My head shot up when I heard the back door open. Randy came walking in, followed closely by Jace, who was wearing a backpack. When Randy saw me, his eyes narrowed.

“Dan, what are you still doing up?” He glanced to the empty bottles on the countertop. Next, I received a confused look. “What’s going on?”

I sighed. My eyes moved to Jace, whose eyes were bloodshot, his body sweaty. He wasn’t even wearing a coat in the cold air. The way he was fidgeting with his fingers and blinking his eyes shut tight made me pissed.

He was using.

Randy noticed my dismay. “I found him walking down the streets in Edgewood. I couldn’t just leave him, ya know…”

Jace moved over to the kitchen table and pulled out a chair, slamming his head down on the table.

Randy frowned. He stepped closer to me. “He’s been going on and on about some Red person. Danny, you don’t think he’s dealing again, do you?” I didn’t reply. Which was a reply enough. “Shit.” Randy furrowed his brows.

“Randy, give me a few minutes with my brother,” I said, anger gracing my tone. He nodded and headed out of the room.

Jace’s head rose a little and he laughed. “Oh f**k. Not one of the big-brother ‘I’m disappointed in you, Jace’ speeches. Please spare me.” He chuckled again. “By the way, I saw your girlfriend at the party. She’s sexy, isn’t she?”

My hands formed fists and I tapped them against the sink counter. “How many of my students did you sell to tonight? Or did you just take it all for yourself?”

“Fuck you, Danny,” Jace muttered, lowering his head.

Yeah. Fuck me. I moved over to him and reached for his backpack, which made him jerk up.

“Let go!” he hissed, trying his best to keep me from the bag.

I rolled my eyes, knowing that Jace couldn’t take me when he was fully healthy, so the idea that he thought he could while he was high was almost comical. I shoved him back down to the chair before he could blink.

I unzipped the backpack to find bags with pills galore. “You’re so f**king stupid, Jace!” I screamed, moving over to the sink. He’d been walking down the street, high out of his mind, with a backpack filled with drugs. Clearly he wasn’t in his right mind.

“Don’t you f**king dare!” Jace yelled, hastily standing from his chair, knocking it over.

My finger flicked on the garbage disposal and I poured one of the bags of pills into the sink.

“You’re crazy, Danny! Do you know how much that was?!” he cried, moving toward me, grabbing his bag back. “Red is going to kill me! He is going to kill me, Danny! Because of you!”

“No—you did this, Jace. You don’t get to put this on me!” I filled up a glass of water and tossed it in his face. “Wake up, Jace! Wake the hell up!”

He spat at my feet. “Go to hell.”

“Get out of here.”

“It’s my parents’ house, too!” He stumbled but he didn’t fall. “I can stay if I want!”

I grabbed his arm and yanked him to the back door, shoving him outside. “You can stay in the boat shed. But I swear to God…if you bring that shit into Mom and Dad’s house again, I will have you arrested.”

His fingers were fidgeting against him and he shook his head back and forth. “I hope you had fun with your student. Because if I get caught, so do you two.”

I slammed the door shut and a deep scream rose out of me as I kicked over the trash can. “Dammit!” I cursed, running my hands over my face. My eyes opened to see Ashlyn standing in the entrance to the kitchen. Her eyes were filled with worry and fear “Have you met my brother Jace on drugs?” I snickered sarcastically.

She frowned. “I wish I hadn’t.” She rocked back and forth ever so slightly. “He blackmailed you, didn’t he? To stay away from me?”

“He was going to destroy your reputation, Ashlyn…”

She walked my way and ran her hand against my cheek. Then she stood on her tiptoes and kissed me long and deep. I wrapped one of my arms around her back.

“Let’s go to bed,” she suggested.

“Ashlyn,” I started to object. Her fingers landed against my lips.

“No. Not now. We are not going to try to figure things out right now. I’m not going to cry, and you’re not going to overthink everything. I’m not going to worry about Ryan and you’re not going to stress yourself out about Jace. We are going to bed. I am going to put on one of your CDs. You are going to turn off the lights. We will take off each other’s clothing. We will climb under the sheets. And you will make love to every inch of my body, mind, and spirit until the sun rises in a few hours. In the daylight, we’ll figure things out. In the darkness, we’ll just hold on to one another.”

She didn’t know how much I loved her. Words couldn’t express it. So I promised myself that I would use body language to showcase my love to her. I would love her in all fashions, in all styles, in all ways. I would love her on the bed, against the wall, upon the dresser. I would love her slowly, deeply, aggressively. I would love her with laughter, sadness, and joy until sunshine danced against our windowsills.

She moved over to my CD collection, picking out music and placing it into the player. When her finger swept across the play button, I smirked when I heard my band’s music softly playing from the speakers.

“Couldn’t find anything good?” I chuckled.

Her body moved in a hypnotic dance, and I watched as she moved to the beat, moved to the sounds. It wasn’t long before it appeared that the music was a part of Ashlyn. She balled up the bottom of her t-shirt and pulled it up, showing me her perfect skin.