(Previous chapter: Crushed)
Kerry Hoves had always imagined that summer vacations would be way different once he was a teenager, he imagined all the wild things he would to with his friends and girlfriend but reality proved much different.
He ended up spending the majority of his days sitting by the pool watching his little sister Haley jump in the water for the hundredth time, forcing him to watch and grade her jumps. He knew Haley didn’t actually need any supervision but his parents made him watch her whenever she went out to the pool, and she wanted to go there every single day. His older sister Freddie was supposed to take turns with him but ever since she got a boyfriend she would sneak out of the house to meet him whenever their parents were away.
It was unfair, him wasting his vacations like this, even his brother Ty had it better, closed up upstairs in his bedroom reading books. Kerry hoped his parents would recognize how terribly unfair it was when he approached him one afternoon with what in his mind was a pretty simple request.
“You want to go out camping alone?” His mother asked frowning at him. Kerry sighed.
“I wouldn’t go alone, I would ask Bran and maybe some other friends…”
“I don’t like it.” His mother said firmly lifitng her hands in the air and Kerry helplessly turned to his father who was silently peeling off the label of the beer he was holding. When he said nothing Kerry turned to pleas again.
“You let us go with uncle Dougie all the time…”
“Well childish as your uncle is he’s an adult…” His mother went on. “Why can’t you kids go with him again this year?” Kerry struggled so hard not to roll his eyes.
“He is expecting a child mum…”
“Still… Just one weekend out there with you, Lysa could manage… And all of you kids could go…”
“I don’t want them to go!” Kerry finally exploded. “I am sick of babysitting Haley, and I am sick of Freddie’s selfishness, I haven’t read any of Ty’s books and we will have nothing else to talk about… I just want to go and spend a weekend with my own friends…”
“Don’t yell at your mother.” His father said finally and all of Kerry’s hopes sank. He had taken it too far… It was over. A deep silence descended over the balcony and he could hear the birds chirping in the distance. He closed his eyes slowly thinking he would probably get grounded as well… The knowledge it won’t make his summer any worse made him unsure weather he should cry or laugh.
“Maybe you should go.” His father said and Kerry opened his eyes unsure if he had maybe fallen a sleep and dreamed those words. “Your grades are good, and you have been watching Haley and covering for your big sister…” Kerry’s mouth gaped. He had no idea his father knew what Freddie was doing.
“Are you sure love?” His mother said turning to his father.
“We should give him a bit of freedom this summer.” His father said making Kerry’s heart jump. “But if you get into any trouble out there…”
“I won’t. I promise.” Kerry said as quickly as he could. A smile spread all over his face and his heart was beating so fast he actually worried it might explode.
Choosing the place for the camping trip wasn’t that hard. There was a lovely lake up in the mountains. The lake was great for fishing and the nature there was lovely and unspoiled. Choosing company however proved more difficult, Kerry and his girlfriend Tami were in one of their “off” phases. And although Kerry felt that a weekend camping in the mountains might be romantic and bring them closer together he also feared what could happen if the plan backfires.
“It can be just the two of us.” His best friend Bran told him. It was Thursday already, two days before the supposed trip and they haven’t really gathered a crowd for the trip.
“Go without the girls? You think it will be fun?” Kerry asked and Bran just shrugged.
“It might be. Maybe we need a break from them anyway.” He said and smiled.
“Say would you mind if I invite Santoro?” Kerry asked and Bran said he didn’t as long as she didn’t mind.
And so on Friday afternoon they departed together, Kerry and his two best friends, Branden Caliente and Persephone Santoro. They had reached the lake at sunset and they stood and watched the majestic color of the sky as the sun disappeared behind the jagged mountain peaks. Kerry was drenched in sweat and he envied Bran and Persephone for their apparent imperviousness to the raging heat.
“Maybe we can go in for a swim.” Bran suggested upon observing his miserable state. “I never swam in a lake before.”
“It will be dark soon.” Kerry said. “Temperatures up here drop really quickly at nightfall. We wouldn’t dry off soon enough.” And if they all caught a cold or a pneumonia it would prove to his parents he was still a reckless kid and they would never let him forget it. Bran nodded and stalked further towards the rocks.
They made camp and lit a small fire. Kerry did go to the lake to freshen up a little, he could already feel the stink oozing of him in thick greenish waves but now he felt much better. They all packed some food for tonight and they shared it with each other. Kerry was happy for that. His mother was an excellent cook, but so was Bran’s. He couldn’t wait to sample what ever delicacy she came up with this time.
“What did you bring?” He asked Persephone.
“Just some pasta.” She said with a weak shrug. “It is not that good.”
“Who made it?” Bran asked politely.
“I did.” She said keeping her head down.
“You can cook Santoro?” Kerry asked surprised. Persephone shrugged.
“I have been learning too. My brother had been busy with the adoption and all so somebody had to step in.”
“Does neither of your moms cook?” Bran asked and Persephone just smirked.
“No, Pegasus spoiled us all.”
“Well I figure you are just too self critical.” Branden said and grabbed a fork moving closer to Persephone so he could sample her pasta. Kerry looked at the container in his lap, it was fresh salad Bran’s mum made and he hated giving it up but Santoro was his best friend so he lay it down and moved over to try the pasta too.
It was good he had to admit and pretty soon they were all full of delicious food and laughing and talking.
“It is better we came here just us, without our girlfriends.” Kerry said.
“Yeah, I agree.” Bran added. “Nan would probably make us bring beer or something. We would be drunk already.”
“As much as I would like to see that…” Persephone continued. “You probably would’t have invited me over if they went…” An uneasy silence descended over them as she spoke. Kerry knew it probably was true, Tami didn’t particularly like Santoro even though she was Kerry’s best friend, maybe because of that. He was figuring how to change the subject when Bran spoke.
“Well you could have invited someone too… A boy, or a girl…” Persephone chuckled.
“I wouldn’t know who to invite.”
“There is no one you like?” Bran asked and Kerry felt his own cheeks flush. What kind of conversation was this? He didn’t care who Santoro liked. Why did they have to talk about this? Despite himself he had to look up and listen to her answer. She was looking at the fire cracking softly, not at either of them.
“I guess not…” She said. “I am not even sure if I like girl or boys.” She said and chuckled softly. She looked up then and her and Kerry’s eyes met for a second. He felt warm again and he looked away. It was the damn fire. He was sitting too close.
Kerry woke up sometimes in the middle of the night, he was huddled up in his sleeping bag and the night surrounding him was dark and quiet. He was about to close his eyes and try to go back to sleep when he noticed one of the sleeping bags was empty. He looked at the other and recognized Bran’s messy orange hair spilled all over his pale face. Persephone was gone. He got out of his bag as quickly as he could and set out to find her.
The grass was slightly wet under his bare feet but he barely registered it he rushed out behind the trees. She was standing by the lake, her back turned to him, all lit up by the soft glow of moonlight. There was something peaceful about her standing that way and Kerry smiled to himself.
He felt his gaze stray down to her uncovered legs. They were strong with muscle, Persephone was training hard to get in the school’s basketball team, she knew she would never go professional, she was not tall enough but she was good, better than most boys, better than Bran for sure, and she could match Kerry in the field…. But still her legs were so nicely shaped and Kerry found himself blushing again. He considered just going back to their makeshift camp but he had to know what drew his best friend out here.
“Hey Santoro.” He said as softly as he could not to startle her. She turned to him with a start and then quickly looked away. Not quickly enough for him not to notice the tears glistening in her eyes.
She wiped her eyes with her hand but she still wouldn’t turn to him.
“Is everything okay?” He asked lamely even though it was obviously not.
“Sure.” Persephone said without looking at him. She attempted to sound cheerful but it just rang false. They were silent for a while, both staring at the still water of the lake.
“It’s Elaine.” Persephone said at last still not looking at him. “I think she is sick, she has been going to the doctor’s more often these past weeks…” Elaine was one of Persephone’s adoptive mother’s.
“Maybe you are overreacting. It doesn’t have to be serious…” Kerry tried to be comforting but when she turned to him and he saw the sad face of his best friend he knew that he failed.
“I don’t think I am… Both her and Phaena are acting weirdly…. They spend more time together doing goofy stuff, the other day I saw them playing video games together…” She sighed. “I already lost my parents once and now I am about to again….” A tear spilled down her cheek. “Oh I am so sorry Kerry, for ruining your trip… Our trip.” Kerry’s gut clenched. He couldn’t imagine how she might have been feeling…And here she was apologising to him and he couldn’t find the right words to comfort her… His best friend….
“I worry about Phania too…” She continued softly. “She grew up in an orphanage, we are the first family she had ever had and now she is going to loose that as well… And sometimes…” She swallowed hard. “Sometimes I wonder what will happen to the two of us without Elaine… I know she pushed Phaena to adopt both me and Phania…. Phaena doesn’t even like kids… If she sends us away…”
“Stop.” Kerry said moving closer to her. “She would never send you away. She is your mum. Elaine couldn’t have made her to take you if she didn’t want to… She wouldn’t send you away.” Persephone didn’t say anything but she smiled. It was a weak smile, unlike her usual ones.
“Thank you Kerry.” She said. He tried to smile back but he knew it wasn’t convincing.
“Any time Perse.” They stayed right there for a while, lit by the moon’s shiny glow, surrounded by silence.
/*Another bonus chapter! You probably remember Kerry from the Hoves storyline, he had his own chapter, Girl problems featuring both him and Persephone Santoro. I think in Hoves’ round 7 story there would be at least one other Kerry chapter, probably, at least loosely, continuing on this one. And since I still haven’t gotten to play, expect more of these bonus chapters… Sorry… Let me know if you like them and thank you for reading! */