One grim day looming, five lovers fighting to not shatter into a thousand pieces.
One grim day looming, five lovers fighting to not shatter into a thousand pieces.
The weekend wasn’t easy on Mia or her four guys, Mal, Dylan, Tom and Jake. It started with Jake suddenly showing up at the house, bringing with him some secrets Mia tried to keep from the others, and ended with Tom begging for him to stay a little longer, hoping that his presence will help them not fall apart.
Because dark days are looming. The anniversary of Poppy’s death is on Friday and everyone is on edge, raw with emotions, lost in their own minds, remembering the trauma of losing a beloved sister, friend, wife and lover.
They have to stay together to keep strong, but one impulsive action rips everything apart, throwing them all for a loop. Can they come together in time? Or will this harm their relationships forever?
Can they survive the week?
This is the third novella in the six-part long Scarred Cliff serial, a reverse harem #WhyChoose story. This novella may include any of these elements: steamy scenes, ‘I need tissues NOW’ moments, cries of ‘why, oh, why’ and cliffhangers that make you bite your nails (and curse the author). This story includes MF and MM scenes.
Author note: This series deals with topics which can be hard for some people, like abuse by a partner and the fallout of the suicide of a side character (which happened in the past but plays an important part in this story).
Read the first chapter below!
Chapter 1 – Mia
Today sucks. It really fucking sucks. I had plans, ideas, things I wanted to do, and none of it happened, of course… Because when do my plans ever work out, especially when Dylan, Mal, Tom and Jake are around… It’s like they sense I want to do things, useful things, productive things, and then distract me every time. I have no idea how they’ve perfected that skill, but I can’t call it anything else, a skill, a special ability.
Most of the day, Jake and Tom have been working out back, getting the big table into a state where we can use it safely, and Dylan has been working on his teaching stuff while Mal has been composing on his computer, the noise slipping from his headphones letting us enjoy some of what he’s doing. It looks like they’re perfectly happy whatever they’re doing on their own, but every time I sit down to do something serious, anything I can think of, one of them pops up and asks me a question, wants to know about dinner or would like some help with whatever they’re doing. It’s like they’ve got a special power of interruption, and they’re using it a lot today.
Right now, I’m in the kitchen, rummaging through the fridge and freezer, checking what food we still have and how I can turn it into a meal large enough for the five of us. I open the fridge again, finding veggies but little else, definitely nothing I can use to make a full meal. I’d like some protein with my meals, no matter if it’s animal or plant-based, but it appears we’re out of protein food.
Sighing, I automatically reach out and find the notebook and pen, grabbing both. Then I stop, staring at my hands, at the place where the notebook is placed, the same place where Grandma always had it.
My chest aches just from how easily my body remembered how to move around the house, where everything is. I blink, taking a deep breath, and then write down a couple of things I need for dinner tonight.
We’re also running low on breakfast and lunch items for the rest of the week, although, luckily, lunch will probably be Mal and me for most days, and I have no idea about breakfast, if it’ll be just Mal and me or if Dylan and Tom will also be here. And if Tom will be here for breakfast, then will Elly also be here?
Great. I’ve finally found something I can do myself but it still requires input from the others… Not what I’d planned on, but, whatever.
I push myself off the counter and walk to the living room, where Dylan and Mal are working. “Guys?”
Dylan looks up first and then Mal realises something is going on and he looks up too, smiling at me, making my stomach flutter a little. Fuck, his smile does things to me.
“I’m gonna go shopping in a moment. Do you need anything? And will either of you be here for breakfast the rest of the week? Also, what about lunch?” I put the notepad against the door frame as I look at them both, waiting for their answers, and I don’t miss the darkness flashing behind Mal’s eyes before he smiles again, a little less bright this time.
“I’ll be here for breakfast, but for the next two or three days, I’ll be with the band for most of the rest of the day, probably even dinner. We’ve got a gig coming up.” He stretches his back and rolls his shoulders. “And if you need someone to come with you when you go shopping, I’d be happy to join you.”
“Thanks.” I smile. After his breakdown last night, he’s been mostly upbeat, hiding the darkness fairly well, though it sometimes still sneaks through. I don’t really know how to deal with that, how to decipher what he’s doing. But if he doesn’t talk about it, I don’t really know how to bring it up either, especially because of the topic of all of this… He confessed his love for me, and I told him that I couldn’t be with him because of the other guys… Yeah, not the best thing to tell a guy who’s already this fragile, with the anniversary of his twin’s death coming up. But I also couldn’t lie to him, give him false hope. I love him, but I can’t let the other guys go.
Then Dylan puts his things to the side. “I’ll be at work for lunch, though I usually bring my lunch with me. But…” He sighs. “I think I’m going home this evening. It’s easier if I don’t wake everyone up in the morning, you know? And I’ve got my stuff there anyway. So you don’t have to worry about me, I’m good. Thanks, though.”
I nod. Right. After feeling so good in this little bubble we’ve been in this weekend, I kind of forgot that they’ve got lives to get back to. Lives that don’t include me, lives that already existed before I came back, and that will keep existing after I leave. “Okay.” Then I go to the back door, looking at Tom and Jake, who are joking around as they’re putting the varnish on the table. Smiling softly, I open the door. “Guys? A moment?”
“Sure, what’s up, Lovely?” Jake turns to me, his eyes shining and he grins as he puts his brush down. His hands are covered in varnish and I think his clothes have some stains too. He usually looks neat and clean, always has been like that, even as a teen, so it’s interesting to see him more grungy and he seems to be enjoying himself too.
“Are you having dinner here tonight? Or do you need to take the bus home before then?” I don’t really want him to leave, I love having him around, but he has to get back to work, to the lab, and that means that he has to get back to the city.
He glances to Tom for a moment, something passing between the two, but then he gives me a sweet smile. “I’ll be here for dinner today and for breakfast tomorrow morning. I don’t know yet about after that.”
“Will that be okay with your research and everything?” Something frustrated starts in my chest. I don’t want him to be late for work tomorrow morning. I would hate if I got him in trouble by keeping him here for too long. He’s got responsibilities at the lab and for his PhD, and those are much more important than him ‘looking over’ me here.
“That’ll be fine. They don’t mind if I come in a couple of hours late.” He stands up, wiping his hands on his jeans, and I finally get a good look at how dirty they’ve become. “I tend to work overtime anyways, so moving a couple of my hours around isn’t a problem. I promise.”
Tom also stands up. “I’ll be picking up Elly before dinner, and if it’s okay with you, we’d love to have dinner here. After that, we’ll be going home. She needs a good night’s sleep, and I can’t really break her schedule too much, that tends to mess with her sleep pattern, and a grumpy three-year-old is no fun, I promise you.” He grins, looking over the disassembled table. “We should bring these in before night falls. They should be dry in a day or so.”
“Sounds good.” I take a deep breath. “So, dinner for six tonight, and then breakfast for three. Got it. Anything else I need to pick up at the shops? For tonight or tomorrow?”
“Nothing for me, thanks.” Tom picks up the top plate of the table, starting to carry it inside and I quickly step out of the way.
Jake picks up a smaller part and comes over. “Oh, if you need any help or just company, I can come with you to the shops. I don’t know how useful I’ll be, but I can carry things or just talk at you the whole time.” He smiles, then he steps past me into the hallway, following Tom.
“Sure. You’ll have to fight Mal over who sits up front though. ‘Cause he’s coming too.” I step back inside, barely avoiding backing up into Tom, and then go to the kitchen, writing down the items I’ll need to feed the whole bunch this evening and then our smaller group tomorrow morning.
It makes sense that everyone has to get back to their lives, they can’t put everything on hold just because I’m back in town, but it also breaks this spell that I’ve been under for the last week. They’ve got their lives, and I should get back to my own life. I should start looking into how I can pick up the pieces of whatever is left of it. The things I’ll need for that, like a job and a place to live… Two things that won’t be easy to get, especially not when I’m staying here.
“Mia?” Jake’s fingers slide over my back. “What time did you want to leave? Do I have time to take a quick shower?”
“Yeah, you’ve got time. Mal isn’t the fastest to get ready when he’s focused on something, so it’ll probably take a while before we’ll leave.” I smile, but don’t look his way, feeling a little vulnerable, starting to feel alone again. He’ll leave soon, I shouldn’t get more attached to his closeness than I already am.
“Hey!” Mal’s disgruntled voice comes from the kitchen door. “I’m actually ready to leave when you are, thank you very much.”
“Okay.” Jake laughs. “I’ll just put on some clean clothes, then. I’ll be right back.” When he steps away, I miss the warmth of his touch immediately. Then he walks up the stairs, and I’m alone in the kitchen with Mal, it feels very intimate, alone, even though Dylan is in the living room and I can hear Tom walking around at the back of the house, carrying things inside. But right here, it feels like we’re alone, just us with all things spoken and unspoken hanging in the air.
The next moment, Mal is standing next to me, his shoulder against mine, his hand next to mine on the counter. “Are you okay?” His voice is soft, caring, and I nod.
“I’m good. It’s just been a long weekend. I think I’m a little tired.” Not tired of them, or being with them, just tired of the pain that I know will be coming again, the lonely feeling.
“I can go to the shops with Jake alone if you’re too tired to come. Don’t force yourself too much.” He puts his hand over mine, squeezing a little, but I shake my head.
“Nah. I think that being away from here for a little bit will be good. Take in a different view than all those trees. A city girl like me can only have so much of trees and fresh air before she needs some concrete in her life.” I let out a laugh and Mal laughs too, his deep laugh making me smile even more, my heart growing.
I missed this. I missed them. I don’t know how I’ll survive without them again, but I know that I will have to, soon.
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