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The foundation series bo.., p.17
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.17

           Kira Adams
 

  “Who the fuck is at the door?” The tension emanating off the raspy voice this time was more than apparent.

  Jace’s eyes were pleading with me to go. He wasn’t even saying a word anymore…just attempting to speak to me with one look.

  But it was too late…his father, or who I had assumed was his father came stumbling out to the doorway.

  It was the first time I saw real fear in Jace’s eyes and the first time everything clicked for me. He did this to you…

  “Well, well, well,” the older, stockier version of Jace began. “What do we have here?”

  Jace quickly shifted his eyes to his old man. He was obviously hammered…and it was only three in the afternoon. I wondered if this is what Jace had been putting up with since his mother passed and his father took him in.

  “Nothing, Frank.” You could cut the tension with a knife. Jace was speaking to him through gritted teeth. Suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to become a fly on the wall. “Peyton, go home.”

  My feet weren’t locked into place anymore and Jace didn’t need to warn me twice. I shuffled around and hurried off the front porch. I glanced back only once as I made my way across the street, but it wasn’t even needed…I could have heard that punch from miles away. The sound of knuckles to flesh made my stomach do sickening twists.

  I threw my hand over my mouth as I watched Jace fall to his knees, clutching his stomach on the front porch. And then I broke into a run. Fabulous. I was supposed to be his savior and I was running like a little bitch in the opposite direction. I had caused this pain to Jace…how long had he been putting up with his alcoholic, abusive father? How long had I been engrossed in dramas of my own creation too blind to see the bruises he wore?

  I felt terrible. It was one thing if he was ignoring me because he was an asshole…it was a whole other ballgame if he was ignoring me because he was getting the shit beat out of him, and he didn’t want me to see him like that. It was the first time I ever saw him…the way he had seen me the first day in the hall—broken, and I didn’t like it. Jace had always been a fighter. He had always fought for me. I had no clue what I could do…but Jace was worth every bit of it. Even if he couldn’t fight back, I was determined to be there for him; even if it meant throwing myself into harm’s way.

  Jace needed me. And I intended to be his saving grace.

  Eighteen: Would it Kill You to be Vulnerable for Once?

  Melt Away

  I never knew I could feel like this

  My heart is racin’

  Never knew I’d feel it in your kiss

  Oh, my life is changing

  You walked into my life

  Oh so confident

  The lights shone so bright

  You were heaven sent

  One smile from your mouth

  I melt away

  One kiss from your lips

  I’m here to stay

  I wasn’t gone more than five minutes when a text rang through to my phone. Are you okay? It was Jace.

  I was still frazzled from the sight I had just run from; my mind was going a mile a minute—trying to decide how I should handle everything. Should I call the police? Should I tell my parents? I wasn’t sure what the right answer was.

  The fact that he was worried about me at such a time was endearing and frustrating all at the same time.

  Are you fucking kidding? Are you okay? I wrote back in response.

  I was a few blocks from my house when my phone began ringing.

  “Hello?” I answered, breathlessly.

  “Where are you?” Jace’s voice sounded through.

  “I saw him punch you, Jace—right in front of my eyes.” My voice was quivering as I spoke the words of truth.

  “Peyton, where are you?” he asked again, completely ignoring my previous statement.

  “I’m on Dayton and Ferry.”

  “Don’t move—I’m coming.” Then the call dropped.

  I couldn’t have moved if I wanted to. Knowing Jace was in the vicinity had me frozen in place; my heart beating wildly out of my chest. My mind was swimming.

  “Peyton?” I heard my name after no more than a few minutes.

  I turned around to see Jace, his face flushed, full of worry and concern. “I’m so sorry.” He ran to me then, embracing me gently.

  “What do you have to be sorry for?” I asked, my eyes brimming with tears.

  “I hate that you had to see that. I hate that I treated you badly.” He pushed a few stray hairs out of my face.

  “What the hell was that?” I gasped out.

  “My father,” he answered simply.

  “I kind of gathered that.” My lips were quivering and I was trying to remain calm.

  “He’s an alcoholic bastard,” Jace said, kissing the top of my head lightly.

  “Jace, how long has this been going on?” I was searching his blue eyes for answers.

  “Just since Jax passed…he started spiraling after my mother’s accident and I guess losing Jax just sent him flying over the edge.” He paused and I could see regret and guilt pass across his eyes. “Jax was my father’s golden child. Seeing me is just too much of a reminder of what he lost.”

  “Are you fucking kidding me?” I was heated now. Tears spilling down my cheeks. The fact that he was already defending him was almost too much for me.

  “Peyton, I’m okay.” He was attempting to soothe me with his soft voice.

  I pressed on his stomach where I had clearly seen him take the punch earlier and he winced, pulling away from me. I lifted up his shirt gently and the bruise was red, almost maroon. “This is not okay—you are not okay. Let’s go to the police. Let’s report his ass.”

  Jace quickly caught my eye. “No. I can handle this.” He pulled his shirt down huffily.

  “Jace—you’re not Superman; sometimes it’s okay to ask for help,” I pushed.

  “Peyton, drop it,” he snapped. I felt like I had been slapped across my face. I couldn’t hide my disappointment. All I wanted to do was be there for him as he had so often been there for me; my pillar of support, but he was shutting me out; shutting me down.

  “Suit yourself,” was all I said before turning and heading back in the direction of my house.

  His hand was on my arm faster than I could blink. “Let go of me!” I said in a bitter tone, not even bothering to turn around.

  “Peyton.” I didn’t even need to look in his direction to know that something was amiss in his voice.

  Turning around slowly, I came face to face with a crying Jace. With every tear that fell from his eyes my heart broke a little more.

  I couldn’t stand to see him weak; defeated—that was my role and I played it so well. Without even thinking, I threw my arms around him swiftly; running my hands gently through his hair. “Shhh…” I attempted to calm him down.

  His shoulders were heaving up and down with each staggered breath. We stood there like that, embraced, in silence for what felt like forever before he finally spoke.

  “I’m going to handle it, I promise. Please have a little faith in me,” he said softly then.

  “I do have faith in you,” I replied. “It’s the other assholes in your life I doubt.”

  He cracked a small smile in response to my statement. “I wasn’t trying to hide anything from you,” he said through sniffles. “I just didn’t want you getting mixed up in this. You’ve been through so much already—it was the furthest thing from what I wanted.”

  I sighed softly. “You’re always trying to protect me; save me. Would it kill you to be vulnerable for once? To allow me to be your savior?”

  He cupped my face as he responded. “You’re my world Peyton Lane—I’ll never stop fighting for you.” He lowered his lips to mine quickly and softly.

  “I love you,” I whispered as our lips parted. “You’re my everything; but I won’t sit back and watch as you get the shit beat out of you…I won’t do it; I refuse.”

  “I don’t expect you to.” He wasted
no time at all with his reply. “Just let me deal with it.”

  “Okay,” I responded, defeated.

  “I wish you could have met my mom. You would have really liked her.”

  “I bet I would have—if she was anything like you.” I smiled up at him.

  “She taught me everything I know.” He chuckled lightly, but there was a sadness to it.

  “Tell me about her,” I urged, rubbing my hand up and down his back in a soothing motion.

  “I will…I promise.” It was the best I could get and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. He was beginning to let his walls down for me; he was beginning to open up to me, slowly, and I was savoring every minute of it.

  “What are your plans tomorrow?” Jace asked, his eyes regaining a little of their usual brightness.

  “Kayleigh wanted to go shopping, but I can reschedule. Why?”

  “I want to introduce you to my real family,” Jace replied.

  He had taken me by surprise—Jace had never bothered introducing me to any of his friends before. We hadn’t been dating long, but I had always wondered deep down if it was because he was embarrassed of me. Now I understood that Jace took his time—with anything in life—professing his love, opening up to me, introducing me to his friends. In a way, it almost made me feel more special.

  “What time?” I found myself asking.

  “I’ll pick you up around noon.” He kissed me passionately then, pressing one hand over my heart. I wasn’t sure why he did it, but it felt special; magical.

  And then he was gone, with the wind. My eyes were still closed when he made his swift exit. I opened my eyelids, looking around, and realized he had pulled a magic trick on me and disappeared.

  I lifted my fingers to my lips—touching the last spot his had been. They were still tingling. I don’t know why I ever let my heart and mind get so hazy when it came to Noah—the chemistry I had with Jace was off the charts; undeniable. It was like fate wanted us together seeing as I couldn’t shake him no matter what I did, and to be honest, it wasn’t like I wanted to. I slowly began walking back towards my house with only his face, his voice, and his scent locked into memory.

  Jace was my boyfriend, my love, mine. No one held a candle to him…not Colton, and definitely not Noah. It had always been Jace—from day one…that’s when I realized just what I needed to do. I began writing the text to Noah that would either make or break our friendship and band…no more back and forth, no more confusion.

  Jace was the one.

  Nineteen: The Only Thing I’m Drunk on is You.

  Things That Make Me Smile

  A comic you paid to see, your favorite show is playing

  Your crush is flirting with you, these things would make me smile too

  All we want is happiness, peace, equality, and fairness

  Why can’t we live in a fairytale instead of living behind our veils?

  “Where are you taking me?” I giggled as I felt the car jut to the right.

  “Just a bit further,” Jace whispered, his voice giving me goose bumps. I didn’t know if I was ever going to get used to his effect on me.

  After the day I witnessed his terrible father assault him, Jace had told me he wanted to take a weekend trip with me. He told me he was going to introduce me to his real family, whatever that meant.

  What he hadn’t shared was the fact that I had to be blindfolded the entire way there…it was nearly three hours away from what I gathered, after a few bathroom breaks and my rumbling stomach.

  I was nervous about meeting anyone who was important to Jace. He was so closed off, so guarded—if anyone made it that close they had to be someone special.

  In a way, the darkness helped my nerves and I wondered if that was Jace’s plan all along. Maybe he knew me more than I thought.

  “Can I take this thing off yet?” I whined, already reaching my hands up to remove it.

  “Not yet.” I felt Jace’s fingers close around mine, causing me to freeze in place—my heartbeat was racing.

  It’s like he could sense me. “Relax,” Jace began in a calming tone. “They are going to love you.”

  I took a deep breath, inhaling and then letting it out. Jace was right. He was the only person I needed to worry about, and he loved me…I’d say I was set.

  “We’re here,” I heard a faint whisper in my left ear.

  Eagerly, I ripped the bandana from my eyes and quickly scanned our surroundings.

  We were in the wilderness. Yup, definitely somewhere in the forest. I looked over at Jace, confused. “What are we doing here?”

  Then the single worst thing that could have happened, did. He replied with camping.

  The wilderness and I did not agree…it was going to be a long trip.

  I wasn’t sure if the groan I let out had been in my head or out loud—but I found out quickly as Jace’s face fell. “Peyton, I’m sorry—I didn’t know you hated camping.”

  He was making me feel like the biggest bitch in the world. “I’m willing to try anything again for you,” I said—surprising the both of us.

  His lips curled up into a mischievous smile. “I have to know—what is it that you hate so much about camping?”

  I paused. Where should I begin? “Well, for starters…” I unbuckled my seatbelt before continuing. “I hate being cold, and at night I’m sure it is going to drop below sixty degrees.”

  Jace looked amused. “That’s what you have me for. I’m going to be your personal heater.”

  My cheeks began burning up realizing that this was going to be the first time Jace and I were alone with no parental distractions. We would be sharing the same sleeping quarters.

  “We’re going to be staying in yurts, you dork, there will be beds, blankets, and a heater. Can I get a thank you?”

  “Thank you,” I said softly, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek.

  He looked too victorious. He was trying to fight off the smile, but I could tell he was having difficulties.

  “Okay, what else?”

  He really wanted me to continue… “Jace, do you want to keep your friends waiting?”

  “I want to hear what else you dislike about camping.” He was persistent—I’d give him that.

  “They all seem dumb now that you told me we have a yurt,” I answered honestly.

  “Oh, I see how it is…” Jace acted like he was hurt. “You just didn’t trust that I could treat my girl right, is that it?”

  I would never get tired of him referring to me as his—in any way, shape, or form. “Say it again.” My eyes were pleading with his.

  “My girl.” How he could always read my mind was beyond sexy to me. “You are mine.”

  He lowered his lips to mine then, softly. My heart rate began to spike. I broke off the kiss quickly, not wanting to get carried away. “I’m ready to meet your family now.”

  Jace smiled back at me widely. “Come on.”

  Before I knew it, he had dragged me out of the car and to one of the first yurts we came across. He pounded loudly on the door. “Honey, I’m home.” His voice rose unusually high as he attempted to fool the people inside.

  The door swung open with a bang and standing inside was a scrawny looking dark-haired male with green eyes and freckles. He was grinning so big it was as if they had been separated for years.

  “Elijah,” I heard Jace say.

  They ran to each other and embraced roughly. “How in the hell have you been man?” Elijah asked, slapping one hand down on Jace’s shoulder.

  “I’ve been good,” Jace replied.

  “How long has it been?” Elijah was looking for an answer from Jace.

  “A couple of months,” Jace said softly, almost as if he was too ashamed to say it aloud.

  “Don’t ever let it happen again.” Elijah looked at him, serious and sincere.

  “I won’t, I promise.” It appeared as though they were having some kind of inner dialogue between one another within their stares. Maybe Elijah knew about Jace
s asshole of a father? If Jace was as close with them as he made it seem—I wouldn’t put it past him.

  “Is that Austin I hear?” I heard a deep masculine voice come out of the neighboring yurt.

  He stepped out into view and I caught his light blond hair, brown eyes, and bulging muscles.

 
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