My World


Life is too short, so be sure to always take the time and appreciate. That’s what I wished I could tell my daughter, Savannah, but as I lie dying on the side of the road, I knew I would never again have the chance to tell her myself.

“Dylan?” called a voice, a voice I knew belonged to Miranda. She was a paramedic whom I’ve known for sixteen years, and she was the best friend of Dr. Natalie Cunningham, the love of my life.

“Dylan, hang on! I’ve sent for Natalie! She’s on her way!”

I was at a loss for words, but I couldn’t pull my eyes away from Miranda’s face, which hovered over mine at this point. Her beautiful brown eyes locked with mine, and I knew what was on her mind. It scared her to see me like this, though I couldn’t move, so I couldn’t see what kind of condition I was in. I felt paralyzed and cold. It comforted me to know, though, that should these be my last few moments, at least I wouldn’t be alone.

Miranda and I, we were good friends, and we went through hell together in the early years of our friendship. Her son, Noah, was the love of my sweet little girl’s heart. He was probably dancing with Savannah right now at her party. She turned sixteen today, and though I was just at her party a mere five minutes ago, I was called away on an emergency with one of my best friends, Izzy Armstrong. I was on the phone with him when a deer jumped into my lane from out of nowhere.

I shouldn’t have been speeding, but I was, and the sheer force of impact against the animal flipped my car. I should’ve been wearing my seatbelt, but I wasn’t, so I was thrown from my vehicle. It all happened so fast, but I remembered feeling the buck’s antlers piercing my guts as I flew through my windshield. I knew by the expression on Miranda’s face as she inspected my body that I had enough damage done to my guts to understand that I was likely beyond saving. It was obvious when I felt my life force slipping from this world.

Miranda was supposed to be at Savannah’s party with Noah tonight, but she got called into work at the last minute because they were short a paramedic for the evening shift. Savannah and Noah weren’t happy about it, and neither was Natalie or me, but now I’m so thankful Miranda got called into work. My eyes remained locked with hers, and I couldn’t help but mirror her tears. Hers was of fear, but mine was of guilt and shame. God, please forgive me for not wearing my seatbelt, speeding, being on my phone, and not paying attention to the road. Please forgive me for making all these mistakes on my one and only daughter’s sweet sixteenth birthday.

I know I’ve made many mistakes in my life, so many in fact, but she’s by far the best and most precious thing I’ve ever created. She’ll never want to celebrate her birthday again, though, but I hope and pray that she keeps her faith. She’s going to feel so lost without me in the coming days, months, and years, but I know You’ll always be there for her and that You’ll comfort her and guide her in all Your good ways. I’ve tried my hardest to be the best father I could be, but I can feel it in my bones that my time with her is up. Please, Father, please take good care of my beautiful Savannah and her mother.

Chapter 1

Everyone has a beginning and an end. The best part of my life started around the middle, though I’ve had my fair share of trials and tribulations through the many poor decisions I’ve made. There is a lesson to learn from each mistake, an opportunity to grow through humility, and a chance to become a better person for ourselves. My name is Dylan Jeremiah Selwyn, and this is the story of how I was a wild, sex-crazed, godless alcoholic teenager who found the love of Christ through a surprise teen pregnancy. My journey hasn’t been easy, but every step I’ve taken and every lesson I’ve learned has been worth every challenge I’ve faced. I wouldn’t change a thing because I’ve seen God through it all. He is my Maker, and it is in Him I believe all things are possible. He used everything I’ve gone through to mold me and shape me into the person I am dying as today.

The first few years of my life were overshadowed by my older brother, Deri Selwyn. He came first in the eyes and hearts of our parents. From the moment he was born, they practically shoved him into the limelight, and he became famous as he grew up on television. My parents only ever wanted one child, but then I came along as a surprise. They left me in the care of relatives, but then when I turned ten, I got a babysitter. Before I knew it, I was a sixteen-year-old wild child who partied like there was no tomorrow.

Now granted, my parents didn’t completely abandon me. There were times of the year that Deri and our parents were home. I even had a good relationship with Deri, although he was six years older than me. When we did stuff together, he actually paid attention to me and made me feel like I wasn’t invisible. I respected him a lot, and he made sure I knew he loved me and cared about me.

I’d like to go back to April 15th, 2005. Deri was home because he had just wrapped up the filming of season four of Destini, a sci-fi thriller television show that was about human exploration in the Andromeda Galaxy. They were supposed to be in cryogenic sleep for the duration of the trip, as the mission of the Starship Destini was meant to explore the Milky Way’s closest neighboring galaxy and to find another habitable planet to settle down and restart the human race. There were 250 humans on the Starship Destini, and they were the oldest living humans in the universe. They were also humanity’s last hope.

In the storyline, some 2.4 million years ago, humanity had picked up on the fact that our sun in the Milky Way started acting strange. Upon further studies, they realized that life on Earth would cease to exist before too long because Earth’s sun was going supernova. There was no telling when it would, but they knew they had to act fast. Luckily, they were already funding a manned journey into space, so a ship was ready for them as they gathered the world’s greatest minds: biologists, doctors, engineers, historians, scientists, top military personnel, and even a few of the world’s greatest authors.

Destini would remain on autopilot while all 250 human crew members would stay asleep in their cryogenic chambers. Destini was programmed to pick up side missions when it discovered materials considered essential to the primary mission, which could range in anything from Ucrilium–the fuel Destini required to keep going–to water needed for humanity’s survival. If she found anything, or if she needed repairs to any part of her systems, she only woke up crew that was necessary to complete these emergency side missions, and once those side missions were completed, they’d go right back to sleep. When Destini finally arrived in the Andromeda Galaxy, she woke up the entire crew, for she was under attack by an enemy force she couldn’t identify. My brother, Deri, played the part of a mystery author writing about all the events happening in the show.

It was an incredible show, a number one global sensation right now, and it was my favorite show. I was already popular at school for my brother’s rise to fame, but ever since Destini woke up Deri’s character in the show’s third season, everyone just wanted to be my best friend. I didn’t mind because it gave me access to all the alcohol, hot girls, and wild parties I wanted. In fact, the biggest party of the year was happening on this particular Friday night. Usually, I spent all my time with my brother whenever he was home, but I didn’t know he’d be home this weekend, and I already committed to Tyson’s party a month ago.

I grinned as I looked at myself in my antique, full-length mirror. I hadn’t expected to find Deri’s red and white jacket in the back of my closet because I thought I returned it to his closet a long while back, but apparently, I still had it, and I loved how good it looked on me right now. I was ready for all the ladies at Tyson’s party tonight. After flipping a few strands of my end curls out, so my hair would appear to be more wild-looking, I put on my favorite red baseball cap backward. I placed my cell phone in my front jeans pocket while I stuffed my wallet in one of my back jean pockets, and then I grabbed my house keys and left my room.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I pushed the steps back into the ceiling. As far as I was concerned, I had the best room in the house, because I had the attic. I even had a special lock on my steps to prevent anyone from going into my room because I was huge on privacy and having my own place in the house. Once I locked the stairs into place, I headed downstairs to the living room, where I coincidentally met up with Deri.

“Hey, Dyl, what’s up?” Deri asked, but then he froze when he saw what I was wearing. “Hey, I’ve been looking for that for ages!”

I looked down at the jacket I was wearing and then shrugged when I met my brother’s surprised gaze again.

“Well, you’ve found it,” I replied. “And it looks great on me, thanks.”

Deri threw a smirk my way. He and I both stood about five feet and ten inches tall. We even wore the same-sized clothing, so it was easy to borrow something of his if I felt nothing I had justified what was fashionably acceptable at certain times. He had a natural tan to him with warm brown eyes, both of which I also had. We could almost pass for twins, but it was clear my face was more babyish than his.

“Who says you could wear it?” he asked.

“Relax. I’m just borrowing it for the night. It’s not like you need it right now or anything,” I answered as I headed for the front door.

Maliyah, my four-year-old golden retriever, ran over to me with a bark to catch my attention. I kneeled to her level and took her face into my palms. Her tail immediately wagged in excitement as I gave her some attention.

“Hey, girl. I’ll be back sometime tomorrow,” I said as I gave her a good rub behind her ears.

“Where are you going?” Deri asked curiously.

“Tyson’s party, and for once, his parents are out of town for a wedding, so it’s going to be a massive blowout. Mom and Dad already know I’m chilling with my crew at Tyson’s place, so they shouldn’t ask where I am, and they know I won’t be back until sometime tomorrow.”

I stood up now and opened the front door.

“Alright, well, don’t do anything stupid,” Deri replied.

“I won’t,” I lied with my fingers now crossed behind my back. “See ya tomorrow!”

With that, I closed the door behind me and headed off to Tyson’s, which was only seven blocks away. Along the way, I ran into Carter Pierson and Alma Jackson, who everyone called Aly.

“Hey, guys! What’s up?” I said as I hugged Aly and gave Carter our guy shake.

“Nothing much. You?” Carter replied.

Carter was super skinny, almost to the point that he could be mistaken for having Anorexia, though he couldn’t help his appearance because it was in his genes. That kid could eat an entire elephant and not gain a damn pound. He had Hypermetabolism, so his metabolic rate was much higher than the average kid. When we were young, his family was reported to Child Protective Services because a teacher believed he was being neglected and not being fed. His family went through hell to prove that he genuinely had Hypermetabolism, and that he wasn't being abused

“Me? Ah, you know I’m always ready for the night and what it’ll bring,” was my answer, and then I turned to Aly with a more serious tone. “So, Aly, how’d the test go?”

Aly was one of the shortest of our group. While Carter was closer to my height but shy a couple of inches, Aly was an inch over five foot in stature. Like Carter, though, she was a sweetheart who also went out of her way to help anyone in need. She could be feisty, though, if someone pushed her buttons.

“I got my license,” was her response. “But the ‘rents took the car to go see a movie with Luis.”

“Aw, that sucks, but congrats on getting your license! I’m sure Izzy’s probably really proud of you.”

Aly smiled at me as we continued walking down the street.

“He is,” she said. “He says I have a surprise waiting for me.”

Carter and I smirked at each other before I answered Aly.

“Don’t we know it? You’re going to love it.”

“Unfortunately, he got grounded for the weekend for talking back to his parents, so he won’t get to see me until Monday.”

Carter and I were both surprised to hear this.

“Oh, bummer!” Carter said.

“Yeah, but we shall just have to ground him, too,” Aly said. “We’ll tease him by telling him all that he missed out on.”

“He’ll so hate us ‘til the next … uh … ‘til the next party,” Carter replied.

“Which’ll be his,” I added to Carter’s statement. “Which means he’s gonna try and top Tyson, which means his party’ll be an even bigger blowout if he can dispose of the parental units, that is.”

Aly grinned at me.

“Oh, I’m sure he’ll figure out a way to get them out of the house. He’s got a month a half to plan it,” she said. “But no matter what, he won’t hate me for teasing him, or he won’t get any sex.”

Carter and I immediately broke out in cheers when we heard her because, like myself, Isaac “Izzy” Armstrong was what our group of best friends called “a sexaholic.”

“That’s our Aly!” I shouted with a rooting fist-pump in the air.

“You go, girl!” Carter added with a lisp and fruity hand gesture for fun.

Aly and I laughed at Carter’s response. We always loved it when he did that, and it was always Aly and me that he made this gesture around, simply because only Aly and I were there when Aly asked Carter if he was gay around the time she first met him. It was an inside joke between the three of us, but he couldn’t help let his feminine side out when he was around us. To Carter, Aly and I were his absolute best friends, and he came to us for problems or issues he usually wouldn’t discuss with other people or even his girlfriend, Dani Waters. Yes, he felt most comfortable around me and Aly, especially Aly, since he knew the feeling was very much reciprocated. When we all got to the party, we were greeted by a surprisingly sober Tyson Rhodes whose girlfriend, Kali Anderson, was all over him.

“Hey, guys! Where’s your car, Aly? Didn’t you get your license?” Tyson inquired as he kept an arm looped around Kali’s shoulders.

Tyson was the one who always sported a leather jacket with shades to match. It didn’t matter if it was summer or winter, indoors or outdoors, or morning or night. He was also the only senior, really the only student in the entire high school, who had a motorcycle. He was tall but well built, and he had dark feathery hair, and, if I may be so bold to say, he was pretty handsome. He liked to look and smell good, but he was very laid-back in his personality.

“I did, but the ‘rents took the car for the evening,” Aly explained briefly. “So shut your yapper, ‘kay? Hey, Kali! How are you?”

Kali hugged Aly in excitement and replied.

“I’m good! How are you doing?”

“Missing my boo, but other than that, I’m fine. By the way, where were you yesterday? You totally went MIA after homeroom,” Aly said.

On the other hand, Kali was someone most would least expect to be part of our group. None of us were jocks, but Kali was the captain of her cheerleading squad. She had the typical image of a blonde Barbie, but she by no means played any part in being a dumb blonde. She dressed well, and she had an IQ that was borderline genius. She was a year younger than the rest of her senior class that was graduating in a month, and she had her whole future planned to a T. She was going to become a lawyer and marry Tyson, and they’d have two children together, a boy and a girl. She was also the one who convinced Tyson to turn away from the drug scene and got him to work hard and dig into his studies so that he could make something of himself one day, as she genuinely saw something in him that he couldn’t see for himself yet.

“Oh, my mom pulled me out for the day because she couldn’t take any more days off from work to take care of Angie. Angie’s got a bad case of the flu, so I had to go home and take care of her,” Kali answered. “Oh, Carter, your girl is totally chasing her problems down again with vodka, and who knows what.”

“What?” Carter said with an exasperated sigh that escaped his lips. “Damn it, not again.”

With that, Carter took off in search of his girlfriend, and Kali looked back over at Aly.

“And I heard about Izzy getting grounded,” she continued.

“Yeah, he called and said he couldn’t come. What a bummer, eh? Good thing you came, though, Dyl, or the party would’ve blown,” Tyson added.

“Thanks for the ego boost, but that’s so not true. You’re always the life of the party, man,” I replied as I stepped foot into the house. “But why wouldn’t I have been able to come, though? My parents think we’re just having a small get-together.”

Tyson, Kali, and Aly all looked at each other and smirked.

“Aren’t you a little bad-ass?” Aly said as she poked me on the sides where I was most ticklish until I stepped away in laughter. “It figures you would pull something like that. Your parents are so raising a kid they don’t know anymore.”

“That’s not entirely true,” I defended. “I’m still charming and respectful. And, don’t forget, I’m a straight ‘A’ student and always on the high honor roll.”

“The ‘rents may think you’re an angel, but they only know that to a certain extent. They don’t know how much of a charmer you really are, especially with the ladies,” Tyson said as I kicked his front door shut with my right foot.

I grinned at Tyson's words and nodded.

"So true, but speaking of my charm, I believe I see some pretty ladies who have my name written all over them. Catch ya later."

With that, I walked off and prepared to work my charm on the many single ladies of the party. While my brother was famous worldwide for an outstanding acting career, I was fondly known as “the man whore” of Redwood Charter High School. I was very much a social drinker, and I was crazy addicted to sex and everything about sex. I wasn’t much of a relationship guy, either. I preferred to roll single, so I could hook up with one woman right after another without feeling guilty. I went up behind a junior named Candace, who had her back to me because she was dancing with her best buds, and I couldn’t help but smile at her.

Chapter 2

It was time to make my move.

“Hey there, pretty ladies,” I greeted as I jumped into the small group of dancing women. “You girls are looking especially lovely tonight. What gives?”
“You,” Candace answered as she grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and brought my face close to hers. “And might I add that you’re looking especially 

delicious tonight?”

I grinned as I grabbed her from behind and closed the gap between us.

“Well, I’ve gotta look good for you ladies, right?”

“Don’t you mean for me?” Candace asked.

Candace was gorgeous with her long straight bottle-blonde hair and captivating blue eyes. She was an extremely confident woman and knew exactly what she wanted. It was plain to see that she was all about having some fun tonight. In the way she acted around me, it was also easy to see that I was what she wanted.

“Candace, don’t be selfish. Try sharing the cutie for a change,” Ava said as she placed a hand on my left shoulder to catch my attention.

I smiled as I turned my body and kissed her as I brought her face close to mine. I usually only slept with girls once or twice, but some were much too fun to give up so quickly, so those who kept things fun and … well, interesting… have ended up on what I call a list of favorites. It was a shortlist, though, and only five girls were on it. Candace was one of them, and so was Ava. Ava wasn’t nearly as short as Aly, but she was still short enough that I had to bend over and kiss her on the neck.

“Don’t worry, Ava. There’s enough of me to go around,” was my response as I tantalizingly brought my fingers up the sides of her arms.

Candace was adventurous, playful, and rough. Ava was gentle, romantic, and sultry. As much as these two blonde besties shared most of their lives together and did almost everything with each other, they didn’t share the same views on sex at all. They were on the opposite ends of that spectrum. Candace would make a killing as a dominatrix, but Ava … oh, she’d make an amazing wife someday. Just the idea that eventually she’ll belong to some other man actually made me a bit … dare I say it … jealous?

“Cutie? Try hottie with a body,” Miranda replied as she turned me toward her and brought her hands up inside my shirt to feel my six-pack.

Miranda was a senior, and I was lucky enough to know she found me attractive. Not many seniors at Redwood Charter High dated or even considered underclassmen. Scoring with Miranda would mean mega popularity, even though I was already the hotshot sophomore of the school for being both a total man whore and the brother of a famous Hollywood actor. I wanted to bask in the fact that Miranda was hitting on me, but since she was already on the verge of getting drunk, I didn’t want to take advantage of her. I may love charming the ladies and getting inside their pants, but I was always a man of respect. Only if the woman truly enticed me and made a move on me first would I take it a step further.

“And how are you doing, Miranda?” I asked as I paid my full attention to her now.

“Why don’t you come and find out?” she replied in question as she turned her back to me.

She grabbed my hands and put them on her hips as she continued moving to the rhythm of the music. Her long dark wavy tresses also swayed with the movements of her body. I grinned as I could tell they were soft, and I desperately wanted to run my hands through her hair. I didn’t want to come across as a creep, though, so I kept my hands where she put them. I watched her booty as I stepped closer to her, and then I felt how she pressed her ass against my groin area.

She turned her head to see my reaction, which automatically told me she knew what she was doing, so I took this as her initiative. To top it off, she bent down a little, though she pressed harder against me as her body came back up. I decided my response would be to push hard against her, but I also got close to her neck and kept a firm grip on her hips. While our bodies ground together, I felt like I was being watched by someone other than Candace and Ava, but I didn’t care. I loved the feel of Miranda’s sexy backside against my body. In fact, I leaned close to her ear and couldn’t help but say something.

“Nice ass.”

Miranda turned her head toward me and grinned. I’ve caught her attention at several parties earlier this year and sometimes in the school cafeteria. Still, I wasn’t foolish enough to approach a senior, especially one who was in an on-again-off-again relationship. Tonight was the first time she ever approached me and spoke to me, though, and I wasn’t going to waste this opportunity. There was a rumor that she officially called it quits with her boyfriend, Jason Delaney.

“Imagining it uncovered?” she flirted in curiosity.

Before tonight, I would’ve never dared to approach Miranda for fear of Jason’s wrath alone. He was captain of the lacrosse team, but he was a total douchebag, and he was also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Jason was the jealous and possessive type, so he wasn't

someone to mess around with. Miranda was here with me now, though, and totally staking a claim to me, which to me confirmed that she was done with him. I only wanted to leave a lasting impression on her that would leave her wanting more of me down the road.

“You’ve read my mind,” I flirted back.

“Would you like to see it uncovered?” she dared to question as she pressed harder against me.

And there it was.

“Only if you want me to,” I purred as I placed an index finger under her chin and kissed her softly on the lips. “Just lead the way, beautiful.”

Candace and Ava knew that was coming, but I saw they didn’t care because they knew they’d get their alone time with me before the night was over. Before long, Miranda led me up the stairs, but not before I grabbed a couple of beers. An hour later, after plenty of sex and making out with Miranda while drinking beer, I left a drunk Miranda passed out in Tyson’s college sister’s room on the bed. As soon as I reached the bottom of the steps, I felt a pair of eyes on me again, and this time I was more aware of it. I looked around the room, trying to figure out who had their eyes on me, but then Izzy jumped by my side and looped an arm around me.

“Fuck, Izzy, don’t scare me like that!” I exclaimed as I jumped back in surprise. “Wait, what are you doing here? I thought your parents grounded you?”

Izzy was the oddball of the group. He had a closet full of formal vests and shirts that he always wore. The vests were either black, blue, or grey, but he always wore a sharp pair of matching jeans with his vest. Sometimes he wore cool, funky shoes, and sometimes he wore boots. He was most noted for his wacky, colorful, and super long faux hawk hairstyle, which also came with an undercut.

“Are you kidding? When Tyson texted and said Natalie and Otto were here, I had to find a means of escape. I’ll have some serious punishment to deal with when I get back, but this party is worth it!”

This really surprised me, so I froze in my steps and turned my body more toward Izzy at the point.

“Natalie’s here?” I asked. “Natalie as in Natalie Cunningham?”

“Yep. Tyson got a compliment from her about the place. She likes it, and she’s been here since the party practically started.”

“Is she still here? Where is she?” I inquired now as I looked around the party for her.

“I don’t know. She’s probably making her rounds. We’ll see her soon enough. Word is she was originally supposed to be attending a frat party with Otto.”

That was Natalie Cunningham and Otto Graham. They only graced their presence at college parties. They were serial partiers and preferred fraternizing with older people unless they knew for a fact that one of their schoolmates was having a huge party. Plus, Otto was a senior and the single, biggest hotshot of Redwood Charter High.

“So, I see you came from upstairs,” Izzy noted, which made me turn back to him in curiosity. “Who did you just hook up with?”

“Miranda Scott,” I answered.

“No way, dude, she’s a senior!” Izzy exclaimed. “I actually don’t believe it.”

“Well, she and Delaney are officially over, so believe it,” I continued as I remained preoccupied with my search for my long-time crush. “She’s passed out in Anna’s room.”

“I gotta see this,” Izzy said as he now left me and headed up the stairs.

I had been crushing on Natalie Cunningham, a junior, since she first walked the halls at school last year. It was love at first sight for me, but no one knew I was head over heels in love with her. Not even my best friends knew I liked her, except Tyson. I was first captivated by Natalie when I saw her very distinct, beautiful grey eyes. When I was about to make my rounds toward the kitchen, I froze in my steps and looked over at the far end of the living room, where I instantly spotted those eyes I loved so much. Before I could get a good look at her, two of my friends caught my attention as they passed in front of me and headed toward the door.

“Go away!” Dani yelled drunkenly as she pushed Carter away and almost lost her balance in doing so.

“Dani, please!” Carter begged as he stepped toward her and made sure she didn’t fall flat on her back. “This isn’t the way to solve your problems. Let me help you.”

Wow, did she ever look like trailer trash right now with how she was dressed and how she carried herself! Carter was madly in love with her, but she had more than her fair share of dysfunctional family problems. She was well-known for not handling much of anything, which was why Carter knew she needed him, and he desperately wanted to be there for her. She was the other girl of our group who was the shortest, and she was pale-skinned with fire-red hair.

“I don’t need your help!” Dani yelled at Carter as she fumbled for the doorknob. “I don’t need you.”

“Dani,” Carter called as he took her hands away from the door and made her look into his eyes. “I love you. I’m not like your family, baby. In fact, I hate them too, but drinking away your problems will not help you. I can help you. Let me help you.”

I thought back to when Carter came to Aly and me for a serious problem with Dani and her self-harm issues. He’d let his sensitive side out through many fallen tears because he was at a loss of what to do with her then. He truly loved her and wanted more than anything to get her away from her family. To put it simply, Dani’s family was crazy, and she didn’t belong with them. I felt some relief when I saw Dani had broken down and given in to Carter’s request because I knew Carter was a lot stronger now, and he could actually be there for the love of his life.

Chapter 3

When I'd looked back in Natalie’s direction, she seemed to have disappeared. Now, where did she go? I looked around the living room and everywhere I could, but she was nowhere to be found. 

“Hey, yo, Dyl!” I heard from behind. “S’mae?”

I turned around to find Rhydian Wilson. He was the other guy in our group and my only friend who shared my heritage, as our mothers were first cousins, so technically, he was my first cousin once removed. Both my parents were pure Welsh, but Rhydian was only half-Welsh through his mother while his father only had Scottish roots. Our mothers hated each other and, to this day, weren’t on speaking terms because of Mr. Wilson. So we didn’t even know we were related until we had to do family tree project presentations in freshman year. Ever since then, though, our heritage has turned Rhydian and me into really close friends. When he found out I was taking extra language lessons to keep the Welsh language alive in the family, he wanted to learn too, so now we can have some pretty decent conversations with each other in private.

“Eh, not too shabby,” I answered to his question in Welsh of how things were going, and then he handed me a beer. Perfect timing! “Diolch.”

After thanking him for the beer, I took a huge swig and let the music of the party wash over my soul. It was a slow electronic song, and my body couldn’t help but make moves of its own. I grabbed Rhydian’s arm and dragged him to the middle of the dancing crowd. All levels of high school students then surrounded us, and I flashed my pearly whites toward Rhydian.

Rhydian and I were the only two in our group of best friends who were as single as guys our age could get. The difference between us, though, is that he was incredibly shy with women. He’d been pining over the same girl since the fifth grade, Lydia Banks. He knew the feelings were mutual too. He was even saving his virginity for her. He just hadn’t worked up the courage yet to approach her and ask her out. They were both around the same height of five feet and six inches, but Rhydian was just a tad bit taller than her. I just knew they’d make the cutest raven-haired pair, and the way he gushed about her whenever we hung out without the others always made my heart melt.

He was a rather affectionate personality, and he usually had this incessant need to touch people, especially those he was most comfortable with. They were always innocent moves, like on shoulders and arms, or hugs that were just a little longer than most would find acceptable. Some people didn’t like this kind of thing, but I didn’t mind. I allowed him to invade my personal space anytime he wanted because I knew he meant no harm or anything by his actions. His mother wasn’t the affectionate motherly type, and his father had smacked them around.

He told me about this last year, and I was the only one who knew about it. I tried to convince him to report his father to the authorities, but he was petrified of ending up in foster care. His mother was the black sheep of the family, so nobody wanted anything to do with her and her offspring, which was unfair because Rhydian was one of the best guys I knew. After hearing so many horror stories about the foster care system, he became terrified of ending up in an even worse situation. He tried several times to convince his mother to leave Mr. Wilson, but she refused to. I told him if worst came to worst, we could always get our own place together after graduation because, unlike the rest of our pitiful family, I had Rhydian’s back.

I loved Rhydian like a brother, and he knew more about me than Deri did. Rhydian was the only one who knew all my deepest, darkest secrets. He even knew why I viewed love and sex the way I did. I had to admit, like Rhydian, I, too, was a very affectionate person. Rhydian didn’t care to control it so much, only when he sensed that someone had enough of it from him.

Me, I didn’t let many people in close enough to be that open with. Sure, I would do certain stuff with girls in public, like kissing them, making out with them, and dancing with them, etcetera. I just didn’t partake in any of these activities with any emotional attachments. I only kept my emotional connections between my best friends and me, and yes, this included Rhydian. Carter and Rhydian were the only two who ever saw me cry, but enough about that.

They say eyes are the window to the soul, but honestly, I believe music is the key to the soul. There’s so much of it out there, and there’s always something for everyone. Each song created is tuned to one beating heart or another. Music is magic, and it has an unmatched power to elevate and transcend one’s emotions in so many different ways. Right now, the song playing through Tyson’s stereo speaker system was slow, but it had a sensual, hypnotizing effect to it. It could easily be used as a song played in the background while a couple made love to one another.

It certainly brought my mind back to Natalie. She was pretty much unapproachable, but those who’ve tried to get in her pants have failed. Based on what I’ve heard about her, I respected the fact that she was hard to get. They were the ones always worth chasing, but given my history with women, I knew she was way out of my league. I knew my search for her around this party was futile because I had no chance in hell with her, and she might think of me as beneath her anyways.

Still, though, she was all I could think about as the magic of this song coursed through my veins. Just the thought of her here with me at this moment with her lips on mine blows my mind. I needed to get my mind off her. I'd closed my eyes when I first started dancing because I loved being in my own little world when this kind of music played. The next thing I knew, a pair of arms had slowly climbed up my chest.

The way those hands had touched me, and in the way she smelled, I knew it was Ava. She always wore floral perfumes with the most addicting scents. Oh, she was just who I needed to take my mind off of Natalie. I opened my eyes to find Ava standing between Rhydian and me, and though he was dancing with his own eyes closed, she was not, but her eyes locked with mine. She brought her lips close to my ears now.

“Candace went out back for some boomers.”

Ah-hah. That meant Candace changed her mind about sex tonight and decided to turn to the magic of mushrooms. This statement told me that Ava was all mine for the rest of the night. The song on the stereo changed to something more upbeat, but I slowed my moves to bring Ava closer to me. No matter what troubles were on my mind, it was easy to get lost in her mesmerizing chestnut brown eyes.

Ava was a sweet girl with a beautiful personality. Of the many countless women I’ve slept with, to this day, Ava has been the only one I’ve ever invited into my home. We had many good memories there, and I didn’t mean just in the sexual sense. She could hold a conversation for hours, and she was also fun to get philosophical with while snuggling under the stars. A few times, I’d considered asking her to go steady with me, but I didn’t know if I could trust myself to be monogamous.

We'd gotten into a couple of hypothetical conversations in the past, but she made it quite clear she didn’t want to ruin the friendship we had. While she enjoyed my company, and wouldn’t mind being an official couple, loyalty through monogamy was everything to her, and she didn’t know if she could handle a whole lot of girls throwing themselves at me. I respected her honesty, and like her, I enjoyed our friendship just the way it was. We weren’t good enough friends to openly discuss any of our personal problems, but she was still a friend in her own special way. She was very empathic and sensual, so it was easy for her to know if something was wrong, but she never pushed for information, and she wasn’t the judgmental type.

The interesting thing about Ava was that no matter how much I tried to conceal my emotions, she somehow read me, anyway. It was probably in the way I talked, or the way I carried myself, or maybe it was my actions that told her if something was wrong with me. Perhaps it was even a combination of these things. Regardless, she knew how to connect with me, and she knew how to give me exactly what I needed, whether it be a long conversation to distract me from my thoughts or a cuddle session with a movie or two, etcetera. Even now, she seemed to know exactly what I need.

As I brought her close, her arms moved around to my back, and they settled on my lower back near my hips. I loved how flawless her beautiful porcelain skin was. Her makeup was on point too. The smoky eye look worked well for her because it drew all the attention to her eyes. I think she’d look hot and fierce if she dyed her hair to a color that would match her eyes.

I held her close with a beer in my left hand, but then I brought my free hand up to her face. Every time I gazed into those captivating eyes of hers for any length of time, I just wanted to kiss her, and so I did. She was an amazing kisser. I’ve had countless make-out sessions with her at my place, where we’d just kiss for hours with music playing in the background. Whenever her lips were on mine, I lost all ability to think.

My mind always ran a thousand miles a minute, so I welcomed any opportunity to be free of my thoughts when she kissed me. A new song played, and it was another slow one, which was perfect for this moment. I pushed my beer into my cousin’s chest, and though he chuckled at me, he took it from me. I wanted both of my hands to be free to hold her face because kissing her always felt like time stood still. Ava Montgomery was too intoxicating to resist, and now my mind was free.

Chapter 4

My time on the dance floor with Ava was cut short when Candace had approached us.

“Ava, we have to leave. My mom just called. There’s something wrong with my dad!”

This news disappointed me, but I couldn’t show it.

“I’m sorry, Dyl,” Ava apologized. “I’m her ride. I --”

I guess she was disappointed to leave too.

“It’s fine. Just be careful on the roads, and don’t drive too fast, okay?” I told her before I turned to Candace. “If you need anything, let me know.”

Candace said nothing, though she acknowledged my support with a nod. Then she grabbed Ava by the arm and pulled her away. I watched as the two ladies then left me here. I knew Ava was safe to drive because I hadn’t smelled any alcohol on her breath, and I didn’t taste it on her when we kissed, but I knew drunk drivers always drove on the roads around this time of the night too. I’d hate to see Ava and Candace get caught in an accident for which a drunk driver could be at fault, and I’d hate to see Ava lose control of her vehicle for driving too fast.

“I’ll text you!” she exclaimed as Candace dragged her toward the front door.

I nodded in acknowledgment and saw her off with a wave. I hoped she’d text me later. I’d like to invite her back over to my house sometime soon. Once the two ladies were no longer in sight, I turned toward Rhydian, and he was ready to pass my beer. I took it and danced with my cousin to a few more songs until I finished my beer.

“Hey, Rhydian.”

Rhydian and I both turned toward where we heard his name. It was Lydia, and she'd approached us, though her attention was focused on my cousin.

“Heeey,” he greeted with enthusiasm as he stopped dancing and turned his attention toward her now.

“How are you?” Lydia asked him.

The chemistry between the two of them was insane.

“I’m great! How are you?”

Lydia stood off to the side in nervousness, and she had a little swing in her position as she kept her arms casually behind her back.

“I’m good,” she answered in a shy tone.

At that moment, a new song started, and it was a slow one. I could tell by her expression that she enjoyed this song.

“Oh, my gosh. I love this song,” she commented.

I looked toward Rhydian as I knew he now smiled from ear to ear.

“Me too!” Then he paused for a moment and bit his lower lip, and it was clear to me he was asking himself if he should ask her to dance. “Would you … like to dance?”

There you go, buddy! Lydia lit up in pure joy when she heard him ask her that. I felt giddy on the inside as I witnessed the budding of a new romance, especially one that involved my cousin.

“I’d love to!” Then she finally remembered I was standing there, and she acknowledged my presence. “Oh, you don’t mind if I steal your cuz for a bit, do you?”

I smirked as I now gently pushed her toward Rhydian.

“Not at all. He’s all yours.”

I whispered something special into her ear, though, and then I took off.

“Hey, wait; what d'you just tell her about me?” Rhydian asked.

I said nothing, but I turned around, brought both my hands up, and shaped them into guns. Then I winked and clicked my tongue twice as I fired off a fake bullet from both of my ‘guns.’ I loved teasing him like this, as he was so easy to play with. I knew he was eager to know what I said, but honestly, what I did was give Lydia the push they needed to get that relationship finally going. He was just going to figure it out for himself … with Lydia.

I headed into the sunroom where all the beer and alcohol were, though I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw there was punch, which meant there was grain alcohol in it. I loved spiked punch, but I’ve already been drinking a few beers tonight. I wasn’t one to mix my liquors very often. I haven’t had any spiked punch in a while, though.

“Deciding on what to drink?” asked a sweet angelic voice as a woman now stood on my left side.

“Yeah, I’d like to get smashed, but not so hungover that I’m praying to the porcelain god when the sun rises,” I answered, but then I realized who it was that stood by me when I looked over at her.

I was stunned now, and I couldn’t move a muscle. Then she met my gaze and smiled. Oh, those eyes, and that smile!

“Then, in that case, you may want to just stick with beer.”

I watched as she took the cup she had in her hand and filled it with one whopping spoonful of punch. Since she’d been here for a while, I wondered if this was maybe her second or third. Her speech wasn’t slurred, so I don’t think she’s had too much to drink yet. Either that or she’s built up a tolerance since she likes to party a lot with the college kids. What was

she doing here anyway?

“So, may I ask what brought you here to Tyson’s?” I asked as I now grabbed a beer bottle from a tub of ice.

Natalie took a massive swig of her punch before she answered while I had popped the cap off the beer, and then I also took a big mouthful.

“Well, Otto told me about how exceptional Tyson’s parties can be, and a few people approached us, insisted we should come,” she answered as she locked her eyes with mine again.

“Yeah, Tyson sure knows how to throw parties, though I’ve heard frat parties are better.”

“Fuck frat parties,” she scoffed. “All those parties are about alcohol and sex with outrageously high levels of testosterone just egging each other on to do the stupidest, most dangerous shit.”

Um … then what the hell was she doing here? High school parties were kind of the same thing. I mean … ?

“Ah, makes sense.” Not really. “So may I ask where you moved here from last year?”

This seemed to surprise Natalie.

“You’ve been keeping tabs on me?” she asked.

“No, no, absolutely not,” I answered quickly. “It’s just that I’ve been in this school district all my life. So it’s obvious to me when someone new joins the student body. And you’re also kind of hard to miss since you’ve moved here because you’re just so beautiful. You don’t know how many guys are drooling over you and trying like hell to figure out how to get in your pants.”

Natalie smirked at my words. Why did that smirk give me a bad vibe? It stirred up a jolt of jealousy.

“They can try all they want. They won’t have any success.”


“And why’s that?” I wondered as I took another swig of my beer.

Perhaps I should be a little more careful with being so bold. What if she has a boyfriend? Yeah, that’d be just my luck.

“Because I’m very picky about whom I get involved with.”

Oh. Okay. Well, this conversation just got interesting.

“Oh, really? So then, if I may ask, what is your type?”

That was a question I had to have an answer to. I needed and wanted to know if I had any chance with her. At all.

“I don’t really have a specific type, but I do like a guy who’s down to earth, knows what he’s doing, and is a sweetheart with integrity, kind of like you.”

My throat tightened up on me, but I swallowed in nervousness, and smiled her way. I had integrity? I mean, yeah, there were certain things I was dead set against, like taking advantage of a woman after she says no for any reason, and I wouldn’t dare get myself into any kind of trouble with the law. I was also hard on myself with my schoolwork, always doing my best to maintain my high honor roll streak since middle school, so I guess I had some integrity. It was important to me to get into college on my own terms through merit and my personal hard work, and not because I was the younger brother to a famous Hollywood actor.

“So, you’ve been keeping tabs on me?” I joked.

“No, you just make it so obvious that you put out, and the ladies have spread the word about how romantic and respectful you can be,” she answered. “So, tell me, do you know what you’re doing?”

I didn’t want to answer that question. I tried to avoid answering it at all costs. Natalie’s gorgeous grey eyes made me melt, though. I had no choice but to answer her question. So then I parted my lips.

“Well … I don’t like to brag, but … the ladies aren’t lying.”

Natalie smirked again.

“Well, then, I’d like to see this for myself,” she challenged.

I froze after I took a third sip of my beer.

“Is that supposed to be an invitation to go upstairs?” I asked.

Natalie just kept her grin. I much liked where this conversation was going. Oh, I liked this direction verymuch. She didn’t respond to my question, though. She just kept grinning at me.

“Because if it is,” I continued. “Then why don’t we wait? The night is young, and we have plenty of time to get to know each other first. How does that sound to you?”

If she would’ve been any other girl, I would’ve initiated a make-out session right here and right now. Natalie wasn’t just any girl, though, but my statement seemed to surprise her. In fact, it really threw her off. I think she expected me to take her up on her offer for sex immediately, but I didn’t because I genuinely wanted to get to know her. I was in love with her.

“That sounds . . . great!” she finally answered, though my reaction to her invitation still stunned her.