Kerry Hoves was in love. Well maybe that had been an understatement. He was trapped by a powerful force that sucked him and held him hostage. A force so gripping it could be called by no other name than pure, teenage infatuation. The force had sucked his mind of all coherent thoughts living just the thoughts of her, her lovely smile, her dark hair, her lovely round face.
It made him content to do nothing at all but lay on his bed, with a smile on his face and think of her. Because what could be nicer.
He had no idea how long it had lasted, that maddening love of his, it could have started the day they met, the chubby red haired boy with big round glasses and the new, shy girl. He knew when he had realized it. It was the weekend they went camping, the two of them and Bran, his best friend. They had stared at the moon together and she told him one of her adoptive mothers was dying. There were tears in her eyes and he knew, from the bottom of his heart he knew, that he was ready to do anything, truly anything to stop her from being hurt, to make her smile, just a little. He knew he loved her.
A week later he broke up with his girlfriend Tami. It was as bad as he imagined it would be, a lot of shouting and screaming and a cold look in the girl’s eyes. A cold look that made him wonder what she might do to Persephone if she found out the real reason Kerry was breaking up with her… But he put it behind him, he knew he would do whatever he could to protect his Persephone, from anything, even his psychotic ex-girlfriend.
When the new school year started he even stopped his long running flirtation with Marcia Milton and focused all his thoughts on expressing his ever growing love to Persephone Santoro. The later proved harder than he had expected it to be. For one he, Kerry Hoves, found himself suddenly afraid and self-conscious around a girl he knew, and was friend since they were kids. He was sure he would somehow screw everything up and lose her forever. And he couldn’t allow that. Not ever.
She of course knew something was wrong. Perse was not a stupid girl. “Why are you calling me Persephone all the sudden?” She asked him one afternoon when they headed home from school. Kerry shrugged.
“That is your name.” She smiled.
“I know. But you always called me Santoro, Hoves.” She said accenting his last name.
“I don’t know. It just seems nicer to call you by your name.”
“As you wish.” She said. “Maybe I’ll try calling you Kerry.” She smiled at this. It was a beautiful sight, but very rare in those days. That was the other reason Kerry found it so hard to confess his love. It turned out that Elaine Buford Santoro, Persephone’s adoptive mother was indeed very sick and dying. And that fell very hard on Perse, as hard as one might expect but Kerry was determined to make it easier to her, as easy as he could so he tried to cheer her up as much as possible.
As winter steadily approached Persephone skipped school more often, to be with her mum Kerry guessed. And so every day he didn’t see her there he would anxiously wait for the last bell of the day to ring and head to her house. By that time Elaine was pretty much bedridden already and when he turned up Perse’s other mother Phaena would go out to walk their dog leaving them alone at home.
He wouldn’t stay long, just long enough to share what Perse might have missed at school, give her his notes to copy and try to make her laugh, at least once, it would make his heart jump and he knew she needed it as well, whenever he saw her those days she had a look of someone who had just stopped crying. It was heartbreaking really. But he could nothing more.
As the Winder Dance approached no one in school seemed to be able to talk about anything else, even Kerry’s big sister Freddie who hated those things seemed excited about it now that she had a boyfriend. And so one evening after they had helped Perse’s younger sister Phania with her homework Kerry gathering all his courage, asked the big question:
“Would you come to the dance with me?” Persephone lifted her head and focused her eyes on his.
“The dance? I don’t think I’ll go.” Kerry felt like he had been punched in the guts with an iron fist.
“Why not?” He asked in a whiny voice that reminded him of his little sister Haley when she wanted something badly. Persephone didn’t even smile.
“I am just not in the mood for all that… Thank you Kerry. For everything you are doing for me. You are a better friend than I deserve.” She sighed deeply. “You truly are. I wish I will get a chance to repay you…” She made a slight pause. “But I can’t go to the dance, I am sorry, I appreciate the gesture though.” Kerry couldn’t say a thing. His gut felt like it was full of lead now and his mouth was dry, unable to produce a single sound. “There is still time though.” Persephone said forcing a small smile. “You could still find a date. Marcia would never say no to you.” Kerry knew he would never go with another girl. He would rather be actually punched in the gut but he couldn’t find the strength to say it. All he could say was:
“I wish you would go with me.” Before Persephone could reply however another voice spoke from the door.
“You should go.” Persephone’s mother Elaine looked like a ghost. She was thin, and pale, her long hair white instead of her normal light blond. But she was still on her feet, her eyes fixed on her daughter.
“Mum! You should be in bed.” Persephone said getting up from the couch she and Kerry had been sitting on to go to the older women.
“I woke up and overheard you two. I had to get up to tell you this. You should go Persephone. I am dying. I will be dying on Friday when you go to the dance. And I will still be dying when you come back home. But you love, you are alive, and should go, and live, have fun, for a little while at least. For me.” Tears spilled down her pallid cheeks and tears spilled from Perse’s eyes as well. Even Kerry himself felt like crying but when half an hour later Persephone followed him out she said:
“I’ll go.” And the whole world lightened up at once.
When the day of the dance finally came and Kerry found himself waiting outside the Santoro family home he couldn’t help being nervous. Usually he knew his way around girls but this… This was important, maybe the most important night of his life, everything hinged on this. He could not blow it.
It didn’t help that Persephone looked exquisitely beautiful when she came out to see him. She wore a long dark dress and had her silken hair down. She smiled nervously when she saw him but her eyes were once again filled with tears. Kerry suddenly wanted nothing more than to pull her in a tight embrace and hold her whispering that all would be okay. He didn’t do. He smiled instead, telling her how beautiful she looked. He didn’t own a car, so they walked together to the school. They talked all the way and he did his best to make Persephone forget about everything else in her life.
That had been the last dance her mother Elaine saw he go to and that time in the Santoro’s living room was the last time Kerry saw the older woman. She died a few weeks later, in her bed with her wife Phaena holding her hand. But that night neither of them thought of that. They danced, and Persephone actually laughed. Kerry brought her drinks and told her jokes. And when the dance was over neither of them was really ready to go home.
They sat on the cold grass in the park and watched the stars together. The evening was not so cold, and the sky unusually bright. But Kerry didn’t care about any of that. All he cared was the lovely woman next to him. He wished he was brave enough to tell her how he felt. How much he loved her, now and any other day. But he wasn’t. And so they were both silent, both trapped in their own thoughts. And then Kerry felt a warm touch on one of his outstretched hands and he looked down and saw Persphone had taken his hand in hers. He turned to her and she just smiled and he smiled back. His hear was beating like crazy but he was happy.
And that is how it had begun. With a single touch of hands. The greatest romance of all times. Or so Kerry saw it. And he saw little else.
He didn’t see how much more his father was drinking now that he was retired. He didn’t see his mother’s efforts to get fit. He didn’t see his older sister Freddie hide a box of cash underneath their bunk bed, right next to her box of stolen trinkets Kerry also didn’t see. He didn’t see how tall his brother Ty was getting as he neared his teenage years. He barely saw his sister Haley when she spoke to him.
He didn’t miss out in school, he still got on honor roll but that was simply because he never needed to put much effort into school anyway, some of his IQ test scores labeled him a genius, he never saw himself that way but Persephone loved to remind of him that pretty often, even back when they were just friends and he called her Santoro and he called him Hoves.
Everything else was irrelevant. All he ever saw was Perse. And he loved her so. And she loved him back. And everything in the world was alright.
/* We have moved on to the Hoves! Their story will be a little shorter than the Prentiss was. I have less story for them but I hope you’ll enjoy it. I have also made their family tree, you can see it here. Thanks for reading!*/