This story in particular will contain underage drinking, violence, sexual situations, recklessness, general teenage stupidity to the max, and of course the site warning applies (ie this is a discipline fic) You have been warned. Enjoy!
Chloe’s house looked trashed, like most homes would after a weekend party. Most homes that weren’t Royal Kingston’s.
Sean and Ethan headed into the house, the entrance left unguarded as the partygoers were headed home.
“Lookie loo,” one voice called out to them. They stopped, looking up to the top landing of the foyer.
“Mrs. Russo,” Sean coughed, not having expected the mother of the craze party to be present.
The so named Mrs. Lydia Russo made her way slowly down the steps. She was dressed in a spa robe and her heels clicked against the wooden steps.
“Ross and our very own Prince Kingston,” she stated as she walked down to them. “I’m afraid you are a bit late for the party.”
“Not here to party, Mrs. P,” Sean shrugged. “We had our own little gathering last night.”
“Mindy and her girls still around?” Royal stuffed his hands into his pockets, glaring at the woman as she man her way closer to them.
He knew all about Lydia Russo. She was technically no longer Mrs. Russo, and hadn’t been for at least five years. Ethan had learned that fact when he had walked into his father’s office and seen the woman coming onto James like he was her oxygen. Needless to say, Ethan had not been impressed.
And now that he was eighteen, he could only imagine that the divorcee was looking at him with a whole new mindset. A quick glance over at Sean told him that he needed to watch his best friend more carefully.
“I saw them head into the backyard about an hour ago, I think,” she said, getting to the bottom of the steps. “I can show you the way.”
“Not necessary,” Royal turned away from her, placing a hand on Sean’s chest and pushing him away. “We really don’t have time for that right now.”
“Dude,” Sean sighed, rolling his eyes at Royal.
“Excuse me,” Lydia stopped, trying to sound offended.
Royal glanced at her over his shoulder. He might be young enough to be her son, and his mother had always said that he should be respectful, but the world had been a whole lot different when he had been eight.
“Lydia, get yourself a bra, find some age appropriate shoes, and maybe someone someday will give you the time of day. Until then, can you stop trying to get into Chessington’s top ten families? It’s getting a bit desperate.”
Sean turned and started down the hall towards the back doors. Royal stared down at the woman for a moment more until her eyes started to waver away. She couldn’t stand the truth handed to her, she should probably not try her whore tricks on Royal Kingston.
He had seen more than enough from women trying to pick up his father.
Mindy and her friends, 1,2, and 3, were seated by the pool. It was smaller than the Kingston’s indoor pool and they didn’t have half of the space that King’s Landing boasted, but the space was large enough to have a decent enough party. The debris of the previous party still lingered about. Royal cringed in disgust.
“Lookie here,” Chloe sat up from the lounge seat and looked from her wine cooler to the approaching boys.
“Chloe,” Sean grinned at her and her friends. “Mindy, Liberty, Freedom.”
“It’s Jordan and Ella Jezzebelle,” Chloe rolled her eyes at him.
“That’s what I said,” Sean shrugged, smiling, causing Ella Jezzebelle to turn to giggle and what not towards Jordan.
“Can I help you boys? Come for a private party?” she grinned.
Royal closed his eyes, thinking about apple trees, and shook his head.
“Came to talk to Mindy, actually.”
Mindy got to her feet and walked over to greet Royal with a kiss.
“Anything you need.”
Royal stopped her, holding her out at arm’s length before she managed to get too close to him. He had had to keep her off of him for many years now, not ever daring to even give the girl a one night stand. He somehow gathered that he would find himself a father or the like some eight to nine months later.
“I didn’t expect to see you here any time soon, Royal,” she turned his hold on her to caress his arms, her hand moving up his towards his shoulder.
Royal reached out and stopped her progress again.
“We need to talk with your brother,” Royal told her. “Is he staying here at your house?”
Mindy groaned. She took a step towards him, getting her summer gifted newly installed C cups closer for his inspection.
“Why are you looking for Bill? I can’t get you anything?”
Sean rolled his eyes as Mindy tried to make herself as available as possible. If she only knew how unattractive that made her. Not that everyone felt that way. Mindy was more than willing to sleep with most of the guys in their senior class year, though as she was getting older, that made the boys closer to her same age.
But Royal, who could sleep with just about any woman in town he wanted to be with, didn’t fancy himself towards the more obvious females. Mindy would just as likely take towards Sean or any of the other guys that Royal called friends.
“And you can?” Royal shook his head. “I heard he was getting in with someone I know, and I have to talk to him before anyone else will.”
Mindy just shrugged. “He’s always around,” she insisted. “You’re bound to meet up with him if you stick around yourself, you know. And I doubt he’d mind to see you waiting for him.”
“I’m not waiting around, Mindy,” he said, moving Mindy’s roaming hand from the front of his shirt. “Where is he?”
“He might be at his new place,” Sean insisted himself.
Mindy groaned, taking her own step back and looking at the two in turn.
“I’m not here to play around, Porter,” Royal glared at her. “Either you know, or you don’t.”
“I know a lot of things,” she shrugged, and then she turned towards her friends and started to walk away.
Royal reached out and yanked her back by her arm, ignoring her yelp of surprise and pain.
“Answer me,” he stated.
“Let go of her, Royal!” Chloe stood up and walked over to them. Sean stepped forward and stopped Chloe in her tracks.
“Don’t get involved,” he warned her.
“This is my house,” Chloe scoffed.
“Doesn’t matter,” shrugged Sean. “You really want to be on Royal’s bad side? Come on, Russo! Senior year? Do you know how quickly your life can change? One second, you’re practically popular, the next Chloe who?”
She was doubtful, her eyes shifting from Sean’s almost playful demeanor to Royal’s glare on Mindy. And while Mindy was her friend, one of her best friends, Royal was king. And she did not want to be on the wrong end of his favors. There were college students, former Prep kids, that still found themselves seeking his approval. His connections were the kinds of networking that most people dreamt about.
As much as it pained her, Chloe knew that not only her social status or senior year would be in jeopardy, if Royal Kingston wanted to ruin you, you could be ruined for life.
Chloe turned, bumping her shoulder as hard as she could against Sean’s mass. He laughed at her as she made her way beside Jordan and Ella Jezzebelle. The three girls sat there, watching from afar.
Mindy glared back at Royal. She wasn’t as scared of him as the other girls. All that she knew about Royal she had learned by hearsay and by watching him at parties. She wasn’t rich, and for the price of one year at Chester Prep, her family could easily pay off their home.
It wasn’t fair, as far as she was concerned. People like Royal didn’t have to work for anything. Life was handed to them on silver and gold.
“Bill has nothing to say to you,” Mindy crossed her arms. “So why don’t you just get lost!”
Royal scoffed. “Why don’t you let the talking happen between the big boys,” he said, patting her on the cheek. Mindy turned away from him and glared back.
“You’re such an ass, Royal,” she muttered.
“Just tell me where your brother is, and you girls can get back to your party.”
“What could my brother possibly have that you would want?” she shook her head. “He just got back.”
“I know all about your brother,” Royal shook his head. “I would think that I would be the least of his worries, wouldn’t you say?”
Mindy sighed. She didn’t want to get mixed up in her brother’s world. She might not be a part of the posh world, but she wasn’t trashy either. Her brother was the kind of person that gave the lower class a bad name, but he was still her brother and she loved him. She hated how people would automatically assume the worst of her when they learned of what Bill had done.
“You know nothing about that,” she glared.
“I know more than enough. And if you’re not going to be helpful, I’ll find someone else who will be. Or maybe I’ll call the idiot out myself.”
He was trying to get a rise out of her, Mindy knew it, but still she tried to launch at him, ready to put her latest manicure to test. But, unsurprisingly, Sean reached out and stopped her.
“Leave her,” Royal rolled his eyes. “You know Min, you could have saved a lot of people a lot of trouble.” He shook his head and turned to leave. “Remember that next time.”
Sean released her and was soon in step with Royal as they walked back into the house and through to the front, where the car was waiting for them.
“I thought you needed to know where he was,” Sean frowned. “Who are you going to ask now?”
“She’ll tell me,” he smirked.
“Right, clearly you weren’t present just now, when she all but scratched your eyes out for calling her idiot brother an idiot.”
Royal rolled his eyes.
They were just about at the car, Royal pulling out his keys, when they heard the door swinging open once more.
“Unbelievable,” scoffed Sean.
“People are easy to read,” Royal shrugged. He leaned up against his car as he waited for her to get closer and tell him exactly what he wanted to know.
Aaron Kingston glanced at his fresh pressed blazer, shirt and pants. The Chester Preparatory was embroidered on the left breast pocket in its crisp black and red and gold.
Aaron had just graduated from Port Chester Middle School, which was the public school closest to his home, and filled with most wealthy kids, but plenty of normal middle and lower class kids too. He was known to get on well with most anyone, but he knew that going to Chester Prep would be completely different.
He had never had to be in the same school as his oldest brother before, and while this would only be for a year, he was both looking forward to it, and dreading it.
Ethan Kingston was a big name to live up to.
He stood in his newest workout clothes, dark green and black shorts with a matching sleeveless top with his all black sneakers. It was not the kind of thing that Aaron normally wore. He was much more comfortable in loose fitting, older clothing. He didn’t mind hand me downs, and he still fit most of his old clothes. But that wasn’t the Kingston way.
There was nothing about Chester Prep that Aaron was looking forward to. He knew that the classes would be hard and that he would certainly be challenged. If there was one thing that Ethan wouldn’t tolerate, it would be any of them slacking in their schoolwork.
Aaron walked over to the calendar mounted on the wall above his desk. There, in green felt pen, Ethan had written in the many new activities for him, including workouts and football training.
Football. Aaron cringed.
Ethan was amazing on the field. He was easily a college contender, and many people even talked about his professional potential. Liam was amazing too, in Ethan’s shadow of course, but he was easily going to get college representation from it. Not that the Kingstons needed the aide, but they did make it possible for scouts to see the other boys in the area that weren’t always on the recruiters’ lists.
Even their father, James, had been some big shot football guy in his high school – though he had second and third stringed in college. James wasn’t ever NFL material, but he certainly loved bragging about his sons.
Aaron was much more interested in other things.
“I can do this,” he told himself.
Ethan wanted him on some stupidly rigorous workout, but Aaron was going to start slow. He knew his own body, and though Ethan and Liam could probably spend hours in the weight room, Aaron could barely get himself through one pull up.
As he looked at himself, trying mentally to tell himself that being out of his comfort zone was going to be good for him – his cell rang.
“It’s the J-Man!”
Aaron shook his head. “Literally no one calls you that Justin,” he told his best friend.
“We’re going to start high school! You’re a Kingston, you could be called Barnaby or Sophia and not one person would bat an eye. I need an edge!”
Aaron sighed. “Being a Kingston is not an edge. Everyone’s already going to think that, I don’t need it from you too!”
“Well,” Justin replied. “Whether you like it or not, everyone’s going to know who you are the second you step foot at Chessie Prep. And if you set standard of calling me J-Man, others will follow.”
“If you’re going to rename yourself, at least don’t pick something so corny.”
“Dude,” groaned Justin. “If I have to go through one more year of Justine Mallory I’m going to stab someone!”
Aaron cringed. His friend had a point. Justin’s last name didn’t help him with the other guys, and the fact that he was stick skinny and short for his age didn’t help matters either. Aaron too was skinny and short, but his father and brothers were tall, so he was pretty sure that there would be a growth spurt soon enough. And then, of course, he was a Kingston. No one really went out of their way to tease him.
But Justin wasn’t so lucky.
They’d met in the first grade, back when they lined up by height. Justin had actually been slightly taller than Aaron and they had made instant friends. That was the year that Justin’s father left them and the year that his parents divorced.
Aaron had Ethan and Liam looking out for him, even when they weren’t a part of his school, they would be there for everything. Ethan had even been going to the parent teacher conferences the last three years for all of them.
For Justin, it was just him and his mother.
“I won’t let them,” he told his friend. “Look, you should join the football team with me.”
“Yeah right,” Justin scoffed. “I suck at sports!”
“It’s freshman football,” Aaron rolled his eyes. “Liam’s freshman team won two games all year!”
“Didn’t they move your brother to JV after like the second game?”
“Well, yeah,” Aaron sighed. “But I’m talking about the team. The rest of those guys sucked!”
“Man, I’m going to be sixteen in nine months! Do you know the likelihood of me growing now?! I’m just barely taller than my mom.”
“Come over and train with me,” insisted Aaron. “Ethan’s got me into some crazy P90X crap and if I’m not half dead and drowning in my sweat by the time he gets home, I think he’ll kill me.”
“Can’t we just chill at your pool?”
“Maybe after,” Aaron walked over to the window. He could see Liam, Hawk and Fern down there. They were doing backflips and such off of the porch to the ground a few feet below. “Liam and his friends are home. They’re probably going to be there. But they might just stick outside. The gym’s right next to the pool room, so come on.”
“You rich jerks with a gym and indoor outdoor pool options,” Justin scoffed.
“So, you’re coming?”
“Dude, I already packed my shit. I’ll see if my mom can give me a ride, otherwise I’m on the bus.”
“I’ll call Cory,” Aaron stated, quickly mentioning his other best friend. “He can probably pick you up. He’s actually going out for the team, so it’d be good for him actually.”
“And the fact that Mr. Moore worships your brother is probably not a factor at all.”
“Just, don’t be a dick. Some people actually like football.”
“And some people aren’t made to play it, or any sport! And I like football!”
Twenty minutes later, and Aaron was down in the basement’s gym. He was mostly doing the treadmill, even though he knew his brother wanted him doing weights and such. Aaron wasn’t foolish enough to try to lift weights by himself. The only time he had worked with the weights, he had Ethan at his side and he had still managed to almost knock himself out.
He could hear Liam and his friends moving about, but he tried to ignore them.
Cory texted him that his father was pulling up their road and Aaron stopped his machine. He had kept a good pace, almost at two miles in fifteen minutes. With his water bottle in hand, Aaron grabbed at one of the gym towels and headed up to greet his friends.
Normally, there would be someone working in the house to answer the doors and such things, but Ethan had given them this final week of summer off. Aaron didn’t mind it much, since he always felt a bit awful that someone had to clean up after him and his brothers and sister instead of being able to spend time with their own family.
Of course, none of his siblings seemed to share in the same sentiment, and just saw the maids and house workers as a part of their lives.
The bell rang just as Aaron was getting to the ground floor. Cory must have texted him late, since it took about a minute or so to drive up their way.
He greeted Mr. Moore at the door and motioned his friends in.
Normally, Aaron was pretty comfortable around adults. They didn’t usually ask a lot from him, and most of them didn’t talk to him like he was an idiot. This time, however, he knew that the only people home were three others teens, and a part of him wondered exactly what kind of condition Liam was even in.
“Is your father or Royal home?” Mr. Moore frowned at him.
“Dad’s at a convention thing in Dallas,” Aaron answered honestly. “But my brother will be home soon enough. He’s just running some errands.”
Mr. Moore nodded, seemingly pleased enough. Aaron liked the man, and not just because he had a lot of good things to say about Ethan. Mr. Moore was the kind of man that took interest in his children’s lives, though Mrs. Moore was usually the one present at things. Aaron still remembered his awe when they were nine years old and Mr. Moore had taken the time to set up a basketball hoop in their driveway and then spent most of the evenings after his work getting his kids, and any friends they had over, to prefect their moves.
“You looking forward to the tryouts?” Mr. Moore asked him. Most of the football players were already training, but the freshman team waited until school actually begun to start their training.
Aaron nodded, though he really wasn’t.
“I’ve met with the coaches after my brothers’ practices. They said this year looked promising.” But Liam had said that the man was likely saying that more for Ethan than any particular freshman.
“That’s great!” Mr. Moore nodded. “I can’t wait for the games to start!” he clipped Cory in the shoulder. “Going to be trying out for Wide receiver, Tight End or Running Back. You two?”
“I don’t know,” Justin cringed. “Probably baseball.”
“Ethan thinks I could go for QB,” Aaron said, cringing at the thought. Not only would being the quarterback guarantee he’d see game time, but he would have to carry the weight of being responsible for plays and the whole team’s record and morale. He didn’t like the thought one bit, but Ethan was hearing none of it.
“I can see that,” Mr. Moore nodded. “You got Royal’s arm, or Liam’s speed?”
“Umm,” Aaron stopped himself from answering honestly. He had neither. He had no hope for either. “I guess we’ll find out,” he said instead with a shrug.
“Dad, really,” Cory shook his head. “We’ve got things to do, so you can leave us now. If Royal shows up and Aaron’s not training his ass off, it’s going to be your fault!”
“Alright, okay!” Mr. Moore smiled, not even seemingly bothered by his son’s attitude towards him. “I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of greatness. You boys work hard! I’ll see you fellows in a few hours!”
As Mr. Moore was leaving, Aaron took a deep breath.
“Sorry A,” Cory shook his head. “My dad’s totally into the football thing right now. He’s even got my grandfather all about it, and I think Gramps is planning to come out for the first game.”
“The first game is going to suck so bad,” Aaron shook his head. “Especially if my brother gets his way and I’m the starting QB!”
“Coach wouldn’t think of putting you in if you didn’t know what you were doing,” insisted Cory.
“It’s Freshman football,” sighed Aaron, leading them down into the exercise space. “They barely keep score! It’s almost as bad as peewee!”
“You barely even played PeeWee,” scoffed Cory.
“Dude!” Justin shook his head, entering the gym. “This place is intense. I already feel epically inadequate.”
“My Dad would kill to see this,” Cory shook his head. “I had to talk him out of sticking around. I seriously think he’s getting it into his head that we’re going to be some kind of “Miracle” dream team.”
Aaron stood back, watching as his friends went from one machine to another. Normally, he wouldn’t be allowed to have someone down there. Ethan was pretty picky about who got to go where in the house, but the way that Aaron figured it, normally he wouldn’t be allowed down there either.
This was a year for a lot of firsts for Aaron.
“Ethan says it’s all in the training,” Aaron walked over to the mini fridge and grabbed them each a bottle of water. He walked over to one of the closets and grabbed them each a white towel, each embroidered with a blue and gold crown.
Justin dropped his bag onto one of the benches. He looked wide-eyed as Aaron approached him, accepting the offerings.
“This place is seriously intense,” Justin cringed. “I think 90 percent of these things are likely to kill me just for looking at them.”
“I think this place has better stuff than Dad’s gym,” Cory smirked. He took his own water bottle and towel. “Seriously man?”
“What?” Aaron frowned, moving towards where he had left his own things earlier. He grabbed his water bottle and took a swig.
“Your towels say King’s Landing – Gymnasium?”
“That’s so they don’t get mixed up with the other towels,” Aaron shrugged.
Justin pulled his own towel open. “Do your kitchen towels say Kitchen?”
“Depends,” Aaron shrugged, moving over to some free weights.
“On?” Cory frowned, easily intrigued.
“On whether they’re the Main Kitchen, the Basement Kitchenette, the Outside Kitchen, or the upstairs designated coffee areas.”
Aaron picked up a 10 lbs weight and started on some bicep curls, smirking at the look his friends shared. If the towels fascinated them, they would be absolutely floored by living there.
Liam Kingston glanced upside down towards the house. His vision was slightly blurry, and it elicited a giggle from him. And feeling himself giggle, caused him to giggle some more.
“Was that the door?” Fern sat up from his pool lounger.
“That was a car,” Hawk groaned. He had been trying to keep his two friends from doing anything stupid that last hour, and it was taking its toll. “And I sure as hell hope it wasn’t Royal.”
Liam scoffed. He moved his hand in a brushing fashion and took a second try at sitting up. Once he was upright, he took a sip of the remaining Scotch and cringed. The taste wasn’t getting any better, but knowing that it wasn’t his to have made it just that much better for the teen.
Ethan was too stuck up, as far as his brother was concerned. No one was allowed to tell the eldest what to do, but he dished it out like it was supper.
“Dude! Give it a rest!” Hawk reached for the bottle, again.
Liam turned, hugging the bottle to his chest.
“Matty, Matty!” Liam shook his head. “No one likes a spoilly-cat!”
“Party poopsie!” Fern added, laughing up at his own state of drunkenness. “Poopsie,” he repeated to himself shaking his head and causing himself and Liam to once again succumb to giggles.
“Dude, you’re going to drown out there,” Hawk shook his head, watching Fern float about without a care.
“You really need this,” Liam pointed at the bottle. “Not mine, but you can go find you another bottle, and you take that bottle to Hawk-town and you just have your way with it!”
The little speech made Fern burst out into more laughter and Liam smirked besides himself.
Hawk shook his head. He wasn’t sure what to do. A part of him wished that Royal or one of his friends would return. He knew he didn’t stand a chance against the other two. Like Royal, Liam was tall and built up. Fern wasn’t quite tall, but the guy liked to work out. Hawk wasn’t about to put himself down – he knew that there were plenty of others scrawnier and shorter than him, but among his best friends, he wasn’t the “big guy” in the slightest.
So Hawk just leaned back in his own pool chair and just watched over the two as they continued to goof around.
Liam stood up to go drop his now-empty bottle into the trash. He tripped over his discarded sandals and laughed.
“Ah man!” he rubbed at his eyes. It was getting harder to see, and the various aerobics in his stomach wasn’t helping.
But there was also this keen warmness. It was like a hug from the inside, piercing out in a reverse C-section thing, that connected his senses in such a way that he felt things more, but less at the same time.
Liam walked into a plant base, hissing at the pain now in his toes.
Behind him, Fern burst into new laughter.
“Shut the fuck up! Asshole!” he shouted towards Fern, but then, Liam too started to laugh.
When he did finally manage his way back on the porch, Liam flipped the bottle towards the trash, but it hit the side and instead hit the ground, cracking the bottle and causing it to roll.
Liam groaned, watching it roll towards the door. Trying to decide if he cared enough to go after it, Liam looked instead through the glass door and frowns.
“That’s a terrible plan,” Sean yawned as Royal made his way from Chloe Porter’s home towards Granville, the complete opposite of Port Chester. Most of the citizens of Port Chester had lived there for two or three generations, and the new comers were critiqued for every little thing they did.
Mindy wasn’t even in Chessington radar.
Royal wasn’t sure how Mindy had become friends with Cindy Porter, and he didn’t care. He stayed away from those girls for the most part, though they made for quite the attractive lookers. They could have easily been runway models or Rockettes or something, and they might not be ‘bad girls’, per say. But they all looked at him like a walking bank at best, and like a profitable pre-nup if he was being truthful. Royal could do without either.
Mindy’s family was from Granville, though they were clawing their way out from there. Not interested in the finer details, Royal wished them luck, from afar. Bill Porter was a different story.
“I know,” Royal shrugged, leaning back in the driver’s seat on a red light.
“Fucker could kill you,” Sean shook his head. “He’s probably got murders and shit on speed dial now.”
Royal raised an eyebrow at that. “I’m more likely to get robbed than murdered. Besides, I think he’ll like what I’ve got to offer.”
“Porter was selling small time before,” Ross said, pulling out a pack of gum from the glove compartment. He eyed the other snacks there, a well-stocked diverse choice that rivaled a vending machine. “What makes you think he went bigger?”
“Something I overheard,” Royal said, starting up the car again.
“Maybe try being a tiny bit less cryptic, maybe” Sean shook his head. “I’m not exactly one of your kid sibs here.”
Royal grimaced. Keeping things to himself was something he did unconsciously.
“Wouldn’t know it from the way you act,” he scoffed instead.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Dude,” Royal shook his head. “That look you were giving Lydia Russo?”
Sean grimaced. He couldn’t help being attracted to the older woman, and he often took advantage of their attentions on Royal to flirt back.
“She went up another cup,” Sean rubbed at his face. “I don’t think she’s seen her real tits in a decade!”
“High profile divorces have to pay for something,” Royal shrugged.
“Couldn’t she buy more clothes?”
Royal laughed. “Can you imagine how much she wastes on clothes? She can barely fit a hamster in them, let alone herself!”
“She’s doing a service to this community!” Sean poked Royal’s shoulder.
“She’s servicing the community,” Royal shook his head. “That is a whole different monster.”
“And what kind of monster you think Bill Porter’s involved with.”
Royal smirked. It was just like Sean to come full circle back on him.
“Look, I really probably shouldn’t get you-
“Fuck off Kingston,” Sean reached over to smack his friend’s head. “I’ve been involved in all your shit for the past sixteen years!”
“I’ve only known you for fourteen.”
“Whatever,” Sean rolled his eyes. “What’s the shit you got on Porter?”
“The very probable likelihood that he’s in with that Panther Foot gang thing,” Royal stated, taking a dangerous, quick turn as a light turned red.
“I thought those guys stayed further South?”
Royal shrugged. “Well, I heard one of the girls telling Sarah last night that Mindy’s brother was back around and they could use him to get better things from the Panthers.”
“That could mean something else,” Sean offered, groaning as he slouched down in his seat.
“I’m not feeling optimistic today.”
Sean rubbed at his face, sitting upward again. “Okay, what if they’re talking small stuff? Maybe not even Panthers. I mean, what the hell does a gang like that want in a place like Chessington?”
Royal scoffed, glancing towards Sean a few times as he drove.
“Do you really want me to answer that?”
Sean sighed. “Okay, fine, so they probably have a lot that they want to get out of Chessington. But, why would they risk moving in with Porter? The guy just got out of prison!”
“Mindy,” Royal shrugged. “You know how hard it is to get new people into Port Chester? The rents alone are enough for a house anywhere else. Mindy’s parents are moving on up, but I doubt they’ll be anywhere near being able to afford living in town within their lifetime. Paying for Mindy to go to school has to take a lot of their accumulating wealth.”
“How would you know if they’re doing well?” Sean raised an eyebrow. “You checking into people’s personal files through the firm again?”
“I do own majority share,” Royal shrugged. “Might as well keep using it.”
“Your grams really stepped down after the big 1-8, huh?” Sean shook his head. “My grandmother wouldn’t even trust me with her cat! Yours gives you a billion-dollar company.”
“It was Mom’s company,” Royal shook his head. “Grandmother was merely aiding while I came of age.”
“But, eighteen’s young to be running this shit, Ethan. Doesn’t she expect you to go to college and shit?”
“Demands more like,” Royal focused on the road. “I doubt she realizes how truly useless James is. I doubt she would let him so much as step foot into the building if she knew how he just threw the money around.”
Sean kept quiet. If there was one topic that was never good to touch about, it was James Kingston. The man was a walking, talking contradiction. He had made it into Chessington by marriage, and was living the kind of life that many people could only ever dream of. He had a million-dollar job, a hot wife, a slew of awesome kids, and the overall respect of his peers and neighbors. But Sean knew enough from being around the Kingston home. As far as James Kingston was concerned, nothing about him was real.
“We’re not really equipped to go after drug dealers, Roy,” Sean shook his head. “I know you’re Royal Kingston and all of that, but usually, these kind of people have guns and shit.”
“I’m not looking to getting shot, Sean,” Royal shook his head.
“I doubt anyone is.”
Royal scoffed, he took another turn, trying to squash the niggling feeling that he was lost or going in the wrong direction. Or maybe it was the feeling that maybe Sean was right. He might be over his head, but he was used to living up there, that the thought of actually taking a step back was unfathomable. At least for the moment.
The door slammed shut behind them and he cringed.
“Break the damn wood too while you’re at it,” James muttered, walking briskly by them, through the foyer, and over to the office besides the Great Room.
“Over your head,” Stephanie muttered, though her reply didn’t carry.
Instead, as the office doors slammed shut themselves, she crouched down and took his small hands into hers.
“Shh, no llores mi hijito,” she smiled at him, kissing the back of his hands. “We’re home now.”
“I want Ethan,” Malcolm rubbed at his eyes. He wasn’t crying now, but he had been plenty for the past hours, and he wasn’t really sure why.
Stephanie Kingston pulled her son in for a hug. It was hard to explain things that were so raw at the moment, especially to a seven year old.
“We’ll see him soon, okay?” She kissed his head and stood up, rubbing at his hair.
Cole’s arms came around his mother tightly. Their little business trip hadn’t been as much fun as he had thought it would be. He hadn’t wanted to go, but his mother had said it would be fun. She missed his father, she said. Cole had thought it would be fun, seeing his Daddy working and flying around. But he didn’t get to see his daddy. His Dad came back to their hotel room most nights just to eat dinner, and then Cole would have to go to bed. Sometimes, he was already in bed when he heard his dad return.
“I don’t think I want to go back with Daddy on his trips anymore,” Cole stated.
Steph cringed, glaring for a moment over her shoulder. “Don’t worry about it baby,” she smiled instead. “I don’t think your Daddy is going to be so lucky!” she teased him, tickling him until a wide grin replaced his gloomy face.
“Now, how about we get these bags into our rooms and –
“And not stop by to say hello?”
“Liam!” Cole rushed forward, throwing himself towards his big brother to catch.
“Hey there, Tiny!” Liam smirked, easily catching the projectile brother.
Steph stood up, smiling at her stepson. “Morning Liam!”
“Hey, Steph,” Liam grinned at her, but his attention went right back to his brother. “What are you doing back so early? We barely missed you!”
“Nuh uh,” Cole shook his head. “I know you missed me because I was gone a really long time!”
“You had three more days to go!” Liam said, tilting the boy enough to tickle his ribs and elicit a sweet laughter unlike anyone, easily bringing a smile to the others’ faces.
Liam glanced over at Steph, thinking that something was a bit off with the woman. He frowned, straightening up once again, holding Cole into another hug.
“Yes, sweet of you to ask,” Steph smiled. “Tired. It’s a long flight over from Dallas.”
Liam had to nod at that. He placed Cole once more on the ground, combing his fingers through the boy’s soft brown locks, sun-kissed to a slightly lighter shade.
“You guys have fun?”
“Yeah,” Cole nodded, but he also looked a bit sad. “But then Daddy wanted to come back early.”
Cole looked over at his mother, and Liam looked over at her too.
“It’s okay,” she insisted. She started walking forward towards them, her flats echoing against the empty foyer and great room like little cannons. “It’s better this way, without all of the weekend traffic. The lines at the airport were mostly-
Steph frowned as she was just a few feet from them. She looked at Liam as if she hadn’t yet seen him.
It took a moment more for Liam to realize her look. Surprise. Disbelief. Disappointment and Anger.
“What’s with you?” he stupidly asked.
“Really?” Steph scoffed, shaking her head at him.
Cole glanced from one to the other, frowning at their rather odd interaction.
“Where’s Royal?” she started glancing out the large windows to the deck space. “Where are the other kids?”
“They’ve got swimming or something,” Liam shrugged. “Ethan’s got them doing all kinds of shit this summer.”
Steph rolled her eyes at him. Liam smirked, knowing his slight slip of bad language bothered her, especially near Cole, but it was pointless for her to say anything to him about it.
“Cole baby, take your bag upstairs and start unpacking.”
“Can’t I do it later?” Cole frowned.
“Now, please,” Steph said, but she stayed looking at him until the seven year old turned his pout away and started to move.
“I wouldn’t worry about it. The girls’ll be back next week and they’ll see to it that things get to their places and such.”
Steph turned her head enough to glare at him, and Liam held his hands up. He laughed slightly, her bothered manner amusing him.
Once Cole was starting up the stairs, Steph turned her attention towards her teenaged stepson.
“Liam, are you drunk?”
Liam rolled his eyes. A part of him had realized that she had somehow noticed something different about him, but he put it off his mind. He wasn’t bothered by her knowing he had drank, though a part of him did slightly twitch at the realization that she could and would very likely tell Ethan.
“You’re perceptive this morning,” he scoffed instead.
“Are you serious?” she groaned, her hands on her hips. “Liam, what were you thinking?”
“That scotch isn’t nearly as tasty as it ought to be,” he smirked.
Steph glanced over her shoulder, briefly contemplating the closed office doors. Would be that she should march right over there and let the boy’s father know what kind of deeds he was doing, march the kid in there himself. But what would be the point.
“That’s not funny, Liam. You’re too young to drink, and much too young to get drunk!” Even as she chastised him, her voice remained low. She didn’t want to alert James, or gather Cole’s attention.
Liam rolled his eyes.
“You know, I stopped in to say hey, but if you’re going to be an annoying bitch about things, I’ve got better things calling me.”
He turned and headed back out to the deck, letting the doors slam shut behind him.
Steph sighed, rubbing at her tense neck. She hadn’t expected the trip to end like it had, and since then everything seemed to be falling apart.
“You’re fucking lost,” Sean scoffed, watching as Royal tried to get his cell phone to give him directions.
“You messed me up,” Royal tossed a blind punch that his friend easily deflected.
“Wah wah,” Sean mocked cried, sipping at one of the many juice boxes that had been in the car. Royal was more soccer mom than actual moms. “Ya big whining baby!”
Royal glared at him, but he couldn’t defend himself. Well, he could, but with Sean it was all in good fun.
“Brick would’ve been useful,” Royal grumbled out. “Not freeloading off of eight year olds’ snacks!”
“What am I supposed to do?” Ross tossed the empty carton towards the back seats, completely unfazed by the death glare Royal gave his actions. “I barely know where we’re going, and I don’t want to go there to begin with. Call it, righteous fate.”
“I’m about to leave you stranded here, so that some of these low-lives can make you their bitch. That’ll teach you to appreciate all this!”
Sean rolled his eyes. “Don’t make me Kemosabi your ass.”
“That doesn’t mean shit,” Royal groaned, banging his cell phone for a moment against the steering wheel. “And I mastered jiu-jitsu, you quit.”
“They wanted me there every week!” Sean groaned. “It was torture!”
The teens went back and forth, insulting each other as Royal tried to recalibrate his cell phone in a low-signal zone. Sean sat back, mostly enjoying his partner in crimes’ misery, when his cell vibrated.
Pulling out his smart phone, Sean saw a message from a number he didn’t recognize. He started swiping over to delete it, when he heard Royal complaining about his own text.
“I don’t have time for this!” Royal groaned.
“1209?” Sean asked, reading off the last four digits.
“Yeah, you know them?’
“Probably, someone from school?” Sean shrugged and instead started opening his message as Royal went back to the pointless task of trying to find where he was.
As the message opened up, Sean Ross sat bolt upright. Instantly, he had garnered Royal’s attention, but if he hadn’t, the steady stream of curses would have.
“Holy fucking bullshit, I can’t believe this crap!”
“What the fuck!” Royal gasped. “Are you trying to have me stab you with this shit?!” he tossed his phone at the startled passenger.
“Dude,” Sean glanced at him, down at his phone, and back at Royal.
“What?” Royal frowned. Sean’s actions weren’t too uncommon, the guy liked to exaggerate things, and Sean certainly liked to keep things interesting, but the guy wasn’t bursting into a grin or laughing at how he had started Royal.
“What?” he repeated more forcefully.
“Ethan, man,” Sean shook his head and handed the other teen his cell phone.
Royal reached out his hand to take it. He was worried, but he didn’t want to show it. It wasn’t often that Sean called him Ethan, rarely anyone did. A dozen scenarios started playing out in his mind – all from Quinn finally coming to arrest his ass to one of the kids having gotten hurt.
Royal looked at the message, or rather the solitary picture present, that showed off more of his father than he was comfortable seeing in a position he didn’t want to think about. But as upsetting as that was, the most pressing matter was who was with him, and who was not.
“Who the fuck is that?” Royal glared at the picture.
“That’s not Steph, is it?” Sean cringed, rubbing at his hair.
“What do you think?” Royal scoffed.
In the picture, a bright-red lipped, brunette in almost pasty white skin was kneeling on a lounge chair with her full frontal exposed to the elements. On the balcony with her, James Kingston was unmistakably behind her, and he most certainly was not giving the nude woman the Heimlich maneuver.
His stepmother had beautifully tanned skin, jet black hair, and if she wore any makeup, it wasn’t so exaggerated and loud as that red.
Royal felt an instant icing overcoming his stomach and spreading throughout his body. He was disgusted, but he wasn’t surprised.
“Think this was on the vacation?” Sean wondered, reaching over to get his phone back from the vice grip. He quickly closed down the message and started instead at his friend.
“Probably,” Royal scoffed. “Fuck, Cole’s with them!” Royal punched at the steering wheel, causing the car horn to activate and startling both teens for a moment. “Fuck!”
Royal leaned his head back, his jaw tightening. This wasn’t new, but it had been years since he’d been exposed to it. He had thought, hoped maybe even, that the man had finally grown some balls and manned up enough to not be a back stabbing adultery. He’d been with Stephanie for the past eight years, but it wasn’t enough.
Nothing was ever enough.
“Get out, I’m driving,” Sean said, moving to open his own door.
“Fuck that!” Royal shook his head. “I’m finding fucking Bill Porter and dealing with this shit later!”
“Ethan! We don’t know who sent this,” Sean glared at him. He stood in the opened door, glaring into the car at his friend. It wasn’t often that someone else had to start giving the orders, especially to Royal Kingston, but Sean knew that this wasn’t the time for his friend to be at the helm, in more ways than one.
“I’ll find out,” the other growled.
“You don’t know who they sent it to!” Sean continued.
“The fuck I care about that!” Royal scoffed. “He can lie in that whore’s bed and let the whole town know!”
“Let Liam and Aaron and Lion and Bearcub know? Let them find out like that?”
Royal glared over at him, his eyes darker as the thought overtook his initial anger.
“No, you don’t,” Ross continued. “And I don’t need you killing us off on the way back either. So fucking move!”