“Shhhh,” his hand stroked through her sleek mahogany hair while he cradled her delicate form against his chest. She was just one of his many conquests, but Seth had always been able to maintain friendships even after a relationship ended. “Calm down sweetling. Tell me, we’ll fix it. I promise.” The tears of women and girls alike had always been Seth’s kryptonite. He would move Heaven and Earth to make her smile again.
Slowly, the sobs died down until halting words could be heard intermingled with the weeping. “I…didn’t want it. Kevin, oh….God! I didn’t want him…I didn’t…” the broken words continued, pouring into Seth like acid, eating all sense and leaving behind a poisoned rage that demanded blood as payment for the sins cried out against his chest.
Kevin Whitemore, star Fullback of the football team and son of Mayor Whitemore, Seth’s teeth clenched in suppressed rage as he thought of the town’s Golden Boy. It didn’t matter that he’d always been a bully, someone who used his large size to torment others, he was still the popular, untouchable son of the Mayor. Bastard thinks he can get away with anything just because Daddy will always bail him out, well he’s got another thing coming, Seth thought, a grim smile curling his lips. The police were out, he knew that without even giving the idea more than a passing thought. No, Amy came to him because she understood as well as he did that the daughter of a single mother who worked at a dog food factory didn’t stand a chance against the son of a Politian.
“Amy, shhh, listen to me. He’s not going to get away with it, understand?” Her wide tear swollen eyes locked on his at the sound of her name. Seth almost never used a person’s name, and when he did, it meant he was being serious. “Tell me, are there any girls he wants and hasn’t had yet?” Seth asked.
“Jenny S. H-he’s already been with Jenny H, and Jenny R.”
A brutal smile curled Seth’s lips. “Perfect, absolutely perfect. Next weekend my darling one, the score will be settled.” His thoughts turned to the shoebox in his closet, the one stuffed with all the silly love notes girls in the neighborhood regularly sent him. Handwritten notes had become a fad in his town of late, and all the girls were sending perfume dabbed letters with perfectly imprinted lips on the envelopes. Seth had gathered quite a collection over the summer, and he knew for a fact that he’d collected all of the Jennys.
Seth gave a low hum of satisfaction after comparing the forged letter to the original. He could have duplicated her writing with a spell, unfortunately, he was still under age and couldn’t perform magic outside of school. That didn’t stop him though. Seth had spent a fair portion of his childhood forging his parents’ signatures and he enjoyed mimicking other’s handwriting. Copying the typical looping girl hand was child’s play.
Summer is almost over and I can’t stop thinking about you. I’ve grown tired of the chase. Meet me on the football field at 1:00 A.M. Saturday. If you catch me, you keep me.
The coy note was similar to many that Seth had received, and he knew Kevin would go for it. Grinning, he spritzed the letter with his sister’s perfume. It was irritating that his baby sister was wearing perfume, but great that it was the same fragrance. That would save him a trip to the mall. Folding the note up, he tucked it into an envelope before pressing his lipstick caked lips neatly to the back. “Perfect.”
The moon hung like a bloated spider low in the sky, casting just enough light for Seth to spot the hulking shape stalking over the grass. He waited with terrible patience. Now that his prey was in sight, all the burning tension eating him from the moment Amy confided in him settled. It was time to act. With a grin that would do the devil proud, Seth stepped out of the lengthening shadows and casually swung his Beaters bat in a smooth rotation.
“Seth? What the hell are you doing here?” Kevin growled, trying to mask his growing unease with bluster. For years he’d pummeled the younger teen whenever Seth got in the way of the normal dweebs his group liked to mess with. It never mattered how often the gang had stomped Seth into the ground, he always came back for more. Kevin shouldn’t have been afraid, but something in the sharp gleam of Seth’s smile set him on edge. Something wasn’t right. He’d grown out of his bullying faze at the start of high school when his father almost pulled him off the football team if he didn’t straighten out. So what was Seth’s beef now? They hadn’t seen each other in years. “Where’s Jenny? Look, I don’t want any trouble alright?”
Rage turned Seth’s grin in to a wild bearing of teeth. “It’s too late for that. This is for Amy,” he snarled.
“Amy? But sh-” Kevin’s words were lost in a bellow of pain when the bat came around faster than he expected.
“Jeff Jackson speaking.”
“That juvenile delinquent of your wife’s put my son in the hospital! I won’t stand for it, you hear? You arrest that little monster right now! I want him behind bars, no ifs, ands or buts. Get it done now, or I’ll let the idiots at the precinct have him.”
Jeff sighed and rubbed his eyes. He’d know this would happen after that damnable boy tried to sneak into the house with a bloody bat. The idiot child had been cocky about the whole thing and hadn’t even tried to pretend he hadn’t done something illegal. It had taken the threat of dragging the boy down to holding to get the whole story out of him, and he’d been waiting for this call to come all day. Damn it all, why couldn’t the fool have just stayed lost with his magic voodoo crap?
It would be so easy to let Seth rot, to wash his hands of the child he’d always hated. So very easy, yet also impossible all the same. Andrea would never forgive him if her beloved chick and child ended up in jail. However, perhaps he could work this in his favor after all. A slow smirk curled his lips before he spoke.
“I understand your concern Mayor, I really do. If I had my way, he would be in cuffs and booked as we speak. Unfortunately, you and I both need to consider the fact that this is an election year. Do you know why Seth attacked your boy?”
“Why? Who gives a f-”
“Listen! That girl, Amy, said your boy...took advantage of her against her will.” Jeff stopped speaking, letting that little tidbit sink in. For the span of eight heart beats all that could be heard on the other end of the line was sputtering.
“WHAT!? That…that trollop? Kevin never touched that girl! She came sniffing around here and I told him flat out that he was a Whitemore and I wasn’t about to tolerate him catting around with such trash. He agreed, that female wasn’t even good enough for bedding. Too much risk of a ‘surprise’ pregnancy.” Jeff could almost hear the man’s blood pressure rising over the phone.
“Be that as it may, how do you think the media will spin this? You and I both know they are looking for just such a scandal. Right now, Kevin is the tragic sports hero who got jumped. If we drag Seth out into the open, then this whole story is going to be painted over the papers, and it doesn’t matter if your boy did it or not. The accusations will fly, and all that shit he got into as a kid will be raked over again. You know it will.”
A low growl of frustration vibrated in Jeff’s ear. Both men would love to see the thief fall, but both had their own reasons for not wanting to make Seth a public spectacle. Bitter experience had proven that Seth was a charismatic creature. The odds were in Seth’s favor that he would end up being hailed a hero instead of being locked up. Hell, Jeff thought that once the whole affair was over, Kevin would probably be arrested and Seth given a damned metal.
“Maybe you’re right,” Mayor Whitemore snapped. “But I don’t want that wretch to get away without some kind of punishment. If I had my way…” the man’s voice trailed off, remembering that he was speaking to the Sherriff.
“Before the week is out, Seth will be gone. I guarantee he won’t return.” Jeff’s words were laced with dark satisfaction.
“Fine, if that’s the best we can do, fine. But know this, if he sets one foot back in my town I’m having him taken in and the consequences be damned.” The other line went dead with those words.
Seth hitched his backpack higher up as he slunk off the plane. He felt like a prince being sent into exile, and couldn’t help grinning at his own foolish thoughts. Things had gotten so messed up, and he didn’t even know what to think any more. Guilt flicked uncomfortably through his veins when he remembered how badly everything went. He could still smell Devin’s perfume and thought he could feel Maricia’s tears not yet dry on his shirt.
Damn Amy anyway, Seth thought. She was the one who’d orchestrated the whole miserable affair that lead to Kevin being so badly hurt he wouldn’t be able to play football again and Seth. Well, it lead to this. Not even his mother had given him more than a disappointed glance when Jeff made his demands. She hadn’t taken his side in ages, but he really thought she would stand up for him now. That she wouldn’t let him be sent away.
Stepping off the plane was like giving up, the final admission that his life with his mother and sisters had come to an end. It was this, or go straight to jail. He was banned from ever returning or even contacting them again. At 16 he’d been officially kicked out of the house, the town, hell even the state.
“Hey little brother, I see our dear mother decided she didn’t want you either.”
Seth’s head snapped up to lock eyes with Jacob West, his mother’s first born. They hadn’t seen each other in nearly six years when Jacob had shown up on his mother’s doorstep for one crazy summer before Jeff managed to chase him out after he got caught teaching Seth to pick pockets.
The twenty-three year old threw an arm around Seth’s shoulders as he led him out of the airport. “Looks like we’re back in business bro, we’ve got a lot of work to do if you want to go back to that school of yours for most of the year.”
Seth swallowed hard before nodding. Going to Jacob was better than foster care or any of that BS, but he understood that brother or not, Jacob would extract his pound of flesh for taking him in. That was just the way the world worked.