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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Book One - Chapter 2

Chapter Two
By the time Rafe was 13, he was sexually active. What he did with Lane didn’t count. That was a special thing that was self-contained in a whole different compartment in his life. That would always exist no matter what else happened. He owned Lane and always would.
            He was still as lean and lithe as he had been as a child but his body was harder now and stronger. He still made people think of a feral cat. His movements appeared so sinuous and languid that it was always surprising how quickly he was suddenly somewhere else. The eyes of school girls, and sometimes teachers, followed him down the hall, drawn to those narrow hips clad in tight jeans. His face had become more refined too with nothing left of the little boy. Now he was all high cheekbones and chiseled features. He still wore his black hair a little too long so that he was always having to brush it out of his eyes. He had no idea, or maybe he did, how many females had the urge to reach out and brush it back for him. Sometimes, they were so much older, they flushed thinking about having such thoughts about a 13-year-old. The black eyes that made some anxious drew others, although they didn’t make even those people feel comfortable, more like they were turned on by the possibility of living dangerously. He was tan as a gypsy, all over, because when he sunbathed on the boat, he preferred being naked.
            So, if anything, when it came to females, his biggest challenge was narrowing down his choices. He gravitated toward the older girls because they had cars and a car meant being able to get to the cabin on Mount Vincennes where they could have sex in private. There was never any competition for the cabin now because all the others were grown and gone. Even Annecy was 19 and in college. So it was his own little sexual kingdom and he took full advantage of it.
            Sometimes, when he heard a girl moaning beneath him as she reached her climax, he silently tipped his hat to Lane. She’d been his little sexual guinea pig. Because she trusted him so much, she was completely open and unself-conscious about telling him what felt the best and he transferred those revelations to the other females in his life.
            It worked out very well because so many girls, he’d learned, weren’t like Lane. They were shy and backward about letting you know what pleased them. They just left it up to him to guess, but he didn’t have to guess. He knew exactly what to do. It was one of his claims to fame, although only expressed inwardly, that no female ever left the cabin without having been brought to orgasm. He didn’t see them as notches on his belt exactly but he placed a mental checkmark beside each name as she sighed in satisfaction.
            “My God, how did you get so good at this at 13?” they would ask, “I’ve slept with college men who haven’t a clue how to satisfy a girl like you do.”
             And that was a good time, he’d discovered, to flash his smile and then lean down to kiss them so they didn’t want to talk anymore.
            His worst problem with girls turned out to be how to gently get rid of them when he was ready to move on. He never fell in love with any of them. Actually, he thought of them as being more or less interchangeable. He’d learned to call them all Sweetheart. That way he’d never hurt their feelings by saying the wrong name if he forgot just which one was giving him a blow job at the time. He liked a lot of them just fine but he always looked forward to seeing what the next one would be like.
            After some trial and error, he found that it was best just to be blunt.
            “I’ve really enjoyed being with you,” he would say to cushion the blow, “but I’m not a one-girl kind of guy. Let’s just remember the fun we had and let it go at that. Now, c’mon, Sweetheart, and give me a kiss good-bye”.
            Sometimes they were pretty unhappy. He’d had criers and he’d had screamers, but usually all he had to do was stare them down with those unsettling black eyes and they subsided quickly enough. They probably knew anyway what to expect because he had definitely developed a reputation for lovin’em and leavin’em and even though some of them might have hoped to change his nature, most likely they guessed shortly into it that it wasn’t going to happen.

            At fourteen, he got involved with the bored housewife on the next estate over from Heron Point. They met when they were out on their respective boats. Sun-worshipper that he was, he’d been lying on the deck, baking, enjoying the rocking of the waves, listening to the seagulls cry, breathing in the fishy fragrance of the bay. He heard her call over, “hey, neighbor!” She’d recognized the name of the cigarette boat, Hard Charger, from having seen it tied up to the Heron Point dock.
            He stood, naked. “Hey, neighbor, yourself.”
            He enjoyed hearing her catch her breath a little seeing him but he made no move to put on his trunks. She herself wore a turquoise bikini. He thought she was probably in her middle 30’s, a very beautiful middle 30’s. She was sleekly golden from head to toe – a lovely gold body, long gold hair, gold-flecked hazel eyes.
            “I’m Alexis. I live next door to you.”
            “Are you the people who bought Bay Front?”
            “Yes, we just moved in about a month ago.”
            “You’ll like it here – we’re a friendly bunch.”
            Flirtatiously, “how friendly?”
            “Most of us are very friendly and a few of us are extremely friendly.”
            “And which one are you?”
            “Depends on how friendly you want me to be.” His cock was getting hard. He looked down at it and grinned that quick grin. “In fact, I think I’m feeling friendlier by the minute.”
            “My husband’s in Hong Kong. It’s been pretty lonesome being where you don’t know anyone. Would you like to come over for lunch?”
            “No,” he said, “I’m not hungry but I’m open to a better offer. I’m not much of a game player, Alexis, (chuckling inwardly as he said it, thinking if he had been Pinocchio, his nose would have just grown about a foot), just tell me what you want.” It was a setup on his part, of course.
            “I want you to fuck me, does that answer meet with your approval, Sir?”
            Bingo! With that response, he knew exactly what role he’d need to play. He thought most females gave you clues about their innermost sexual desires right away if you could read them and he had an innate ability to interpret those signals. He knew with this one, he’d have to be the master, whether she realized it about herself yet or not.  
            “That’s the answer I was looking for.” (And, in a way that was true). “I’ll meet you there.”
            “Oh, by the way, what’s your name?”
            “Rafe.”

            It was his first time with a mature woman and he had to admit it was one hell of a learning experience. The first time, he fucked her in the hot tub and she went down on him on the deck. Then they did it all again on her big brass bed. In the morning, she woke him sucking his nipples and fondling his balls and when he was stiff, she got on top and rode him hard until they lay beside one another, panting and replete.

            “Where were you, Rafe,” Lane asked him when he came whistling down the hall. “You’ve stayed out late before but never all night.”
            “I slept over with a friend, Laney.”
            “I never knew you had a friend, Rafe.”
            And that was true. He was friendly to everyone but friends with no one. He’d never invited another guy home with him to go riding or boating, didn’t hang out after school. He felt no need to confide in anyone about anything.
            “Well,” he said, “I expect this will be a short-term relationship.”

            When he walked into her waterfront mansion the next time, she was spread-eagled on her kitchen table with dollops of whipped cream covering her nipples and her box.
            “Dessert first, Baby,” she told him. “Come and eat me.”
            He slipped out of his shorts which was all he was wearing.
            Under the whipped cream was raspberry sauce and under that was hot fudge. He licked it off until he came to her bare skin and he kept licking until she was murmuring in anticipation. Then he moved away and simply waited. She opened her eyes.
            “Why are you stopping, Rafe? Keep going. I’m so close!”
            “I think I’ll stop unless you can convince me how bad you need it.”
            “What do you want me to do?” Her golden eyes were sloe-eyed with lust.
            “Lift your legs as high as you can and spread them as far apart as you can. Hold yourself open. Show me how eager you are. Beg me, Lexie.”
            She did as he said, lifting her long, honey gold legs as high as she could get them and moving them apart until she was almost doing the splits lying down, holding herself apart. “Please, Rafe, please, finish me. Please, Baby!”
            “Are you begging?”
            “Yes!”
            “Say it then.”
            “I’m begging, Rafe. I’m begging you to make me come!” Her voice was hoarse.
            He leaned down into her, licking and sucking and tracing magic figure eights on her clit with his tongue until she called out to him – “Oh, God, oh, God, oh God, oh Rafe!”
            Rafe didn’t get off on power trips, necessarily, he just like doing whatever it took to light her fire.
            “Now get up. It’s my turn.”
            She rose and he took her place on the table.
            “Give me the whole treatment – the fudge, the raspberry sauce, the whipped cream.”
            Carefully, she bedecked his nipples and his cock with all the ingredients, then began licking and sucking.
            When he was hard and ready, she said, “now you beg me, Rafe.”
            “Come here for a minute,” he told her.
            When she came close, he took a handful of her long, blonde hair and pulled her face close to his.
            “No, Sweetheart, that’s not the way it will ever be. You will always be the beggar. Now, let me hear you plead to be allowed to make me come.”
            For a moment, it seemed as if she was going to resist until that gleaming smile flashed across his face.
            “Please, Rafe, please let me suck you. I want to feel your cock in my mouth. I’m pleading with you, Rafe.”
            “Good girl, do it, Lexie.”

            That time set the tone for their future relationship. She discovered that his dominance and her submission turned her inside out with desire, and he was happy to oblige. He knew it made her hot when he pinched her nipples just enough to hurt or slapped her face hard enough to sting. She liked him to plunge his cock into her ass and pump her so hard that she cried from the pain even as she was having an orgasm. She liked being given orders to wait on him, washing him in the bathtub, then drying him off, before giving him a massage - or bringing him breakfast in bed, having to wait until he was done before she was allowed to eat herself. Sometimes, he made her crawl to him on her hands and knees and then stay on all fours in front of him while he finished watching the ballgame, ignoring her, until finally he gave her permission to take his cock in her mouth.
            He stopped at the pet store and bought a gold lame dog collar. The next time, he went to her house, he fastened it around her lovely neck.
            “I don’t want you to take it off. As long as you have it on, it means you’re my property.”
            “Oh, Rafe,” she told him, “I’d do anything for you, anything at all.”
            “I know, Lexie. What I want you to do right now is lick me all over. Make sure you’re careful because if you miss a spot, I’ll have to make you begin again. You can start in the back. When you’re done, Sweetheart, I’ll screw you for your reward.”
            She began with his toes and worked her way up, being very, very careful to cover every single inch of him.

            Three weeks it lasted. Lane was getting really upset with him because she was feeling so neglected. He’d barely had anything to do with her since this all started with Alexis. He came home late and when he did, he was fucking tired. He thought it was getting about time to rehearse the old “sorry” speech when she told him her husband was going to be back that night from Hong Kong and they’d have to stop until he left again. But she assured him that he travelled a lot and it wouldn’t be long until he went on another trip. She told him that she loved him more than she’d ever loved anyone in her life and she could hardly bear the thought of being apart from him.
            And he was thinking, “oh, oh, I don’t even want to be hearing this.”
            He fingered the gold collar. “You might want to take this off, Sweetheart, before your husband gets home.”
            She didn’t know he had absolutely no intention of ever seeing her again. He’d been there and done that and he was ready to travel on. As he moved along the path back over to Heron Point, he was wondering about who would be next. A sexual shape-shifter, he could be whatever they needed him to be. If they wanted a swashbuckling pirate who would take them by force, he could be that. If they wanted a romantic poet who would seduce them with sensitivity, he could be that too. It all came out the same in the end. In the meantime, there was always Lane.
            By the time, he reached the Heron Point property line, Alexis was a sweet, but receding, memory.

“Hey, Laney, where are you, Lane?”
“Here, Rafe, I’m in the kitchen.”
“Have you already eaten?”
“No, I was just getting ready to put a pizza in the oven. Does that sound all right to you?”
“Pizza sounds great. I’m starved.”
“Are you staying home tonight, Rafe?”
“Yep.”
“I’m really glad.  Mom and Dad went to some banquet in Washington. They’re spending the weekend. They gave the staff the time off. I was dreading being here all alone.”
“So that means it’s just the two of us?”
“Yes.”
“Good. C’mere, Sweetie.”
He had jumped up to sit on the counter top. She walked to where she was standing between his legs. He circled them around her and pulled her tight against the counter. Then he leaned down and kissed her, putting her hand on his crotch. Her knees felt weak.
“Do you think you’ll be ready to go to bed early tonight, Lane?” he murmured in her ear.

He watched her as she brought him his pizza, then sat beside him at the table in the kitchen. She was twelve now. She’d always been a pretty little girl but you could begin to tell that she was going to be beautiful in a few more years. She was about 5’3 and he guessed she weighed about a hundred pounds. She had a cute little butt in her jeans and her breasts were starting to swell under her tee-shirt.  Her hair, palest blonde, was below her shoulders. She was the opposite of him. Her blue eyes were so guileless, you could read her thoughts in them as easily as if they were written in a book. Her smile was so happy and innocent, seeing it made him happy too.

It was good, he thought, that the folks were gone this weekend. That way he could devote himself to her, petting her and lavishing her with attention until the wounded feelings about how much he’d stayed away lately were all soothed over. He knew he could do it because she never held a grudge. All he had to do was pay her some attention and she bounded back eager to please. She reminded him of a puppy in that way. In fact, having her was a lot like having a pet. He would never have said that to anyone because they would think it sounded callous, but it was true. If you brought a pet into your life, you had to be willing to be responsible for feeding it and bathing it and training it and seeing that its needs were taken care of and loving it too. He’d taken her on and had done all those things. He smiled a little at the thought. People said he reminded them of a cat but if he was a cat, she was lovable Cocker Spaniel puppy.

“We’ll take our shower together tonight,” he told her.
That was something he usually didn’t allow because he was ultra-cautious. One of them had to be available to answer the door at all times should anyone ever come knocking. He couldn’t remember that ever happening but what if it did and the knocker got no response from either of them?  What would they think? But, alone in the house tonight, he figured he could make an exception.
He lathered her hair with shampoo, running his fingers through it the way he’d done so many times when she was little. He washed her all over with a soapy sponge, across her shoulders and down her back and around her buttocks, then he turned her around and tickled it lightly across her breasts, traced a path down her belly. He ran a pink fluffy pouf back and forth between her legs.
She was standing with her legs wide apart, her eyes closed, breathing hard.
“No, not yet, Lane, not ‘til we’re in bed. You wash me now.”
So he stood while she did the same to him as he’d done to her. He let himself relax and enjoy the soothing, sensuous sensation of the sponge on his back and hips and legs and chest and groin.
They dried one another off and jumped into bed.
He could feel her pressing so hard against him, he could hardly breathe. He knew it was a reaction to him being away so much. He kissed her and felt her lips part under his. Practically all he had to do this first time was touch her to bring her to climax but that was okay. They had all night. He’d make it happen again and again. He’d let her stay with him tonight, something else he never did.
He sucked her nipples. “I think you’re actually trying to grow some boobs, Lane,” he told her teasingly.
“Do you hate it that I don’t have breasts yet, Rafe.”
“No, Honey, just be patient, you’ll have them soon enough.”
He kissed and licked and sucked her between her legs until she gasped, “I don’t think I can stand it anymore.”
He put her hand on his erection. “Are you sure, Lane, that you can’t stand it anymore? I hate to waste this perfectly good hard-on. Do you think maybe you could stand it just one more time?”
“Yes, Rafe, yes, put it in me!”
She lay against her pillow, exhausted and satiated.
“Rafe?”
“What, Sweetie?”
Her voice was soft and tentative. “All those times you were gone, were you with a girl?”
He hesitated, wondering if he should lie to save her feelings, then decided, the truth was probably the best policy. They were brother and sister and they were never going to be able to have anything like a normal relationship. She might as well face that reality sooner rather than later.
“Yes, Lane.”
“Oh.” She was silent for a moment, then, “can I ask you one more question, Rafe?”
“You can ask me as many questions as you want.”
“Do you still love me best?”
“Not just best, Laney, but only. You’re the only person I love.”
He pulled her to him and put his arms around her.
“Can I stay here with you tonight, Rafe?”
“Yes, Honey.”
She told herself to wake up during the night just to feel him there. Once, he was snuggled up beside her with his face in her neck. She could feel the warms puffs of his breath against her shoulder. His chest was against her back, his groin against her bottom, and his arm across her waist. The next time she woke, he was on his back with one hand on her thigh. She thought it was probably the happiest night of her life, being able to spend the whole time with him right beside her.
When she awoke in the morning, he’d kicked off the covers and was lying naked on his side, facing away from her. His body was so beautiful, so brown and lean. She could see one muscular shoulder and the sweep of his torso and one hip and his long legs. She wanted to reach out and run her hand along his length but she didn’t want to disturb him.
“I can feel you staring at me, Lane,” he said in a low voice, rolling in her direction.
“I was thinking I wish I could wake up in bed with you every morning.”
“You know that can never be, Honey.”
“I know, Rafe, I was just wishing.”
“But, we’re here now, Laney, so I expect we’d better take advantage of it while we can, don’t you?”

They rode the horses to the cabin on Mount Vincennes. He packed food and cooked them hamburgers on the grill, then made love to her in the bedroom there – and then again in the pool when they got back to the house.
That night in bed, he asked her, “aren’t you taking a sex ed class this year, Lane?”
“Yes.”
“Have you learned about masturbation yet?”
“No, what’s masturbation?”
“It’s when you make yourself come, Laney. I think it’s something you need to learn to do so when I’m not here you can still make yourself feel good.”
“But I don’t want to do it to myself, Rafe, I want you to do it and if you’re not here, I’ll just wait. I don’t even think I could do it myself because it doesn’t sound, it doesn’t even sound fun!”
“It would be fun for me, Honey, it would be fun for me to watch. Will you do it for me?”
“Do I have to, Rafe?”
He tickled her in her ribs. “Let’s put it this way, Lane. If you do it so I can watch, it will turn me on and make my cock hard and if my cock gets hard, then I can fuck you, so you have to do something for me if you want me to do something for you.”
She sighed. “Okay, Rafe, tell me what to do.”
“Spread your legs apart and put your hand down there and just do what I do when I make you come by touching you.”  He began to whisper in her ear. “Think about me watching, Lane, and how it’s making me hot.”
And that’s what finally did it. She really didn’t have any desire to do it for herself so in her mind she thought about pleasing him. She pictured him watching and getting hard. And she thought about how when it was over, he’d get on top of her and she’d feel him sliding into her. She started to get that feeling and she rubbed herself faster and harder until she arched her back and gave a little cry. And instantly, he was on her and fulfilled his part of the bargain.

He let her stay with him again. Much as she loved everything he did, that was the very best part, being able to reach out and touch him any time she wanted to.

The next day, it was off to school again. She got on the bus feeling tired and let-down. She’d barely slept. She hated it that this wonderful weekend was over. Meanwhile, he was feeling a sense of anticipation. The time with Alexis was over; he’d thoroughly done his duty by Lane. Now he was ready to check out his options. He’d had his eye on a tall red-headed senior in his English class. He knew from looks she’d given him that all he had to do was beckon but before he did that, he’d look around a little. The redhead would always be there when he was ready.

“Rafe, will you do something for me?”
“What’s that, Laney?”
“Will you teach me how to dance? The seventh grade is having a sock hop in the gym. I’m really looking forward to going but I’m afraid I’ll feel stupid because I don’t know how to dance.”
“Well, sure, Honey. After lunch we’ll go down to the basement and turn on the stereo and I’ll show you.”
They started with slow dancing.
“There’s two ways to put your arms, Lane. Probably with most kids, you’ll put them around the boy’s neck, like this.” He illustrated. “But if it’s a boy who has been to dance class, like all our brothers, though thankfully, that’s another thing Mom and Dad forgot with us, then you’ll put one hand on his shoulder and he’ll hold your other hand, like this. Just wait and see what he prefers.”
He turned on a slow, romantic song.
“Now, Lane, here’s the part that’s important since you’re the girl. You just need to let yourself be loose and get into the music and follow the boy. I’m going to start and you just sort of feel what I’m doing and let your steps match mine.” He danced her around the floor. At first she was a little awkward.
“Relax, Sweetie, you’re trying too hard. Just let me guide you.”
And then she got it. Pressed against him, she felt herself anticipating his next move until their steps together were smooth and graceful. She felt her chest lightly pressed against his and her groin barely touching his and her head against his cheek.
“It’s almost like having sex standing up,” she told him.
He chuckled. “It can be if you like the person you’re dancing with well enough.”
“I like you well enough.”
“I know, Honey.”

After that, he taught her how to do all the latest fast dances – both the ones you did apart and the ones together, where he swung her around and under his arm and caught her again around her waist.
“You’ll do,” he told her, “you’re plenty good enough for a 7th grade sock hop.”
“Who taught you how to dance, Rafe?”
He thought about it for a minute. “Well, I don’t know, Lane. I guess I don’t remember that anyone did.”
“How do you get so good at everything, Rafe, without anybody even having to show you?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe I watched them dancing on t.v. or something.”

“Well, Laney,” he said first thing in the morning, “today you’re a teenager.”
“I know, isn’t it cool? A teenager!”
“I’ve got a present for you tonight when we go to bed.”
“What, Rafe?”
“It’s a secret. You’ll find out tonight.”
“Rafe, you always make me wait for things!”
“That’s because looking forward to something is almost as much fun as actually doing it.”
“I’ll be in a tizz all day thinking about it!”
“Your grades are good enough, you can afford to be in a tizz for one day.”

She was in a tizz all day. She would read her history chapter and then realize she didn’t remember a thing she’d just read. Or quit right in the middle of doing a math problem. She kept thinking what new thing there could possibly be that he hadn’t already shown her. It seemed like they’d done everything that could be done. They’d done it with him on top and with her on top. They’d done it with him sitting in a chair and her sitting down on him. They’d done it with mouths and hands, in the shower and in the pool.
“Elena, are you feeling all right?”
“Oh, yes, Mrs. Peterson. I just lost my train of thought.”
“Well, would you try to find it again and finish your problem?”
“Yes, Mrs Peterson, I’m sorry.”

Her parents had forgotten her birthday again so there was no cake and no presents but she didn’t care. She kept watching the clock, waiting for it to get to be bedtime.

“I want you to roll onto your belly, Lane. I’m going to fuck you in your butt.”
She was shocked. “Do people do that, Rafe?”
“Yes, they do, Sweetie.  You have to trust me though. Do you trust me, Lane?”
“You know I do.”
“Okay, I’m going to tell you the truth. It’s going to hurt at first but you just have to get through it and pretty soon, the pleasure will overtake the pain. I promise. That’s why I waited until you were 13 to do it.”
He put a fat pillow under her so her rear stuck up in the air.
“It’s one more place to put myself inside you, Lane, and I want to be inside you every way I can.”
First he kissed her on the back of her neck and then on her shoulders and then down her back and finally, he gave her tiny soft bites on her butt cheeks until she was shivering with anticipation. Then she felt him hold her apart with his hand and put his cock right up against her. She could feel the stickiness where he’d smeared himself with something to make it slick.
“I’m going in now, Lane.”
Oh, wow, he was right. It hurt a lot. She heard herself whimpering a little. Tears were oozing out of her eyes.
“Does it hurt too bad, Laney? Do you want me to stop?”
“No, keep going. I want you in me as far as you can go, Rafe.”
“It helps if you can make yourself relax.”
“I’ll try.”
“I’m all the way in. I’m going to start moving in and out, just like I do when I fuck you. It will start to feel good before long.”
And he was right. Pretty soon as he moved back and forth, she thought of herself like being  a water balloon, only filled with joy instead of water, he just kept filling her fuller and fuller until she knew she couldn’t hold much more and when she finally popped, the joy just spilled all over. She felt like it was flooding her blood and her muscles and her bones and most of all, her brain.
“Oh, Rafe, oh God, oh God, oh God,” but whispered. She was surprised she remembered she had to be quiet.
“I want you to tell you something about this, Lane.”
“What?”
“You’re going to be grown up someday and what we do isn’t going to be enough. That means you’ll have sex with other men.”
“No!”
“Yes, when the time comes, Honey, that’s what you’ll need to do. I don’t care if you let them fuck you the regular way but I want one part of you that only belongs to me and that means this.” He patted her on her seat. “Nobody’s cock but mine, have you got that, Lane?”
“I don’t even want to think about ever being with anyone but you, Rafe.”
“Do you swear, Laney?”
“I swear.”
“Good.”
“I love you, Rafe. Can I stay here with you tonight, please? It’s my thirteenth birthday, please, Rafe, let me stay.”
“No, only when we’re the only ones home. Give me a kiss and go on over to your room, Sweetie.”

The next time he fucked her, he wore a condom. He showed her what it was and told her how it worked.
“Even though you haven’t started your period yet, it’s going to happen soon and that will mean you can get pregnant. That would be a very, very bad thing to happen.”
She definitely agreed with that! She didn’t like the condom very well though and wished he didn’t have to wear it. She wished nothing ever had to change from the way it had always been.

Rafe was walking down the hall at school, just minding his own business, when Bobby Kelly charged over and punched him in the side of the head. Bobby was a big kid. He was a senior, 18, a tackle on the football team. He outweighed Rafe by at least 60 pounds. The force of his strike knocked Rafe to the floor. He felt blood running down the side of his mouth. He rolled over onto his back.
“That’s for stealing my girlfriend,” Bobby snarled.
Rafe made no effort to get up. A small crowd had formed around them.
“Well, I didn’t have to do much to steal her, Bobby,” he drawled in a slow, lazy voice. He held up his hand with his little finger crooked, “just that much. Besides, Bobby, why are you so pissed? I gave her back new and improved after I was done teaching how to give a really good blow job.” His smile went flashing across his face.
Bobby’s own face went bright red and drew back his foot. “I’ll kill you, you fucking bastard!”
That’s what Rafe was hoping would happen. He hadn’t a doubt that he could take Bobby as long as he was aware the attack was coming. But Bobby’s friends grabbed him and pulled him away.
Rafe leaped up. Well, he’d have to bide his time but the paybacks, when they came for Bobby Kelly, would definitely be hell.
He waited and he watched. It took a couple of weeks but finally, he found Bobby and half a dozen of his cohorts down at the back of the school grounds under a group of trees where the smokers congregated to burn one. It was a place the teachers never went. By common consent all the grown ups averted their eyes and pretended it didn’t exist.
Rafe walked up to Bobby. “It’s time to finish this, Bob.”
“I think it is finished.”
“Nope, not yet, it’s not.”
His fist came out so quickly, no one even realized what was happening. Then again and again, until Bobby went down, puking, with a broken nose, a missing front tooth, two swelling eyes and a cut chin, all before he’d had even had a chance to get his hands up.
“Stop, Rafe, I quit.” The bigger boy gasped, spitting blood.
“How can you quit when you never even got started, Bob?”
Bobby figured it was over until he heard the snick of a switchblade and saw the blade leap out of its handle. The group around them gave out a collective, “oh, my God.”
“Jesus, Rafe, please don’t kill me!”
“I’m not going to kill you, you dumb fuck. I’m just going to give you something to remember me by.”
He lightly drew two quick lines on Bobby’s cheek with the razor-sharp knife, one slightly longer than the other. Blood instantly bubbled out of the wound. Which resembled a check mark….or perhaps a slightly off-kilter Vee.
“Do you think I would I kill you in front of this many witnesses?” he asked casually, as if he was truly curious about the answer. “But, Bobby, let’s say for the sake of argument that you told about today…” he looked around the rest of the on-lookers, “or that anyone did, and I did want to kill you, do you think, Bobby, that I’d be smart enough to come up with a way to do it so that no one would know what happened?” The smile came and went so fast, they weren’t quite sure they’d even seen it.
But everyone there believed totally, absolutely and positively that if Rafe Vincennes decided to kill Bobby, or anyone else, he would be smart enough to do it and never get caught.
“One more thing before I go, Bob – I hit you ten times, do you want to know why?”
“Why?” It was a reluctant grunt more than a word.
This time, the smile stayed long enough to be plenty sure it was there – “why, its Rafe’s Rules of Vengeance, Bobby -  whatever anybody does to me, I do back to them times ten.”

So when Bobby Kelly went home with his broken face and a double line of crusted blood across his cheek, he told his folks he’d been jumped by a gang of, he thought, six kids. They must have been from out of town. He didn’t ever remember seeing any of them before. He didn’t remember what any of them looked like. He didn’t remember what they’d been wearing.
Even when his outraged parents took him to the police station to file a report, he stuck stubbornly to his story. The police were pretty sure it was bullshit but no matter how they asked the questions, they got the same answers. Finally, they just let it go and sent Bobby Kelly home.
No one really ever told what happened but still, the truth got around through the school grapevine. It became one more part of the Rafe Vincennes legend.

All the Benedict Incorporated School District teachers were at the annual conference. These three days were something they all hated. An endless series of boring panels and seminars about the proper way to make out lesson plans and how to comply with No Child Left Behind, blah, blah, blah. Meal times were the only bearable parts of the day. The food at the historic Marylebone Inn was excellent and at least they could kick back and talk about subjects they were interested in, at the present moment, that subject being Rafe Vincennes.
At the table was Linda Dee, tall and skinny, with wiry, short black hair and faintly bulging brown eyes, arched over with heavy, thick brows. (Some of her colleagues had discussed buying her a brow-shaping session at the salon but they never had quite enough nerve to actually do it). Even though, most female teachers were wearing slacks now, Miss Dee still stuck to straight skirts and cotton blouses and flat-heeled shoes.  In the chair next to her sat Rhonda Fisher, the high school guidance counselor. She was plump and rosy-cheeked with a gray pageboy and twinkling blue eyes. She was one of the most popular adults in school and genuinely cared about the problems of the kids who came to her for assistance. Jeb Kroner was next. He taught Earth Science at the high school. He was a dedicated teacher but he’d been teaching long enough that his subject was getting a little boring and he was becoming somewhat cynical about stuffing Earth Science into mostly not-very-interested young minds. He looked a little like he might have been a hippie back in the Swingin’ Sixties, with his shapeless gray beard and an easygoing attitude that made you think he could still remember how to roll a joint if he wanted to.  And finally, Judith Lentz, who taught Honors English. Judith revered authors and literature. She could quote poetry for hours on end. She affected the look she thought portrayed her soul, with mostly long, filmy Renaissance-type dresses and flowing blonde hair. Rafe Vincennes was one of her best students. She’d given him an A+ last semester in spite of the fact that she suspected his ability in her class stemmed only from his head and not at all from his heart.
Rhonda Fisher was telling them about her latest experiences in counseling.
“I have so many girls coming into my office to cry on my shoulder about Rafe Vincennes, it’s an epidemic. I think I could respond to them in my sleep. ‘Yes, dear, I know how much you love him’. ‘Yes, dear, I know you think you can’t live without him”. ‘Yes, dear, I know how he makes you feel when he makes love to you.’ ‘Yes, dear, I know he broke your heart.’  I’m beginning to think he’s going to run out of pretty girls before he runs out of time at Benedict High.“
“Rafe Vincennes,” Linda Dee said with loathing in her voice, “I’d like to kill that worthless little prick!”
“Whoa, Dee, we’ve always known you didn’t like Rafe but that sounds personal.”
“It is personal, because my Chelsea is one of those girls Rhonda is talking about. As much as I’ve always distrusted him - and yet I had to sit on the side of her bed and listen to her cry her eyes out and tell me how much she loves that little bastard. The whole time I was thinking that if I had my hands around his neck, he wouldn’t be taking advantage of any more young girls. She admitted she was a virgin until he got a’hold of her. He should be charged with statutory rape!”
“But, Dee, how could he be charged with statutory rape when Chelsea’s 18 and Rafe Vincennes is what? Fourteen now?”
“Fourteen in actual years, yes, but he’s always been an adult in that sociopathic brain of his!”
“Careful, Dee, it wouldn’t be smart to let many people hear you call one of our students a sociopath with no evidence whatsoever, especially when he’s a Vincennes. That’s a pretty heavy charge.”
“It’s true though. I suppose you’ve all heard the gossip that it was Rafe that beat the hell out of Bobby Kelly and then cut him. He’ll probably always have that scar on his face.”
“We’ve heard it but no one has ever been willing to say it, especially Bobby himself. Jacobs called him into his office and talked to him for about an hour trying to get him to tell and he flat out denied it was Rafe.”
“But we know it was, don’t we, because who else would have the power to intimidate them all that much except Rafe Vincennes?”
They nodded in agreement.
Jeb Kroner laughed. “Well, I think what any of us who have pretty daughters have to do is go home and make them ugly until Rafe is gone from Benedict. Maybe we could buy some of the make up that actors use to make them big gross noses and put moles with black hair sprouting out of them on their chins.”
Had Rafe been there, he would have chuckled back and maybe told him, “too late to lock the barn door now, Mr Kroner, that horse has already left.”

“You know what, Rafe?”
“What, Lane?”
“Today, Mrs Jett, the gym teacher, was out sick and they told us we could just spend the class dancing or doing floor exercises on the mats or whatever we wanted to do. But, some of us just sat around in a circle and talked about sex.”
He cocked one dark eyebrow and grinned in amusement. “And just what did the girls in your 7th grade class have to say about sex, Laney? Did they tell you anything you didn’t already know?”
She giggled. “No. They told lots of wrong things. Misty Madison is the only one who has ever done it with a boy and she said he was in and done in less than a minute and he didn’t have a clue that she was supposed to get something out of it too. She said most girls don’t have orgasms from sex with boys anyways, they just fake it and wait ‘til it’s over and then masturbate. She said her Mom said it’s even that way with grown women and she had never had a climax from a man!  Stormy said her older sister told her if she gave a boy a blow job to be sure and stop and finish him with her hand, to never let him come in her mouth. And Heather said she thought the whole idea of putting a boy’s privates in her mouth was gross and she would never do it. Lacy said you could only come if you were in love and probably Misty didn’t love the boy she was with and that’s why nothing happened. She said that’s how you could know if love was true, if the boy could make you have an orgasm. Is that true, Rafe, do you have to love somebody to have an orgasm? I love you and I have orgasms all the time.” She giggled again.
“No, Lane, that isn’t true although it’s nice when it happens that way. I think probably lots of girls have to fool themselves into believing they’re in love to be able to come though.”
“But not boys?”
“Nah, Lane, it doesn’t matter to guys, they can get it off whether they like a girl very much or not.  So, anyway, Lane, what were you saying when this intellectual conversation about sex was taking place?”
“I was just looking at them with my eyes real wide like I didn’t have the faintest idea what they were talking about. Everyone thinks I’m Miss Innocent, you know?”
He stroked her hair. “You are Miss Innocent, Laney. I might have taught you a lot about sex, but you’re still Miss Innocent.”

Every Vincennes got a new car for his or her 16th birthday. It was the event Rafe had been looking forward to more than any other in his life. If ever there was anybody who needed a car, who deserved a car, who belonged behind the wheel of a car, it was Rafe, or so at least he thought.  He’d always been older in his head than his age, as noted by Linda Dee, and he’d always been treated as if he was older, like being advanced so far ahead of his peers in school. He’d done everything else early. It had chafed him bloody raw to have to wait until the fucking bureaucracy decided when he could have a license to drive a car.
He’d read reviews by the hundreds and had decided that he wanted a Corvette. It was the fastest street legal car he might, might, be able to talk Renny into and he was going to have to do some serious talking to get it done. His father had always sprung for decent rides for his kids. He couldn’t remember as far back as Morgan and Wyatt but Gabe had gotten a Mustang and he thought Denis’ birthday car had been a Monte Carlo. Forget the girls. Madeline and Jocelyn had both chosen SUVs and Annecy picked a PT Cruiser of all things. Still, he thought Renny might give him a little trouble over a Corvette, not only because it was more expensive than what he’d spent on the others (the ice-blue one Rafe coveted was $50,000 plus), but there was the cautiousness factor as well. Would he trust Rafe not to drive it too fast and maybe wreck the car or kill himself? Maybe not. Could Rafe be trusted not to drive it too fast? He grinned to himself. Ummm, absolutely not.
There was not much middle ground with Rafe. He was a person of extremes. Stop or Go. He was capable of being almost Zen-like in the way he could maintain a level of total stillness. Teachers had noticed, even when he was little, when most small boys are full of pent energy, that Rafe Vincennes could lounge without moving a muscle for longer periods of time than most grown ups could. He never squirmed or fidgeted. He never interrupted a conversation and he never rushed out to recess but strolled gracefully down the hall like time didn’t concern him. His kindergarten teacher said whatever the opposite of Attention Deficit Disorder was, that’s what Rafe Vincennes had.
By contrast, when he swung into action, it was quickly and surely, without hesitation or wasted motion. It was why he was so good at hunting. He could sit, silent and unmoving, in a deer stand or a duck blind for as many hours as necessary, maintaining his focus, until his target was in range and then within seconds, boom, he aimed and fired and the deer or duck was dead, his shot invariably hitting exactly the spot he’d targetted.
 He’d heard the phrase, “need for speed” but couldn’t recall what it was associated with. He knew he had it though. He thought he must have a lower tolerance for boredom than most people or maybe it was more of an addiction to stimulation. He’d never been tempted by substances. He neither drank nor did any drugs whatsoever.  He didn’t even take the pain pills the doctor had given him the time he got a groin pull on the football field and that had hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. His avoidance of chemicals was because he always wanted, not really wanted but needed, to be in complete control of both himself and others. He had learned that most people were more controllable than they thought they were. It was just a matter of discovering their strengths and weaknesses and what triggers could be used to manipulate either one. Most of the time, they weren’t even aware of what was being done. Bobby, for instance. He could have got Bobby to go after him on the spot if his friends hadn’t saved his ass. Of course, in the end, waiting turned out to be more fun. Or Laney, you could wrap her right around your little finger with just a little attention and affection. But, the thing was, how could you expect to control others if you couldn’t control yourself?
Rafe walked warily through life. He usually had his guard up because he had to learn things that seemed to come naturally to others. Like taboos. He didn’t think he had the moral boundaries that held most people back in their behavior. (He still didn’t consider himself a sociopath though). Thank God, he was as smart as he was and able to catch on as quickly as he did to be able to adapt to society’s restrictions or at least to be clever about violating them.
Of course, he’d violated one of the most serious taboos with Lane but he truly didn’t see why it was wrong. He’d cared for her since she was a baby when no one else seemed very interested in doing it. He’d watched out for her and protected her as best he could and they loved each other so why shouldn’t they show it with sex when it was so enjoyable to both of them?  In fact, he thought she was probably the only person he did love or had ever loved or probably ever would love. It was his own kind of love, he admitted that. And that way maybe wasn’t as committed and dedicated as the love he saw in the movies, the kind of love that made you want to forsake all others. He knew he kept her tucked on a mental shelf for the most part, only bringing her down when he wanted her. He also knew it wasn’t like that for her. If things were different and they were boyfriend and girlfriend, she’d be as faithful to him as anyone could ever be to another.  But as much as he was able to give of himself, he gave to her.
But anyway, back to speed. He loved it and always had. That’s why he asked to be able to ride Destiny when he was 10. The gray stallion liked to run as far and as fast as he could and no one else let him do that but Rafe. They all held him back but Rafe let him fly flat out. He always felt a kind of bond between them when he mounted Des, feeling the horse’s eagerness, like he knew there would be no governor on him as long as Rafe was on his back.
He felt the same way about skiing. He was a fearless skier who’d always taken on slopes considered too extreme for someone his age. Once an instructor had seen him and had approached him about training for the Olympics. He was sure, he said, that Rafe could easily make the Olympic team. But Rafe was honest with him. He didn’t want to work that hard. He loved skiing because it offered him freedom but it wouldn’t seem like freedom anymore if he had to follow a ruthless regimen of training. “I’m too lazy for that,” he told the disappointed coach.
He found the same freedom when he was first old enough to take the cigarette boat, which wasn’t very old, because the keys to all the boats and cars were kept right there in the key safe in the entry way into the kitchen and it was never locked. And who was there to tell him he couldn’t do it or for that matter, who would even know? He’d watched when he was a passenger to see how to work the controls. He knew he could do it. He practiced when he took it the first time until he had it down pat and then he went far out, beyond any traffic, and let it rip. He could still remember the exhilaration of charging the choppy waves, bouncing across them, feeling the cool spray hitting his body and the wind whipping his hair, just him and the boat, far away from anyone else. Speed was his drug of choice. It was the thing that let him forget people and all their idiotic and arbitrary rules and how carefully you had to plan to deal with them because it was their world and not his, not like soaring through the air on skis or jetting across the water, where he was in his element.
He wasn’t like sweet little Lane, who just accepted what people gave her. If something was important enough to him, he’d make it clear to his parents until he got what he wanted and since he asked for so little, they were always happy to oblige. Like ski camp. He’d never been skiing (Vincennes family vacations were a thing of the past by the time he and Lane came along) but he could tell by watching it on t.v. or looking at pictures of skiers bulleting down snowy hills that it was something he’d enjoy so he researched ski camps on the computer and when he found the one he wanted, he presented it to them and they’d readily agreed. He hated leaving Laney for the whole week. She was only about six then. He made them promise they would at least check on her now and then and make sure she was okay. He guessed they did but the night he got home and brought her to bed with him, she clung to him at first, crying, “please, please, Rafe, don’t ever go away and leave me so long again, it was just awful here without you.” And he never had. He always listed a skiing trip when he was asked what he wanted for Christmas but from then on, he confined himself to only going for long weekends.
About the Corvette, he was ready to pull out all the stops, fire all the triggers, to get what he wanted. Probably the most deadly ammunition he had was guilt. He’d remind Renny of how little they’d ever done for him and Lane compared to the other brothers and sisters and how they’d considered him a built in babysitter for her even though he was just a little kid himself and how he’d accepted that responsibility. He’d bring up his grades and his athletic accomplishments to show that he had lived up to Renny’s expectations despite getting almost no encouragement. God, he could almost feel his foot on the gas pedal. He just had to talk Renny into saying yes.

“Well, Son,” Renny told him, “tomorrow, you’ll be sixteen so I suppose it’s time to have the car discussion. Why don’t you come on into my study and we’ll talk about it.”
Renny took his place behind the huge mahogany desk, pointing Rafe to the burgundy club chair in front.
The study, with its elaborately carved walnut fireplace and walls of bookcases and curio cabinets filled with Vincennes memorabilia, had always been an intimidating room to the Vincennes young, who weren’t allowed to enter it without Renny’s permission. Usually, their father didn’t call them in here for a less than serious reason and if the talk regarded something about which Renny was displeased, whatever child was in the hotseat would leave here bleeding. Not physically, of course, but the old man could administer a tongue-lashing, without ever raising his voice, that wounded worse than any actual whip.
The elder and younger Vincennes regarded each other silently for a moment, a technique Renny employed deliberately to give himself an advantage. His father was the only person on earth who could make Rafe anxious.  
 “Dad…” Rafe started but his father held up his hand.
“Why don’t you let me say my piece first and then you can add your two cents worth. The way I’ve got you figured, Rafe, you’re going to ask for either a Shelby or a Corvette, probably the Corvette.”
Rafe, who was a master of disguised expression, couldn’t help but let his astonishment show a little.
“I’ve given some thought to what methods you’re going to use to talk me into it. I expect you’re going to bring up how your mother and I have never come to any of your parent-teacher conferences or any of your games and how we let you practically raise your little sister.”
Renny grinned at his son. It was the first time Rafe realized where his own smile had come from.
“How am I doing so far, Rafe?” he asked, before going on, “but we don’t have to go through all that. I freely admit to being a lousy parent to you and Laney. We did all the right things with the first seven. Do you know how many boring parent-teacher conferences I sat through in those years, Rafe, even though all they ever told me was that my kids were getting A’s? And do you know how many hours of my life have been spent on bleachers? Enough that I think my ass is permanently deformed. I’ve froze and roasted watching kids play football and baseball and tennis. I’ve watched them wrestle and run track and dribble basketballs. I’ve watched them show horses and dogs. I’ve watched them act and dance and play and sing in recitals. I’ve gone to their art exhibits. We thought we were done before you came along, Rafe. Your mother and I thought it was finally going to be our time. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t think I could sit there and nod to another teacher. I didn’t think I could subject my butt to another bleacher.
That’s not to say I haven’t been paying any attention at all, Rafe. I figured you and Lane were doing fine. She’s always on the honor roll and I assume you wouldn’t have been advanced through your classes as you have been if you weren’t excelling in school. If there had been a problem, I hope I would have moved to resolve it but it didn’t seem like there were any problems. At least, no principal has ever called me about either one of you. And I know what your record is in sports, Rafe. I know you’re considered a star in football and baseball and basketball.
I know other things about you too, Rafe. Like how often you have a girl up at the Cabin. I thought your brothers and sisters were a lusty bunch, but it appears that you get the trophy in that area.
I know that you had an affair with Mrs. Keating next door. I almost wondered if I shouldn’t step in at that point but if anyone ever seemed as if he could take care of himself, it was you, so I held off and soon I knew it was over.
The rumors about Bobby Kelly caused me some concern but then nothing more seemed to come of it.
I know you ride that stallion like a maniac and that you’ve been taking the boat out for years and that you go way too fast and way too far. I didn’t do anything about that either because I judged you to be a risk taker, not a reckless one, but one who calculates the odds and decides what chances are worth taking. I figured that was your innate nature and I probably couldn’t do anything to change it and I probably wouldn’t want to even if I could.
I know how much you’ve sacrificed to take care of your sister, Rafe, and that we let you do it because we no longer wanted to make our own sacrifices as parents. I know how close you two are, probably too close. I hope you’ve calculated those risks too, Rafe. I hope you never hurt her because the way she idolizes you, it would be so very easy for you to do.
So, anyway, the upshot of all this is that I’m going to buy you the car you want, Rafe. Was I right about it being the Corvette?”
His father had rendered him speechless so he just nodded his head yes.
“Do you have anything you want to add to this conversation, Son?”
“No, Dad.”
“Then you’d better get your jacket so we can go visit some dealerships. Oh, and by the way, Rafe…”
“What, Dad?”
“I’ll pay the requisite number of tickets but I do have a limit.”

He came home, exultant, behind the wheel of the ice blue Corvette. Of course, he drove slowly and carefully because Renny was right behind him in his black Mercedes.  He didn’t go anywhere else that day. He had always been one who enjoyed anticipation, letting excitement build until when you finally reached your goal, it was almost like having a climax. He had the capacity to postpone gratification, patient as a spider in its web. So he let the car sit in its spot in the garage, not even looking at it again. And the next morning was Sunday and that meant church. Personally, he didn’t believe in a single thing the church tried to teach him. In fact, he thought all religion was a bunch of superstitious bullshit but going to church was the rent his parents charged any of their children who still lived at home. If you wanted to stay at Heron Point, you went to church every Sunday. End of discussion. He didn’t mind that much. He usually just sat there in the Vincennes pew at St James’ and thought his own thoughts, letting the priest’s words go in one ear and out the other, moving up and down in his seat, something he’d done so often, he could do it by rote. One good thing about their parents having lost interest in them was that they’d never insisted that he or Lane go to confession. Thank God (or whoever!) Wouldn’t that have been a fucking nightmare? He could have lied to Father O’Reilly without a qualm, of course, but he wasn’t so sure about Lane. He smiled to himself. As much as she loved him, he wasn’t quite sure he could win when God was on the other side.
After mass was over, the folks said they were going into Baltimore to shop and eat so the kids were on their own. Rafe told them he’d take Laney out to lunch in his new car, which he did. He stuck to the speed limit when she was with him although he felt an ache in his gut, he wanted so badly to put the gas pedal clear to the floor. After they’d eaten, he took her back to Heron Point and dropped her off.
And then he drove to an isolated highway, where he knew there was generally very little traffic and he’d never seen a cop, and he stomped on it. He felt the car respond instantly. It seemed to him it was like the stallion, reveling in a rider that would allow it to go all the way. And just as he thought, it was like riding or skiing or boating, only more of an adrenalin-rush than any of them. It was like sex, maybe even a little better, because he didn’t have to think about pleasing anyone but himself. He didn’t have to call the car Sweetheart for fear of hurting its feelings. Although, it was, of course.
He patted it on the dash, “Come on, Sweetheart, let’s take it on home.”
They raced down the road together. He wished they could just keep going to the end of the earth.

On his birthday night in his bed, Lane told him wistfully, “I wish I knew of a new thing to give you for your birthday, Rafe.”
He smiled, the genuine full out smile hardly anyone ever saw but her, “Honey, you don’t have to give me any new thing, I’m happy with just the all the old things.”

The other kids at school figured he enjoyed rubbing their noses in it when he drove into the school parking lot in the Corvette on Monday morning. They would never have understood that, although he could definitely be calculating at times to achieve a desired end, he usually never even gave much thought to how things, like him having a particular car, would affect others. The Corvette was all about him and no one else.  He was naturally so self-focused that the idea of wanting to possess something simply because it was prestigious wouldn’t even have occurred to him.
On the other hand, it didn’t take him long to realize that the car attracted girls like a 75 percent off sale at the Riverlook Mall. And he also realized that it opened vast new horizons in that he could now consider the younger girls who didn’t drive because he could take them to the cabin himself.
Rhonda Fisher felt her heart drop when she saw Rafe unwinding his lean brown body out of the Corvette in his tight jeans and leather jacket. She saw the lock of black hair hanging over his forehead. She saw the quick white smile gleam when someone whistled at the car. She knew exactly what it portended.
“Shit,” she said to herself, “as if it wasn’t bad enough already.”

“Guess what?” she told Linda Dee when they were having dinner at Big Wong’s that night. “Rafe Vincennes came to school today in a brand new blue Corvette.”
“If we’re lucky, maybe the little fucker will kill himself in it.”

He didn’t though. When graduation night came, there he was. He was valedictorian of his class, of course. Technically, he’d had enough credits to graduate last year at 15. His senior year he’d only taken college prep courses. He also graduated with the highest ever grade point average, which would have been even higher if they hadn’t had an arbitrary ceiling beyond which no one could go. In addition, he’d racked up more athletic letters than any Benedict student ever had. He gave a short, funny speech, saying all the things adults like to hear from kids, almost none of which he believed. Rhonda Fisher knew he’d been inundated with offers from colleges wanting him to attend – on academic scholarships, baseball scholarships, football scholarships, basketball scholarships. He could have applied for other kinds of scholarships and grants as well, in math and science and English, although so far as she knew, he hadn’t tried for any of them. She assumed he’d be attending Princeton in the fall as all the other Vincennes boys, except for Wyatt, had.
A few of the Benedict staff noticed that Rafe’s parents weren’t in attendance. It was said they were on a Mediterranean cruise. Even the ones who weren’t big Rafe Vincennes fans thought it was rather sad that you could accumulate the honors he had and have parents who didn’t even bother to acknowledge it.
 Rafael Alain Vincennes probably had no idea when he walked across the stage to receive his diploma how many sighs of relief followed his passage.









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