"Cane? Cane? Get up!"

Cane rolled over and pulled a pillow over his head. It was way too early to be awake. What could his mother possibly want at this time of morning? And her yelling wasn't helping the pounding in his head.

"Cane! Get up! It's Christmas morning!" Jill burst through his bedroom door and gave him a good shove. "Darling. Come on! It's Christmas morning!" she repeated.

"I heard you, Mum," Cane groaned from under the pillow sleepily. "Merry Christmas. Now, can I go back to sleep please?"

"No!" Jill whipped the pillow from his face and excitedly shook him again. "It's Christmas morning! My first Christmas with my firstborn son! We're opening presents right now! Just like a family's supposed to."

Cane's answer was a low groan, and Jill, not realizing the real problem, just laughed.

"Now I'm serious! Are you going to get up and come downstairs in ten minutes, or do I have to pull you out of this bed?"

"I'm up! I'm up!" Cane surrendered. "I'll be in the living room in ten minutes."

"All right! I'm counting!" Jill called over her shoulder.

The door shut without making a lot of noise, but it was still too much for Cane's head. He felt like crap. Seriously, if he could just split his head open or maybe cut it off and throw it out the window even, he was sure he would feel a lot better.

Ah. Who was he kidding? He was never going to feel better. Not unless he could get her out of his head. She was the reason he was hung over anyway.


He couldn't stop thinking about her. His thoughts always tumbled over and under and on top of each other, ranging diversely in topic, but always ended in the same place.


She was driving him crazy. So he had chosen the only way he knew how to silence her.


It was only a temporary fix obviously. Even his headache reminded him of her. She'd caused it, after all.

Cane rolled further across the bed and squinted at the clock on his bedside table. The red numbers assaulted his vision and sent sharp bolts of pain through his temple.

5:30.A.M. His mother was crazy.

Crazy enough to be pounding on his door again in five minutes if he didn't get his butt in gear.

He stretched, easing the kinks out of his muscles. He was unusually stiff this morning. Apparently passing out and sleeping like a rock for the rest of the night would do that to a person. It struck him, as it had the first time he saw it after moving in with his grandmother, that his bed was really quite large. Much too large for one person.

Lily should be sharing it with me

The shocking thought barely registered in his mind before he pushed it away. He didn't have any business thinking thoughts like that about innocent girls twelve years his junior.

Especially not girls he had sent away, saying they could never be more than friends.

"Cane?" Jill's voice sounded outside his door again, making his head pound harder.

"I'll be right down, Mum!" Cane answered as he forced his body out of bed.

In the bathroom, he splashed cold water on his face and brushed his teeth. Running quick fingers through his hair made him look somewhat presentable. He couldn't help the blood shot eyes, though. Maybe everyone would think it was because he was awake at such an unreasonable time of day.

Halfway out the door, he remembered to go back for his robe. His grandmother wasn't a prude, but he didn't think she wanted to see his bare chest around the Christmas tree. And it was too early to be scandalizing Esther he thought with a roll of his eyes.

"Good morning, Cane. I think your mother has disturbed the entire house with this nonsense."

"Morning, Grandmum." Cane met Katherine on the stairs, and circled his arm around her shoulders as they found their way to the living room together.

"Good morning, Mrs. C! Would you like some tea or coffee?"

Esther was way too chipper for the early hour, and it served to annoy Cane more than anything. But one look at his mother's beaming face and he decided to try to put all negative thoughts aside for her sake. She was so happy. He couldn't ruin that for her.

"Coffee, Esther. And as strong as possible, please."

Cane's thoughts were brought back to the matter at hand by Katherine's voice, and soon the gift opening was underway.

He received a lot of nice gifts. The newest palm pilot on the market from his mother. A huge box of his favorite cookies from Esther. Two front row seats with backstage passes to a concert he was dying to go to from his grandmother. And so many other things, he lost track after awhile. He felt bad that he wasn't really enjoying this as much as his mother was. He was beyond grateful to have a real family to share this Christmas with.

It just was that the gift he really wanted couldn't be wrapped and put under the tree. It was a gift he had given away and didn't know how to get it back.

Or even if he could.