A.N: Thanks for taking the time to take a look at Minds Wide Open. This is a novel I've wanted to write for a little while and only just now decided to. It takes part in a fictional Australian town and follows the lives of teenagers and their struggles; with love, lust, live decisions, family dramas, drugs, domestic violence and countless other issues. It's essentially a story that follows the constant learning we face through life based on our experiences. Learning that occurs from meeting even the most terrible of people, to even the kindest and the way that people are hypocritical and contradictory of their own opinions every day.

This is going to be a story that follows a lot of content. Violence, romance - a bit of this and that. It's got something for everyone; or at least I hope. So please have a read and review when a new chapter arrives. It'll be beyond appreciated.

I hope you enjoy it.

- Lawson TR.

Chapter 1 – Rolling Thunder

Crash! Bang! Rumble! Roar!

Thunder in summer. Lighting in summer. It was the end of the world; surely! For Massey Hynes and Jacob McDermott it felt that way. Their final year of school was pulling to an abrupt stop and it seemed that being ready for the real world was no longer an excuse for not wanting to stop being a kid.
It seemed that things were getting scarily real and the two of them didn't like it.
Nonetheless, even with the thunder crashing and the lighting striking furiously away, no rain drenched the dry terrain of Homely Peak. The small Australian town was known for its exceptional beach locations and its amazing surf, but it was funny how - when it was known so well for its waters – it never got any from above. Living in Homely Peak was as good as living in the vastest desert in Egypt. With one exception of course. The beautiful beaches which made Homely Peak the perfect place it was for locals. Then there was the way the plants and fauna still held their colours. Vibrant reds in some of the flowers, faded and yet, some intense greens to the grasses and fields that could be found about and clear blue skies to compliment the beaches waters. Those were the things that people rarely appreciated, but with time running away with all its memories and dreams, it was hard not to appreciate the little things. It only seemed like yesterday that the 70's had just arrived, but now, midway through, the decade was going far too quickly.

Sitting in a large cement tunnel, Massey had her knees pulled firmly to her chest. Her blonde hair draped in pig tails on either side of her head and her shoulders proved to perch the tight hair ropes easily. Her particularly rounded face moved about as her lips moved from side to side as she considered something that she'd been eager to talk about. Opposite her was her closest friend, Jacob. Jake was a surfer looking guy. He had very angular, sharp features and his eyes were a vibrant view; his nose a little hooked at the bridge. Still, a handsome guy no less. He'd been struggling lately – with the idea of leaving school. With the lack of support his dad showed him. Mr. McDermott was a real prick to him. At least that's what Massey gathered. He seemed to push him around and every now and then Jake would come with bruises to school. He'd always put it down to having a surfing accident, but Massey didn't buy it.
After all, he had told her how cruel his dad could be and she was doing her best to help him cope with the lacking support. At least he had his mum. She was good to him – just a little too introverted for her own good; overpowered by Mr. McDermott's dominating persona no doubt.

Massey shrieked a little at the sudden sound of thunder that broke her conversation. A bolt cracked and whipped across the sky and she looked at it, awed.

'Pretty cool, huh?' she mentioned.

Jake looked up from his thoughts. He didn't quite know what she was asking but he shrugged his shoulders and nodded.

'Yeah. I mean, I 'spose .' He always looked as though he was a million miles away.

'Don't you like the lightning?'

'Not really.' He shrugged again. 'I don't like loud noises. Besides, dad refuses to let me out on the surf when the lighting starts. Says it does something to the waters – gets 'em really swirling or something.'

Massey raised a brow, her head turning back to face the long blond male that was just opposite her. The mention of Mr. McDermott showing some decency threw her off.

'Your dad said that?' she asked curiously.

'He's not a bad guy.' Jake defended.

'Yeah….' Massey didn't sound convinced. She shuffled in her place and rested the back of her head against the cement backing. 'He knows you're here, right?'

'Nah. He's still at work. I've gotta' be back home by five or he'll let me have it.'

'It's ten passed.' Massey spoke softly, looking down at her wrist watch. She looked up to see the expression of Jake's face but he'd already sprung out of the tunnel and started his jog back home.

She breathed out a worried sigh. Not only had she failed to ask what she really wanted to, but she'd gotten Jake in trouble with his dad. At least that's how she saw it. She had asked him to come out after all.

But shit, it was with the best intentions. She craved him, wanted him – needed him. If she was being honest, Massey thought she could go as far as saying she loved him.

Young love really was a peculiar thing.


The front door creaked open and then thudded shut. Jacob glanced about the home, his spirits immediately meeting an all time low. He was wary, scared and alone. He took careful steps down the entrance hall and stopped before every doorway; glancing down them all with silent fear.
Each step felt like an age as he tried and hoped that he'd reach his bedroom without his dad noticing him. Because God only knew that Jake feared his father more than any force on the Earth.
He breathed a sigh of relief at the passing of each passageway into another room and finally, he reached his bedroom doorway and angled to move through it.

'Oi.' Jacob froze. 'Where've you been?' footsteps moved towards him but Jacob did his best to tune them out, his eyes closed over tightly. A firm slap clashed with the back of his head and he felt the impact; his brain feeling as though it moved in the skull that housed it.

'I said home at five.'

Jacob didn't speak up.

'Sorry? I'm not hearing an explanation.'

Jake swallowed heavily. He wanted to turn to face his father but he couldn't. His legs felt weak and he let his hand grasp the frame of the door to hold him in place.

'I-…'

'What?' his father interrupted.

'I lost track of time, dad. Sorry.' The sincerity to the boys voice was obvious and it seemed as though for a moment, it had worked Mr. Henry McDermott over.

Just for a moment.

For a moment, Henry McDermott showed some humanity.

Then, those charming looks; that full lip moustache and the neck length brown hair he had carefully waved back into place restored their old animosity.

'You're fucking useless, Jakey. Fucking useless.' His father spat coolly. 'I give you one job and you can't even get home in time? You're not going out anymore. Not until you start learning how to use that thing on your wrist.'

Jacob cringed, his hands clenched into fists at the mention of being imprisoned in the home.

'I don't have a watch!' he didn't mean to let spurt. 'My last one broke!' The moment was enough to have him retort in such a way he usually wouldn't. The freedom of a surfer being taken away was like the death penalty; especially during the long anticipated summer.

'You got a job, Jakey?' Henry questioned.

'Sure. I work with Uncle Guy at the vendor.'

'Uncle Guy pays you right?'

'Yeah.'

'Then use some initiative and buy yourself a fucking watch.' Henry paced along as if Jake was mentally unstable. 'You're eighteen not eleven.'

'I'll buy one with my next pay.' Jake said softly.

'Bit late really isn't it?' Henry contradicted himself but still with certain confidence.

Jake stayed silent.

What do you want me to do then, asshole? He thought to himself.

'We'll talk about it tomorrow. Go on, piss off. Footballs starting and Darcy and Martin are comin' round. Grab us a beer would ya'?' Henry licked his upper lip, ran a hand through his hair and moved passed his son, giving him a firm pat on the shoulder.

'I love ya' buddy…. Just…. Just try not to piss me off so much.' He smiled with half effort before clearing out into the lounge room.

Jake stood still; paralyzed for a moment as he breathed deeply and slowly. His eyes remained closed and he felt the tears fighting to escape. It was all just too much. His dad hated him then loved him and then hated him again.

Why couldn't he just be like Massey's dad? Kind, genuine and sparsely around.

If only. If only.

Finally, Jake mustered the courage to open his eyes. The corridor was dark now and he realized that he must have been standing there for at least a good fifteen minutes. The door to the lounge was shut and the sound of a commentator eagerly cheering for a scored goal crept under the door and through the walls. No light illuminated the corridor anymore and Jake was glad for it. Even after having stood in one spot for such a long period of time, the tears had remained behind his eyelids, and the moment they'd opened – they'd flooded out like a stream.
He fought through his blurry vision and dropped onto his bed, his hands pulling through his long hair as all the thoughts rushed through his mind. The thoughts about his family, his father and his life after school.
Because the end of school was ever so quickly approaching. Only weeks away and Jake had no idea where he was going to be thereafter. It seemed like a distant worry, especially with the summer dawning on Homely Peak. Now though, with a potential prison sentence capped on him, Jake was starting to think. Starting to consider that bigger picture.

And then it felt like too much. So the surfer boy did what he knew calmed him best. Reaching under his pillow and withdrawing a small zip-lock bag, he removed a rolled cigarette. Placing it on his lower lip and clasping it in place, he removed a lighter and puffed away.
Mum and dad wouldn't know the difference between a joint and a cigarette even if they noticed the smoke venting under the door into the lounge. Even if they did – it was Jake. He was just their son after all.

Why'd they care?

Only reason dad would be popping his head in was to see what the delay was on his grog.


Massey sat at her desk, her eyes level with the entrance to the classroom as she waited for her blond-haired friend to enter. She'd been worrying about him all afternoon and all night after he'd taken off so quickly. She knew the way his dad responded to even the tiniest of hiccups. But the clock ticked away and there was no sign of Jake. Mrs. Marsh closed the door and stooped to the front of the room, looking hunchbacked as always. Her old voice screeched across the room and no one paid her any attention.
It was sad to watch really and Massey wondered often whether or not Mrs. Marsh knew that no one ever cared much for the historical facts that she was blurting out.

'And that's why, you see, the Europeans came here.' She finally came to an end and the door to her left side creaked open.

Everyone's eyes snapped to the door and it fell silent like it always did when a latecomer arrived.

In came a blond boy, his sharp features distinguishable as always.

'Sorry, Mrs. Marsh. I had to help dad load up the work truck this morning.' That airy voice would be known anywhere.

At least to the obsessive and swooning Massey.

'That's fine Jacob. Please…. Sit down.' Mrs. Marsh looked at him with opposite meaning to what she'd delivered verbally. It didn't take too long for her to start squawking away again with another lecture; this time, about homosexuality and how in her day – this and that.

Massey leaned over her desk and 'psst' at Jake. He'd only just sat down when he looked over his shoulder.

'How'd your dad take it?' she jumped right to it; eager to extinguish her worries. Hoping that she could. Hoping that they were falsely filled.

'Fine.' Jake blinked empty-headed. The way he'd lost any sense of his personality and his uniqueness made Massey ache inside. The drugs were doing things to him. The cannabis somehow, taking more of a toll on him than anything else.

It wasn't the drugs independently though. All that pressure and that constantly feeling of being alone; that was what was really destroying Jake. Really making him eat away at every ounce of individuality that he had left. Slowly but surely, he was becoming an emotionless vessel. A person that Massey used to love but would never be able to connect with again.

'Did you smoke anything?'

Jake nodded.

'That bad?'

Jake shook his head. 'Nup.'

'Then why'd you smoke?' Massey looked confused.

'I just felt like one. I didn't have much left so I thought I'd finish it off.' Jake rested his head on his hand atop the desk.

'But you never smoke unless you've got something really hurting you, Jake.' Massey looked scared for him. The idea of him smoking just for a high made her extremely nervous. The last thing she wanted was for him to get addicted to the stuff; to be reliant on it even when he overcame the struggles with his dad.

Their conversation was stopped by the bell sounding and Jacob springing to his feet and quickening towards the door.

He was off like an Olympian sprinter.

The remainder of the school day drew on and on. Massey tried to prove herself one last time to the popular girls of the school – or as they liked to call themselves – 'The Bodies'. Still, as per usual, they barely gave her the time of day until they made her embarrass herself.

'Poking your head in the boys toilets and say that one of 'em has a big cock.' Or 'Take one of the surfers round to the back oval and give him a root.' All among the initiation tasks.

Still, Massey was never ready for any of them but her unyielding need to belong to something special made her at least try. Even still, she failed every time.

Jake was absent from sight ever since history with Mrs. Marsh until the final bell rang to go home. Walking in step with everyone else in the evacuating cluster of students that funnelled out of the hall, Massey caught sight of Jake sitting on the railing and waiting for her.

'Didn't see much of you today?' she spoke in her advance towards him and she gave him a playful nudge in the shoulder.

'Yeah…. I wasn't too up for socializing today.' Jake smiled sadly back at her. 'I need to go get my pay in advance from Uncle Guy. Gotta' get a watch. Dad's orders. Wanna' come with?'

Massey nodded. 'Sure. You going to go for a surf while we're down there?' she sounded a little too eager for him to be. Ah! While she was supportive of his love of surfing, she just loved when he get his top off. A little more than she loved the skill it took to mount a board.

But she was sorely disappointed.

'Nah.' Jake muttered. 'The last thing I need's another lecture from dad.' He hopped off the railing and grabbed Massey's hand. 'C'mon.' and he led.

Massey was blushing a deep red. While Jake was just taking some initiative and speeding up their departure from the school while he weaved through the crowd without losing his companion, Massey was holding the boy she wanted to be hers by the hand.

How romantic? Or more again; how tragic.

The sun was somehow at full heat even in the later hours of the afternoon. Massey could feel her forehead burning up and the back of her neck was aching from the burn that had already graced her skin on the way to the hot dog vendor that Jake's uncle worked at. Jake himself however seemed unfazed by the summer sun. His skin didn't seem touched by it and the olive tinge he already had seemed to glisten ever more brilliantly.

'So, ya' dad wants me to pay ya' in advance?' Uncle Guy raised a brow.

He was a chubby man with an almost unibrow. He stood not much taller than Jacob, even when he was raised by his vendor caravan. Mr. McDermott had certainly got the better genes.

'Yeah. Look Uncle, I promise I'll work hard. I just need the money.' Jake bit his lower lip nervously, his hand out-opened like Oliver Twist begging for more.

Uncle Guy creased his brow.

'Alright.' He said finally. 'But don't say I've never did anythin' for ya'.' He leaned back into his money collection and handed over a few dollars.

'Done anything.' Jake said back, taking the money in hand and pocketing it.

'Huh?'

'You said did anything. It's "done" if you want to make any sense, Uncle.' Jake grinned.

'Alright smartass. Piss of before I take the cash back.' Uncle Guy grinned toyingly, leaning over and swinging a underpowered punch here and there at Jake.

It was the first time in a while that Massey had seen him laugh genuinely.

Then he turned to her and his laughter vanished, nothing but a charming smile lingering at his lips and a life in his voice that she'd missed so much.

'I need to talk to Uncle Guy about something. Can I meet you down by the beach?' Jake asked.

Massey nodded like an obedient girlfriend; regardless of the fact that she was anything but.

Off she trotted down to the sand of the beach. She took her shoes off and allowed the water to wash over her feet. The refreshing capabilities of it still enough to put her into a loving trance.

Jake, in the meantime, leaned back towards his uncle and looked up to him with pained eyes. The smile that was had crept back into the distant corner of Jake's subconscious and now he was that lifeless vessel again.

'Do you have any more?'

Uncle Guy frowned. 'What's your dad been doin' to ya', mate? You smoked all the weed I sent your way, already?' Uncle Guy rubbed a hand over his sweating forehead. 'Fuckin' 'ell.' He spat into his hand and pulled his hair back with it. 'I might be a shit brother for sayin' this, but you need'a call child services, mate. Get that brother of my to get his shit in gear, ya' know. Fuckin' 'ell; treating kids like the way he does – it ain't right.'

Jake tried to look as though he cared sincerely about what his uncle was saying but all he really wanted was his medicine. The thing that made him relax.

'So can I have some more?' Jake asked again just as quickly as his uncle had finished.

'Yeah, mate, sure mate.' Uncle Guy bent over and vanished from sight for a moment. Finally he reappeared and handed over a zip-lock bag with cannabis inside.

'Tryin' let that one last, yeah?'

'Thanks.' Jake said with a brief smile. He stepped back and then turned, walking slowly towards the beach and moving through the hot sand.

He could see how hypocritical his uncle was in the things he said. The way he said his dad was treating him wrong and yet here he was giving him drugs. Jake didn't care. His uncle's stupidity and hypocrisy often played to his advantage.

Besides, he had the best intentions or some shit like that.

Before long, Jake was at the waters edge as well, his feet being washed over by the sea.

'Nice day for it.' He broke the silence which had lasted for about three minutes as the two of them just enjoyed the setting sun.

'It is.' Massey acknowledged, casting a look down at the zip-lock bag. 'What's that?'

'Seasoning for mum's dinner. She's making a roast tonight.' Jake knew that Massey would pick his lie, but at the same time, he knew she wouldn't push for the truth.

She said nothing, just nodded and looked back over the waters surface.

'You're not ready for this year to finish are you?' Massey spoke softly over the sound of the water. 'With school finishing and all that. Where are we gonna' go? What're we gonna' do?'

'Just thought I'd surf and hope that took me somewhere. Have a real long summer – really, really enjoy it.' Jake shrugged. 'I don't wanna' think about after the summer. It's scary. Where to go, what to do – it's all the life changing stuff and I haven't even really completely come to an understanding of the life I'm living now. I'm taking it one thing at a time.' He spoke, moving his lips side to side. 'Besides, can't live mum here. She'll lose it just bein' here with dad.'

'Mm.'

'What about you?' he asked. 'You ready to move on with it all?'

Massey shrugged.

'Maybe. Dad wants me to go become an accountant and travel with him to do his money stuff. Mum's not too fussed. I've got their support for whatever.'

That hurt a little for Jake. Especially the last part.

Support wasn't something he knew anything about.

He felt his heart sink in his chest but he smiled on contrast of his inner feelings.

'I'm glad.' He envied her so much in that moment.

So, so much.

The walk back to the McDermott residence was graced only by a brief cooling of temperature. Even with the sun down, the heat that radiated from it remained at near to its prime. Massey was sweating from her hairline and she was doing her best to wipe it away while Jake, as always, didn't seem at all discomforted by the warmth of Homely Peak. Massey immediately put it down to a 'surfer thing'.

Most of the walk was filled with small talk and awkward silences; moments where Massey was impatient to let her inner feelings loose. But she never did. The discomfort of knowing what could come if she was turned down was a great deal more than what she was willing to bear.
And so the long silences stayed as they were and the small talk came and went as it did.
Then, in one moment of silence – Massey flinched at the sound of a deep and firm voice.

'Hey, hot stuff!' Jake immediately turned to face the source of the voice but Massey was a little less quick in her movements. She shuttered slowly around and finally stopped, staring at a medium height, muscular and tattooed teen. He was about nineteen, his brown hair short and his arms toned to a point of disbelief. Next to him were two other boys, one that was taller than the caller-out, more lean but still muscular and with spiked hair. The other was the same height as the caller-out, less muscular but still had a solid build; he was clearly the youngest.

Jake stepped forward in front of Massey as if he were defending one of his young and she couldn't help but feel flattered at the defensive nature of his approach – even despite the fact that she didn't know truly how much trouble the boys ahead of her were.

'Just leave us alone, Caleb.' Jake called out. 'She's too young for you anyway.'

Massey clenched onto Jake's wrist.

They wanted her?

But she didn't want them….

'Besides, she's taken.' Jake lied easily.

'Hasn't stopped me before, has it? Besides, she's not for me, shit head. She's for the little bro.' Caleb nudged his head towards the less masculine boy.

Then Massey squeaked a little.

She knew who these boys were now.

The Peak Boys; the three brothers that treated Homely Peak as if it were their own. There was Caleb Brishmore, the oldest and most cruel. A vindictive, violent and volatile boy. He was known for brawling and taking exactly what he wanted, regardless of whether it was coessential.

Then there was Danny Brishmore. He was the most civil of the family. He did his best to protect his younger brother from Caleb's influence and avoid the deliberate power wars his brother endeavoured for. Still, he took what he wanted and he held onto it with two hands.

And then there was Mickey Brishmore. The youngest of the bunch, and supposedly the most innocent. Hardly. He was a boy that was influenced by anything and everything his eldest brother said or did. A boy eager for acceptance… a boy that rang true to aspects of Jake really. And apparently…. He liked Massey.

It was in that moment of realization that Massey realized that they'd be taking her one way or another. Whether she wanted to pleasure Mickey or not.
She was shaking now. She was sweating far more than before.
She was unbelievably scared.

'What're you doin' out anyway?' Danny spoke up, trying to get off the topic of Massey.

'Needed to get a watch.' Jake raised his hand into the air and displayed his wrist.

'-Fan-bloody-tastic.' Caleb shoved Danny behind him. 'Give us the slut. It's Mickey's birthday and he deserves a birthday fuck, don't'cha agree?'

'No, I fucking don't. Now back off!' Jake put a hand out and pushed Massey back a little further, unlatching her hand from his wrist in the process.

Caleb had started advancing and Mickey had fallen in step. Danny stayed right back and a concerned look crossed over his features. Still, he knew better than to say anything.

Jake was no hero. He was never one to welcome a fight. But by God he wasn't going to let these assholes have their way with Massey.

'Run!' he spoke under his breath back at her.

'Huh?' Massey went to step forward and she noted Jake's eyes widening in horror.

'RUN!' he shouted.

As if his voice were a starter pistol, Massey took off running in the opposite direction. She went as fast as her legs would carry her. Her thongs clapped away at the roads surface and by the time she'd stopped running, they were ripped at the bottoms and broken at the top.

She puffed and huffed, her hands resting behind her back, just on her hips as she breathed desperately for air.

Then it was quiet. And she was standing in place, looking nervously back in the direction she'd come from.

Jake was nowhere to be seen.

The Peak Boys were nowhere to be seen.

She was safe, but she felt more vulnerable than ever.

She was alone.

Eventually, Massey decided it best to go home. She'd gone back to see if Jake was alright but he wasn't there and neither were the Peak Boys. She breathed heavily when she saw no signs of them. At least if they were still there, brawling, she'd know that Jake was alive.

But now she didn't. And that worried her terribly.

Still, she went home, carrying her thongs in between her fingers and doing her best to avoid the heat of the road beneath her feet.

She tried to call Jake when she got home, but the McDermott's didn't answer. Not one of them. Not Mr. McDermott, not Mrs. McDermott and not Jake.

It was safe to say Massey couldn't sleep that night.

Safe to say that she was more worried than she'd been in her entire life.