Careless

By: Michelle Horst

Chapter 1



JAXSON





Five years ago…

The bottle slips from my fingers, clinking as it lands on top of the small pile of empty beer bottles already gathering underneath the hammock I’m relaxing on.

“It’s your turn to get beers.”

Drowsily, Marcus closes his eyes. “I’ll go get some in a minute.”

I melt into my own hammock and sigh sleepily.

“This was the best idea you’ve ever had. I’m going to park my ass right here the entire weekend.”

During the week, Marcus came home with five hammocks. So far we’ve only put up two of them, which was an accomplishment in itself, if you ask me. The three leftover hammocks are still lying in the living room.

“Do you think you’ll be able to fuck while keeping your balance on this thing?” I ask, without opening my eyes.

Damn, this is the life. Me and Marcus, all the beer we want, and the sun all fucking day long.

“Don’t know. You can try it out sometime and let me know. It takes ten minutes just to get my ass settled in this thing,” Marcus murmurs.

Yeah, it’s only a matter of minutes before he’ll be fast asleep. Come to think of it, an afternoon nap isn’t such a bad idea. It will give me more energy for the party we’re having tonight.

I glance over at my best friend and grin. He’s lying with both legs hanging off on either side of the hammock.

“Dude, you look uncomfortable, lying like that,” I laugh.

He doesn’t answer at once, and I’m starting to think he’s asleep when he mumbles, “Free-Fucking-Balling. There’s a nice breeze on my balls.”

“Cool,” I grin, as I move slowly so I don’t tip the damn hammock. When I have my legs hanging off the sides, my grin grows. “Fuck, you’re right.”

Marcus laughs lazily. “The wind’s blowing us, dude.”

Everything is about sex when it comes to my best friend. Not like I’m one to talk. It’s as if our minds have a direct link to the gutter.

We’ve been friends since diapers. Our moms were best friends as well. At least, they were until Mr. Reed killed Mrs. Reed. That was one fucked-up day. Marcus was only ten and his sister, Summer, had just turned six the previous month. To this day, no one knows the reason Marcus’ dad lost his shit and shot his wife, daughter, and son, before turning the gun on himself.

Fortunately, the bullet missed Marcus’ heart by a ball hair. Summer and Mrs. Reed died instantly. It happened during our summer vacation so luckily, I could stay with him every day until he got released into Mom’s custody. He had no other family and besides, she was his godmother.

Logan might be my twin, but after the shooting, Marcus and I became inseparable. We might have been close before he lost his family, but during his stay in the hospital, it was as if I became everything in his life.

Those first few weeks he wouldn’t talk to anyone but me. Mom made him see a psychologist, but that didn’t help much either. He became detached from everyone and everything. I was the only one allowed to see behind the walls. I was the only one he didn’t pretend with. I comforted his broken heart suffering from the loss of his mom and sister. I held him as he cried because he didn’t understand what had happened. I took the blows when he was overcome with anger at his father. I took it all – the good, the bad, the broken – without fail. I took it all, so he didn’t have to carry the full weight of his fucked-up past alone.

After the shooting, Mom changed as well. The horror that took place in the Reed’s home rocked the whole community, but after a while, things slowly returned to normal, and people stopped talking about it. Where Marcus turned into himself, Mom seemed to be all over the place, as if she lost her balance in life. The friendship between her and Mrs. Reed reminded me a lot of what Marcus and I had. After Mrs. Reed died, Mom unraveled right before our eyes. She’d gone from mother-of-the-year to fucked-up mess at breakneck speed.

At first, it was little things. She’d spent entire nights sitting outside while finishing a bottle of wine or three. She grew impatient with us, her once loving demeanor being replaced by a snapping tone and cold glare.

It got worse after our thirteenth birthday. I was the first one to go through a growth spurt. Knowing I couldn’t go to Mom about the hair making its appearance on my face, I went to Mr. Hayes. He was the only father any of us had. Even though he worked his ass off, he always had time for us. Honestly, we spent more time at Carter’s house, than anywhere else.

Mr. Hayes was amazing. I mean, fucking amazing. He was never too busy for us. He’d go out of his way to show every single one of us how much he cared. He never missed any of our firsts. The first day of school, first games, first driving lessons—he was there for everything. He was the only solid in our constantly changing lives.

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