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Devil You Know (Lost Boys Book 1)

By:L.A. Fiore


My horsey was brown with a white spot on his head. The ride went around and around and Mommy waved every time we went by. Daddy's big hands were on my back so I didn't fall off and he lifted me from the horse when the ride was over.

Mommy was waiting for us. "Did you see us, Mommy?"

She was looking at Daddy and smiling. She always smiled at Daddy and hugged him and kissed him. I was glad she didn't do that to me because it was gross.

"How about some ice cream, pal?" Daddy asked.

"Chocolate chip!"

"You got it."

Mommy wrapped her arm around Daddy, resting her head on his arm.

"Mommy, are you getting ice cream too?"

She didn't answer me. She never did. She was too busy staring at Daddy and smiling.



Mommy was crying again. She was crying a lot lately, and shouting at Daddy. She used to be so happy with Daddy. I wished it were like how it used to be.

"Hey, buddy." Daddy walked into my room. He was big. I had to look all the way up to see his face. "You okay?"

"Mommy is crying again."

He sat next to me on my bed. "I'm going away, pal."

A trip! I loved riding in the car. "Can I come?"

"No. I tried, I really did. Thing is, both Mommy and Daddy want you, but Mommy is sad. You can make Mommy happy again, right?"

I missed Mommy's smile. She always smiled when Daddy was around, and I looked just like him. Maybe I could make her happy again. "I think so."

"That's my boy."

"Where are you going?"

He stood and looked down at me. Mommy wasn't the only one who was sad. "Just away."

"When will you be back?"

"I'm not coming back. It's going to be you and Mommy from now on."

I didn't understand. Why was Daddy leaving? Was that why Mommy was crying so much? Why couldn't I go with him? My lower lip started to shake, but I didn't want to cry. Not in front of my daddy.

"You're the man of the house now, Damian." He leaned over and kissed my head, his big hand stayed on my cheek for a second before he turned and walked out. I wanted to be the man of the house for him, but he was the one who played with me, who talked to me, who tucked me in at bedtime. Mommy didn't, Mommy never had. I jumped from my bed and ran after him.

"Take me with you. Daddy, take me with you."

"I'm sorry, son. I'm so sorry."

"Daddy, please take me with you."

Mommy wailed as Daddy reached the front door, but I just stood in the hall and watched as he walked out. Mommy dropped to the floor, and I was scared at how sad she was, but I was the man of the house now. I walked over and kneeled down next to her.

"It'll be okay, Mommy. I'll take care of you."

"Go away." She pushed me and I fell back on my butt. "Just go away."



Daddy had been gone for almost a whole year. He used to call every week at the same time and I would sit in the chair in the kitchen and wait for his call. After a few weeks he started calling every other week and then every month and now he didn't call at all. I asked Mommy for his address so I could write to him, we were learning how to write letters in school, but she wouldn't give it to me. When she wasn't crying she was mean, saying things to me I didn't understand but knew were bad. And then there were times when she was nice and she would talk to me like she cared. One time she even touched my cheek like Daddy used to do. I was so happy that she was happy I drew her a picture in art class and couldn't wait to bring it home to show her. That day she was in her room; she stayed in her room a lot after Daddy left.

"Mommy?"

She smiled at me and I felt full inside. "What do you have there?"

I walked to her bed. "I made this for you." I had spent days on it. It was the merry-go-round, the last really good memory I had of my daddy and mommy and me.

She touched the paper and her eyes got all wet. "It's beautiful."

She looked at me and touched my cheek again. "You look just like him."

I puffed up my chest because I wanted to be just like my daddy.

"Thank you, Damian. I love your picture."

"Do you want to watch TV with me?"

"Maybe later. I need to sleep."

"Okay."

I walked to the living room, but for the first time since Daddy left I felt like the man of the house because I had made my mommy smile.

Two days later I found my painting in the trash can. She threw away my picture. It was the first time I felt a pain in my tummy that hurt and it was the first time I cried myself to sleep, but it wouldn't be the last.   





 



Mom was shouting again. I didn't know what set her off this time, but she was tossing things and swearing at the top of her lungs. Her rants were usually about Dad and always turned on me because I was there to take it.

She grabbed my head and forced my face to the mirror. "Look at yourself. You'll never be anything. You're nothing. Do you hear me? Nothing." Her lips curled up like I had seen in my cartoons, but I didn't laugh because when she did it, it scared me.

"He took the best years of my life and left me with you. He's a monster, a fucking devil, and you are just like him. His evil little spawn."

My body started to shake as the tears fell. I didn't want to cry, I was nine, but sometimes I couldn't stop them. Dad never came back; he had moved on and married someone else. He said he wanted me, but I knew that wasn't true. He left me just like he left Mom. And Mom hated Dad, hated him as much as she had once loved him. And I hated both of them. There were times I even thought terrible things, wanted to hurt them, wanted to make them feel what I felt every day since Dad left. I knew it was wrong. You were supposed to have kindness in your heart, love and understanding, but I felt hate and anger and rage. When she hit me, I wanted to hit her back. When she screamed curses at me, I wanted to scream them back. I had even thought a time or two how easy it would be to smother her with a pillow when she passed out from drinking too much.

"No fucking good," she said as she grabbed her glass and headed out of the room. "He should have fucking taken you with him, but he didn't want you either."

I wasn't any fucking good. The ugliness that burned inside me was wrong. Maybe that's why they didn't want me; because they knew I was fundamentally bad. Maybe I really was the devil.





Only eight months, I only had eight months and I was out of here. The events of September 11, 2001 put things into perspective … as shitty as my life was it could always be worse. And watching the first responders, running into hell to help others … I wanted to be a part of something that made a difference. I couldn't lie. I wanted to get away from the hell I lived in too. I had met with an army recruiter and had taken the aptitude test. I was enlisting. All I had to do was complete high school.

My home life had gone from bad to a nightmare. My mother was a drunk and the more she drank the nastier she got. I took to staying out late, coming home only when I knew she was passed out for the night. I often hung out near a garage in the neighborhood because I liked cars and working on them. After a couple of months of coming around, the owner offered me a job. I had only been sixteen at the time and didn't have working papers, but he paid me under the table. I never told him about my mother, but he knew. He even opened a bank account for me in his name so she couldn't touch my money. And she had tried. Screaming and raging that I had stolen it and that I was no good and then she took it and spent it on vodka. I had gotten into the habit of not carrying much money and often went without food since there was never anything to eat at home.

It was lunchtime and I had forgotten to hit the ATM, so I was going without lunch again. I'd stop later to get something to eat on my way to work. I took a long drink from the fountain and didn't realize anyone was behind me until I turned to see Cam Ahern. He was in some of my classes. I usually avoided people, but he had the kind of personality that made it hard not to respond to him when he set his mind on talking to you.

"Have you got money for lunch?"

He was also one of a few who knew the situation at home. He had somehow gotten me to talk about it during one of the conversations he had instigated.

"I'm good."

"No you're not. I've never heard a stomach growl like that. When was the last time you ate?"

I didn't like pity or charity. "I'm good."

"Bullshit. You can treat next time." He pulled out his wallet and I was about to object when my eyes landed on a picture that caused my chest to grow tight and my pulse to pound. She had to be his sister, they had the same eyes, but where his hair was blond, hers was brown and wild with curls, and she was smiling so big it took up her whole face. I couldn't look away, just stared because I had never seen such unabashed joy before or someone so beautiful.

"Crazy hair, isn't it? That's Thea, my twin sister."

His words jarred me from the moment and I wiped my expression because no way would he want a guy like me sniffing around his sister.

"It fits her personality because she's a goof." He handed me a few bills. "Let's eat, I'm starving."   





 

I hesitated in taking the money, but I was hungry. "I'll buy lunch tomorrow."

"Good deal."



We did have lunch the next day and every day after. And Thea. I couldn't get her out of my head. I wanted to know the girl with the crazy hair and beautiful smile. Then one day Cam invited me home for dinner. I didn't know at the time that by saying yes I would be forever changed.

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