The Touch

14 - Time


Hey guys, just a quick note before I let you loose to read this chapter!  The ending of Chapter 13 was changed earlier today to help it coincide better with another site, so I would suggest rereading the last chapter again before you delve into Chapter 14.



Myke D


My last night at Natalie and Greg's house was the Friday that week, and Saturday morning I woke up with a nervous pit in the bottom of my stomach.  Kyan had stayed back home with our family to give me time with Gavin and Toby.  Toby clung to my side the entire night, but I didn't seem to mind.  The three of us managed to con Natalie and Greg into playing Mario Kart with us Friday night, which turned out to be more fun than I expected.  Greg would constantly cheat by reaching over and tickling one of us whenever we were in the lead.  So, Gavin and Toby gave me a look that told me my foster-dad was going to get pounced.  The moment he reached out to tickle Gavin, Toby and I jumped on Greg and started tickling him mercilessly.  Needless to say, Natalie won that round since the rest of us were occupied.  Toby and Gavin were still asleep, so I was alone when I entered the kitchen to find Natalie sitting at the counter with a cup of coffee.

"Good morning, Zyan."  My foster-mom greeted me pleasantly. 

"Good morning, Natalie."  I smiled as I gave the woman a quick hug.  "Do you care if I make myself a bowl of cereal?"

"Not at all," she replied with a smile.  "Go ahead and leave the cereal out since Toby and Gavin will probably be down shortly.  This is the latest they've slept in all week."

"Lazy," I said with a roll of my eyes.

Natalie laughed as she watched me fix my cereal.  Once I was satisfied, I grabbed a banana off of the counter by the fridge and went to sit by my foster-mom.  She ruffled my hair as I started eating my breakfast.

"Are you excited?"

"No," I said softly.  "I'm more nervous than anything."

Natalie smiled and rubbed her hand up and down my back.

"You should be the happiest boy alive, today, Zyan."  Natalie reassured me.  "You get to go live with your family!"

I frowned.

"What about Toby?"  I asked with a tremble in my voice.

"He'll be okay, Zyan."  Natalie told me.  "Greg and I have already been talking to your little brother about the entire situation.  He's sad, but he understands that you're going to still be close enough to visit.  Plus, he's going to New York with us to take Gavin home.  I think that will keep him preoccupied for a while."

I nodded silently and finished my cereal, lost in my own thoughts.  My entire world was changing, and all I could do was sit back and enjoy the ride.  Toby beat Gavin and Greg both downstairs, and quickly wormed his way onto my lap while Natalie made him a bowl of cereal.

"Morning, mommy."  He greeted her as she kissed the top of his head. 

I saw Natalie smile proudly as the little boy began to eat his cereal.  Greg and Natalie had become two of the happiest people I have met since they decided to adopt Toby.  Every time he called them 'mommy' or 'daddy' they would smile like it was their favorite words.  I smiled as I thought about the little family that they were becoming.

I turned at the sound of giggling to see Greg giving Gavin a ride on his back as they entered the kitchen with smiles on their faces. 

"Morning, Zyan!"  Gavin said when he waved at me.

"Morning, Gavin."  I said with a giggle.

"You guys are silly," Toby added from his spot on my lap.  I kissed the top of his head and the boy leaned back into my chest with a grin.  "I love you, Zyan."

"I love you, too, Toby."  I replied.

After breakfast was finished and everyone was showered, we piled into Natalie's car and headed towards my house.  My mom and dad had invited the Harris Family for a small family cookout, and I made sure to double check what my mom meant by 'small'.  She had laughed merrily when I asked her, but she reassured me that it was just family. 

I breathed a small sigh of relief when we got to my house, and there was only one extra car sitting in the driveway.  Kyan was standing next to the garage with a brown-haired boy that looked familiar to me, but I didn't recognize him until I got out of the car with Toby hot on my heels.  

"Hey, Zyan!"  Kyan greeted me as he and the boy ran over to me.  "This is Denly."

I nodded nervously at the boy I knew as my cousin before Kyan pulled me into a hug.  Denly's green eyes seemed to sparkle in the sunlight as he watched my brother and I interact. 

"Let's help Zyan get his stuff inside, guys."  Sarah said as she joined us outside with a brown-haired girl standing next to her. 

"I'm Hayley," the brown-eyed girl said, introducing herself with a friendly smile.  "I can't wait to hear you play!  Sarah says you are awesome!"

"Are you really going to join the band?"  Denly asked excitedly.  "Hayley showed me a video of you sing. . ."

Sarah dropped a bookbag into Denly's arms, effectively ending his statement.

"Hey," the brown-haired teen exclaimed with mock disgust. 

Kyan and I giggled as Sarah pushed our cousin towards the house.

"Come on, guys."  Sarah said with a smile.  "Let's go get your stuff put away.  Denly was right; he and Hayley have some pretty good ideas for the Fourth of July show."

"Oh yeah?"  Kyan asked as he fell in beside our sister.  I followed behind them, still not completely comfortable living in the giant house, yet.  "Did you show them the video?"

"Aunt Abby did," Sarah said with a brief glance in my direction.

"Are you talking about me?"  I asked nervously.

"Absolutely, Zyan."  Sarah replied with a wide grin.  Then, she reached back and pulled me to where I was walking between the two of them.  "It's nothing bad, though.  We're talking about having you sing the lead for our show."

"Oh," I said as I felt my heart beginning to race in my chest.  I had only performed in public a few times, but it had always been in a darkened theatre.  The festival was going to have an open-air stage, and we were slotted to perform around seven in the evening.  I was definitely going to be able to see the audience, so I wouldn't be able to pretend that I was alone.  "What if. . ."

"You've got this, Zyan."  Kyan said with a grin.  I blushed until Sarah pulled me into her side.

"There's plenty of time for you to get used to performing in front of people, baby brother."  The blonde-haired girl said.  "We'll also practice like crazy until the music is second nature to you."

"All music is second-nature to me," I said softly.

"Care to make a bet, baby brother?"  Kyan asked suddenly.

"That's not a good idea, Kyan."  Sarah informed him with a giggle. 

"What?"  Kyan asked with a raised eyebrow.  "You don't even know the bet, yet, dear sister."

Sarah laughed again.

"Okay, Kyan."  She said with a dismissive wave of her hand.  "Don't say I didn't warn you. . ."

"What's going on?" 

"Zyan," Kyan said with a smile.  "I bet you one-hundred dollars that I can play any of Hayley's music better than you can."

I stumbled slightly, but Sarah kept me from falling onto my face.

"What?"  I asked my brother as I regained my composure.  "Are you serious?"

"Yes, Zyan."  Kyan said with a nod of his head.

"Haven't you been listening to how he plays the piano, Kyan?"   Sarah asked with a laugh.

"That's why we're going to use a different instrument, Sarah."  Kyan said as his grin began to widen.  "The best part, you get to choose the instrument that we play, and Uncle Derek gets to choose the song."

"Fine," Sarah said smugly.

Kyan laughed.

"Just pick an instrument already," my brother said with a wave of his hand.

I glanced between the two of them as Sarah seemed to be considering her options.

"Wait!"  Kyan said.  "Zyan still hasn't accepted the bet.  So, what is it, baby brother?  Want to see who's better?"

I groaned.

"Fine," I said.  "But I'm not betting money.  I'd rather not."

"Why?"  Kyan asked with a curious expression.  "It's only a hundred bucks."

I couldn't stop the frown from appearing on my face.

"I'd feel like I was wasting it," I said with a shrug.

"I've got an idea," Sarah said thoughtfully as we finally made our way into the kitchen.  "If Kyan wins, then Zyan has to be our lead singer until we end the band."

"And if I win?"  I asked nervously.

"Then, you only have to sing the lead for one song during our show."  Sarah said with a grin.  "How does that sound?"

"I like that idea," Denly said with a giggle.

"Nobody asked you, twerp."  Hayley said as she sat down at the kitchen table next her brother and tickled him.

I laughed at their antics until Sarah asked me what I thought.

"Well, Zyan?" 

I groaned as everyone was looking at me as they waited for my decision.

"Fine," I said softly.  "Let's do it."

"What's the instrument, Sarah?"  Kyan asked in anticipation.

Sarah grinned.

"Drumroll, please?"  My sister called out and Denly started drumming on the table with his fingertips.  "The instrument of choice is. . . the piano."

Kyan rolled his eyes.

"Of course, I'm going to get stomped on the piano," my brother said with a groan.  "Pick something else, Sarah."

"Fine," Sarah said with a huff.  "Guitar it is."

Kyan grinned.

"I've totally got this!"

"If you say so," our sister said with a shrug.  "I think Zyan's going to beat you."

"Care to bet on it?"

"Save your money, Kyan."  She replied with a giggle.  Then she turned to our uncle.  "Have you picked one of Hayley's songs yet?"

I glanced over to see that my uncle had tablet on the table in front of him, and he was swiping his finger across the large screen as if he was looking through a list. 

"Almost," Uncle Derek replied absently.  "How about 'Serenity'?"

"Ooo," Hayley said with a grin.  "I love hearing that song played on the guitar."

"Do we have to sight-read the music, or do we get a few minutes to study it?"  Kyan asked, and I too looked towards our sister for the answer.

"I think you should both have to do it without ever having seen the music before," Sarah said with finality in her voice, letting us know the decision was not up for debate.  Kyan and I both nodded in agreement with her decision.  "Good.  Kyan, you'll go first while Zyan goes and waits in his room."

"Awesome!"  Kyan practically cheered.  "I'll go get my guitar!"

"Acoustic, Kyan!"  Sarah called after him as he darted from the kitchen.  "I'll come get you when it's your turn, little brother.  Don't worry, my money is always on you."

I grinned and headed for the stairs as Gavin joined me.

"Do you care if I come with you, Zyan?"

"Not at all," I said with a smile before I motioned him to follow me. 

I closed the bedroom door behind us and turned on my radio just to help keep me from hearing Kyan's playing.  Gavin grinned and made himself comfortable as he sprawled out across my bed.

"Dude, your bed is the same size as the one I've got at home!"  My cousin said with a giggle as he sighed happily and stretched his arms out over his head.  "I am definitely going to have to come spend the night with you a lot!"

"Really?"  I asked nervously.  "You don't think I'm boring or anything?"

"Not at all, cuz!"  Gavin said with a huge smile as he sat up quickly on my bed.  The older boy reached out and grabbed my hand before he pulled me up onto the bed beside me.  "I've had more fun hanging out with you over the past few months than I've had in my entire life."

"Yeah, right."  I scoffed.

"I'm serious, Zyan."  Gavin said earnestly.  "I've never really had any friends that I could truly call friends.  They only wanted to be friends with me because my dad had money.  So, I started distancing myself from them.  I stopped going to their stupid parties, and none of them even noticed when I stopped sitting with them at lunch and talking to them at school."  I listened closely as Gavin told me about his life at school, and I couldn't help but lean into side and slip my arm around his waist as he trembled slightly.  "That's why I wanted to meet you so badly, Zyan.  Uncle Greg had told me everything about you, and all I wanted to do was to be your friend.  I knew before we even met that it would work, because you wouldn't want to be my friend because I had money.  Uncle Greg and Aunt Nat had made it clear that you seemed kind of scared when it came to money.  I'm sorry if you think I had ulterior motives. . ."

I hugged Gavin tightly, effectively ending his apology before he could get any further.

"Thank you for being my friend, Gavin."  I told him.  "It means just as much to me as it does to you."

"Thank you, Zyan."  Gavin said as he returned the hug.

We broke apart at the sound of a knock on my doorframe, and I glanced up to see my sister standing there with a smile on her face.

"It's your turn, Zyan."  Sarah said smugly.  "It's time to make Kyan regret taking you on!"

Gavin and I both giggled as we followed my sister from the room and back downstairs.  Kyan was in the middle of bragging to our family how well he had played when Sarah motioned for me to sit in Kyan's now empty chair.  Once I was seated, Sarah handed me the wooden guitar and helped me get the music where I could easily access it if I needed to.

"Are you sure he doesn't need to read it over, Sarah?"  Hayley asked with a worried tone.

"He'll be alright, Hayley."  Kyan replied for Sarah.  "Trust me, he's going to win."

Hayley rolled her eyes making Kyan giggle.

"Are you ready?"  Sarah asked me.

"I think so," I said as I glanced at the sheet music. 

Sarah ruffled my hair before she stepped back, and I was forced to take in the sight of my family watching me.  Kyan was sitting with Hayley and Denly at the table while Gavin climbed onto Greg's lap.  Toby was perched on Natalie's lap as she sat at the kitchen counter next to my mother and aunt.  My father and uncle were both sitting across from my brother at the table with huge grins on their faces.  Sarah sat down next to our dad and motioned for me to start.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before I turned my attention to the sheet music on the stand in front of me.  Then, I let my fingers begin plucking out the different notes and chords listed on the paper.  I followed the music as it was written for a few measures before I decided to add my own little flare in the way the song was performed.  There were several key changes throughout the song that I was certain Hayley had thrown in there just to mess up the performer, and a quick glance in her direction told me that I was right in my assumption of the girl's true intentions.  The song continued to grow in momentum until everything suddenly went soft for several measures.  I heard Kyan giggle slightly as the music changed up for the last time and began to build towards the final measures.  I was beginning to regret not playing the guitar as often as I had used to as the tips of my fingers were beginning to hurt, but I didn't let up until I strummed the final chords of the song.

Hayley and Sarah both jumped to their feet and started applauding my performance enthusiastically.  I couldn't help but blush as my family cheered for me. 

"Well," my Aunt Abby said with a laugh.  "I think we know who won."

"I told you Zyan would win," Kyan said with a grin as he smiled at me.

"Why were you trying to bet him if you knew you were going to lose, Kyan?"  Our dad asked with a chuckle.

"For one," Kyan began explaining with a grin.  "It gave Zyan a little bit more confidence to play in front of a group; and two, it proved to Denly that Zyan can indeed play anything."

"No, it really doesn't, Kyan."  Denly protested.  "All this proves is that your brother can play guitar as well as piano.  Let's get him another instrument to play."

I groaned as Sarah came over to take the guitar from me.

"What did I just start, Sarah?"  I asked her in a soft tone.

"A war between cousins."  My sister replied.

I rolled my eyes as I slid from the chair and went over to my mom.  She smiled down at me as she pulled me into her lap.

"You did very well, Zyan."  My mother praised me as she hugged me tightly.  "I can't wait until the next time I get to hear you play."

I sighed happily and let my mother hug me. 

My parents had a small cookout for us, and my Uncle Derek pulled out a script that he needed some help with memorizing lines.  I readily volunteered much to the relief of the remainder of my family and made sure to send Deedra a text just so she would be jealous of me.  Uncle Derek had me laughing as we went through the different scenes until I began to realize exactly what lines we were reading.

"Is this for 'Legends of Blood'?"  I asked quietly.

My uncle chuckled and patted me on the shoulder.

"Yup!"  He told me happily.  "Your dad's book made it to the silver screen!"

I grinned at his statement.

"Apparently, it's too much to put into one movie and still do the book justice, though."  My uncle added.  "They're ending Part One right after Evan falls out of the window."

"And you play Mr. Hunter?"  I asked, trying to keep my excitement at bay.

My Uncle Derek nodded.

"That's awesome!"  I said, launching myself into my uncle's arms and hugging him.  He laughed and returned the hug before I realized what I had done and started to pull away.  My uncle refused to let me leave.  "You're going to just have to learn that I don't let go of hugs that easily, mister!"

I giggled as he started tickling me until I was out of breath.  Then, we went back to rehearsing his lines until my father announced that it was dinner time.  After dinner, Kyle and Denly proceeded to drill me on different instruments until Denly was sufficiently impressed with my musical talents.  Natalie and Greg left, taking Toby and Gavin with them.  Toby cried and I couldn't help but cry with the boy as we held each other. 

"It will be okay, Toby."  I said only loud enough for him to hear me.  "We'll still get to see each other.  Plus, you're my little brother, dude!  I could never abandon you!"

"Do you promise?"  He asked with a whimper.

"With my life, Toby."

Denly and Kyan each stood on either side of me and put their arms across my shoulders as I sobbed.  I had held it together until I saw the taillights of Greg's SUV disappearing down the driveway.  It was my father that came to their rescue when he lifted me up into his arms and carried me into his study.  I heard the door shut before my dad sat down on his leather sofa and pulled me into his side.

"Are you okay, buddy?" 

All I could do was sniffle as he rubbed my side. 

"Toby will be alright, baby boy."  My dad said reassuringly.  "He's young.  Once he sees how much Greg and Natalie love him, he'll bounce back like nothing ever happened.  He also has Gavin with him, so you don't need to worry about Toby."

"I can't help it," I said sadly.  "He's my brother."

My father continued to rub my back as he let me cry myself to sleep.

My dreams were filled with werewolves and vampires that night.  I could see the main character being pushed out into the sunlight by a werewolf, only to find out that the light wasn't going to destroy him.  Then, I watched as a brown-haired boy fell from a rollercoaster, only to be caught in the middle of the air by another boy before they both vanished. 

Last, I saw a massive alien ship settling into the skies of Earth above Washington D.C.  The ship was rectangular in shape with smooth edges and lights that gave off an ominous red glow.  Before I could wake myself up, the bottom of the ship opened, and thousands of smaller ships began to pour out from the bottom of it. 

"How do you plan on stopping any of it, Zyan?"  I glanced up to see the old man smiling down at me. 

"What do you mean, grandfather?"  I asked curiously.

"Earth is in danger, and the powers that be have called upon you to help save it, Zyan."  The man said warmly.  "You can see what the other players are doing if you pay attention.  Once you go through the Trials, you'll be able to know your true potential."

"My true potential?"  I looked up at the man and frowned.  "Are you ever going to give me a straight answer, grandfather?"

The man chuckled lightly as he patted my shoulder.

"I know that everything seems confusing right now, Zyan, but your answers will be provided when they are needed."

"How am I supposed to know what to do if you won't ever tell me?"

"Just relax, Zyan."  My grandfather said.  "You will never be put through more than you can handle."

"Why was I kidnapped?"  I asked suddenly.  It was something that had been bothering me for a while.

"Someone has been trying to keep our family from achieving the goals set down before us by our Elders, Zyan."  The man explained thoughtfully.  "This battle of ours has been going on for thousands of years, grandson, and it's not going to end until you're strong enough to defeat our enemies once and for all."

"What am I, grandfather?"  I asked as his words shocked me.  'Thousands of years?  He can't be serious!'

"Let's just leave it at the fact that you're not entirely human, Zyan."  He replied with a grin.  "You weren't even born on the Earth that you know."

I sighed discontentedly.  My grandfather kneeled and put his arm around my waist.

"You're being kept in the dark due to the ways of our people, Zyan."  He told me.  "If you were to find out ahead of time what was really expected of you, you might fail, and our entire universe could be destroyed."

"Oh, shit."  I muttered. 

"Exactly, Zyan."  My grandfather said warmly.  "Now, relax and enjoy your summer.  You need to get better before you can save the universe."

I nodded solemnly.

"You'll be okay, Zyan."  The old man said.  "Remember.  You need to rest."

"Yes, sir."

Denly and Kyan were both snoring the next morning when I finally pulled myself from the tangle of arms and legs trapping me in my blankets.  I grinned when I saw how my brother and cousin were wrapped around each other with peaceful smiles on their faces.

"Dorks," I muttered with a grin before I ran into the bathroom to relieve my bladder. 

I went downstairs to find my mom and dad both sitting at the kitchen table.  My mother was humming softly to herself as she thumbed through a recipe book, and my father was busily typing away on his laptop.  I smiled as I ran over to give them both a hug.  My mother pulled me onto her lap and continued to look through her recipe book.  I froze slightly when I felt her fingernails against my bare skin, and I realized that I had rushed out of my bedroom in just my shorts.  My scars were visible to the world.  My mom, sensing my tension, hugged me tight for a moment before she kissed the top of my head.

"Are you hungry?"

"Yes, ma'am," I replied with a quick nod of my head.

"What do you think everybody wants for breakfast?"

"Scrambled eggs," I stated with a grin. 

My father chuckled.  My mom kissed the top of my head before she sat me on the chair next to her.

"Scrambled eggs, coming up!"  She said happily as she moved over to the refrigerator.

I glanced at my dad who still had his attention focused on his laptop. 

"Are you still working on 'Legends'?"  I asked him curiously.

He smiled at me but shook his head.

"Actually, I'm in the middle of a meeting with my agent and my publicist," he explained. 

"Oh, sorry, dad."  I quickly apologized, not meaning to interrupt his work.

"You have nothing to worry about, baby boy."  My father reassured me.  "If it was a private meeting, I would be in my office.  Besides, the meeting is being held in a private chat room, so nobody needs to worry about the morning hustle and bustle that usually happens around here."

My father motioned for me to join him, so I went around the table and quickly slid onto the chair beside him.  He smiled and pointed to the chat.

"My agent is trying to help me plan a new book tour this fall," my father explained as he pointed out the different lines of chat. 

Just then, I could hear my sister's voice coming down the stairs as she questioned Hayley on their plans for the day.  I smiled at the two teenagers as they entered the kitchen.  Sarah smiled and walked over to give me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  Hayley was a completely different story entirely.

Once Sarah had released me from the hug, I glanced at Hayley and saw a look of horror plastered in her expression as she stared at me.  I felt my own face fall as I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around my legs to hide as much of the scars as possible.  The tears started falling from my eyes before I knew what was happening.

"What happened to you?"  Hayley asked in disbelief.

I couldn't bring myself to meet her frightened gaze and buried my face in my arms.  All I could think about was how the monster beat me constantly, and my entire body started to tremble again.

'You're so fucking worthless, Zachary.'  He always sneered at me when he was beating me senseless.  The words rattled about within my mind uncontrollably and I felt the room begin to spin.

"Dad!"  Sarah's voice rang in my ears before my father suddenly pulled me into his lap.

"Hey, baby boy."  He said soothingly as he rocked me back and forth.  "Shh. . .   It's going to be okay.  Hayley didn't know about your injuries, is all.  She's not judging you.  Your cousin is just worried about you because she loves you so much."

"You idiot," I heard Sarah mutter angrily.  "I told you not to say anything if you saw his scars!"

"Hey!"  My mother scolded her.  "Not now!"

I began to realize that they were arguing because of me, and my heart fell. 

'You really are useless, Zyan.'  I told myself.  'All you do is fuck everything up.'

Then, Kyan's face was in front of mine, tears filled his blue eyes as he glared at me.

'I love you, baby brother.'  I started at the sound of his voice in my mind.  He forced my arms apart and over his neck as he pulled me into a hug.  Then, he whispered softly in my ear.  "Stop thinking like that!  None of this is your fault!  It's the monster's fault!  I wish I could make you understand!"

My body trembled as the tears continued to fall down my cheeks, but I tried taking deep breaths to calm myself down.  It wasn't enough.  My father rubbed my back and kissed the top of my head.

"Listen closely to your brother, Zyan."  Our dad said quietly.  "None of this has ever been your fault.  Our family was attacked by outsiders, but the effects of their plan won't be felt for long now that the Montgomery Family is all together, again.  The rest of us will always be here to support you, Zyan.  No matter what!  All you need to focus on is healing yourself."

I sniffled as I started to gain control of my emotions again.  Kyan kissed my cheek before he pulled away from our hug with a worried look on his face.  He held onto my hand tightly as he sat in the chair next to our dad.  Hayley came over and held her arms out to me.  I frowned for a moment before I nodded at my teary-eyed cousin.  Hayley didn't hesitate to scoop me up into her arms and hugged me tightly.  I felt her body shake as she cried silently.  It was then I felt like I knew how to calm my cousin down.

"I'm okay, Hayley."  I said meekly.  "They don't hurt anymore.  It's only the memories that hurt, now."

I felt her nod her head, but she still sniffled softly.

"I'm so sorry, Zyan."  The girl whispered.  "I didn't mean to upset you.  I saw your scars, and I just. . .  I don't know, Zyan.  Don't let this moment hold you back, cousin.  You're still a very beautiful boy, and you should be comfortable in your own skin.  Whoever wins your heart is going to be the luckiest person in the entire universe."

I blushed as she smiled at me and poked me in my side.  Then, my stomach growled, and I couldn't help but giggle with Hayley.

"Of course, he gets hungry just as I finish making his eggs," my mother teased me as she set a bowl of scrambled eggs on the table with a fork.  Then, she promptly kissed my cheek.  "Don't let your food get cold, baby boy.  Sarah will bring you some juice in a minute."

"Thanks, mom.  I love you."

My mother smiled as if all of her defenses had been lowered, and she quickly kissed me on the cheek before she went back towards the refrigerator.  Hayley hugged me again before she set me in the chair and tousled my hair.

"Thanks, Hayley."  I said.

"By the way, Zyan."  Hayley said as she went over to sit next to Sarah.  "I really want to hear you play the piano after breakfast."

"Just wait until you hear him sing," Sarah informed her with a smug grin.

"Really?"  Hayley asked in disbelief.

"Do you want to make a bet on it, Hayley?"  Kyan asked.

Hayley started laughing and shook her head.

"I will pass," my cousin said with a grin.  Her brown eyes returned to me for a moment and I blushed under her scrutinizing gaze.  "I think that I know the perfect song for you, Zyan."

I smiled nervously.

'What have I gotten myself into?'

I quickly finished my breakfast before I went over and put my plate in the sink.

"Thanks for breakfast, mom."  I said as I gave her a quick hug.  "I'm gonna' go shower."

My mom ruffled my hair before I ran for the stairs, not even noticing that Kyan and Denly were following behind me until I slipped into my room.  I turned around to shut my door and jumped as they both stood in the doorway with grins on their lips.

"What?"  I asked once I had recovered from the minor scare. 

I yelped as they both rushed forward and hugged me.  It took me a moment before I was able to hug them back.  I couldn't stop the happy sigh from leaving my lips as I relaxed in their arms.

"Thanks, guys."  I said shyly.  "I'm sorry for. . ."

"Be quiet, Zyan."  Kyan said firmly.  "You're not allowed to apologize for anything for the next two weeks.  Do you understand me?"

All I could do was nod timidly.


Denly stepped back with a shy grin.

"What?"  I asked the thirteen-year-old.

"I know this sounds weird, Zyan," he began nervously.  "I think your scars are cool.  I don't mean that in a bad way, just so you know.  I just think that you should get a tattoo when you're older.  They kind of look like a huge animal attacked you with its claws."

I glanced down at the scars that stretched across my torso with a frown.  I could vaguely picture it like tears as Denly reached out and made his hand look like a claw before he dragged it along the scars like an animal attacking me.  I smiled slightly at my cousin's actions when I realized that it didn't bother me that much to have his attention focused on the injuries.  Denly laughed and patted my stomach before he went to eat his own breakfast.

"Go get a shower, buddy."  My father said quietly.  "I'm pretty sure that Hayley is going to make you start playing the piano, and she's not going to let you stop until your aunt and uncle want to leave."

I giggled and nodded before I went to do as my dad suggested. 

Once I was showered and dressed, I went back downstairs where Hayley was anxiously waiting for me.  My cousin quickly grabbed my hand and pulled me along to the room that the piano was sitting in. 

"Would you like to play a song of your choice, or would you like to play one of my songs?"  She asked as we entered the room together.  I was surprised to find that nobody else was there as Hayley led me to the piano.  "Sarah says that you can play anything, so it's really up to you, Zyan."

"Umm," I thought about it as I sat on the piano bench and Hayley laid a folder on top of the instrument.  "I think I have a song you would like."

"Let's hear it, then," Hayley said with a smile.

I nodded before I began playing the beginning to "I Believe I Can Fly" with a small smile on my face.

'I used to think that I could not go on'
'And life was nothing but an awful song'
'But now I know the meaning of true love'
'I'm leaning on the everlasting arms'

'If I can see it, then I can do it'
'If I just believe it, there's nothing to it'

'I believe I can fly'
'I believe I can touch the sky'
'I think about it every night and day'
'Spread my wings and fly away'
'I believe I can soar'
'I see me running through that open door'
'I believe I can fly'
'I believe I can fly'
'I believe I can fly hoo'

'See I was on the verge of breaking down'
'Sometimes silence can seem so loud'
'There are miracles in life I must achieve'
'But first I know it starts inside of me, ho oh'

'If I can see it hoo, then I can be it'
'If I just believe it, there's nothing to it'

'I believe I can fly'
'I believe I can touch the sky'
'I think about it every night and day'
'Spread my wings and fly away'
'I believe I can soar'
'I see me running through that open door'
'I believe I can fly'
'I believe I can fly'
'Oh, I believe I can fly hoo'

'Hey, 'cause I believe in me, oh'

'If I can see it hoo, then I can do it'
'If I just believe it, there's nothing to it hey'

'I believe I can fly hoo'
'I believe I can touch the sky'
'I think about it every night and day'
'Spread my wings and fly away'
'I believe I can soar'
'I see me running through that open door'
'I believe I can fly'
'I believe I can fly'
'I believe I can fly'

I let the music fade away slowly and turned to see Hayley with tears glistening in her brown eyes.

"Sorry," I said softly.  "I didn't mean to make you cry."

Hayley joined me on the bench and wrapped her arms around me.

"That was beautiful, Zyan."  My cousin told me happily.  "Do you always play like that?"

"Sarah says I do," I shrugged. 

"Good," Hayley grinned.  "I can't wait until we all play something together!"

"So, you still want me in the band?"

"I'm pretty sure that your brother and sister would have my head if I had anything to say against the idea," Hayley said with a giggle.

"Thanks, Hayley."  I said with a smile. 

"Come on," Hayley said as she helped me up from the piano bench.  "I think my dad wants you to help him rehearse some more."

"Really?"  I asked excitedly.

Hayley giggled.

"I don't see why you enjoy it, so much."  The girl said as we walked back towards the kitchen together.

"I've always wanted to be an actor," I explained with a distant grin.  "So, working with Uncle Derek is like I'm practicing my own lines!"


All I could do was nod happily as I thought about all of the different movies I had imagined myself starring in throughout the years.  Now with Uncle Derek asking me to help him, I was getting a small taste of what was expected of actors in Hollywood.

"Don't worry," Hayley said.  "You can be his practice buddy whenever dad brings home a new script.  Denly will be happy to know that he doesn't have to do it anymore."

I giggled and went over to Uncle Derek.  He smiled at me and pulled me onto his lap.

"You have no idea how beautiful your voice is, Zyan."  My uncle whispered softly in my ear.  "Never stop singing the way you do, buddy."

"Thanks, Uncle Derek."  I replied with a blush.  "Can we practice your lines now?"


Songs used for this chapter. . . 

-'I Believe I Can Fly' by R. Kelly

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