The boy dried his hair off with a dark blue towel and then threw it back on the sand. It was late October, but the weather was still great for surfing. The sun was starting to set, and he knew that he had to get back home. But before he left the beach, he threw one last longing look at the ocean.
Lucas Parker had thought that moving to live with his mom would make him so much happier. After all, that’s what he’d wanted ever since his parents got divorced and his dad got custody.
But the happiness he was after wasn’t here. Sure, whenever he was here at the beach, or more precisely in the sea, swimming, surfing, that’s when he felt free. It was one of the few places he could think in.
To be absolutely honest, Lucas had considered the thought of going back to Jersey to live with his dad. But the thought of putting up with Tina again, and his soon-to-be-born stepbrother… He wasn’t sure if he could deal with it.
And then of course there was that other thing. That pint-sized, blonde goody-two-shoes, who he had left behind.
Lucas picked up the towel from the sand, pulled on his shorts over the swimming trunks, and a shirt, not even caring that drops of water were still dropping down on the fabric.
He grabbed his shoes, and didn’t put them on until he got to the concrete road, away from the sand. He set down the skateboard on the ground and put his other foot on it. But before he kicked it moving, Lucas took out his cell phone from the side pocket of his pants.
She’d stopped calling him. Of course she did, he never answered her calls, text or emails anymore. But it was her own damn fault. Guess she figured that out by now and just gave up.
“Where were you?” Evie, his mom, asked him when he got home. Lucas kicked off his shoes by the door, leaving them on the porch with the skateboard.
“Did you hear what I said?” Evie asked, now in a demanding voice.
When he ignored her again, she sighed.
“Lucas, we need to talk.”
“What?” he finally spoke to her.
“I’m being relocated. To Texas. We have to move before Christmas.
“You’re moving again?”
“Lucas, when you said you wanted to live with me, you knew what you signed up for. You knew that my job requires me to move a lot.”
Lucas couldn’t argue. He had known. But he still hated it.
“And take a shower before you go to bed. You’ll get sand all over the sheets again and I’m not going to clean that up.”
Without saying a word, Lucas went up the stairs to his room, threw his phone and towel on the table, and then laid down on his bed. He missed New Jersey.
Gia put on her costume and finished curling her blonde hair, just as Frankie had ordered. She didn't want him to do her hair like he threatened he would. She didn't need him to fry her hair.
When it came to his birthday/Halloween party, Frank didn’t joke around. So naturally he was dead serious when he told everyone that their costumes had to be real. They had to look and act like their characters. Gia wasn’t big on getting dressed up in fancy costumes and acting silly, but she went along with it. After all, it was Frank’s birthday. That’s why she was happy that she’d found a costume that wasn’t weird, nor silly, but still counted as a costume.
When she noticed that it was already past 5, Gia went downstairs, deciding that it was no use to stall any longer. Gerard and Lindsey weren’t dressed up yet, because they were planning on putting on their costumes at Frank’s before the half a town that Frank invited to his party arrived.
Frank had really put his best decorating abilities to use this year. The yard surrounding the house was a graveyard, complete with creepy smoke with weird, dim purple rays of light to make the smoke even creepier, spider webs, and of course tombstones. The house itself wasn’t any different. There were carved pumpkin lanterns, even more webs, skulls, and more of that weird purple light.
“Welcome to Frank’s magical Halloween birthday party!” the tiny guitarist greeted them, letting them into the house.
“Wow Frank, I love what you’ve done with the house,” Lindsey said in amazement, looking around at all the Halloween-themed decorations.
“It’s great, isn’t it? Gia, what do you think?”
“It’s… really something,” Gia answered, unsure of what to think, but luckily Frank took it as ‘oh my gosh I love it it’s so awesome’, and skipped off somewhere, probably to put on his costume.
Gerard and Lindsey disappeared, too, to change into their costumes, and Gia grabbed a bowl of candy and went to the door to wait for kids to come trick or treating. She was appointed by Frank as the “Head of the trick-or-treating committee”, which basically meant that she’d be the one to open the door for the little kids who wanted candy.
Soon enough there was a knock on the door, but instead of little kids, there were Mikey and Alicia. Gia couldn’t help but giggle when she saw their costumes. Mikey was Mickey Mouse, with the ears and shorts and all, and of course Alicia was Minnie Mouse.
“This is brilliant,” Gia announced, finally getting into this Halloween thing.
"Oh, and who are you supposed to be?" Mikey asked.
"Sandy from Grease,” Gia answered. She had chosen that one because Grease just happened to be one of her favorite movies, but the idea for it actually came from Frank. The only difference was that Frank had suggested that she dress up as the ‘bad Sandy’. Well, Gia wasn’t quite comfortable in tight, black clothes that left very little to imagination, so she settled for ‘good Sandy’ instead.
"Good choice," Alicia said with a smile. “Who's here already?"
"Dad, Lindsey, Frank, Jamia and now you guys. We’re still waiting for Ray and Christa and the other thousand people who were invited."
When some little kids started to walk up to the door, Gia quickly ushered Mikey and Alicia in. The kids were dressed up as Superman, Batman, Spiderman and Green Lantern.
"Trick or treat!"
Gia couldn't help smile as she handed them fistfuls of candy. She wasn’t worried of running out of candy, Frank has bought enough to feed the whole African continent. The kids ran off with their mom to the next house, each showing their Mom the candy they got and their Mom looking at them, beaming.
Gia was so busy looking at the kids with their mom that she didn't recognize the adorable little girl dressed up as a ballerina standing in front of her with her candy bag.
"Hi. Can I please have some candy ma'am?"
"Of course you can,” Gia answered, and emptied the rest of the bowl of candy into the little girl’s bag.
"Come on honey. Daddy is waiting for us at home,” the girl’s mom said after smiling and nodding to Gia.
"Okay mommy!" The little girl ran to her mother who picked her up and carried her off. Gia wondered if her mother did the same with her when she was younger.
Gia handed out piles of candy before the actual party people started to appear.
As if on cue, Frank popped out with a smile, happier than ever, and dressed as Snow White. Gia's eyes were popping out and her mouth was fully open from shock.
"Sweetie, I know I'm pretty but please don't drool on my porch. I don’t want my guests to slip and fall and break their bones. And your dad wants you inside now. He told me that he doesn’t want his daughter kidnapped by creepy Halloween creepers. His words, not mine.”
Gia went inside, but what she saw made her instantly want to turn around and run. What she saw was something that no child should ever see their father wear.
Gerard was dressed in one of Lindsey’s red dresses with make-up and heels. And to rub salt in the wound, he had a little purse to complete the outfit. Everyone else’s outfits were basically normal(ish), but her dad, he was dressed like a girl! And not only that, but he actually looked like a lady. It was scary.
Gia walked up to Lindsey, who was dressed in her dad's black suit with the red tie and dress shoes and who was busy talking to Jamia who was dressed as Wonder Woman. When Lindsey looked at her and saw the obvious embarrassment, she looked sympathetic.
"I’m sorry. He refused to wear anything else."
The blonde girl looked back at her dad who was attempting to play twister in his little red dress. Once he spotted his daughter he smiled while holding out his purse.
“Hold my purse Gia. This is difficult enough in this dress as it is."
“Well that’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear from my father,” Gia sighed, but took the purse nevertheless.
“Wish me luck,” Gerard grinned. “I can’t lose to these guys.”
Frank cleared his throat from under Ray, who was dressed as Batman, and Brian their manger, who was dressed as a giant pumpkin (which Frank was incredibly jealous about).
"Well, guys and Snow White over there," Gerard corrected himself, straightening the hem of his red dress.
Gia watched as Gerard somehow managed to twist and turn in the tight dress that he was wearing. Alicia was taking pictures and Christa threatened to post them on line. The guys jumped up and went after Christa and Alicia for the camera. But they weren’t giving up so easily, not even with Mikey holding Alicia and Gerard trying to get it from her.
The doorbell rang, and since everyone was either laughing at the guys and Alicia or just too drunk to care, it was up to Gia to answer it. Since Ryan wasn't there yet, it was more than likely him.
Gia struggled to get to the door since Frank invited all of Jersey to this thing. When she finally got to the door and opened it, Ryan stood there with a single flower, dressed as Danny from Grease.
"Hey. Sorry I'm late. It took me a while to find a costume. And guessing by what you’re wearing I think I made the right choice."
Gia smiled and let him in, guiding him to the back where she had been before his arrival.
"You got here in time. Everyone is having a good time."
"Kitchen. But don’t let my dad see you have one, he’d think you’re giving me alcohol."
Ryan left and came back right away with a can of beer.
"Is there any where we can go to be alone?"
"Outside in the back. Come on." Gia didn’t mind his suggestion at all. Frank had turned on really loud music, and there were a few people in the living room playing guitar hero. Add up all the laughing and chattering to the noise, and it was too much for Gia to handle.
Gia led him to the back balcony where Frank's dogs were put to safety. One of the dogs, Professor Buckley walked over to Gia and started sniffing her shoes which probably smelled like Jersey.
“So, is your dad…?”
“Dressed like a girl?” Gia finished his question for him, more embarrassed than ever. “Yeah, he is. Let’s not talk about it. But I’m pretty sure that with 40 years of the right kind of therapy, I’ll get over it.”
“I understand why you’d be embarrassed,” Ryan agreed. “You want a sip?”
Gia stared at the beer can he offered her for a moment, and then she glanced at the doors behind them. Gerard wasn’t looking, but that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t notice if she drank. He had this sixth sense type of a thing.
“No thank you. Maybe later.”
Ryan shrugged and drank the rest of the beer himself. "So, why weren’t you partying and having fun?”
"Mostly because my dad is here and would kill me if I had any fun.”
“What exactly does he have against me?”
Gia laughed. “Oh, it’s stupid, really. Whenever I ask him that, he claims that he was a teenage boy once too and he knows what they think about. Apparently he was a very creepy teenage boy.”
Gerard ran out making the dogs bark and make the guests quiet.
"What are you doing?" he asked suspiciously.
"We’re just talking. Dad please don’t do anything dumb, you promised."
"Me? Do something dumb? Never. Come inside before YOU do something dumb."
Gia and Ryan followed the angry Gerard inside, but not before Ryan dropped the empty beer can down from the balcony. Luckily Gerard didn’t hear it, and Gia sighed in relief. It wouldn’t have been good at all if he’d noticed the can.
For the rest of the night, Gerard made sure to stay close to his daughter or at least keep an eye on her. Gia and Ryan stuck together the whole night, mostly because Ryan didn’t know anyone else there and Gia was more comfortable being with him than some stranger.
At around nine Frank called everyone in to the kitchen because he wanted to eat his cake. After they got it lit, everyone sang him Happy Birthday while Frank jumped up and down like a he had to pee. The smile on his face was so wide that he looked like the Joker.
After the song was sung and the cake was passed around, Frank made everyone dance and since there was beer for everyone, no one really complained.
"Hey dad. You’re not dancing. Didn’t you hear about Frank's “you have to dance or you die”-rule?"
"Of course, but I'm not a drunken idiot. You’re not dancing either."
“It’d rather die.”
Frank was going around dancing with different people every few seconds so he must already be drunk. He was always friendly with people, but now he was even more so. Jamia was chasing him around trying to get him to sit down or do anything besides try to hump his band.
Gerard had just barely managed to escape from the tiny guitarist, so now the birthday boy was running after Mikey, trying to ‘share love’.
"Stay away from Frank, okay?” Gerard said to his daughter. “I don't need him trying to hump you. He already went after Lindsey and Alicia. And, well, let’s just say that after Frank’s ‘Sexy, naughty, bitchy me’ karaoke performance, I think people’s therapists will be very interested in hearing about this party."
“I don’t really see how this is any different from how he usually acts,” Gia pointed out, and went to go to Ryan when Gerard pulled her back by grabbing her arm.
His face suddenly turned serious.
"I don't like him. He is worse than that Louie guy."
"His name is Lucas, and you don't even know Ryan, dad. So how can you not like him?"
"I know him. He is the guy that will kidnap and rape you and leave you in the woods. And then he disappears with your family heirlooms –my heirlooms! –and years later a group of camping boy scouts find your body in the woods, and I’m going to have to be the one to go see you at the shiny steely place where they take corpses and shit before they’re buried."
"Dad, he won’t do that."
"How do you know?"
Gia sighed, and shrugged. How did she know? She just did. Ryan wasn’t a bad guy. "I don't. And I know you can’t trust him, but at least trust me when I say that you don’t need to worry. I’ll be fine."
With that Gia walked over to her boyfriend who was currently in a corner, leaning on a wall talking to Frank who was going on about the band and how cool it is that Ryan rides a motorcycle and how they totally should hang out more now that he’s part of the family.
When Ryan spotted her coming over, he said bye to Frank who quickly disappeared into the crowd once again.
"Hey. It’s been a great night and all and thanks for the beer but I need to get going.”
“Oh, well thanks for coming. I’m sure Frank appreciates it.”
“He asked me if I wanted to stay over and have a late night snack... I told him no.”
“You made the right choice.”
Since Ryan had no idea which way the exit was, Gia walked him to the door.
Once they were outside, Gia expected him to stumble to his motorcycle which was parked on the lawn. After all, he had had multiple beers during the night. Now that Gia thought about it, every time she saw him he’d been leaning on walls for support and barely moving.
But instead of making an effort to get to his motorcycle, Ryan turned towards Gia with a smile and leaned forward to her. Gia hadn’t expected it, otherwise she would’ve turned her head. Also it didn’t help that this time Ryan was prepared. His hands were on both sides of her head so there was no way to turn.
The second his lips touched hers, Gia wanted to pull away and puke. It was the taste of the beer in his breath she hated so much. It made her sick to her stomach. But as soon as it had started, the feeling was gone. For a split second it was just a kiss, nothing more, but that ended very soon as well.
It was starting to seem that Gerard really did have a sixth sense concerning his daughter, because the door flew open and the furious looking Gerard shot daggers at them with his eyes.
Without as much as saying a word, he pulled his daughter back into the house, and slammed the door shut.
But what Gia thought was not a good thing at all, was that she was actually relieved that the kiss with Ryan was over.
Relief. That was all she felt.