Why Me?

Ty, just another skateboarding high school junior, was minding her own legal business when she gets stuck in the middle of a mafia fight with guns, knives, and potato launchers, while only armed with her trusty skateboard. What does she do? Runs for her life only to get captured and asked (read: commanded) to marry one of the three sons of the don. And then people want to kill her. Obviously.


26. Chapter Twenty-Six

The next four days passed by with Ty scavenging the Internet looking for apartments she could afford. She even talked to Travis about getting more hours at Blue Moon and Roberto about letting her go to work the past few days, succeeding in both aspects. She hadn't let anyone in on her search for affordable housing. Ty had simply told everyone that she was saving up for a car, new earphones, and possibly some new skate gear. The fact that it was the thirtieth of April completely skipped her mind.

Spring break had begun and Ty had been going to Blue Moon every day for her five o'clock shift that went well into the night. She had been exhausted enough to have dreamless sleep and did not have to go to Dante's in the middle of the night. It had been a one-time thing that she had really appreciated. She often found herself recollecting the feel of his muscular arms wrapped around her but quickly pushed the returning thoughts away with a blush on her cheeks. She had never appeared so vulnerable to anyone like that before. Not even her friends.

A knock resounded on the door of her temporary room followed by a muted, "Ty?"

"Come on in," Ty called out, minimizing the retail websites and pulling up Facebook almost automatically.

Carlos opened the door and smiled at Ty nodding his head towards the outside, "Papà wants to see you."

Ty closed the laptop lid and set it on the bed as she slid out. "What's the matter?"

Carlos shrugged and followed her down the hallway towards the stairs, "He didn't say."

Ty let it go and the two walked downstairs, Carlos leading her to Roberto's office. The blond was holding back a hundred megawatt grin. He couldn't wait to see Ty's reaction.

They ran into Luca who was standing outside Roberto's office and Ty could sense that something was definitely up.

"What's going on?" she questioned, her eyes going back and forth between the brothers.

"Nothing," they both replied easily.

Despite their unwavering gazes and casual tone, Ty still couldn't shake the feeling that they were hiding something. She couldn't question them further though as the doors opened and Lorenzo came out followed by Roberto.

"Bambina," Lorenzo and Roberto greeted with matching grins.

Now Ty was certain something was up. "What are you four hiding?"

They chuckled and Roberto tilted his head towards the closed doors of his office, "Why don't you go inside and see."

Ty frowned and gazed suspiciously at the seemingly innocent office doors.

"I swear, if this is some kind of prank I'll pay you ten times in return," she promised and opened the doors.

Ty frowned as she entered the room, looking for whatever was out of place. She spied a head of silver peppered brown sticking out from the very chair she had been forced to sit in the first time she had been in the room. When this whole mess started.

"Hello?" she called hesitantly.

The man rose and Ty couldn't shake the feeling of nostalgia when the elderly man turned around. He had grey eyes with laughter lines etched into the corners and no facial hair. Those eyes appraised her and watered as a smile grew on his face.

The unshed tears made Ty panic but her brain came to a halt when the old man said, "Oh Sierra, you've grown so much. The past eleven years have done you well."

It can't be. Oh my god. "G-Grandpa?"

The man, Tyler Marrow, nodded and opened his arms. Ty ran into them and hugged her long lost grandfather fiercely, her hands bunching up the fabric of his blue Hawaiian shirt.

"Oh my god, oh my god," Ty couldn't think properly. "I can't believe it."

Grandpa Tyler hugged his beloved granddaughter back just as fiercely with a strength he didn't know he possessed. He was seeing his only granddaughter again after a little more than a decade.

"Neither can I, Sierra," Grandpa Tyler kissed Ty's head. They pulled apart and they both wiped away the tears that were lining their eyes. Tears of overjoyed happiness.

"What are you doing here?" she asked. She had thought she would never be reunited with her grandfather, the only person in her family she liked. Yet, there he was within an arm's length.

"You're very lucky to have people that care for you so much, kitten," he answered cryptically.

Ty's cheeks turned a faint pink as she playfully groaned, "Gramps, c'mon, I'm not a little kid anymore." She was grinning though, secretly loving being called the name again. She wanted him to repeat it over and over, just to get his voice imprinted in her mind.

Grandpa Tyler hugged her close to him, cradling her head with a large, calloused hand, "I know, and I will always regret not being able to watch you grow up to be the wonderful woman you are now. Oh I've missed you so much and you can be damn sure I'm going to call you whatever I want, kitten."

"It wasn't your fault, gramps," Ty mumbled into his shoulder.

They stood like that for a while, not saying any words and just relishing in being able to be in the other's arms after so long. Eventually, the elder Tyler released the younger one and asked, "You did remember to thank the person that made this possible right?"

Ty frowned in confusion, inadvertently answering Grandpa Tyler's question. He sighed and shook his head at her in a light chiding manner, "Sierra, I maybe old and not have been around for a few years, but I do remember teaching you some manners, such as thanking people. Now go off and do that before we continue our quality granddaughter-grandfather catch-up time."

"What? Gramps," Ty started to argue but stopped when she saw her grandfather giving her his I'm-not-kidding-kitten look. She knew it well from when he reprimanded her and the gang years ago. She released him and conceded, "Alright, but I don't know who to thank."

"Then find out!" he pushed her towards the door of the room. Plopping down on Roberto's desk, he made shooing movements with his hands and said, "I'll be waiting for you and the boys in one of the living rooms. I want to see how the little rascals have grown as well."

Sighing but with a stubborn smile, Ty walked out the room and raised a brow at Luca, Carlos, Roberto and Lorenzo's much too casual stances right outside the door. Carlos and Luca backed up slightly, waiting for her to explode on them but were pleasantly surprised by her reaction.

She chuckled, "If it was any other day, I'd be pissed at you guys for eavesdropping, but I'm way too happy right now. So you heard, which one of you do I need to thank for making this one the best days of my life?"

"He's out by the bikes," Carlos answered with a smile. At Ty's confused frown he laughed, "Just go there to see who it is. You really can't guess?"

Ty shook her head but shrugged and went towards the front door, determined to find out who brought her grandfather back to her. But...what about the restraining order? The thought made her stop dead in her tracks, her euphoric state plummeting at the mere mental mentioning of the haunting item. Instead of dissolving into a question-induced despair, she continued at a quicker pace towards the bikes with renewed determination of a different variety.

A little less than five minutes later, Ty was standing in the entrance of the garage. She peeked inside and saw a figure hunched over one of the many motorbikes. She stepped inside and cleared her throat, "Hey?"

The figure turned around at her call and wiped his forehead with a nearby rag. He looked up and a flicker of emotion flew across his face, before he killed it and stared blankly, "What do you want, stronza?"

Ty frowned at Dante and looked around the garage but saw no one else. "Have you been here by yourself the whole time?" she asked. She briefly – extremely briefly – considered Dante being the one to orchestrate the return of her grandfather, but it just didn't seem like something he would do. Dante, nice? Considerate? Caring? When hell freezes over and Godzilla makes a baby with a unicorn I'll believe it. She conveniently forgot the incidents in his room and the firing range.

Dante tossed the rag onto the seat of his bike and sauntered over to Ty, crossing his arms over his bare chest.

Ty's eyes widened slightly at the sight, quickly trailing over the revealed skin with female appreciation before shifting her gaze back to Dante's amber orbs that held a flash of smugness. He had caught her admiring his body but wisely chose to not say anything about it. For now. Instead he responded, "Yes, I have. I answered your question now answer mine. What do you want?"

"Damn Carlos," she muttered and then began to turn away, "I'm looking for the person I need to thank. Gramps is real picky about manners and such and I have to find the person who I owe many favors to for the rest of my life, but I also need to ask him some questions."

Dante smirked, "And you don't think that the person who found him could be me?"

Ty snorted, "As if you'd ever do something incredibly nice for me. You hate me."

Dante frowned slightly. Where'd she get that idea? I just find her incredibly annoying. I've never once said that I hate her.

"Well I'm gonna go ask Carlos for a name this time. Laters, Dainty," Ty waved and made to leave, but Dante stopped her by grabbing her wrist and turning her around. His body had moved on its own, something it had been doing more often than not as of late, and he hid his own surprise by asking, "You said you had questions? I'm tired and was about to take a break; entertain me. I might actually answer you even though you called me that stupid nickname."

Ty narrowed her eyes at him and pulled her hand free. She debated with herself for a moment before letting her curiosity and new worries bubble over, "I am absolutely ecstatic about being able to see him again, I've missed him terribly and just knowing he's alive and well is one of the best feelings in the world, but..."

"But...?" Dante prodded. He really couldn't see how she'd have any sort of problem with her grandfather being found and brought back. It really wasn't like her to worry and Ty being worried, worried him to an extent.

Ty released a deep breath she hadn't known she was holding and looked away, much to Dante's inexplicable irritation. She wrapped her arms around herself unconsciously, her voice small, "Isn't he going to get in trouble with the law though? Or are you guys using your secret mafia connections to avoid complications?"

"The only thing illegal about this was a few of the means of finding him, so you don't have to worry about anything. Just enjoy being able to see your nonno again and quit bothering me." Dante turned around, keeping his back to Ty and waited for her to run off back into the house. He didn't like seeing her look and sound so small and vulnerable. He didn't know how to react and it just felt wrong.

He began walking back to his bike but didn't hear Ty's retreating footsteps. She not done yet?

"I'm gonna guess that 'nonno' is grandpa, but back to the point. My parents set a permanent restraining order." She no longer sounded insecure and small, her tone was almost back to its usual firm self.

"Yeah, your parents, who only have jurisdiction of you until you reach the age of majority, which is eighteen in New York." Did she actually forget?

Dante could see Ty's reflection in the mirror of Carlos' bike that was parked next to him and saw Ty tilt her head, confused, before her eyes slowly widened in realization. He smirked slightly and let a hand drift to the front pocket of his jeans, the item in it suddenly weighing a lot more than it did moments before Ty had found him.

I guess if I ever do this, it'll be now. Steeling himself, Dante finally turned to face her, a small black box in his hand. He walked back up to Ty and held the box out in one palm, the other hand stuffed in his pocket, and looked away slightly, mumbling, "Happy birthday, stronza."

Ty stared at the box in Dante's hand, her body frozen in place. She continued to stare, jaw slightly agape, until she managed to look up at him suspiciously, "Is it going to blow up?"

"What? No! Just take it," Dante shoved the box to her hands.

"Not until you tell me what the hell it is," Ty rebutted, shoving it back to Dante. After the blow up teddy bear incident, Ty was a little more than wary about receiving nondescript boxes, even from people who she doubted would try to harm her in such a way.

They began a reverse tug-of-war, shoving the box back and forth until Dante grew impatient and grabbed Ty's wrists with one hand. He shoved her back up against the wall of the garage and pinned her hands over her head, remembering to step close enough to her so that he could avoid groin injuries that Ty was so very fond of delivering.

"Just take. The damn. Present," Dante ordered through gritted teeth.

Ty's eyes were widened to their maximum at not only the surprise of being pinned to a wall before she could process a thought, but also the fact that Dante was practically pressed up against her while shirtless. His low-rise dark jeans that were just centimeters from connecting to her hips and intense gaze were not helping her think either. Ty gulped nervously, her throat suddenly dry.

As soon as Dante saw Ty's throat bob, he realized what kind of position they were in. They only had to tilt their heads by a few degrees to meet mouths.

Dante's gaze flickered downwards, pausing at Ty's slightly parted lips. His eyes darkened and his grip on Ty's wrists lessened but she didn't break free. When he was about to tilt his head and close the gap, he realized exactly what was going on and backed away, releasing her as if she were a salt covered silver knife and he a demon.

"Cazzo," he cursed, running a hand through his hair and over his face. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before turning around once again to face Ty. "Are you this difficult when anyone is trying to give you a fucking birthday present?"

When Dante had let go of her, her feet were frozen in place but she was now staring at the box trying to restart her brain. She was still standing against the wall and had not processed Dante's words.

Dante heaved a sigh and glanced down at the small box. He turned his back to Ty and walked back to his bike, saying over his shoulder, "Papà demanded we all get you a present so do whatever you want with it. Now get lost."

Ty stared at Dante for a moment longer before her feet moved on autopilot and she walked out of the garage, the small box still in her hands. When she stepped outside of the garage, she leaned against the outer wall and looked down at the present. She was curious but somehow also almost afraid to open it and see what Dante could have possibly gotten her.

She tucked the box into her pocket, resolving to figure things out later, and went back inside the mansion.


Ty spent the next hour talking with her grandfather, catching up on lost time. She told him about the upcoming skateboarding competition, how she had been doing, her friends, and how school had been. She didn't tell him about how her life was in danger, that would have been a horrible way to sour their reunion.

The Rizzos gave them their privacy and when lunch was rolling around, the two were disturbed by a knock on the door.

"Come in," the Tylers called and then laughed.

The door swung open and a barrage of people entered.

"Grandpa Tyler!" Drew, Henry, Jimmy, Fred, and Grant cheered, rushing towards the old man who had just gotten to his feet. The boys enveloped him in a hug and the ecstatic grandfather laughed as he returned their affections.

"It's been quite a while boys," he chuckled.

"Hey Grandpa Tyler," Travis said as he entered with Shady right behind him. The Rizzos – minus Dante – and Lorenzo were the next to enter the now crowded living room but no one seemed to care.

"Travis! Come here and hug me, boy," Grandpa Tyler demanded, holding an arm out for Travis to come to. The young man did so with a grin.

Grandpa Tyler caught sight of Shady in his red polo and blue jeans and gestured him over, "I don't think I know you, sonny."

"Shady, sir," Shady answered, holding a hand out for a handshake.

Grandpa Tyler pulled him into a startling hug instead. "That's Grandpa Tyler to you, Shady."

Shady laughed, "Alright sir—Grandpa Tyler."

Everyone laughed and Lorenzo called over the joyous clamor, "Let's head to the dining room for lunch."

The group agreed on that and quickly filed out of the room and headed towards the dining room where platters of food were already set on the table. Lunch was pizza (pepperoni, cheese, and Hawaiian), chicken wings, garlic bread, and pasta with wine for the adults and sodas for the minors. At the center of the table was a large cream cheese frosted red velvet cake that had mouths watering. Scrawled on top was the words Happy 18th birthday bambina! and two candles, a one and an eight, at the top.

"Best. Birthday. Ever," Ty declared. "Thank you so much." She turned to Roberto and Lorenzo and hugged them both, neither seeing it coming.

"Anything for you, principessa," Roberto said, kissing her forehead.

Lorenzo kissed her head as well, "Not a problem, bambina."

Roberto looked around and sighed, "Carlos, Luca, could one of you go get your brother?"

"I'll go," Luca said and slipped away. He soon returned with a sweaty and grungy looking Dante that Ty couldn't look at without staring. He had put on a tight black t-shirt but Ty could still recall his firm muscles.

"Planning on catching a fly, kitten?" Grandpa Tyler broke her out of her reverie. While they waited for Luca to find and return with Dante, they had all started eating.

Ty shut her mouth and rolled her eyes, "Yeah, gramps. Didn't I tell you? I've been planning on starting up a fly circus. Need to catch a bunch of flies."

The elder Tyler chuckled and finished off his slice of pizza. He clapped his hands together and called out, "Now that everyone is here, it's cake time!"

Ty and the gang cheered and everyone was soon crowded around the center of the table, Ty directly in front of her cake. Lorenzo dimmed the lights and Roberto lit the two candles.

Ty couldn't stop grinning as everyone around her began to sing, even Dante though he wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as Ty's friends or her grandfather. Once the song ended in both English and Italian, Ty closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them to blow out the candles.

Cheers went around and Ty cut the first slice of cake. She was about to take a bite when five hands reached for her hands and smashed the slice into her face.

"I knew it was coming, but I still got caked," she laughed, wiping cake and icing away from her eyes.

"It's tradition," Jimmy said, using a finger to swipe at some icing on Ty's face and then bringing it to his lips. "This is good!"

Roberto took the knife and began cutting slicing for people to grab when they wished and Lorenzo grabbed a few paper towels for Ty.

"Thanks, Chucky. Did you make the cake?" she asked.

Lorenzo nodded, "Luigi helped as well."

"It's great, even smashed upon my face."

Lorenzo chuckled and Ty grabbed a slice of cake as she returned to her friends. She saw Carlos was talking to Fred in a corner and couldn't help but grin knowingly. Fred was slightly red faced and Carlos was hovering over him with a warm smile. Ty thought nothing could ruin her day. Unfortunately, she hadn't counted on a certain girl making a surprise visit.


Everyone had split up into separate little groups during the course of the lunch party. The adults were talking about business, Dante was nursing a beer he grabbed from the kitchen in a corner, Luca was with Henry discussing Henry's current project, Carlos and Fred were sitting at the table having a mini book club meeting, Travis, Shady, and Grant were discussing colleges Grant and Shady were thinking about, and Jimmy, Drew, and Ty were chatting about the upcoming skateboarding competition.

A knock sounded on the doors which opened to reveal Mario and Luigi.

"Hey, Shroom Brothers! Have some cake and pizza," Ty called out, holding up a slice of half eaten cake.

Mario glared at her for the name and Luigi spoke to Roberto, "You have a…guest, Roberto."

Roberto frowned. He was not expecting any visitors. "Who—"

"Ciao a tutti!" Adreana chirped as she pushed past Mario and Luigi. She went straight to Dante and looped her arms around his neck as she attempted to kiss him, but he slipped out of her hold and kept her at bay.

"Dante," Adreana whined. It was hard to believe that she was eighteen.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded. He did not see Adreana's lapdog Tina and found relief in that fact.

Adreana pouted, "I just wanted to visit my favorite boys. I got bored."

"Please don't tell me skankerella is going to be staying," Ty groaned. She remembered the olive skinned Italian from the time she got drunk at the party the Rizzos had dragged her to at the Castrillo. Today, the girl was wearing a really short pleated black skirt and a flimsy grey camisole with lacey straps. Her silky black hair was pulled up into a curled ponytail with her bangs combed to one side of her face. The girl was not only the type of girl Ty never enjoyed the company off, but she was even more irritated with the other girl when she saw how she had attempted to kiss Dante. Ty had felt an odd sense of victory when Dante pushed the green eyed girl away.

"What is she doing here?" Adreana asked, raising her nose at Ty. She hadn't forgotten the grey eyed brunette who had completely embarrassed her that night.

"I live here," Ty drawled, finishing off her cake slice and went to the table to grab a can of Dr. Pepper.

"Adreana, what are you doing here?" Roberto asked, cutting Adreana off before she could comment on the information.

Adreana turned to Roberto and relaxed her scowl into an angelic smile, "I just wanted to visit, signor Rizzo. I haven't seen you all in so long."

"You saw us like two weeks ago," Luca threw in. Adreana scowled at him but Luca simply shrugged and smirked. He wasn't afraid of her.

Ty grinned at him and gave him a one-armed side hug, whispering, "You go, bro."

Teenaged snickers filled the room and Adreana was not pleased.

Roberto had to hold back his own small smile as he addressed the angry Italian, "It's a pleasure to have you, Adreana. We were just celebrating Ty's birthday. I was just about to ask the birthday girl if she wanted to open presents now."

"Hell yes!" Ty jumped. She made brief eye contact with Dante and her hand travelled to the pocket of her shorts where the little black box was residing. She also felt her cheeks heat up and willed the redness away. If anyone noticed, they didn't comment.

Ty was seated in a chair they pulled away from the table and the others surrounded her in a circle after they went and found their presents.

Ty's boys went first, handing her two boxes, one a little more than two feet long. Ty knew exactly what was in the long box and ripped open the wrapping paper and cardboard box to reveal a brand new skateboard. It was black, like her old one, and was designed with toxic green sludge dripping down with scattered silver skulls and crosses. Her full name was scrawled on the back in a trashy silver graffiti font that Ty absolutely loved.

"We managed to get it custom made. Rinny drew it, obviously," Jimmy said. All the boys were grinning broadly and Ty jumped out of the chair to hug each of them.

"Thank you so much! I love you guys," Ty said.

Fred laughed, "You've still got the other one to open."

Ty rolled her eyes and made quick work with the second present's wrapping paper and cardboard to reveal a brand new set of black and green skate gear; wrist guards, knee and elbow pads, and a helmet that was designed to look like neon green sludge was thrown on it.

"These are gorgeous, guys!" Ty gushed, hugging her new board and gear to her chest.

The boys grinned, happy that Ty loved their gifts. They had saved a lot to have each item custom made and delivered in time.

Ty set the gifts down on the chair, knowing that she wasn't going to be sitting much while she received presents.

"My turn," Carlos said, holding out a small box wrapped in black wrapping paper. Ty took it from him with a smile and word of thanks and ripped open the package to reveal a set of black and green branded headphones.

"Holy shit, Carlos, these are amazing." Ty set the gift down and jumped into the blond's arms, squeezing him in a hug and giving him a spontaneous peck on the cheek.

Carlos ruffled her hair after he returned the embrace, "Not a problem, dolcezza."

Adreana was stewing. She found it unbelievable that Carlos actually let Ty hug and kiss him while he always made sure Adreana was as far away from him as possible. Dante's eyes narrowed and he grabbed his beer and left the room.

"What's got his boxers in a bunch?" Drew asked aloud, nabbing a slice of pizza.

"I'll go check on him later," Carlos said. "He just needs some time to himself."

"My turn," Luca said. He handed Ty a box which she made quick work of and in her hands was a controller and a miniature skateboard that was the size of her hand. On one end of the board were two small nubs

'It's a miniature rocket powered skateboard. I was going to make one life sized, but I didn't have much time," Luca explained. He was a bit nervous that his gift wouldn't be up to par with her other gifts.

"Hey, a rocket powered skateboard is cool no matter the size," Ty assured him. "Can I try it out?"

"Go ahead," Roberto said and Ty place the mini skateboard on the floor. She flicked the switch on the controller and little blue flames came out from the two nubs, propelling the skateboard forward.

"Haha," Ty laughed, controlling the skateboard as it zoomed around the room. "This is amazing!"

"Glad you like it," Luca said, relieved.

Ty brought the board back to her and turned it off, picking it up and setting it with her other presents. "This is the best birthday ever."

"We're not done quite yet, bambina," Lorenzo said, grinning.

"This is from Lorenzo and I," Roberto said, tossing a set of keys to Ty.

"No way," Ty gaped. "You got me a car?"

"Motorbike," Lorenzo corrected.

Ty squealed and jumped onto Roberto and then Lorenzo, giving them both bone crushing hugs.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!" she gushed.

"Ah, but you need to get your license before you can drive," Roberto said.

"I know, but holy shit, you guys got me a motorbike. I don't even have any words to say. I mean, all you have made this the best day of my life. I can't thank you all enough."

Grandpa Tyler wrapped an arm around his granddaughter's shoulder and kissed her head, "You really do have a lot of people that care for you, kitten. I'm afraid I didn't get you a gift. This...excursion was a surprise to me as well until quite recently.

"I'm ecstatic enough with you just being here," Ty reassured him.

"I had no idea you'd be getting a motorbike, but I got you these," Travis said, handing her a gift bag.

Ty looked inside and pulled out a pair of motorbike glasses. "Wow, these are cool looking. Thanks, Travis."

Shady rubbed the back of his neck, "I'm afraid I didn't get you anything. I didn't know I'd be coming to a birthday party until Travis invited me before he left the restaurant."

Ty waved his apology off, "It's fine, Shades. You came and that's all I could ask for."

Present opening done, everyone resumed their conversations, the adults leaving the dining room to the kids, with the addition of Adreana attempting to hog Carlos. Fred was seeing red and felt the angry green head of jealousy rise in his chest when Adreana hugged Carlos' arm and acted seductive around him. He knew it was pointless because Carlos was gay and likedFred, but the redhead couldn't help himself.

"We're going to go and get more drinks and shit," he announced and grabbed Carlos' hand, pulling the surprised older boy out of the dining room.

"Volpino, are you alright?" Carlos asked after a while. They had gone two blocks and were about to reach a minimart. Fred was still holding his hand but the Italian didn't mention it. "You seem…angry."

"I'm fine," Fred responded curtly. "Absolutely nothing is wrong. I mean, I've got no reason to want to rip that skank's arms off and stitch her lips shut. No reason at all."

Carlos frowned before he felt a smile tug at his lips. "Were you jealous?"

Fred scoffed, "No."

Carlos was still grinning. He pulled them to a stop and let go Fred's hand, wrapping the now free arm around Fred's shoulders and pulling him into his side.

"Don't worry about Adreana. I like you," Carlos whispered into Fred's reddening ears. He gently bit down on the shell of the redhead's ear and added, "But I have to admit that I like you being jealous. Very attractive, volpino."

"Shut up," Fred said. His face, neck, and ears were a brilliant vibrant red as he pulled away from Carlos and entered the mostly empty minimart, making a beeline for the drinks section.

Carlos chuckled as he followed his little redhead who was resolutely not looking at him. He caught the boy looking at bottles of soda.

"Mind getting a basket?" Fred asked, still not looking at Carlos. He was completely mortified with his behaviour just moments ago. Jesus, what the hell came over me? I can never look him in the face again!

"How about a hug instead?" Carlos grinned, stepping up right behind Fred and wrapping his arms around the other boy's waist. He placed a kiss on Fred's neck and the other boy felt his face light up.

"Carlos!" Fred hissed, turning around to face his boyfriend. Bad idea. Or a great one depending on how you looked at it.

Carlos bent his neck and planted a soft kiss to Fred's lips, pulling the smaller boy flush up against his chest. "Yes?" he teased.

"Quit laughing at me," Fred huffed, pushing at Carlos' chest to get him to back off.

Carlos laughed and stepped back. He felt the urge to kiss Fred again at the pout he was displaying. It had been practically torturous back at Ty's party. His boyfriend was right there but he couldn't show any affection. Now, in the practically empty minimart, he was free to kiss and touch his sweet little redhead.

"Go get a basket," Fred ordered, pushing Carlos towards the entrance where the red plastic baskets were piled.

"Fine, fine."

Fred quickly perused the shelf and pulled out two large bottles of soda before heading down the aisle and walking towards the ice cream section. That was where Carlos met up with him with a plastic red basket on his arm.

"How about Chunky Monkey?" Carlos suggested. They were trying to decide on which ice creams to bring back, the two drinks Fred picked out already in the basket that was set on the floor.

Fred shook his head, "No, anything but that. Jimmy is a nightmare when he has Chunky Monkey and I live practically next door to him. I won't get any sleep."

Carlos huffed and wrapped his arms around Fred, pulling him close. "No boy is allowed to sleep at your place. You're mine."

Fred snorted, "Now who's jealous? And possessive." Even as he said it, he couldn't help but feel happy at the knowledge.

"I'm being serious," Carlos said affronted. "I don't want some other boy to fall for your cute charms and steal you away from me."

Fred flushed bright red. He had no idea why Carlos calling him cute didn't make him see red, but instead turned him into a shy little boy whose heart rose in his chest. He tilted his head up and pressed his lips firmly to Carlos', surprising the both of them.

"Throwing your words back at you, you don't need to worry about anyone else. I like you too."

Carlos grinned, Fred's lips turning in response, and the two pressed their lips together once more.


The two boys separated quick as lightning and Fred stared with wide eyes and a paled face at his mother.

Mrs. Fox looked between her son and the blond haired boy she had met quite recently. Her eyes were wide with surprise at seeing her son share a kiss with another boy.

"Fred, are you…?"

"I-I-Mom-I was just-I'm sorry," he stuttered and ducked his head. He felt the urge to go into Carlos' comforting embrace but figured that that would not help the situation. He had planned on telling his parents eventually, but now was too sudden and he was completely unprepared.

"Why are you sorry?" Mrs. Fox asked.

Fred couldn't look at his mother. "I…Carlos is my boyfriend. Aren't you…mad?"

Mrs. Fox hurried to reassure her son, "Oh no, Heavens no, Fred. I'm surprised is all. I mean I just wasn't expecting you to be gay. There's nothing wrong with that, honey. You never seemed to have an interest in any gender so this is a bit of a surprise."

"You're fine with it?" Fred asked hopefully.

Mrs. Fox went up to her son and pulled him in for a hug, saying, "Of course! You're my son and I love you."

Fred hugged his mother back, relief flowing through his system, "Thanks, mom. But don't tell dad yet."

"Of course, whenever you're ready," Mrs. Fox nodded. "Well I best be off. Will you be home for dinner?"

Fred nodded, "Yeah. I'll see you later, mom."

Mrs. Fox kissed Fred's head and turned to Carlos. "You treat my son like a prince, understood?"

"Mom," Fred whined, embarrassed.

Carlos nodded, "I wouldn't do anything to hurt him, ma'am."

"Laura is fine. I expect you to come over for dinner eventually and be formally introduced."

"Of course, Laura, I would love to."

"I'll see you then. Love you, Fred." With that, Mrs. Fox headed for the cashier and Fred slumped back against Carlos' chest.

"I thought it would have been much more difficult," Fred said. He couldn't believe that it had gone so smoothly.

Carlos kissed Fred's head, "You've got a mother who loves you. I'm sure your father will take the news well too."

"I hope," Fred muttered. He stood up and picked up one of the ice cream tubs, "Chocolate Fudge Brownie?"


Fred and Carlos returned to the mansion to see that the Lorenzo and Roberto had to go back to work while Grandpa Tyler was in the games room with the others, minus Dante who hadn't returned. The teenagers were playing Payday 2 and Adreana was looking bored.

"You're back!" Adreana exclaimed. "Grazie dio, I was so bored."

Fred refrained from snarling at the girl and pulling Carlos down for a searing kiss to stake his claim. He had just accidentally outed himself to his mother. One person was enough for the day.

Carlos ignored her and placed the plastic bags on the table, "We brought soda and ice cream."

"Yes!" came a cheer.

"I'll go get some spoons and cups," Fred said, heading towards the kitchen.

"I'll go with you. I need to find Dante anyway," Carlos said, rushing to Fred.

"I'll go too," Adreana hurriedly got up from the couch.

Carlos turned to face her, clearly displeased with the idea of her tagging along. "I think you should go home, Adreana. This was supposed to be a private party anyway. You know where the door is." With that he walked out of the room that filled with snickers with Fred.

Adreana stomped out in a huff and left the mansion, much to everyone's relief.

Carlos dropped Fred off at the kitchen and stole a quick kiss before heading to the firing range to find his idiot of a younger brother. As he predicted, Dante was firing rapidly at the targets with barely a second's break between each shot.

Dante noticed Carlos had entered and finished his clip before taking off the headset and placing the gun down.

"What do you want?" he asked bitterly. Every time he saw Ty being affectionate with his elder brother, his chest and mind went into turmoil. And he didn't know why.

"No need to get pissy with me, Dante," Carlos said, hands raised in the universal sign of peace. "I just came to check on you. Fred and I went and got soda and ice cream."

"I'm fine. Is that all?" Dante said, reloading his gun.

"I'm just going to get to the point then. When will you get your head out of your ass and just ask her out?"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Dante asked, setting his gun back down. He was completely lost.

"Comforting her when she's having nightmares that don't let her sleep, getting into trouble for her by taking the blame so she doesn't get expelled, you even orchestrated the return of her long lost nonno, Dante."

"How do you know about that night?" Dante demanded.

"That doesn't matter," Carlos dismissed him. That would lead onto another story of how he had discovered Luca had set up micro cameras around the mansion. Luca had been the one to show him the event. "Quando si sta per ammettere che ti piace lei?"

"I don't—"

"What can you possibly say to deny it, Dante? At first it was amusing, but now I question how we're related if you can be so obtuse and ignorant to your own feelings. It's clear to anyone that tu ami lei."

"I don't love her," Dante argued but it sounded weak to his own ears. "I don't. I can't. She's stubborn, irritating, annoying, a pain in my ass and…and…and she's just a headache to be around."

"If you don't love her as you say, why do you always get pissy when you see her with other males? Why do you get this look of wanting to commit murder whenever another man touches her or flirts with her or even makes her laugh? You mentally murdered Davie a million different ways when he asked Ty out."

"I…" Dante couldn't think of a counter argument. No. There's no way I love that stronza. There can't be. That's ridiculo.

Carlos could see the turmoil in his brother's mind and once again wondered how he could be related to such an idiot. "Whatever, Dante. You can keep being ignorant, but the longer you deny it, the closer you'll come to losing her before even actually having her. Someone's gonna go up to her and ask her out like Davie did but maybe that guy will make her fall for him."

Carlos turned to leave but gave one last parting remark. It was about time someone knocked some sense into Dante and Carlos decided that he'd be the one to do it. "You can stay here and deny all you want, convince yourself that you hate her but I'm going to go and seduce the one I'm steadily falling for. I know my feelings and I'm going to act on them so I don't lose my guy. Ciao, fratellino."

When the door closed behind him and Carlos was long gone, Dante registered what his brother had said. "Wait. His guy?"


Italian Lingo:

Bambina - little girl/child

Stronza - bitch

Nonno - grandpa

Cazzo - fuck

Principessa - princess

Ciao a tutti - hello everyone

Signor - mister

Dolcezza - sweetheart/sweetness

Volpino - little fox

Grazie dio - thank god

Quando si sta per ammettere che ti piace lei? - when will you admit that you like her?

Tu ami lei - you love her

Ridiculo - ridiculous

Ciao fratellino - bye little brother

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