Chapter One

"Lucas? How's it coming?"

I heard my mom walk in and shrug in response. "What do you think?"

In the silence, I can practically hear her smiling. "Looks good! And this way you can't blame me for not being able to find anything. Are you almost done unpacking?"

I sit down on my bed. "I'm done. Just got to get rid of the last boxes."

"Oh, wow, you're done before I am! Well, would you like me to take these boxes out for you?"

I shake my head. "No, I'm fine. I took out a few earlier and Pops told me where to put them. I'm glad I'm already pretty accustomed to this house. Makes this whole moving situation easier."

I could feel my mother's discomfort, but I know nothing I say can stop her feelings of guilt. She never intended for us to leave our home. But money finally ran out, just like we always knew it would, and the next best option was to move in with my grandparents. Their house was nice and they had spare rooms. Mom and I spent a lot of time here during the summer, so it wasn't foreign to me. It could be close enough to home, for me.

"We'll, I'm glad you're adjusting alright. If you want, after lunch you can check out the neighborhood with me. Meet the neighbors. Walk the beach. It's not too far from the house. There's a little walk to the stairs, because it's a cliff drop, but aside from that, it's practically in our backyard."

I smiled. "That'd be nice. I'd like to get used to it so that I can go down there on my own sometime. Is there a fence in front of the cliff drop?"

"Oh yes. The neighborhood has always had kids. After three accidents, way back when I was a kid, the whole neighborhood helped pay for a nice, tall, sturdy fence."

I nod. "Makes sense. Sounds good. Even I can't get in too much trouble, then." I give a positive laugh, to reassure my mother, because normally comments like that make her upset.

But I hear a smile in her voice. "Alright. Well, I'm going to go finish up with my room. Feel free to explore a bit, just don't leave the house. Alright?"

I nod. "Sounds good, Mom." I hear her close the door and I sigh. I was very close to my mother, but our relationship was always stiff. There was a lot of stuff we kept from each other that, undoubtedly, we knew anyway. But whenever we were together, we overcompensated with our act that everything was okay. Because, really, it wasn't.

I gathered up as many boxes as I could and found my way back to the garage, where Pops told me to put the empty boxes. I went back and forth until all of them were safely put in the garage. Then I decided to find Gran or Pops to have them show me around and let me know of things I needed to keep in mind.

I hear Gran in the kitchen, but she is obviously busy. So, instead, I head towards the familiar living room. It's quiet in there, though, so I'm about to just forget it and wait until later when I hear him say, "Lucas? Everything alright?"

"Pops? You were so quiet I didn't know you were there."

Pops let out a huge belly laugh. He definitely was the laid back one. He always had humor and positive light in everything. He's been the biggest strength for me all these years. He's helped me put a positive spin on everything… "Well, I s'pose I'm usually the easiest one for you to find, huh?" He let out another laugh. "What do you need, kiddo?"

"I was just wondering if you could show me around the house. Let me know of everything. Stuff I need to be careful around, things I might not remember being there, rooms that are there. Stuff like that."

"Oh yeah! Your grandmother and I forget that our house has got to be foreign to you sometimes. Yeah, let's go about it. Let's start at the top and work our way down, shall we?"

I smile. "Sounds good, Pops."

I'm carefully guided to the top of the stairs. The neighborhood in which Gran and Pops live in is very ritzy, to say the least. The smallest house could easily have fit mine and Mom's old home in it fifty times. True, our old house was a tiny two bedroom place, but I remember seeing some of these monstrosities when I was little, and I thought the whole world could fit inside them. Gran and Pops' wasn't an exception. It had three rooms or more on each floor, and it was three stories high, not counting the attic.

It's the attic where we start. "There's not much in here unless you count cobwebs. I'm glad to see you can get up the ladder." My grandfather goes slient for a moment before adding, "We can fix it up if you want. A place just for you and whoever you want."

My eyebrows rise up in surprise. "Really? You'd do that? For me?"

I can feel the stab of pain in my grandfather's expression through his words. "Of course, Lucas. You've had it rough. You deserve a place just for you, aside from the place where you sleep and study."

"Wow," I say. "Thanks, Pops."

"No problem, kiddo. Now, to the third floor."

Pops takes me through the entire house and thankfully, it's pretty easy to maneuver and there's not much to look out for. By the time we finish, Gran is calling us for lunch. The first floor is most familiar to me, because I've known it for as long as I can remember. I'd been there for as long as I could remember. So I walk easily to the dining room. "Ah, Lucas. Come sit by me, yes?"

I nod. "Okay, Gran." I find the chair next to her and settle in.

"We'll just wait for your mother and then we'll eat! I made your favorite, Lucas. Chicken and corn chowder with Caesar salad and homemade rolls!"

I grin. "I do love those rolls."

Pops gives a roaring laugh. "You and me both, kiddo! If you could see my gut, you'd really know!"

"Ray!" My grandmother's voice is hot and furious. I know why she'd react like this and I'm about to cut in, to tell her it's okay, but she has already gone on. "Must you always keep reminding the boy of how… Well, you know! Can't you just give him peace?"

"Phyllis, the boy is very aware that-"

"Yes, I know, Ray, but do you think bringing it up is going to do him much good?"

"It doesn't matter what we do, Phyllis, he's all too aware as it is!"

Before they can say more, I break in. "Gran, Pops, I'm blind, not deaf." These words hang over us like a painfully glum cloud, because the silence is terrible. I can just imagine the looks on their faces. And then, from behind me, my mother walks in.

"What's going on?"