Author's note- Hi all! I really want to apologize for the long wait! My health has kept me from getting to my laptop regularly. I really hope y'all like this chapter because I worked really hard on it to make sure it had just the right feel I was going for. A little disclaimer, I don't own the song lyrics used in this chapter and no copyright infringement is intended. The song belongs to the writers and artist that brought it to life. Anyway, without any further delay... I hope you enjoy! -Sarah

Chapter Seven

Monday October 11, 2010

2:48 PM

As she was leaving the locker room, Sommer wound her hair tie around her hair one final time and tightened her ponytail. She then adjusted her backpack so that she could fish her car keys from the front pocket. She knew it was probably pointless to try, but she was looking to make a quick getaway without having to deal with Matt. Of course that's nearly impossible considering I have to change and he just has to walk out of class, straight to the parking lot.

When she reached the student parking lot, she paused briefly at the sight of Matt leaning against her car. She took a breath and kept walking, toying nervously with her keys as she moved. Matt had pretty much steered clear of her throughout the day, but what few interactions they'd had, he had actually been nice to her. This made Sommer wary of what he might be up to. He had promised to prove to her that they could be a good couple, how he was planning to do that remained unclear, but she was pretty certain it wouldn't be pleasant.

Matt unfolded his arms and sat up a little straighter when he saw Sommer approaching her car. He cleared his throat and shifted, straightening out his shirt and gently pushing his fingers through his hair. If Sommer hadn't known any better, she would have said he was nervous. But Matt doesn't get nervous… He gets angry.

"Hi, Sommer," Matt said with a smile.

"Matt," she greeted politely with a nod as she walked around him to the back of her car.

As she opened her trunk and tossed her backpack inside, Matt pushed away from the car and moved toward her. "So, I've had a lot of time to think over the weekend and I wanted to apologize for how I left things with you on Friday."

Sommer took her cell phone from her backpack before closing her trunk and looking at Matt. "Okay."

"I'm sorry for how I acted and for grabbing you like I did. I shouldn't have done that, which is why I'm going to make it up to you today."

She blinked, staring at him in confusion. Something in the tone of his voice was a little off, alerting her to the lack of sincerity in his apology and that he was definitely up to something. "Today?"

Matt grinned. "Yep. I've got a table reserved for us at Ocean, that Chinese restaurant on Clover, at six," he told her. "Before that, though, we're gonna grab a snack at Zim's. I'm thinking chili cheese fries or zucchini fries. Then, we'll go for a drive to kill some time before dinner, after which we can go out to Carson Dam, watch the stars, or, you know, whatever."

Sommer sighed and moved around him to the front of her car. "Matt, I don't have time to be running around. I have things to do."

That had definitely not been what he had wanted to hear. His cruel eyes narrowed and he clenched his fists briefly before moving. "There's no way you've got things going on twenty-four seven," Matt commented, coming up behind her and placing his hands on the car.

Since he was basically leaning against her door, she couldn't get into her car. His closeness and the lack of escape caused Sommer's defenses to sky rocket. She tensed, standing straight and looking across the parking lot over her car. "Matt, please back up so I can get in my car."

He had spent all weekend planning this evening out and he'd be damned if he was going to let her talk her way out of it. It was going to take something drastic to get her to go on this outing with him. The only thing, he realized, that worked when dealing with Sommer, was fear.

"Have you heard about the things that happen to innocent girls like you under the bleachers by the football field?" he asked, ignoring her request. "Guys like Jacob take them there to do dirty, nasty things to them and then when the guy's had his fill, he leaves the girl on the ground like a piece of trash. You don't want that to happen to you, do you? Because I can keep anything like that from happening to you. I can keep you safe from the sex driven assholes of this town."

Having just enough space to do so, Sommer turned to face him. "I can take care of myself."

Matt scoffed in disbelief. "Take a look around you, Donovan. It's not even three o'clock and this parking lot is practically deserted. Perfect conditions for some pervert to make their move and have their way with you."

Sommer stood her ground. "I can take care of myself," she repeated, turning toward her car door.

"Oh please!" Matt exclaimed with a mocking expression as he looked over her small frame from behind. "You probably weigh about a buck twenty soaking wet. All a guy would have to do is pick you up and you're done for."

He moved a little closer, his voice taunting as he spoke. "Other than a few self defense moves, I doubt you could do much. Certainly not enough to keep yourself safe."

Before she could react, Matt gripped her arm tightly and spun her, pressing her against her car, her arms pinned to her sides. He grabbed her chin and forced her to look in the direction of the football field. "I want you to remember this moment, Donovan. I want you to remember how easy it would be for someone to come along and take advantage of you. There's no one around to hear you scream, no security cameras."

Sommer swallowed hard. "Matt, pl… please! Thi… think about wh… what you're d… doing."

Matt let her go, moving a few feet away from her. "I want you to remember this moment the next time you decide to blow me off."

As he walked off, Sommer took several breaths to let her fear subside. It didn't take long, however, for anger to set in. Anger at Matt for threatening her again. Anger at the whole situation. Most of all, anger at herself for having allowed things to get to this point. The more she thought about it, the angrier she became. I need to get out of here!

Once she got into her car, she took a deep breath and found that she was shaking. She shoved the key into the ignition and cranked it. The car started with a roar and Sommer felt the hot tears sliding down her cheeks. She wiped them away forcefully and took another deep breath before putting on her seatbelt and putting the car into gear.

She needed to let off some steam, big time. She drove to Jack's as fast as she could in the city limits and ran inside as soon as she got there. Though she wasn't scheduled to be there for another couple of hours, she knew it wouldn't be a problem for her to use the independent studies room for a good hour or two.

She quickly changed into her usual workout clothes, with a t-shirt added over her sports bra to hide the bruise she knew was forming, and walked directly into the independent studies room. To her surprise, there was already someone in there. "Oh I'm sorry; I didn't think anyone would be in here."

Kevin stopped punching the punching bag and looked to see who was speaking to him. A smile spread across his face as he said, "No worries; were you scheduled to use this room today?"

"No, no… Um… I just need to blow off some steam," Sommer answered. "I can come back."

As she turned to go, Kevin jogged over to her and lightly touched her arm. Sommer rounded on him and nearly gave him a black eye. Kevin, luckily, was able to block the punch she was aiming at him and took a step back. "Whoa, Sommer, take it easy," he said gently.

Sommer took a deep breath and gave him an apologetic look. "I'm sorry; I just don't want to be touched right now," she explained.

"No problem," Kevin told her with a reassuring smile. "Come on, this room's big enough for the both of us. You look like you want to hit something; do you want the punching bag or the boxing dummy?"

Sommer gave him a small, thankful, smile. "I'll take the dummy if that's all right with you," she said.

"Boxing dummy it is," Kevin said, motioning for her to get started.

"Thanks, Kevin; really," she said as she walked over to the dummy. "Oh, and Kevin?"

Kevin had moved back to the punching bag and was just about to start punching but he hesitated and glanced at Sommer who was looking at him questioningly. "Yes?"

"Please don't critique me today."

Kevin smiled. "Hey, there's no student, teacher thing today; just two people working out," he said with a nod.

Sommer returned his smile and turned her attention to the blue dummy in front of her. Sometimes when she was working out, it would help her to imagine that she was actually hitting a person instead of a dummy. She would normally pretend she was hitting and kicking a celebrity of some sort but today, she was picturing Matt Robson.

His final words to her echoed in her mind. I want you to remember this moment… They were the beat that coursed through her as her fists made contact with the dummy. I (punch) want (punch) you (punch) to remember (punch, punch, punch, punch) this (punch) moment (punch, punch). Each syllable became the rhythm of her steam blowing, the words shaking her to her core.

I want you to remember this moment… I want you to remember this moment… She could no longer see the boxing dummy in front of her, only Matt's cruel face. I want you to remember this moment…

Kevin stopped what he was doing and turned to look at Sommer. He didn't like what he was seeing. Her punches were wild, her kicks inaccurate, she was muttering to herself. That's what had made him pay attention to her. He knew she had quick reflexes so the fast pace of her punches and kicks hadn't worried him… too much… but when she started talking to herself in a tone that was full of such hatred and anger, well, that made him take notice.

He didn't care that she had told him not to critique her, if she kept going the way she was, she was going to end up hurting herself and that was in no way okay with him. He quickly moved over to her and spun her around, taking on the force of her fists on his chest. He then wrapped his arms around her, effectively pinning her to his body. "Sommer, Sommer, sshhh," he said softly as she slowly began to stop trying to push him away. "Sssshhhh, it's okay, I'm here, I'm here."

When she had completely stopped resisting him and was simply crying into his chest, Kevin relaxed his hold on her a bit and began rubbing her back soothingly. He didn't know what had scared her so badly, but he wasn't going to force her to talk about it if she wasn't ready to; he didn't know her well enough for her to trust him; that much he knew.

After several minutes, Sommer quieted and pulled away from Kevin. "I'm sorry," she whispered as she wiped her face quickly with her hands.

"You don't need to apologize for being upset," Kevin replied gently.

"I got snot on your shirt," Sommer told him, blushing with embarrassment.

Kevin shrugged as he looked down at his shirt. "It'll wash. Do you wanna talk about what's upset you?"

Sommer shook her head and walked over to the bench and sat down. "Thanks, but that's really the last thing I want do right now."


Kevin peeled off his tear and snot stained shirt, tossed it into his gym bag, and walked back over to the punching bag. "That's it?"

Kevin looked over at the sound of her soft question. "What?"

"You're not going to push me to talk?"

Kevin shook his head.

Sommer looked confused. "Why?"

"Because I believe in letting people open up when they're ready to; not because someone asks them," he said. "Besides, you're not the type of person to open up to a virtual stranger."

Sommer bit her bottom lip and looked down at her hands. "Thank you."

Kevin knelt in front of her, running his hands gently down her arms. Sommer winced slightly. "You okay?"

Sommer pulled up her sleeve and looked at the bright red handprint on her arm. Kevin's eyes blazed as he gently examined the area. "I'll get you an ice pack."

While Kevin was getting the ice pack, he took the time to compose himself. The anger pulsing through him was so great that he was practically seeing red. Sure, the sight of a handprint on a woman would make anyone angry, but this was something more to him; this was personal.

Kevin closed his eyes and took several deep breaths, fighting back unwanted images from his past that he'd tried for years to forget. His hand reflexively lifted and began rubbing his arm as though he were the one hurting. Think of Sommer, he thought. Sommer needs you right now.

"Thank you," Sommer said when he came back and handed her the ice pack.

"You're welcome," he replied. "Are you feeling better?"

"A little," Sommer told him with a sniffle. "Are you okay? You looked pissed when you left."

Kevin sighed. "Let's just say that a man laying hands on a woman really makes me mad."

Sommer blinked. "I... I just..."

Kevin ran both of his hands through his hair. "I've seen enough marks like that in my life to put two and two together," he told her.

Sommer sniffed and looked down at her feet. Kevin watched her for a moment and then walked over to the punching bag. He really needed to hit something. After throwing a few punches he heard Sommer's soft voice and stopped. "I'm sorry?"

Sommer chewed on her bottom lip for a second before saying, "He just grabbed my arm."

"He who?"

"Matt," Sommer whispered without thinking.

Kevin swore under his breath and hit the punching bag in front of him as hard as he could. Sommer jumped at the sound the contact of his fist made and pulled her knees to her chest, hugging them tightly.

Kevin closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Why did he grab your arm?"

Sommer shook her head, her eyes wide.

He opened his eyes and looked directly at her. "Sommer..."

"No! Please, Kevin... I can't..."

Kevin saw that she was close to tears again and it broke his heart to see how scared she was. "Okay," he said calmly. "Okay. Promise me something though."

He waited until she was looking at him before finishing. "If he does anything like this again... I mean, anything... you tell me, and I'll take care of it."

"I'm a big girl, Kevin. I can han..."

"So help me, if you tell me you can handle him."

"But I can."

Kevin gave her a disbelieving look. "Sommer, the day we met you were scared out of your mind; I don't exactly call that handling; do you?" he questioned. When she didn't reply, he continued, "Look, all I want to do is help."

Sommer looked down at her hands. "That's just the thing," she whispered. "Nobody can help me."

She had obviously not meant for him to hear that, so he pretended as though he hadn't. There was a large part of him, due to his past, that felt protective of her and wanted to walk right out of the building, find Matt, and beat his ass. He already had a great dislike for Matt because he was a spoiled rich brat that always had things handed to him and never had to deal with the consequences of his actions because his parents would bail him out. He, himself, had not been raised to rely on other people to get him out of things. He had never had things handed to him in life and he held a certain disrespect for people that did.

Matt was the type of person that could get away with anything simply because his family was rich and his father was a lawyer. He knew it, too, and took advantage of it by being a prick to anyone and everyone he wanted. Which was another reason Kevin disliked him so much. However, hearing that he had laid hands on a woman? That was the last straw that took him from dislike, to hatred.

He watched as Sommer went back to punching the boxing dummy. It angered him to see her like this. To know that a despicable piece of trash had brought this out in her. She seemed to have such a vibrancy for life and a passion for this sport they shared and to see that replaced with such sadness and pain literally hurt his heart.

Keeping an eye on her, Kevin moved back over to the punching bag and got back to what he'd been doing before Somer had come in. Despite being angry about Sommer's situation, it felt good that he could be there for her and that she was opening up to him. That meant something to him.

The rhythmic sounds of punches and kicks was suddenly interrupted by the shrilling of Sommer's cell phone. She shot Kevin an apologetic look and then smacked her forehead as she looked at the clock. "Shoot!" she exclaimed as she dug through her bag for her phone.

When she found the phone she pulled it out and immediately flipped it open. "CJ, I am so sorry!" she said, grabbing her bag and hoisting it over her shoulder. She gave Kevin a quick wave and rushed out of the building. "I'm on my way right now."

Today wasn't a ballet day for Sommer but she had made arrangements to take CJ to her hip hop class since her car was still being fixed. She hurried across the parking lot, glancing both ways before crossing to her car, while fishing her keys out of her side gym bag pocket. Once she found them, she hoisted her gym bag over her shoulder and unlocked her trunk, throwing the bag in.

"Is everything all right?" CJ said concernedly.

Sommer unlocked her car and quickly started the engine. "Yeah, I just… I got sidetracked."

"That's not like you, Sums; what's going on?"

She chewed on her lip as she checked traffic before pulling out of her parking space. Things had gotten to a boiling point today and she knew they had only gotten that way because she hadn't opened up to CJ about the things she was dealing with. "Listen, I'll explain everything when I pick you up, okay? I'm about to drive right now so I've got to hang up; I don't have my headset handy."

There was a pause before CJ said, "All right, but just know that I'll probably have a lot of questions."

Though CJ couldn't see her, Sommer nodded. "You wouldn't be you if you didn't. See you in a bit."

CJ clicked her phone off and threw it in her dance bag with a deep sigh. Having known Sommer as long as she had, it hadn't taken but a second for her to pick up on the fact that her friend had been crying. The two had been through every emotion possible together, they had seen each other at their worst, and at their best. They could look at each other and practically know what the other was thinking. Lately though, Sommer had been secretive and evasive, even a little defensive, and that worried the blue-eyed brunette.

Something in her gut told her that whatever was bothering Sommer had something to do with Matt. Exactly how much, she didn't know, but she was going to find out. She had spent the summer allowing her best friend to keep secrets from her because, hey, everyone has secrets and she wasn't one to pry, but enough was enough. Her best friend was obviously hurting and she was going to find out why. As harsh as it sounded, she was going to whatever she had to do to get her friend to open up.

CJ, quit being such a hardass, she told herself. Sommer's already said she'd tell you everything. Trust her and be there for her.

She heaved another sigh and slung her dance bag over her shoulder. She headed out of her room, down the spiral staircase, and out the front door. After locking the front door, she made herself comfortable on the porch steps, pulling her dark hair into a high ponytail as she waited.

It wasn't but a few minutes later that the rumbling sound of an American muscle car coming down the street caught her attention. She looked in the direction the sound was coming from and, sure enough, it was Sommer's car. CJ stood, adjusting the strap of her bag to a more comfortable position as she made her way down the brick walkway. When Sommer pulled into the driveway, CJ opened the back passenger's side door and tossed her bag onto the seat before hopping into the front. Once buckled in, she turned slightly and looked her friend over.

As she had suspected, there was evidence that Sommer had been crying. "You went to Jack's?" she inquired.

Sommer cleared her throat as she put her car in reverse and backed out of the Wilkes' driveway. "Yeah, I, um… I needed to blow off some steam."

"I can see that," CJ stated with a nod. "So, what's going on?"

Sommer took a deep breath. "Okay, if I'm going to tell you what's going on, you're going to have to shut-up and let me talk, all right?"

Sommer obviously knew that CJ had been ready to slip into full interrogation mode and was doing what little she could to keep that from happening. Well, she's known you since you were a baby so it's no surprise that she'd know you were about to question her to no end, CJ thought before answering, "Fair enough."

Sommer took another breath to calm her nerves. Had this been an hour ago she didn't think she would have been able to say anything, but her time in the ISR with Kevin had helped give her strength. She knew CJ had heard most of what she was about to tell her her, so those things weren't too difficult to get through. But the new stuff? That would prove more difficult.

CJ remained silent while Sommer spoke. Not an easy task considering what she was hearing. Also not easy because she had never been one to keep her mouth shut when she had an opinion about something. She had been raised to speak her mind, however Sommer had asked her to let her speak uninterrupted, so she did.

Her heart broke, her blood boiled, and her stomach churned at hearing Sommer's "tale of woe." It made her sick that her best friend, her virtual sister, was going through something so horrible. She clenched her fists so tight her knuckles whitened.

"And that's everything up to just before you called," Sommer finished.

"That son of a bitch!" CJ blurted furiously. "I'm going to kick his ass!"

"I don't need you fighting my battles for me, CJ," Sommer argued.

CJ shook her head and scoffed. "That's right, you don't," she said with a smack of her lips. "You don't need me fighting your battles because you can kick his hass yourself! Which you said you would do if he ever touched you again, by the way."

Sommer clenched the steering wheel and let out an irritated breath. She briefly let her head fall back against the headrest of the driver's seat before focusing back on the road. "I froze, okay?!" she exclaimed. "I was attacked and did nothing to defend myself because I was too scared."

She wiped a tear from her eye and breathed a few times to calm herself. "It was like, in that moment, my mind was completely blank," she explained. "I couldn't think, I could barely speak… I couldn't even move. I was paralyzed with fear. Matt was so angry when I told him I couldn't go with him on this elaborate "date" he'd planned that I didn't know what he was going to do. I mean; the things he was saying…"

CJ furrowed her brow when Sommer stopped talking; apparently either too lost in the emotional impact of the day, or simply unable to put forth the words. "Shit," she muttered, her heart breaking. "Sommer, I'm sorry. It's obvious you've been through more than anyone should ever have to endure today. I shouldn't be berating you for not defending yourself; I have no clue what it must have been like for you, or even what I would've done in that situation."

Sommer shook her head, wiping at her eyes with a hand. "No, in a way, you're right; I should've fought, defended myself. I always thought that, if push came to shove, I'd be able to do what was necessary… Turns out I'm just another damsel in distress."

Hearing those words, CJ slammed her fist against the car door. After a brief glance around, she realized they were pulling into the parking lot of the Langford Dance Academy where they practiced dance. Had they been elsewhere, she would have made Sommer pull over.

When the car came to a stop, CJ unbuckled her seatbelt and turned her entire body so that she was looking at Sommer head on. "That's it! I'm not going to listen to you put yourself down!" she practically snapped. "You, Sommer Donovan, are no damsel in distress."

Sommer seemed shocked at CJ's outburst. "But…"

"No!" CJ interrupted. "You have been torn down and manipulated by that bastard to the point where you actually believe that you deserve what he's been doing to you. Well, believe me… you are so much better than that!"

She unbuckled Sommer's seatbelt and gently forced to her to turn toward her. "You are strong. You are beautiful. You are the person I look up to, the person that inspires me to be a better person. I see your heart in everything that you do. The fact that you continue to look for the good in everyone despite how certain people treat you… it astonishes me."

CJ took Sommer's hands in her own and gave them a squeeze. Sommer sniffled. "How is it that you always know what to say to make me feel better?" she questioned with a soft smile, returning the squeeze.

That question was rewarded with CJ's mega-watt smile, the smile that could bring boys to their knees begging for a chance to be with her. "I'm naturally gifted at making people feel better," she replied.

A giggle escaped Sommer's lips as she watched CJ playfully toss her ponytail over her shoulder. Hearing that made CJ happy. She hated seeing her friends upset for any reason, which was why she always did whatever she could to make them happy. "There's the Sommer I know and love."

Sommer pulled her forward and wrapped her arms around her neck in as tight a hug as she could manage in their awkward positions; they were sitting in a car after all. "Thank you for listening," she whispered.

CJ returned the hug just as tightly and rubbed Sommer's back. "Hey, it's what I'm here for, girl," she said, pulling back and looking her in the eyes seriously. "I mean it. Anytime you need, or want, to talk, I'm here… always. Okay?"

After Sommer nodded in response, CJ gave her another hug. "Well, I should get inside and get warmed up for class. You want to come in and watch? It might take your mind off of things for a while."

Thoughtful things like that are what made Sommer love having CJ as her best friend. "I appreciate the thought, but I've got to get back to Jack's for my training session."

"Okay," CJ said, adjusting her position and opening the car door. She got out and grabbed her bag out of the back seat. She then leaned into the car. "Call me later?"

"Absatively, posolutely," Sommer replied, grinning.

"TTFN!" CJ said with a wave as she shut the car door.

Sommer knew it was childish, but the two of them had always loved Tigger from Winnie the Pooh so they would sometimes quote the springy-tailed character. She waited until CJ was inside the Dance Academy before heading back to Jack's. This time, when she stepped into the martial arts studio, she was calm and focused. Her mind was cleared and she was ready to get to work. She tightened her hand wraps and let out a deep breath as she headed out of the locker room to the main training area. Let's do this!

9:12 PM

Kevin pulled his car into the driveway of his parents' house after his workout at Jack's. He hadn't seen them in a few days so he figured he'd drop by so that his mother wouldn't worry about him. Well, at least she won't worry about me as much, he thought as he got out of his car.

He walked up to the door and unlocked it with the key that his parents had insisted he keep. "Mom? Dad?" he called.

A petite woman with shoulder length dark blonde hair rounded the corner leading into the kitchen, smiling at Kevin brightly. "Kevin, mon petit chou!" she said as she pulled him into a hug. "Ca va?"

Kevin returned his mother's hug and rolled his eyes, smiling as he said, "Mom, I think I'm a little too old to be called your little cabbage."

She patted his cheek and grinned brightly. "You will always be my little cabbage," she replied. "Now, humor your mother; how are you?"

"I'm good."

Mrs. Whitmore frowned a bit. "Kevin, 'I'm good' is not proper English," she admonished gently.

"Mom, I'm not majoring in English so I don't think my speaking improperly is a huge deal," Kevin told her with a light laugh.

"The boy's got a point, Claire."

Both Kevin and his mother turned at the sound of the smooth male voice as its owner entered the room. "Hey, Dad," Kevin said, holding out his hand.

Kevin's dad shook his hand and pulled him into a one armed hug. "How you doing, son?"

"I'm well, Dad, how are you?"

"I couldn't be better actually," Mr. Whitmore replied. "Had a doctor's appointment today and everything's looking real good."

"That's good to hear," Kevin said with a smile.

"Kevin, you're staying for dinner," his mother said; it wasn't a question, it was more of a gentle demand.

Kevin winked at her. "How could I say 'no' to you?"

"I don't think you can," Kevin's mother teased as she patted his cheek lightly. "Come on, I've almost got dinner ready."

Kevin followed her into the kitchen and began grabbing plates out of the cabinets. As he set the table, his mother went about putting the finishing touches on dinner and his father chatted about his doctor's appointment. Kevin made a few comments here and there but for the most part, he was quiet. In all honesty, he was worried about Sommer.

He really wanted to rip Matt a new one for hurting Sommer, but he knew that would only cause trouble for himself. When he thought about how scared Sommer had been earlier... It honestly hurt him. He hadn't known Sommer for very long but it was becoming clear to him that she was quickly becoming someone that meant more to him.

He was lost in his thoughts until his mother questioned him about Jack's. "I told you Jack's assigned a new student to me, right?" he questioned.

"Yes; her name is Sommer, n'est pas?"

Kevin nodded as he took a sip of the iced tea his mother handed him. "Yeah."

"And how is she doing?"

"She's the best student I've trained," Kevin answered. "Nearly perfect technical execution of moves, disciplined, listens well, learns quick... She's a sweet girl."

"It seems to me that you have a liking for this girl," Kevin's father said, exchanging a knowing look with his wife.

Kevin rolled his eyes and laughed. "You just want me to find a girlfriend in the hopes that I'll find a wife," he teased.

"Is it so wrong to want grandchildren?" his father asked with a chuckle.

"Dad, I'm only twenty-two! I think there's plenty of time for me to find someone to settle down with."

"Yes, Russ, let's not rush him," Mrs. Whitmore said.

"You're only saying that because you still think of him as our little boy," Mr. Whitmore retorted playfully.

Mrs. Whitmore narrowed her frosty gray eyes at her husband and playfully shook her fork at him. "No matter what you, or Kevin, may say; Kevin will always be my little boy."

"Mom, chill, will you?" Kevin laughed. "I'm not in any hurry to be a husband, or a father."

"Good because I'm far too young to be a grand-mere."

Kevin couldn't have heard a truer word that night if he'd said them himself. Claire Whitmore had only been twenty-eight years old when Kevin had come to live with her and her husband Russ. Her fortieth birthday had been just the previous month and that, in Kevin's opinion, was definitely too young for her to be a grandmother. However, he knew that she wanted to see him in a relationship.

"And, yes, Dad, I think I might like her," Kevin said, "but I'm not completely sure yet; I hardly know her."

The rest of the dinner conversation consisted of talk about Kevin's classes at school, his training at Jack's, how Kellan was doing, and many other things. When they were all finished eating, Kevin helped his mother clean off the table and do the dishes. He then kissed his mother on the cheek and shook his father's hand in goodbye.

Just as he reached the front door, however, his mother called back to him. "Oh, Kevin, un moment, mon cheri," she said. "You have some mail here."

She handed him a few pieces of mail before kissing his cheek and holding the door open for him. "When will we see you again?"

"Um, I'll come by after training in a few days," Kevin answered.

"All right," she said. "Be sweet, Kevin. Say 'hi' to Kellan for me!"

Kevin nodded and waved as he got into his car and drove off. When he got to his apartment, he quickly parked in his parking space and cut the engine. A few moments later, he was swinging his gym bag over his shoulder and walking through the apartment complex to his apartment.

He dropped his gym bag by the door and set the mail down on a tiny table by his couch as he walked passed it. Kevin's apartment wasn't really anything special, but it was his and that's all that mattered to him. He thoroughly enjoyed having a place of his own where he could do what he wanted and stay up as late as he wanted without disturbing anyone else.

Kevin kicked off his shoes and sat down on the couch, grabbing the remote and flicking on the TV. He tried to concentrate on the show that was on, but he kept finding himself thinking about Sommer. He realized that he'd been doing this quite often since he'd first met her.

He couldn't help thinking about her. Sommer was unlike any girl he had ever met. She didn't giggle or gawk at him, she actually had decent conversations with him... well, they were getting there. He hoped that they'd, one day, be able to talk for hours if they wanted to.

Seeing Sommer so blindly upset this afternoon had brought out a protective side of him that he hadn't seen in years. With that protectiveness also came fear. Fear that he would lose her. And she's not even mine to lose.

Finally, after realizing that he wasn't in the mood to watch TV, Kevin turned it off and reached over to pick up the mail on the little table next to him. He sorted through it quickly until he came across an official looking envelope with the return address marked as Grayson County Penitentiary.

His heart started pounding as he flipped the envelope over and tore it open with a shaking hand. He pulled the letter out and unfolded it, carefully reading over each word. This can't be happening, he thought as he finished the letter.

Kevin stared at the piece of paper in his hand, reading the lines over and over again. He honestly didn't want to believe that the content of the letter was true; he really didn't. He read over the letter one final time and crumpled it, throwing it into his trash can angrily.

He closed his eyes and rested his head in his hands. He hoped that when he opened his eyes again that all of this would turn out to be a bad dream. He hoped that he would wake up and he would have never received the letter that was now at the bottom of his waste basket. Of course, he knew that wouldn't be the case.

The whole situation pertaining to the crumpled letter was very real; and very traumatic. His mind, against his will, went back to the night that the event took place. Pictures of his mother's body, broken and bloody, flashed through his mind. He clenched his hands into fists and slammed them down on the desk in front of him.

Every single detail of that night was so vivid in his mind; it was almost as if it had just happened. He could still hear his mother's screams of pain, her pleads to his father to calm down. Her words had done her no good, though. She still died, Kevin thought.

With a growl of frustration, Kevin pushed his chair back and stood up. He walked over to his trash can and pulled the piece of paper out, un-crumpling it so that he could read over it again. After several more minutes of staring at the paper, he folded it and stuffed it into his pocket.

A minute later, Kevin's cell phone started ringing. "Hello?" he said.

"Hey, man, everything okay?" Kellan asked, sounding worried.

Kevin cleared his throat and said, "Yeah, well, no not really but I'd rather not talk about it."

"You sure? You sound pissed."

"Kel, I'll be fine, I promise," Kevin assured him, "I just need some time to cool off."

"All right, well I was fixin' to head over to Zim's; maybe shoot some pool or somethin'," Kellan said. "You wanna come with me?"

Kevin thought about taking him up on his offer but decided to decline. "Thanks, but I think I'm just gonna go for a run, or something," he answered.

"Okay, well if you change your mind, you know how to reach me," Kellan said. "Don't forget that I'm here if you wanna talk, too, okay?"

Kevin laughed a little at this as he said, "Dude, you sound like a girl."

The next thing Kevin heard over the line was, "Well, I'll talk to ya later, big boy," in the most girly voice Kellan had ever used.

"Dude, you're sick," Kevin told him with a laugh before clicking the 'end' button on his phone.

Kevin then set his phone down on his desk and began pacing his living room floor. He hated that he was being dragged through this again. Once was certainly enough in his opinion; he didn't want to go through it again. But could he seriously allow his father to possibly be let out of prison after what he'd done to his own wife?

The answer to that, of course, was 'no' and Kevin knew that his father wouldn't get parole if he testified. However, he wasn't quite sure if he could actually be in the same room as his father without killing him. No matter how much he wanted to kill his father for what he did, he knew that paying for his crime was better because then the man would have to live with it every day.

Unable to just sit still anymore, Kevin walked into his room and quickly changed into a t-shirt and jogging pants. Moments later, he was grabbing his wallet and keys, walking out of his apartment and out of the building into the darkening night. Once he was outside, he broke into a light jog, unsure of what time he'd return.

When Kevin finally returned home a few hours later, he felt exhausted. He went to the refrigerator and grabbed a water bottle. After opening it, he drank half in one go. He then took his shirt off and began heading toward the bathroom.

A knock on the door made him change his course. When he opened the door, he sighed. "Meg, it's a little late for visiting."

Meg's eyes widened at the sight of him half naked and sweaty. "Did I, um, interrupt something?" she asked.

"I was about to take a shower and go to bed," Kevin told her, not wanting to deal with her. "Is there a reason you're knocking on my door at 12:30 AM?"

Meg brushed by him and sat down on his couch. "My parents are out of town so I thought I'd come by and give you a chance to take me out."

"And what exactly makes you think I'd want to do that?"

Meg smiled brightly as she allowed her eyes to travel slowly down his body. "Oh, come on, Kevin," she said as sexily as she could. "You know you've been dying to take me out."

"Actually, what I'm dying to do is take a shower."

Meg licked her lips. "Need some help with that?"

Frustrated, and almost to his breaking point, Kevin walked over to her, took her by the arm, and led her back to the door. "First off; you don't just walk into somebody's place without being invited. Secondly; it's 12:30 in the morning on a school night; you should be asleep in your bed, not trying to whore yourself to someone who really isn't interested."

Meg was too shocked to do, or say, anything as Kevin told her to go home and slammed the door in her face.

Kevin rubbed his face as he walked to the bathroom and started the water for a shower. Twenty minutes later, he was lying on his bed staring up at the ceiling. He knew that, though he was physically tired, it was going to be a long time before he actually fell asleep.

He rolled off the bed and went into the living room, picking up his guitar as he left his room. With all that Kevin had been through in his life, the one constant thing that he knew would always be there was music. Ever since he was a child, Kevin had loved music. He could remember his mother singing him back to sleep when he'd woken from a bad dream, his grandmother playing the piano, his father playing his guitar.

That was the one good memory he had of his biological father; listening to him play. Kevin had actually learned to play a little from his father. When he'd lived with his grandmother, Kevin had been allowed to take lessons and Claire had let him continue those lessons when he moved in with her.

Kevin loved playing music. If he could sing, he'd probably love that, too. He also liked writing songs. One of his close friends was in a band and he frequently asked Kevin if he could flip through one of his many notebooks filled with songs. Any song that was chosen, Kevin was always created with the writing and was allowed a say in the production.

He sat down on the couch and quietly began strumming the strings of his guitar. He whispered the words to the song he was playing and felt the tension in his body slowly starting to ebb away.

You sheltered me from harm

You kept me warm, you kept me warm

And you gave my life to me

You set me free, you set me free

The finest years I ever knew

Were all the years I had with you

And I would give everything I own

I'd give up my life, my heart, my home

I would give everything I own

Just to have you back again

You taught me how to love

What it's of, what it's of

You never said too much but still you showed the way

And I knew from watching you

That nobody else could ever know

The part of me that can't let go

And I would give everything I own

I'd give up my life, my heart, my home

I would give everything I own

Just to have you back again

Is there someone you know, loving them so?

You're taking them all for granted

You may lose them one day, someone takes them away

And you don't hear the words they long to say

I would give everything I own

Nobody could love you love you love you like I do

And I would give everything I own

I'd give up my life, my heart, my home

I would give everything I own

Just to have you back again

Just to have you... back again

As the last note hung in the air, a tear slid down his cheek. "Tu me manques, Mama, Je t'aime," he whispered.

Author's note- I hope y'all enjoyed! Please feel free to let me know what your thoughts are by leaving a comment! I love feedback and I always try to respond to my reviews. Any thoughts you have, I'd love to hear! Much love to you all! -Sarah