Authors: Kaitlyn Hoyt
Tearing his eyes away from mine, Liam glances toward the stairs. He takes a small step back. I briefly see Colton walk past us and into the room directly across the hall. Liam turns back to me and says, “She wouldn’t want you moping around upset over her. You know that. Now, go to bed. You still look tired.” He gently pushes me into the room and leaves.
I walk over to the bed that Emma isn’t occupying and sit down. Emma smiles sadly at me but doesn’t say anything. I’m grateful for that because I don’t really want to talk. Wrapping the covers around me, I turn and face the wall. More silent tears begin to fall from my eyes. Not wanting Emma to hear me cry, I stifle my sobs and let myself drift into a dreamless sleep.
Stretching, I sit up in bed and look around. The room is dark. Glancing to my right, I see Emma still asleep. Based on the color of the sky, it’s early morning. I get out of bed and walk to the bathroom to take a quick shower. I grab a pair of white shorts and my black “Bazinga”
Big Bang Theory
t-shirt to change into.
All the doors in the hallway are closed as I walk out of the room which means that everyone is still asleep. I go through my bag and get out my iPod and find out that it’s only 6:30 a.m. It will be a few more hours before everyone else wakes up. Grabbing my notebook, I go downstairs and sit down on the couch and open it up.
I have no idea what to draw.
I continue to stare down at the blank page. While listening to Sara Bareilles, I feel the couch dip beside me. “Morning,” I say to Bragden without looking away from my notebook. Inspiration has to strike sooner or later.
“Good morning. What are you drawing?” I turn the notebook toward him, showing him the blank page. “Having trouble?”
“Yep, I’ve been sitting here for…” I grab my iPod to check the time. “over half an hour and can’t think of anything to draw.”
“Draw something for me.”
“I don’t know. You’re the artist. Use this.” He pokes my forehead and smiles at me. I look at him for a couple seconds, waiting for inspiration to strike and then I start drawing. When I think of the Kane family, Liam and Bragden, I think about the flame story that Liam told me once. I can feel Bragden watching me as I draw, but I don’t stop.
I draw a bear claw. Bragden always reminded me of a bear and not just physically. He is the largest and most masculine of all of the guys I am around. Standing tall, he’s prepared for battle. He’s protective, brave, and determined, but he’s also patient and kind-hearted. Inside the bear claw I draw flames similar to Liam’s tattoo. When I finish, I turn the notebook around and let him look at it. He asks about the bear claw. Slightly blushing, I explain why he reminds me of a bear.
After my explanation, he continues to watch me. Without saying anything, he gets up and walks into the kitchen. Throwing open random drawers, he starts searching for something. “What are you doing?” He ignores my question and continues shuffling things through the drawers.
“Aha, found some.” He walks back to the couch and hands me a pen and a permanent marker. “Draw it on me.”
“What?” I stare at him incredulously.
“Draw that,” he points to the claw, “on me. It would make a great tattoo.”
Is he serious? When he waves the marker in front of me, I hesitantly reach out and take it from him. “Ok…where?”
He looks at me for a moment and then turns around, taking his shirt off. For the first time, I notice that he has a smaller necklace on similar to the one that Liam gave me. I make a mental note to ask him about that later. “Left shoulder.”
I reach for my iPod, pause the song, and place it on the coffee table in front of me.
“How big?” I’m glad that he has his back to me, so he can’t see me openly ogling his body. He is fit.
His skin is much tanner than Liam’s. Liam is a little tanner than me, but considering how pale I am, that’s not saying much. Bragden looks like he spends a lot of time outdoors. I may not be interested in him in that way, but I’m not blind.
“A little bigger than the drawing.”
I move so that I am sitting up on my knees and put the pen on his skin. I lean forward, resting my arms on his back. “I’m going to draw it in pen first and then trace it in permanent marker, ok?”
I get the outline of the bear claw done when I hear the others start walking down the stairs. I’m in the drawing zone, so I don’t look up to see who’s there. My pen is tracing the outlines of the flames when Liam speaks up.
“What is she doing to you?”
“She’s giving me a temporary tattoo,” Bragden replies; his back shakes with his response.
“Don’t move.” He apologizes and chuckles. I stop drawing and lean so that he can see me glaring at him. “You wanted me to do this mister, but I can’t draw if you keep moving.” I try to sound stern but end up laughing as well. When he calms down, I return to the tattoo.
“What is she drawing?” asks Colton. I point to my notebook beside Bragden. Colton reaches out and grabs it to examine the drawing. “That’s actually really cool.” I finish drawing the flames, cap the pen, and reach for the permanent marker. I wave the permanent marker in front of Bragden, warning him. He laughs and promises not to move anymore.
I trace the outline and am about to draw and shade the flames when David and Emma walk into the living room. Emma looks at me and raises her eyebrows as her gaze shifts to Bragden. I move the permanent marker away from his skin and put the cap on, preparing for someone to talk. Who knows what will come out of either of their mouths. She whistles and starts fanning herself before sitting down in the chair. David looks at Bragden and smiles.
Sitting down in the chair beside Emma, he says, “Are you a parking ticket? Because you have
written all over you.” I lean forward and rest my head on Bragden’s back. I don’t want to laugh. I’m supposed to be mourning, but David has a way of cheering everyone up. I can feel Bragden laughing beneath me.
“That’s the worse pick-up line ever dude. You’ll have to do better than that,” Bragden says, “if you want any of this.” He motions to his body. I lose it.
“Ok, let me think,” he pauses for a moment. David taps his chin and pretends to think. “Were you arrested earlier? Because I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to look that good.” I can tell that David is smiling as he speaks. I start giggling all over again.
“I think the only person those pick-up lines would work on is Ryanne. She’s dying back there.”
“No…” I shake my head and start laughing again. I lean back, “Oops, I just spit on your back.” This causes everyone to laugh. I sit up on my knees again and use to the edge of my shirt to wipe off his back. Bragden leans back and looks at me smiling. “You ok?”
One last giggle escapes. “Turn back around. I’m almost done.” I look at David and Emma, “Don’t say anything for the next five minutes.” Emma brings her hand up to her mouth and pretends to zip it. David just smiles at me. I get back to work tracing and shading the flames. The room is silent. I glance around once and see everyone watching me. I blush at their attention but continue working.
Sitting back, I look at the drawing and glance over his shoulder to the notebook, comparing the two. They look exactly alike. “Ok, I think I’m done. You can go look at it.”
He walks over to the bathroom, right outside of the kitchen, and examines the drawing in the mirror. I watch him, trying to judge his reaction. I mean, I did just draw on him with permanent marker. It’ll take a while for that to wash off. Bragden stands at the mirror for a few more seconds before returning to his seat beside me. “It looks great. Thank you.”
“No. Thank you.” I look at him, hoping that he can see how thankful I actually am. He kept my mind busy for a little while; he kept my thoughts off of Claire.
A voice speaks in my ear. “Why is he shirtless?” I scream and jump off the couch. Losing my balance, I almost fall onto the coffee table, but Bragden reaches out and grabs me around the waist, pulling me back beside him.
“Why do you keep doing that?” I take deep breaths, trying to calm my frantically beating heart. Larkin just smiles arrogantly. Larkin has the ability to transport to any location he wants to. At one point, he was working for Dravin and helping the Gadramicks, but now he’s helping us.
“How did you find us?” Colton asks, leaning against the edge of the couch. I glance over at him when I hear the harshness in his tone.
“I can sense her magic. She’s got a lot of it.”
“Can others sense it too?” I ask. “Is there a way to mask it?” I don’t want to bring any more danger here.
“Only a few people can actually sense magic. And most wouldn’t come toward someone with as much magic as you have. They’d go in the opposite direction. As for hiding it…sorry there’s no way to hide it.” I purse my lips and turn away from him. My magic was like a bright bulls-eye for all my enemies, constantly alerting them of my location.
“Is there a reason why you came here?” I can hear the annoyance in Colton’s voice. I know that Colton doesn’t like Larkin, but I’m not sure why. He’s proven to everyone that he is trustworthy. In fact, he’s helped us a lot recently. I glance over at Colton and see him glaring at Larkin. What is going on between those two? Larkin warned us about Dravin’s attack earlier. He gave us time to gather people to help us; he saved our lives.
“I actually just wanted to make sure Ryanne was doing ok.” I return my attention back to Larkin. He’s looking down at me with concern. Hmm, that’s a new expression for him.
“I’m doing better today if that’s what you are asking.”
Larkin eyes move away from mine and land on something behind me. When I see his smirk, I glance over my shoulder to see what he’s looking at. Colton is the only thing there, but he is looking elsewhere. “That’s good. Also, Dravin thinks that you were in the house when it exploded, so he won’t bother you guys for some time.” Larkin blinks out of the room.
“What are you all looking at?” asks Logan from the bottom of the stairs. Tom is standing behind him giving us the same confused expression. We all turn and look at them. Logan scans the room before he brings his attention back to Bragden and me. “What’s going on here?”
I look down to see what he is referring to. Bragden still has his arm around my waist and I am still pressed into his side…his bare side. I blush at the same time as Bragden clears his throat and removes his arm. I scoot away from him as he reaches for his shirt.
“Nothing,” we both mumble. I pick up the permanent marker and pen and walk back into the kitchen to put them into the drawer I saw Bragden get them from.
Tom walks into the kitchen behind me. “How are you holding up, kid?”
“I’m ok. I talked to Liam last night. He helped me feel a little better about the whole thing. It’s just weird. I only knew her a couple of weeks, but I miss her. This kitchen feels really empty without her here. I keep expecting her to walk through those doors and tell us that she baked something.” Tom comes over to me and gives me a small hug, kissing the top of my head; a very paternal gesture.
“I miss her too.” I can hear the sadness in his voice. I look up at him right as he turns away and clears his throat, trying to hide his emotions.
“Tom, what’ll happen to the bookstore?” Though I only went into the bookstore a couple times, it saddens me that others may no longer be able to go. There’s no other bookstore in town. There was something special about the BlackMoon Bookstore, but I don’t know how it’ll run without Claire. She was the heart and soul of that place.
His eyes move away from the window above the sink, and he returns his attention to me. “I’m not sure, Ryanne. It’ll be closed for the summer. After that…I don’t know.”
“Oh…” I don’t know what to say. We all need Claire here. I walk over to Tom and give him a hug. Wrapping my arms around his waist, I rest my head on his chest. We take comfort in each other’s embrace.
“Why don’t you go join everyone?” he says after a few seconds. He doesn’t want my comfort, so I slowly turn around and go back into the living room. I understand how he’s feeling. When my mom died, I didn’t want to talk with anyone. I just wanted to be left alone.
I realize now how wrong I was about that.
“Ryanne,” he calls after me. I stop in the doorway and turn back around.
“Thank you,” he whispers.
“The hug,” he turns around and opens the fridge, searching for food. I whisper a reply back to him and head into the living room. Tom may not want comfort, but sometimes that’s all you actually need.
“We should get rid of the piano and make that room our unofficial entertainment room,” David suggests as I walk back into the room.
“There’s a piano here?” I ask him as I sit down near Bragden again. Colton and Liam both glance at me strangely.
“Don’t tell me you can play the piano too?” Emma says, sitting up.
“Well…I mean I haven’t played in like a year. Jane didn’t have a piano, so I don’t know if I can
“I have to see this.” Colton stands up and grabs my wrist, pulling me from the couch and toward the stairs.
“Where are we going?”
going to play for us.”
“What? Like right now? In front of everyone?”
He drags me into a dark room. Releasing my wrist, he flips on the light switch.
A large ebony piano sits in the center of the room. My mouth hits the floor. Colton walks behind me and nudges me toward the piano seat. My legs move on their own accord. As I sit down, I turn toward him, “Do you realize that this is a Steinway grand piano?” I run my hand across the top, admiring how smooth it is.
“I don’t know what that means.”
“This piano is ridiculously expensive.” I jump back from the seat when my mind finally catches up to me. “I can’t play on that.” I’ve never played on anything that nice before. The piano that I played on was an old wooden one that my mom inherited when Grandma passed away.
“Why not?” asks Liam.
“That piano is worth tens of thousands of dollars.” I say pointing to it. Everyone just looks at me like I am crazy. I know my eyes are wide. “Tens of thousands,” I repeat. Are my words not being processed in their brains? Their expressions don’t change.
Tens of thousands
. Why am I the only one that is worried about how much this costs? I can’t be the only person here that understands the value of a dollar.