Past Interlude #14
The first time Lee Forrester talked to Adam Summers online, she thought he was the cutest thing in the world. It wasn't his boy band looks, although a lot more of Lee's classmates hung around the marina now that Adam was here. Lee snorted; just 'cause they were nicer to the Fish Girl, didn't mean that she'd let them get their skanky paws on her friend.
He was exactly her type too-- blonde curls, cinnamon eyes, lanky musculature and a knowledge of car engines that was positively X-rated. But the more they talked, the more Lee stopped lusting after him and, instead, started wanted to take care of him. Heck, her entire family got in on the act. Her mom couldn't stop feeding him, her dad grufflywarned him about sunburns every morning and her gramps skipped Jeopardy three times to watch "Pimp My Ride" with Adam instead. Even her brothers, the same guys who greeted her seventh grade crush by making him eat carpet, clucked over Adam like he was some helpless puppy.
Which, Lee reflected, he really was.
That also explained why her entire family was ready to call in the cops as soon as Adam's family came barging through the door fourteen days after Adam appeared with a duffel bag, a store-bought pie and a grin. One Adam Summers was enough to make the street swoon. Five Summers' threw Mrs. Finnegan across the street into a horniness seizure.
While Capt. Summers ushered Lee's parents and grandfather out the door for an apologetic lunch, Adam's brothers surrounded him.
"What the *hell" were you thinking?" hissed the oldest looking one with a pair of punkish shades that were at odds with his prep school outfit. "Do you know how many runaways get killed a year? Or worse?"
Adam crossed his arms and stared determinedly out into the ocean.
"Let me hit him," begged the only other blond Summers.
The long-haired brother smacked him upside the head. "Shut up, Alex."
"He needs to be hit."
This time, the eldest one joined the long-haired one in saying "Shut up, Alex" before returning his attention to Adam. "It's bad enough you do this type of crap in California--"
"School sucks," said Adam. "It's boring and I know I'm not going to college so why bother?"
"Why bother... not go to college?" The eldest one looked ready to pop his top off. Lee contemplated intruding but the long-haired one got there before she did.
"Let me handle this, Scott."
"Be my guest!" Scott leaned back and crossed his arms, like a darker, older reflection of Adam.
The long-haired one took Adam by the arm and marched him to the window. Lee strained to hear what he was saying.
"Smarten up, Blue. This is getting really tired. You're too fucking old to throw temper tantrums and we're getting too fucking broke to bail you out every time you decide that your goddamn Jeep should have been an Escalade. It was barely cute when you were thirteen; it's just an annoying inconvenience now."
"Fuck you," sneered Adam, wiping his nose with his arm.
His brother slapped his head lightly. "You want to fuck with me, Adam? Come on." He stepped back, taking a fighting stance.
Alex made his way between them. "Oh no, Remy. If Adam's ass is going to get kicked, I'm going to be the one who does it."
"Alex, stop being a Neanderthal," said Scott.
Half-turning, Alex said, "Up yours, Scotty. I'm the only one who actually disciplines the damn kid. Every time he fucks up, you two slap his knuckles then buy him an iPod to make his widdle tears go away."
Screaming at the top of his lungs, Adam leapt for Alex. Remy grunted as he flung his arms around Adam's waist, barely able to hold him back. Scott wasn't as quick nor was he lucky enough to have the lighter brother. Alex's fist managed to graze Remy's shoulder and Alex's chin before Scott could hook his foot around Alex's ankle and throw him on the floor.
"That's enough out of all of you," he said. His voice had gone all quiet. It reminded Lee of the thick stillness before a thunderstorm. "This is hardly the type of behaviour to show our hosts. I don't even expect this from my students and most of them are Adam's age."
"Le-dee-da," muttered Remy.
Scott's lips tightened but all he said was, "Remy, help Adam get his things packed. Alex, come with me to get something for the Forresters."
Alex rolled his eyes. "I don't think a hundred bucks and a fruitcake will make up for having Adam around for two weeks."
At that comment, Adam rushed back down the hall and screamed, "I *hate* you!"
"Fuck you!" Alex yelled back.
Letting out twin sighs, Remy and Scott folded their sleeves up and punched one brother each in the gut. Gasping in outrage, Lee strode into the room wielding a cordless phone and a broomstick. "Stop beating him up! He's just a kid."
Remy cocked his head with an amused smile while Scott, releasing a growling Alex, quirked one eyebrow up from behind his shades. "Lee, right?" His voice had turned soothingly monotone. "Thanks so much for looking after Adam. I assure you this won't happen again."
"Why? 'Cause you're going to beat him to death?"
"Is that what he's telling you?" Remy let out a quick laugh and ruffled Adam's hair. "Did you go all the way and give yourself bruises this time?"
Adam muttered "Hate. You. All." and stayed crouched on the floor.
"This is the third time this year that Adam's run away," said Scott. "I think he was just running out of classmates to help him out."
"He's got to be running away for a reason," Lee said. She tried to catch Adam's eye and failed. "I mean, normally, people my age don't run away to another state just because."
"She's got a point," said Remy.
Scott grunted his agreement.
"So." Remy helped Adam up, straightening his shirt. "Why do you run away so much, Little Boy Blue?"
Adam scuffed his shoe against the floor, his hand spasmodically scratching at his elbow.
"Adam?" Scott's voice grew softer, less icy.
He lifted his head and Lee saw that brittle, brilliant smile. "How else am I supposed to piss you all off at the same time?"