything more. She slammed the door behind herself and walked into her own room.

She was in her early teens when Diego moved in with them. She liked him at first. He had the attitude of a real asshole, but the looks of a prince. She thought he was just dreamy. She had always had a little childhood crush on him. They were not related in any way and even though he was her 'brother' in the sense of the law, there was nothing brotherly about that hot blooded, hot tempered creature who made her want to either kill him or jump his bones.

Right now, she wanted to kill him. He was rude to everyone he had come into contact with for the last twenty four hours and she has had enough of it. She sulked in her room, hating him at that moment when a knock came on her door. It was his knock, he had a particular way of knocking quickly three times, and then two slow knocks followed.

She didn't respond.

"Adrianna?" Diego asked.

She ignored the request. Now maybe he would know how it felt to deal with someone just like him.

"Come on, Adrie, let me in."

She still didn't respond.

He opened the door. "Are you mad at me now?"

"No, but now you see what I've had to deal with lately."

"I'm sorry," he said as he sat on her bed.

"So what's eating you?" she asked as she sat down on the bed beside him.

Diego dropped his head into his hands and shook his head back and forth. "Esmerelda was admitted to the hospital last night." He didn't need to look at Adrianna to know that she was listening intently. He looked up at her though, with pain on his face. "She didn't even ask about me."

"How do you know?"

"Because Rick told me."

She was surprised that her father had shared that with Diego, but then again their relationship was not like that of father and son, it wasn't even of friends. It was of two people who just knew each other. Diego didn't let anyone inside. He didn't let anyone get close to him. Even the girlfriends he had, it was all about sex and nothing more. It was scary that Adrianna knew about all of them and didn't feel jealous considering the affection she felt for him. Then again there was something that he shared with Adrianna that he hadn't shared with any of them; himself. He told her things, things that he hadn't told anyone else. And even now, she knew that she was the only one to know exactly how Esmerelda made him feel that he didn't even refer to her as his mother.

"Rick had to broach the subject of me with her in order for her to even remember me."

She could see that it was painful on him. It would have been painful on her too had the roles been reversed and her own parent didn't want anything to do with her. It hurt her just to think of it, and she admired Diego for being able to just deal with it without trying to shoot someone. She knew it was probably hard for him to keep it all bottled in inside.

"I'm sorry," was all she could say.

"It's not your fault," he said.

"I know but I'm still expressing sympathy."

He was silent for a minute. "Thank you," he finally said and leaned his head into her lap and stretched out on her bed. "You know you're the only one I could talk to."

"Why?"

He thought about that for a moment, really thought it all over.

"Because you don't give me no sympathetic story about how I'm blowing it all out of proportion and that my mother is going to clean up her act and try to become a family with me again. You just listen without trying to make everything okay."

She didn't respond, just ran her hand through his hair a few times, realizing how taboo that intimacy was between them, realizing how wrong it all should be.

"Thank you," he said and sat up on the bed.

"You're welcome."

"I'm sorry I was an ass lately."

"I can understand why."

He got up and left her room. He didn't want to look into her hazel eyes or her long blonde hair. He didn't want to feel the warmth coming from her or the love radiating from her. He didn't want to corrupt all the good that she was. He was too dark and depressive for her.

---

(Frankie, Sage)

He sat by himself alone in his room. He had grown up on the wrong side of Timber Creek, the side where the poor people lived. He lived in a double wide trailer with his divorced mother and little sister, Gabriella. To live somewhat comfortably, he sold some drugs on the side besides working as a mechanic in his uncle's car shop. He hated being poor, hated what he had done for money, hated dealing. He hated everything in his life except for his family and the love of the beautiful Sage.

Frankie looked up at Sage's picture, it was a picture of the two of them from last year's New Year's Eve party that they both went to. She had looked radiant in her black and silver dress. Her dark drown hair was long and styled straight. It was that night that he realized he had fallen in love with her. It was that night that when he kissed her at midnight, he felt sparks flying all over his body. It was also that night that he got week in the knees and nearly fainted.

Over that year, or whatever was left of it, he had loved her even more with each passing date. Now, it was the second day that he had canceled plans with her. He laid on his bed instead, having a coughing fit, hoping not to cough up a lung. He wasn't sure if that was possible but it sure felt like it.

His sides hurt and he hadn't been able to eat for two days. It was Sunday night that he started to feel like crap and Monday night he made a doctors appointment for Tuesday. They gave him some medication and told him he'll be better in a couple of days. If he didn't die first, he thought to himself.

His cell phone rang and it hurt like heck to roll out of bed and reach the cell phone that was charging on the floor. It was Sage's ringtone, and if it had been any other he might have ignored the call, but with Sage, he wanted to answer. He already felt guilty for not being able to see her for a couple of days.

"Hello," he crocked out.

"Hey, Baby," Sage said innocently. "How are you?"

"I still feel like crap."

"Is the medicine you were given helping you?"

No. Actually he felt worse. "Yes, I feel better." Sometimes, it was better to just lie. He didn't want to worry her, she was worried already.

"Well, you don't sound any better. Actually, you sound worse."He didn't respond.

"Can I. . ." She hesitated. "Can I come over? Like nurse you to health?"

Frankie had been to the Anderson's estate like a million times since he and Sage hooked up, but Sage had never been over to his. Come on, she grew up on the rich side of town, in a mansion. Frankie grew up in the poor side of town, in a small trailer where one of his neighbors was an alcoholic who drank day and night, and the other one was a prostitute. As trailers went, his was literally in the worst location of the whole neighborhood.

"No," he said. He was ashamed of the way he lived. He was ashamed of his neighbors, but mainly, he was ashamed of himself.

There was disappointment in Sage's voice. "Oh, okay."

"I'm not trying to blow you off," he rushed to say and caused a coughing fit. "I'm just not ready to show you where I live."

"What's so wrong with where you live?"

That was the part he hadn't told Sage. From the day they met, Sage was under the impression that Frankie had money, just like her, and that he lived in the neighboring town of Franklin Park, which was another rich town. It was where they met, while shopping at the mall. Frankie had never set the record straight. He didn't want to loose her, but they weren't a Romeo and Juliet. In the real world, when the girl realizes that her man is dead broke, she leaves for someone with a bigger wallet, that was just a way of life. "Um," he hesitated and formed another lie, "My place is being remodeled right now, it's a mess. A real disaster."

"Okay," she said and by the inflection of his voice, he could tell that she didn't believe him. "Well, I hope you feel better."

He felt the disappointment in her voice. "I miss you."

"Really, do you?" Her voice was defensive now, like she doubted what he had said.

"Yes, I miss you vary much. Listen, do you think I like laying in my bed feeling too weak to move, coughing my lungs out. I'd rather see you instead and lay in bed next to you. I hate being sick."

"I'm sorry," Sage whispered into the phone. "I miss you, too."

It killed Frankie to disappoint Sage the way he was doing now. It killed him to lie to her about his lifestyle. He loved her. He had never told her just how much, but he loved her. He really loved her. And every day that he didn't get to see her, he loved her even more.