A life for nicholas (the.., p.1
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       A Life For Nicholas (The Nicholas Chronicles #1), p.1

           Matt Zachary
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A Life For Nicholas (The Nicholas Chronicles #1)

  A Life for Nicholas

  Matt Zachary

  Copyright Porterlance Books 2013

  All rights reserved. Except for the use in review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the author.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to the actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Other Books by Matt Zachary:

  New Discoveries (Book 1 of the New Discoveries series)

  Broken Hearts (Book 2 of the New Discoveries series)

  Life Changes (Book 3 of the New Discoveries series)

  New Beginnings (Book 4 of the New Discoveries series)

  The New Discoveries Series: Complete Collection (All 4 Books)

  12 Days of Craigslist

  A Life For Nicholas (Book 1 of The Nicholas Chronicles)

  A Home For Christmas (Book 2 of The Nicholas Chronicles)

  A Year For Change (Book 3 of The Nicholas Chronicles)

  The Nicholas Chronicles (All 3 Books)


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  A Life for Nicholas

  matt zachary

  Chapter 1

  Nicholas didn’t have many memories of his parents. He remembered his mom had beautiful, curly, blonde hair. He could still smell the lavender scent of it as it blew in the wind as she hung clothes outside on the clothesline so many years ago. It occurred to him that the lavender scent probably came from the laundry detergent she used, but he liked to think it was the smell of her hair. All he knew was that the small purple flowers always brought a picture of his mom into his head.

  He didn’t really remember his dad. He had an image in his mind of a man with very dark, wavy hair…a man that smelled of alcohol and never wore a smile. He didn’t know if the image was a memory or just something he had made up in his mind after hearing stories from his various foster parents.

  “He’s probably dead in a drunken stupor somewhere,” they would say when he would promise his dad was coming for him someday.

  According to the stories, he was a drunk with a temper that just left Nickolas and his mom alone to fend for themselves when he was just three years old. As nasty as they made him sound, Nicholas would still prefer to have a parent and a normal life again. It had to have been better than the foster homes he had been placed in.

  Nicholas thought of his dad as he lay on his top bunk bed, writing in a notebook. He was thirteen but had always been a quiet boy. Moving from place to place, and school to school could do that. The way he expressed himself was by writing in his notebook. Some would call what he wrote poems, but he liked to just think of them as his memories, his hopes, his fears, his dreams. His notebook was everything about him, and he kept it very private.

  “Are you writing in that stupid thing again?” Archie, one of the other foster children asked. Archie was a red-headed ten year-old, and just one of the many foster children living in the four bedroom home.

  Mr. and Mrs. Williams had thirteen foster children in all. The kids in Nicholas’ class joked that his house was an orphanage. He didn’t mind, though. Even though the Williams’ mostly ignored the children, and only used them as a paycheck for the state and free labor around the house, it was still vastly better than some of the houses he was placed in.

  “Yes, now leave me alone, Archie!” Nicholas answered as he tossed his dirty socks in Archie’s face.

  At school, Archie was known as a bully. He was always getting into one fight or another with his classmates, but Nicholas didn’t have any problems with him. He knew what it was liked to get picked on in school for having no real home or family. Archie was just sticking up for himself.

  “I know what you’re doing,” Archie declared rather than leave Nicholas alone. “You’re writing love notes!” Before Nicholas could deny anything, Archie started singing, “Nicky’s got a girlfriend! Nicky’s got a girlfriend!”

  Nicholas jumped from his bed to tackle Archie, who ran off laughing and singing his new song throughout the house. Nicholas wanted to chase him, but wasn’t about to leave his notebook out in the open on his bed. He shared the room with Archie, and Benjamin, another ten year old boy. Although they were young and naturally curious, they both knew to leave his stuff alone. Nicholas was only three years older, but much bigger than the pair of ten year olds and he used his imposing size to keep them in line.

  They weren’t what worried him. It was the other ten kids in the house, who constantly were in and out of his room. It was hard to have any sense of privacy with so many people around.

  The only ones with any privacy were Jacob and Joshua, a pair of twin brothers. They were almost seventeen and got their own room. They pretty much did what they wanted. In fact, they were rarely home which Nicholas found to be the only good thing about them. When they were home, they spent their time terrorizing the other kids, especially Nicholas since he was the oldest of the other children.

  Luckily, that night at dinner, they were gone again…probably out getting high with their girlfriends somewhere. Archie started singing his song once again as they ate a dinner of fish sticks, macaroni and cheese and peas that he and Marcia, a twelve year old girl, cooked. Nicholas knew if Jacob and Joshua had been there, they would’ve spent the rest of the night messing with him. With Mr. Williams passed out drunk on the couch before seven o’ clock and Mrs. Williams out at the casinos, where she spent every night, there would be no one to protect him.

  As the younger kids did the dishes after dinner, Nicholas retired back to his bedroom where he finished his homework before spending a little more time in his notebook. He wanted to make sure to get in what writing he could because the next day, a new boy was coming. He didn’t know much about the boy, other than that his name was Johnny and he was fourteen. He only hoped that the boy were nothing like Jacob and Joshua. That was the last thing he needed.

  Chapter 2

  “When do ya think he’s comin’?” Archie asked Nicholas over and over, even before he had woken up the next morning. Since school was out for the week due to a holiday, Nicholas planned on sleeping in.

  “I don’t know!” he finally answered as he threw a pillow at Archie. He had tried to ignore him and pretend to be asleep, but Archie didn’t know how to take no as an answer. “Why are you awake so early anyways?” Nicholas asked, noticing from the window that the sun had just barely risen.

  “I don’t know. It’s what time I always wake up,” Archie reasoned.

  Realizing that he would not be getting to sleep in, Nicholas hopped out of his bed and threw a pair of jeans on. He slept in a t-shirt and boxer shorts, as did most of the boys. The only clothes they were given were the underclothes the state gave them, and once a year, they were taken to the Goodwill store to get new school clothes…well, new for them.

  The house was quiet as Nicholas made his way to the kitchen fix himself a bowl of cereal. The only cereal the Williams’ bought was bulk, generic, sugared corn flakes. Most of the children had grown sick of the same breakfast day after day, but Nicholas didn’t mind. He had eaten worse in some of the foster homes he had lived in.

  “Hi Nicholas,” Marcia said in a syrupy-sweet voice as she entered
the kitchen. It was obvious to Nicholas that she took the time to fix her hair before venturing outside of her room. “Do you think you’ll like Johnny?”

  “I don’t even know him,” he answered without even looking up from his bowl of soggy flakes. He was oblivious to the fact that Marcia had a crush on him.

  Jacob and Joshua teased him about being a virgin, but he was only thirteen and had no interest in sex. They would taunt him by pretending to give him advice. “You should get some of that pussy,” they would say in reference to Marcia. At first, Nicholas would tell them that Marcia was only twelve and that was gross, but eventually he learned it was just easier to ignore them and wait for them to go away. Either way, he usually ended up getting beat on by one or both brothers.

  Johnny didn’t arrive with the social worker until late evening, just after dinner. “This is Johnny Hendricks,” Ms. Faison, the social worker, announced to everyone. Nicholas found it funny that social workers always used that fake, cheerful voice when bringing kids to their new homes, as if that were all it would take to make everyone happy about the situation.

  For only being a year older, Nicholas noticed that Johnny was much bigger than he was. His shoulders were broader, he was taller…he resembled Jacob and Joshua more than he resembled a fourteen year old.

  “Hey,” Johnny said to Nicholas as he unpacked his few belongings, and made his bed. Of course, Archie was right there telling him all about the house and the rules.

  “Hey,” Nicholas echoed back, though he only flicked his eyes away from his notebook for a second to look at Johnny. He listened closely, though, as Archie questioned the new boy about his various belongings.

  “Do you like basketball?” Archie asked with amazement in his voice. Anyone could tell he already looked up to his new roommate.

  “I like all sports,” Johnny announced. “I played on the baseball and football teams at my old school.” That explained his muscular build, Nicholas noted to himself silently.

  Once Johnny’s bed was made, he stripped off his shirt and jeans. Nicholas raised his eyes and couldn’t believe how different Johnny’s body was from his own. Johnny had muscles everywhere. As Nicholas checked out his abs, he noticed a small trail of hair running down to the waistband of Johnny’s boxers. Nicholas barely even had underarm hair yet. He put his notebook up and crawled under the covers. With his eyes closed, he couldn’t stop picturing Johnny’s body.

  Once it was lights out, and Archie and Benjamin had fallen asleep, Johnny whispered to Nicholas, “Hey, Nick. You awake?”

  Nicholas was tempted to just ignore his new roommate and instead pretend that he was asleep, but something in him made him answer. “Yeah.” It was faint, but it served its purpose.

  “You’re a quiet guy, huh?” Johnny asked. Nicholas could hear a rustling of the covers. The next thing he knew, Johnny had lifted himself up and was sitting on the edge of Nicholas’ bunk. “Is this okay?” he asked.

  “Sure.” Nicholas wasn’t able to say much. He wasn’t quite sure how he felt about the intrusion, but he remembered how he felt on his first night in a new home. Having just one friend when you closed your eyes to sleep made it a little less scary. So, he put in an effort to talk more.

  The two boys stayed up talking about their lives and how they got where they were for the next three hours.

  “Goodnight, Nicky,” Johnny said as he returned to his own bunk, ready to finally go to sleep.

  Nicholas wasn’t crazy about being called Nicky, but hearing it come out of Johnny’s mouth, with his Brooklyn-type accent, it sounded good. “Goodnight, Johnny,” he answered before drifting off to sleep.

  The next morning, Jacob and Joshua barged into Nicholas’ room as he was just waking up. He thought it was just Johnny coming back into the room. He had gone to brush his teeth, but as he looked up, it was the twins.

  “Scram!” they ordered Archie and Benjamin before closing the door. “So, Nicholas, we’re in a bind and you can help us,” Jacob started.

  “Help you with what?” Nicholas knew he wasn’t going to like the answer, but he had to play along if he wanted to get out of the room safely.

  “We need some money, so hand it over!” Joshua was probably the less smart of the two. He didn’t waste time trying to play good cop, but rather jumped straight into bad cop mode.

  “I don’t have any money,” Nicholas answered, panic showing on his face. “Where would I get money?” he asked, but didn’t think ahead to check the tone of his voice.

  “Are you calling us stupid?!” Joshua demanded to know as he grabbed Nicholas and yanked him off the bed.

  “Just give us your money…we know you have a stash hidden,” Jacob bluffed. “Or, we’ll have to rough you up a little.”

  “And, you better lie and say you fell off your bed or something,” Joshua added as if Nicholas getting beat up were already the decided outcome.

  “I think you two losers better get your fuckin’ hands off my friend!” Johnny said from behind the twins.

  They spun around to see the new kid, who was just as tall as them but in much better shape. “Who the fuck are you?” Joshua asked with the bravado still in his voice. There was no way he was going to be intimidated by one kid. He and his brother could easily take him and Nicholas if they had too.

  Rather than answer, Johnny threw a punch as Joshua, knocking the twin on his ass. As Jacob jumped in, Johnny placed him in a headlock, cutting off his oxygen until he was begging for air.

  “Get out,” Johnny ordered after releasing Jacob. “Oh, and if anyone asks…tell ‘em you fell out of bed.”

  “Man, that was awesome,” Nicholas cheered after the twins left the room with their tails between their legs.

  “You just let me know if they bother you anymore, Nicky,” Johnny said as he tussled Nicholas’ hair.

  Chapter 3

  For the next week, Jacob and Joshua stayed clear of Nicholas and Johnny, who had become quiet close friends.

  A few times at dinner, Joshua would give Nicholas the evil eye but as soon as Johnny made eye contact with him, both twins made sure to avoid his gaze and focus their hazing on the other kids instead.

  It turned out that when school started back up, Johnny was enrolled in Nicholas’ class. “Great. You can help me with my homework,” Johnny said only half joking. He was great at sports, but his grades were lousy. Academics could never really capture his attention the way sports could.

  “Sure thing, I owe you that much,” Nicholas answered although he was sure Johnny was exaggerating about his trouble with schoolwork. He seemed good at everything.

  During their Algebra class, though, Nicholas couldn’t help notice the lost look on Johnny’s face as their teacher, Mrs. Hefton, explained coefficients.

  “What was that?” Johnny asked at lunch. “Was that even English she was speaking?”

  Nicholas laughed as he started to drink his orange juice, “It’s not that hard. It’s just basic Algebra.” Nicholas had already learned some Algebra from his last school so it didn’t intimidate him. Besides, English and Math were his two best subjects.

  “Dude, you’re going to have to help me,” Johnny begged. His mood, however, didn’t hinder his appetite. He shoveled his lunch of a tuna sandwich, chips and a pudding cup into his mouth in between asking for help.

  “Don’t worry. I’ll help you. We’ll go over it tonight,” Nicholas promised just as the lunch bell rang to signal that it was time to get back to class.

  Nicholas made good on his promise to help Johnny that night. By bed time, Johnny even understood what he was doing.

  “See…I told you it wasn’t that hard,” Nicholas said with pride in his voice both for his own teaching skills and for Johnny’s hard work.

  After that, the two boys became inseparable. Anytime one did something, they both did it. They were together practically from sun up until sun down. Johnny
even convinced Nicholas to join the baseball team. Though Nicholas would be the first to admit he was horrible at sports, there wasn’t a high turnout for the tryouts so everyone who tried out made the team.

  “Don’t worry about it, Nicky. I’ll turn you into a home run hitter before ya know it.” Nicholas didn’t really care about baseball. He really only joined the team so he could spend more time with Johnny. It wouldn’t hurt if he could build up his body like Johnny and the other boys on the team though.

  Every day after school, Johnny and Nicholas spent some time outside throwing the ball and practicing hitting. It took a while, but Nicholas actually got good at catching the ball which he couldn’t do at all before meeting Johnny. He was even able to bat decently. He didn’t have the arm to be a pitcher though, but they already had one on their team.

  The fist few days of practice, Nicholas’ arms were like jelly. He wasn’t even able to lift himself up onto his top bunk, so Johnny offered to switch beds temporarily.

  As he slept in Johnny’s bed, the sheets, blankets and pillows smelled like Johnny. It made Nicholas feel warm inside, and somehow protected, like he imagined falling asleep in a parent’s arms would feel.

  “What’s this?” Johnny asked in the morning, holding out Nicholas’ notebook.

  Nicholas forgot he left it when they switched bunks. He had been spending so much time with Johnny that he had barely written in it since the day Johnny moved in. “It’s nothing…,” he started to answer, but Johnny already had the book open and was reading.

  “This stuff is great. Did you write this?” Johnny asked as he read the last entry Nicholas wrote about him.

  “That’s private,” Nicholas said as he snatched the notebook back.

  Neither boy spoke as they got ready for school, but as they walked to the bus, Johnny pulled Nicholas aside. “Look. I’m sorry,” he said. He didn’t mean to invade his friend’s privacy and hoped it wouldn’t mess up their friendship.

  “It’s fine,” Nicholas explained. “It’s just that no one has ever read it before. He felt bad for snatching the book back, but knowing that someone had read his thoughts and feelings made him feel vulnerable. Still, if there was anyone who he would let read it, it would be Johnny.

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