Disclaimer: On first chapter.
Author's Note: So, it's been a while. Haha. This chapter is kind of that awkward transition back into a story, because I've had to get reacquainted with the characters. I've made some significant changes to the story line from this point forward, but I like it a lot more. The next chapter will be far more in-depth and we're about to delve into the heart of Newton's Law. We've been in the calm before the storm, but that time has come to an end. I hope you enjoy the chapter! Let me know what you think about it. :) Happy reading!
Tuesday, May 30, 2011
She didn't know how long she'd been sitting there—immersed in paperwork that never seemed to quit, but she was getting closer and closer to being done with all of the new hire files. She picked up her checklist and mumbled to herself as she read through it all. She'd long since submitted the Opening Night event advertisements to the newspapers and local websites—her local news station interview was scheduled for Friday morning and the radio stations have been blasting the adverts for days now.
She had to get everyone on payroll and finalize the menu for the website, which was almost done. Her training schedule for next week was still in shambles. She had like four different companies coming in on Thursday to finish polishing floors, update the piping, furniture deliveries, and her new Chefs would be setting up the kitchens.
Lynn didn't even want to think about the process it would be to get the kitchen fully stocked and the small decorations that she'd only recently ordered. The stage still had to be built and installed, and she knew that the Glee club was working on a full night of entertainment for her guests, but they needed at least two days to rehearse in the physical space.
She felt like crying, because there was no way that she'd be able to do all of this on her own. Jeff was still in the process of constructing the design for the signs and they needed to replace the windows on the front of the store. Plus, he had to deal with the whole Elizabeth situation and that was just going to stress her out even more if she went down that road.
With a deep sigh, Lynn dropped her checklist onto the desk and folded her arms together before resting her throbbing forehead onto her forearms. In what only felt like seconds later, Lynn felt a pair of strong hands press softly on her shoulders. She blinked rapidly as she came out of her unplanned slumber and let out a soft breath when Jeff started kneading her tense shoulders.
"Have a nice nap, sweetheart?" he asked—his voice was teasing, but she could detect the hint of concern that lingered.
Lynn gave a hum of appreciation as he massaged from her shoulders, down the line of her spine and then back up to the back of her neck. "How long was I out for?" she asked, voice a little sleep-rough.
"I came to see if you wanted something to drink around two, and it's a little past five now," he replied. He was startled when Lynn sat bolt right in her chair.
"Stacey!" she squeaked, horrified because she was supposed to pick up the little girl from practice at three o'clock. Oh holy god, she'd forgotten a child. What if she thought she'd abandoned her like Elizabeth did? What if Stacey had been kidnapped or—
"Lynnette calm down!" Jeff said loudly—he had to talk over Lynn, who was on the verge of having a heart attack. "I picked up Stacey from dance. She's fine."
It took a moment for his words to register, but when they did, Lynn felt exhausted all over again as her adrenaline came crashing down. "Thank the lord," she breathed, "Are partial heart attacks a thing?"
Jeff laughed, but she felt him rub the back of her neck in soothing circles. Lynn relaxed into the touch—it had been far too long since a man had touched her in such a way.
"How's it going in here?" he asked, "You're not one to take spontaneous naps."
Lynn groaned her dismay. "I don't know if this is going to work, Jeff," she told him, "There's so much work to get done that—"
Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of the front door opening. Loud laughter spilled into the room—it was distant, but Lynn knew the way her niece sounded when she was laughing and that sound was all Mercedes.
"Cede!" Sam's protest made Lynn smile fondly. "You're not supposed to laugh." He sounded put-out about whatever it was that had Mercedes in hysterics, but his statement only seemed to make her laugh harder.
Lynn looked up at Jeff as he chuckled under his breath. The sounds of rambunctious teenagers got louder as the two stampeded past the door. Lynn caught a flash of dark skin and another flash of blond hair as Sam and Mercedes walked towards the kitchen.
She shook her head as she listened to the two bicker.
"It was funny," Mercedes told him—still breathless from her giggling. "I just—"
There was a choked off sound that let Lynn know that whatever had happened was still too amusing not to react.
"You're a terrible girlfriend," Sam replied—and Lynn didn't need to see his face to know that he was pouting. Jeff laughed before turning his attention back to her.
"What do you need help with?" he asked.
"Everything," she admitted—tuning out the murmuring voices coming from the kitchen. "I need someone else at the store with me. I would ask Mercedes but she's got her own job now and with choir and the rehearsals, she won't have time."
"How about this—"Jeff began as he reached over her and started closing files. Lynn sat up, startled.
"Jeff, what?" she asked as he scooped everything up and stacked it all together.
"—you are going to take the rest of the evening off and get a game plan together. We'll ask Mercedes and Sam if they have any friends in need of a summer job, and we'll go from there."
Lynn wasn't particularly happy, but it did make sense. "Why can't I work for the rest of the night?"
"Maybe because you're exhausted and so stressed out that you're going to get nowhere," he replied. Lynn gave him a petulant look which made him grin. Her heart skipped a beat in there somewhere, and she admittedly held her breath when he pressed a kiss to her forehead.
"Let's go make some dinner," he said, "and figure out what Mercedes was laughing at Sam for, so I can laugh at him too."
Lynn snorted as he hauled her out of the desk chair. She flicked off the desk lamp, but allowed Jeff to lead her from the office by the hand.
Tuesday, May 30, 2011
"You were never supposed to tell my dad about my twerk fail," Sam was indignant and Mercedes couldn't help but laugh at the look on his face.
"It's not my fault that you were told to stick to body rolls," she replied in amusement. Sam shot her a disgruntled look and she let out a huff of laughter. Mercedes carried the stack of plates into the kitchen—Sam trailing sulkily behind her.
"You can still hear him laughing," Sam grumbled and Mercedes bit her lip to contain the giggles that wanted to escape. Jeff was still chortling in the dining room. She could hear Lynn trying to shush him while they wiped down the table.
Mercedes placed the stack of dishes on the counter and started scraping excess food into the trashcans. Sam poured leftover drinks down the drain and then he started a dish bath with warm water and soap.
Sam looked a bit embarrassed, but he definitely wasn't as upset about it as he pretended to be. Mercedes scraped the last bit of food off the plates and then she stuck them on one side of the sink. Sam started washing the dishes in earnest. Mercedes took to his other side, so she could stick the rinsed dishes into the dishwasher.
They worked in tandem—neither one feeling the need to break the easy silence. When all of the dishes were put into the washer, Mercedes put in the soap and then turned it on while Sam dried his hands and wiped down the counter.
She looked up at him. "You mad at me, Blondie?" she asked and he eyed her for a moment. He folded the hand towel and then turned to face her.
"No," he admitted finally, "I'm not mad." Mercedes met his pretty green eyes and enjoyed the soft look he was giving her. It still baffled her sometimes that Sam was attracted to her, but she was incredibly happy about it.
"Good," she told him, before she pulled him into a kiss by the front of his shirt. They kept the kiss light—a soft meeting of the lips that was meant to reassure, comfort, and provide a simple pleasure for both of them. The fact that her aunt and his dad were in the other room might have been a factor too.
Sam pulled away, but he pressed a kiss to her hairline. Mercedes leaned into his chest, before footsteps broke their spell and they stepped away from each other.
Auntie Lynn walked into the kitchen first, but Jeff was right behind her. He cracked a grin at his son and Sam's ears turned red. Mercedes found it adorable. Lynn put the tuberware containers into the fridge while Jeff leaned forward and whispered, "We need to go to the store to pick up some presents for the twins."
Mercedes was amused by the way Jeff's eyes kept flickering to the open doorway. As though the twins would magically sense that he was talking about them and presents in the same sentence.
"Would you be able to watch them for a little while if Lynn and I sneak out for some "grocery shopping"?"
Sam was giving his father his best "are you serious, right now?" face and Mercedes was trying not to choke on her own laughter.
"Dad, they go to bed at 9:15," Sam replied—he sounded long-suffering. "That's like forty minutes from now. I think I can handle making the twins get ready for bed."
"Well, you know—your girlfriend is here, I didn't want to make you have to split your attention." Jeff's sarcasm was practically tangible. Sam's cheeks turned bright red and Mercedes laughed aloud.
"Don't worry, Mr. Evans—I mean, Jeff," she corrected herself quickly when she saw him open his mouth, "I can't stay for too long. I've got work in the morning and Sam's got basketball practice."
"Alright then," Jeff replied—before he lowered his voice, "Lynn we should head out soon."
She had just put the last container in the fridge. Lynn turned around and nodded at him. Jeff looked at Sam and then Mercedes and she cringed internally.
"Now, I'm trusting you—"Jeff began, but he was quickly interrupted by Sam who realized what was about to happen.
"Dad, it's like forty minutes!"
"Sam, I'm your father—"
"This is so not necessary. I can't believe—"
"You're seventeen, almost eighteen. I know what kind of temptations come along with having a pretty girl alone in a house—"
"Dad, seriously? We've only been dating for a few weeks. I think you can hold off on the sex talk for a little bit longer."
Mercedes' mind flashed back to what had happened in her pool house and she felt her whole face turn bright red. Sam's ears were crimson and he couldn't look at his father directly. Jeff stared between the two of them. Mercedes kept her eyeballs firmly on the floor, but she could practically feel his eyes assessing her.
"Fine," he relented, "but we're talking about this later. No funny business."
"Yeah, okay," Sam responded.
"I'm going to go say goodnight to the kids. We'll be back before midnight."
Jeff and Lynn exited the kitchen. Sam looked like he wanted to dive headfirst into oblivion and Mercedes felt overly warm.
"Well that was humiliating," Sam blurted and Mercedes laughed in agreement. She covered her face with her hands in an attempt to soothe the embarrassment of that moment. It didn't help when Jeff and Lynn left the house in a hurry—Lynn yelling for Mercedes to, "Resist the force!"
Sam turned around and plonked his head on the counter. Mercedes let out an embarrassed giggle. Her aunt was ridiculous.
The two of them stood there for a long moment, before Sam righted himself and yelled, "Stacey! Stevie! Shower, teeth and PJs!"
There were two affirmative responses from the twins and then a chorus of little feet running upstairs. One set continued down the hall, but Mercedes heard it when one of the twins came back down the stairs.
"Sam! Can I take a bath instead?" Stacey called back.
"Yeah, sure," Sam replied.
Stacey practically galloped back upstairs and to the bathroom. Sam shook his head in amusement. Mercedes allowed him to grab her hand and then escort her from the kitchen, flipping off the lights on their way out.
He walked her over to the living room—their fingers entwined. "Wanna watch a movie for a little while?" he asked. Mercedes watched the play of his muscles underneath his shirt and decided that she'd be bad for a few moments.
She tugged on Sam's fingers and he turned around—a quizzical expression on his face. She didn't give him time to say anything, before she pulled him into a hard kiss. Sam responded with surprise at first, and then with affection.
He pulled her close and opened his mouth to her. They traded intense kisses for a while, before Sam lightened things and pulled back. "I thought we were going slowly," he said.
"We are," Mercedes replied, "We won't take anything off or cause any—uh, orgasms, but kissing is fine. Kissing is really good, actually."
Sam hummed in acknowledgement, before he stepped away. Mercedes let out a noise of complaint that had Sam grinning. He kissed her quickly, before he turned to the movie collection at the base of Lynn's entertainment system.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Giving us a cover story," Sam replied. He dug around until he found the Star Trek DVD and he took a few moments to get it started on the screen. Mercedes watched him as he stood up slowly and turned around to face her.
She let out a soft exhale when he pulled her into his chest with one sharp motion. "Now, where were we?"
Mercedes' gaze went to his lips before they went back up to his eyes. She leaned forward and kissed him without saying another word.
Mercedes wasn't sure how she ended up in the position she was in, but hell if she was going to complain. Sam's hands were on her waist, but her shirt kept slipping upwards and each time she felt the heat of his palms against her skin she felt like she'd lost her breath.
Her hands were twisted in the silky blond strands at the back of his head. His lips meshed with hers and she felt his teeth nip at her bottom lip. It drove her crazy when he did that, and she was pretty sure that asshole knew exactly what he was doing.
They kissed hard and fast. She could feel each swipe of his tongue in the hardening of her nipples and the way her center grew heavier with each passing second. Who knew that kissing would be so addicting?
It had been difficult to watch Sam learn choreography. Their set was organized so that everyone got a fair chance at singing lead in either a solo or a duet. They had two girls' numbers, two boys' numbers and three whole group performances. Rachel and Finn were going to be singing a duet. Quinn and Tina were doing a number and Sam and Mercedes had been chosen to do a duet together.
Sam may not be the best dancer, and he was freaking adorable trying to do the hip twists that Mike put in their routine, but her boyfriend was sexy as hell. He'd been wearing gray sweatpants and a black Nike shirt that clung to him like a second skin.
His muscles were moving and she could see it all through his shirt. It got to the point where Mercedes had to step outside and chug water to get herself under control. She was a teenage girl, so of course, she'd been horny before, but just looking at Sam did things to her body without him even trying.
And try as she might, she hadn't been able to get their little activity out of her mind since it happened. She wanted to keep a lid on how heated they were getting, because while Sam was sexually experienced, Mercedes knew she wasn't ready yet.
But holy god, the way Sam was kissing her was making her rational thought fly out of the window.
Mercedes let out a soft moan when Sam trailed kisses from her lips and down to her sternum. Her eyes rolled when he scraped his teeth gently against her collarbone. She tightened her fingers in his hair, unwilling to let him move away from a spot that she didn't even realize was that sensitive.
Mercedes let her legs fall open and Sam's hips slipped in the open space. They both gasped when Sam's hardness rested flush against her and there may have been some involuntary hip thrusting, but Sam managed to pull away before things went any further.
Mercedes made grabby hands at him as he crawled to the other side of the couch, but she regained her senses a moment or two later.
"You are trying to kill me," Sam said—before he pulled a pillow cushion over his face and held it there. Mercedes laid on her side of the couch and tried to regain her breath. Her heart thudded in her chest when she caught sight of the tenting of Sam's sweatpants.
Her whole face got extremely warm, and she'd never admit it but there was a pleased smile twitching at her lips. It was nice to know that she could do that to Sam—that he found her hard to resist and that he wanted her sexually.
"Me?" she asked, breathless. "You are never allowed to wear that shirt ever again."
Sam peered at her from under the pillow and he smirked. "Would you like me to take it off?"
"I think it'd be best if you kept your clothes on, Blondie," she replied, "I'm having enough problems as it is."
"Good to know," he said, before he dropped the pillow back on his face. They stayed in their separate corners until Mercedes could contain her hormones.
"Should we watch the movie?"
Sam sat up and Mercedes had to swallow twice, because Sam looked wrecked. His lips were red and kiss swollen. His hair was a mussed mess—her fingers had done that.
She stared at him, because she'd done good—damn good.
Mercedes came back to herself when she noticed the amused smirk on Sam's face. "Proud of yourself, Cede?"
She blushed which made him laugh as he scooted towards her on the couch. He smiled in her direction as he settled about a cushion away from her and then he held open his arms. "I don't think we have time to watch the movie before the kiddos come downstairs, but we can cuddle for a little while."
She willingly crawled into his embrace—burying her face into his chest as he wrapped her up in his arms. They sat there for about fifteen minutes—Mercedes sprawled across Sam's chest. They traded lazy kisses and spent their time talking about their day.
Their time together came to an end when Stacey walked into the living room dressed in a pair of pink pajamas—her damp blonde hair hanging against her shoulders. Mercedes laughed when Stacey jumped on top of them yelling, "Cuddle pile!"
The seven year old managed to wiggle her way onto Sam's other side—her face resting on her brother's shoulder and her back to the couch cushion. Sam shook his head in amusement, but he kissed the top of his sister's head and wrapped an arm around her.
Mercedes smiled when Sam squeezed her hip with his other hand.
"Whatcha doin'?" Stacey asked as she flitted her eyes between Sam and Mercedes.
"We were watching a movie," Mercedes responded, "but then we started cuddling and that was more fun."
"I like cuddles, too," Stacey said, "It's fun when daddy lets me sit on his lap and he reads me stories. It's nice when you have bad dreams, too."
Mercedes' heart melted in her chest. Those blue eyes were going to be killer when Stacey got older. "Definitely," Mercedes replied, "Sam's a good cuddler."
"He's okay," Stacey said, "but my daddy's better. Sam doesn't have the whiskers that daddy does. He rubs them against my cheek and tells me that it'll keep me safe from monsters."
Sam laughed and Mercedes felt the rumble echo through his chest. Something in her chest tightened because this moment was something she'd always wanted—easy, warm, and content.
"He used to do that to me too when I was younger," Sam admitted, "He called himself the Wizard of Whiskers."
Stacey giggled. Mercedes snorted, because that was cute as hell. She was pretty sure that everything nerdy about Sam had come straight from his father. Sam smiled down at her and she gave him a grin in return.
The moment was broken when the sound of Stevie descending the stairs caught their attention. She shifted so she could look at the small boy over her shoulder, and Mercedes could've sworn that she saw him frown. He didn't look like his normally enthusiastic self, but maybe he was just tired.
Mercedes turned her gaze from Stevie and back to Sam, who was staring at his little brother too. His eyebrows were furrowed slightly and he looked a bit confused when he met her gaze. Maybe she wasn't imagining things.
"I think it's time for some munchkins to get to bed," Sam said, before he tapped Mercedes lightly on the back. She understood his unspoken request and swiveled until her feet hit the hardwood flooring. Mercedes sat up on the couch, and Sam followed her—Stacey simply shifted until she sat on her brother's lap.
Sam scooted off the couch and stood with Stacey in his embrace—a forearm under her bottom and her little arms wrapped around his neck.
"Do you want to stay for a little while after I get these two settled?" Sam asked her, and Mercedes looked at the clock on the wall. She was about to say yes until she saw the downcast look on Stevie's face and decided that Sam's time might be better spent with someone else.
Mercedes shook her head in response. "Not tonight," she said, "I have an early day tomorrow, so I should head out."
Sam blinked at her, and Mercedes nodded imperceptibly in Stevie's direction. A look of understanding crossed his features and he gave her a grateful look. Mercedes' heart skipped a beat when he directed that lopsided smile at her.
She stepped forward and kissed Stacey's cheek. The little girl gave her a sleepy smile from where she was resting against Sam's shoulder.
"Bye Mercy," she mumbled and Mercedes laughed softly.
Mercedes swept Stevie up into a hug—one that the little boy returned tightly, before he moved to his brother's side. He didn't say anything, which was also unusual, but Mercedes paid no mind. She just hoped that he felt better.
She looked at Sam and he grinned at her. Mercedes rolled her eyes in fond amusement, before she pressed a lightning fast kiss to his lips. Sam didn't look satisfied but that's all he was getting when his younger siblings were in the room.
"See you at rehearsal?"
"You know it," Sam replied, "Bye Cede."
Mercedes grabbed her sweater and bag from the foyer. She left Sam standing there—his siblings attached to him in some way. She waved goodbye from the door and blew Sam a kiss before she walked outside.
Tuesday, May 30, 2011
Stacey was out like a light before Sam had even fully tucked her into bed. With dance, soccer practice, and theatre rehearsal—the little girl must have been exhausted. He brushed her hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear.
"Love you, Sunshine," he whispered before he placed a brotherly kiss on her temple.
"Love you, Sammy," she replied—half asleep and slurred. Sam stared at her for a second, because this girl meant the world to him. He loved his siblings so much. He made sure to tuck her stuffed monkey under her arm and pulled the covers over her shoulders just like she liked it.
Sam turned on her nightlight. He checked to make sure that her window was locked before he pulled the curtains closed. He tip toed out of her room, shutting the door quietly behind him.
He made his way down the hall and then checked in on Stevie. He slipped inside the room and checked the locks on the window before he pulled the curtains closed. He was about to leave the room when he realized that Stevie's wide blue eyes were staring at him from his bed.
Sam almost had a heart attack, because he wasn't expecting that. He tripped over a toy and almost face planted on the floor. He was embarrassed, but Stevie's laugh made it worth it.
"I thought you were asleep, Superman," Sam said as he righted himself and then trekked over to the bed. Stevie just nodded—his eyes were droopy and tired, but something seemed to be bothering him. "You alright?"
Stevie opened his mouth to say something, but then he stopped. Sam's brow furrowed in concern when his little brother wouldn't meet his eyes, but Sam knew Stevie well enough to know that pushing him was going to make him shut down. He sat down on the side of Stevie's bed.
So, Sam waited him out. It didn't take too long.
"Our birthday's on Friday," Stevie said—his voice hesitant and unsure and Sam wished like hell that he knew what was going on.
"I know, buddy," Sam replied, "You're going to be eight! You're getting old on me."
Stevie didn't smile and Sam's heart dropped.
"What's wrong, Stevie?"
The little boy's eyes watered and he burrowed down into his blankets. "Do you—"Stevie started, but his voice cracked and Sam's heart was in his throat. "Do you think mom will come back?"
And holy god, he hadn't even thought about it. He'd been so consumed in his own life and Mercedes and moving forward that he forgot how traumatized his little brother and sister must be. How could he even begin to answer that question?
Sam sat in a stunned stupor—trying and failing to form words and he apparently waited too long, because Stevie's lip trembled and he burst out, "I'm sorry. It's my fault that mama left."
Sam's little peaceful bubble of reality shattered into pieces and he forgot how to speak. He was so choked by his own emotions that he doubted that anything he said would be comprehensible anyway.
"Stevie, no. It's not your fault—"
"But it is my fault, Sam!" Stevie was full out crying now, his blue eyes pained and accusing. "I asked her to buy me a new book because I'd read all the other ones and then she left! I'm sorry—"
"I'm sorry, Sam," Stevie sobbed with his whole body and Sam tried to speak over him. "I didn't mean to! I'm sorry. Please don't hate me!"
Sam stopped trying to get his baby brother to listen to him, because the seven-year old's chest was heaving erratically and his whole body was bowing inward—like he wanted to crawl inside of himself and never come out again. He ripped the covers off of his brother and tried to pull him into his lap.
Stevie fought him—tooth and nail. He kept apologizing over and over again and it literally tore Sam apart to hear how much guilt he'd been carrying with him and no one had noticed it—he hadn't noticed.
"I didn't mean to," Stevie's pain came out in a river of tears against Sam's chest and Sam held him tighter as his brother clung to him. "I'm sorry."
Sam's chest burned as he clutched his little brother. He blinked away his own tears, but some of them slid into Stevie's baby soft locks anyway. He pressed kiss after kiss onto Stevie's head—just saying over and over that it wasn't his fault and that he loves him.
How had he never noticed anything? Had he really been so absorbed in his own world that he'd ignored his own brother? Stevie internalized things. Stacey broke down when she knew she had to, but Stevie waited until his emotions refused to be held back anymore.
Sam was crying as he pulled back. He made Stevie look at him. Those blue eyes—usually so full of wonder, innocence and sarcasm—were wounded. Something about Stevie had been broken irreparably and Sam hated his mother for doing it. She'd ruined something soul-deep in his little brother and Stevie thought that it was his fault.
"None of this was your fault, Stevie," Sam told him—his voice was practically a croak and Stevie's face scrunched up. Sam knew that he didn't believe him. "None of it was your fault. Mom made her choice to leave long before you asked her a question that every child has the right to ask their parents. This isn't your fault."
Stevie still looked skeptical, but he buried his face in his brother's shoulder and clung to him. "You don't hate me?"
The vulnerability in Stevie's voice hurt Sam. He responded by pressing a kiss to the side of Stevie's head. "Never," he said, "I could never hate you. I love you, kid. So much."
Stevie didn't say anything else beyond digging his small fingers into Sam's chest. Sam held him there until the kid passed out—either from physical or emotional exhaustion. Sam kicked off his shoes and then slid both him and Stevie under the covers.
Sam cradled his brother close—unwilling to let him go and think for one second that Sam didn't want to be right where he was.
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