A Heaven on Hell Island

                                                  Valentine's Short                                                     

 

Colin sat at the very edge of his seat, tightening his fingers around the strap of his backpack and leaning forward. He could only think about the note inside the red envelope and the attached candy bouquet that 
were inside the pack.

Why did I let Bleu talk me into this?

The need to just do it and get it over with was what alone fueled him. 

When he heard the bell, Colin jumped up from his seat. He carefully tossed his backpack over his shoulder and headed for the hallway.

“Colin,” Mrs. Jackson called. She glared at him from her desk located in the back of the classroom. “A minute, please.”

He looked at Mrs. Jackson then turned and looked out of the classroom door. He was going to miss Shelly.

“Colin?” she said again.

Colin sighed as he turned to walk toward his ninth-grade homeroom teacher. He noticed the expression on her face and sighed again. He hated that look from people like her. She was a Concern Warrior. They weren’t like the people who step up when someone needed real help—nope. He met his fair share of people like Mrs. Jackson—the ones who knew what kind of man Stokes was. They knew how violent and miserable the Fuck was but the Concern Warriors only offered words. No help. Nope. Most Concern Warriors just talked amongst themselves.

The urge to roll his eyes came and went but he couldn’t help narrowing them as he stopped in front of her desk. Her messy as fuck desk. It took effort not to reach out to grab and toss several food wrappers into the wastebasket.

He chuckled when he noticed the wastebasket was empty.

“Colin,” she said with an extra helping of compassion written on her face, “is everything alright, at home?”

Yup…this crap again.

Since last year, after his jackass father tried to have his sister-in-law killed, people from social services, his teachers, hell—damn near every adult he knew—were trying to save him from the custody of his big bad brother.

They didn’t know Colin was responsible for half of what Chris took the blame for. The only person who was smart enough to be suspicious of him was Shelly’s father. Why he cared what Alexander Whitlock thought, Colin didn’t know.

Except, she is kinda cool.

“Everything is fine at home, Mrs. Jackson,” Colin said. He tapped the only clear spot on her desk and shrugged. He was almost turned around and about to go catch Shelly before the next bell rang when Mrs. Jackson spoke again.  

“It’s just…”

Colin counted to ten as he turned back to face her. He made certain to put a smile on his face.

“You just got here at Vista Academy a couple of months ago. Now you are transferring out to some school in Washington State. A school I’ve never even heard of.”

“Mrs. Jackson,” Colin said with as much sweetness he could muster, “Olympus is one of the finest schools in the country. I would be a fool to dismiss their interest.”

“I…I,” she began then said, “you are such a bright student, Colin. I’m just worried that things are being decided for you without much consideration. Your grades are exceptional and I know that Vista will be a good fit if you just give it a chance.”

“Sorry Mrs. Jackson.” He backed away. “I leave for a tour tomorrow. This is my last day.”

He moved through the classroom and into the hallway. It was practically empty.

“Shit,” he hissed under his breath.

Now he had to sit through two more classes before he could see Shelly. If he could just skip them and go to her class he could be done with it. But he made a promise and Bro-Code meant keeping your promises.

Why did I let Sis talk me into this shit?
 

                                          ***Earlier that morning…***



Colin sat across from Bleu and Chris who were on the sofa. He watched Bleu adjust the blanket that lay over her shoulder and came across Jackson’s head. The blanket almost covered his nephew’s entire body.

“Remember,” Colin said, “aim the nipple upwards.”

Bleu gave Colin a worried look and a slight nod.

“Is he latching on?” Chris asked. He was practically sitting on top of Bleu as he watched and waited for news.

“I…I think so,” Bleu said looking up at Chris. After a few more seconds, she smiled then nodded.

Colin looked over at his brother. The light in Chris’ eyes, the love Colin saw, coaxed a smile from him.

“You are a rock star, Duchess. I love you,” Chris said as he leaned forward and kissed her. He then leaned down and kissed Jacks’ foot.

Looking at his family, together and happy, Colin regretted nothing. Yeah, he kinda had to make a deal with a secret organization to secure their safety but it was worth it.

When Chris turned his proud gaze on Colin, he whispered the words, “Thank you.”

Colin nodded but it was all Bleu. She wasn’t one to give up. He read that most new moms were anxious and Bleu had every right to be, doubly so.

Unbeknownst to anyone, Colin hacked into Bleu’s medical records when he first discovered she was pregnant with his brother’s baby. According to the documents, Bleu had an abortion when she was a teen and Natalie, her older sister, signed the paperwork. There were some complications with the procedure and Bleu was told she would never have kids.

Turns out, Jacks is a miracle baby.

Add that she had Jacks a few weeks early, Bleu going through all the stuff she had to go through with Stokes, it was no wonder she was a nervous wreck when Jacks didn’t take to breastfeeding.

Unlike the lactation nurse, Colin knew Bleu. He researched what needed to be done and was able to calm Bleu to walk her through it.  

“Don’t forget the candy and fill out the card,” Bleu said, looking up.

Colin glanced over at the breakfast bar. The fire-red envelope and candy sat there like a “bad decision” waiting to happen. He didn’t want to take it.

“What if you and Brielle are wrong? What if Shelly doesn’t want it?” Colin looked at Bleu then to Chris. He rolled his neck, feeling as if a heat lamp was shining on him.

“Colin,” Bleu said as she looked at him with sincerity, “Shelly likes you. Believe me.”

“Eh. I don’t want her to like me,” Colin said. “It’s Valentine’s Day and you said it’s normal to exchange cards and shit like that.”

He immediately heard a hiss come from Chris’ pursed lips. Bleu tried to hide her laugh by turning her mouth into her shoulder.

“Sorry, I meant stuff…stuff like that.”

Chris stood. He pulled his keys from his pocket. “So, if you’re going to school,” Chris said, his sweet expression gone, “you better attend each and every class. Promise…no messing up today or that prestigious school in Washington won’t see your narrow ass.”

Colin rolled his eyes. “Promise,” he said. One day, he was going to be able to put Chris on his ass. Not that he would, but when he could it would mean he could beat the best fighter he knew.

“Why are you smiling like that? It’s creepy, bro.” Chris moved past him, walking toward the door.

Colin shook the fantasy off. Even with the training, he was going to get, he would probably never be a match for his brother. Chris had love and responsibility driving him.

Nothing drove Colin.

To be honest, he didn’t even like that fighting and survival shit. He had to learn it when he was growing up—Stokes was just too big to put down so he had no choice. Plus, the training usually meant he got to hang out with Chris. Them being together was rare back then and he sort of liked being with his brother.

“I don’t need a ride,” Colin said as he walked to the breakfast bar.

“Catching a ride with Shelly?” Bleu asked in a sing-song tone.

Colin grabbed the card and candy and gently placed it in his backpack. “Naw, her dad kinda hates me.” He walked over to the door close to where Chris stood. “I’m gonna catch the train.”

“Fuck him,” Chris whispered to Colin as he passed by.

Colin grinned and nodded. “BTW, Bleu’s a great mom,” Colin said, smiling. He couldn’t mask his joy and didn’t really want to.”

“I know, right,” Chris whispered.

“Your wife’s a beast.” Colin slammed his palm over Chris’ chest then walked out of the front door.   
 

                                                       ***Now…***



Colin shook his head as he sat down at his assigned desk in Prep Class. The class was designed to prepare kids with less than stellar grades for college. The goal was for them to better their study skills, organization, and time management. He didn’t need the class based on his high GPA but placement there was also determined by homework and class participation. In both areas he sucked.

So, here he was, sitting with the kids that were usually struggling in school. Some were complete fucktards.

He was glancing at the basket full of Candy-Grams that dangled from the front of his desk when a small ball of paper sailed over his head and hit the window near him.

Colin turned to look 
behind him, and his gaze settled on three guys sitting two rows over and three rows back. Robert and his two asshat friends, Mitch and Drew, were smiling as they looked his way.

Colin looked up at the ceiling as he shook his head. The image of him stomping on those asshole’s balls gave him a warm feeling inside. It was the kind of feeling kids who gave a shit felt when they got hugs from their moms or they received that special gift for Christmas—that kind of stuff did nothing for him.

Hell, he had to pretend to like some things more than he did, just to give Chris some peace of mind.

“Robert,” Mr. Washington called from his desk at the front of the classroom. “You toss another paper bomb and you will be scraping the gum from under my desk during lunch.”

The bell rang and Mr. Washington stood. “Alright class, get working on your weekly to-do lists.” He motioned to Colin with a wave. “You, Mr. Stokes,” he said as he pointed to a chair beside his desk, “here.”

Colin lifted his backpack off the floor, being mindful of its contents, and moved through the aisles. He pulled out the seat Mr. Washington designated and sat.

Mr. Washington swiveled his chair to face Colin and spoke in a hushed tone, “You know,” he started, “I attended this school on a scholarship so I know the heat the OM kids can dish. You have one day left here. Which means that Robert and his misfits are going to do their best to make sure it is hard. Don’t let them rile you up. I’d hate to see your perfect restraint ruined.”

Colin frowned as he looked at Mr. Washington. They weren’t friends. In fact, on his first day, Mr. Washington led Colin into the hallway and explained how with just one look, he knew what kind of trouble Colin was.

Maybe…

But he didn’t like being judged. Besides, he wasn’t “trouble” now, he ended that shit. But that day, Colin took Mr. Washington’s assumption of his character as a challenge. And that was one of the reasons that Robert didn’t walk with a permanent limp. 

Society and its class classifications. That was the shit that irked him. Colin was smart, somewhat of a redneck, and mostly poor. It was no fault of his own. But he was judged for it.

OM, old money, was a term used for some of the kids because their lazy asses basically did nothing but live well off fortunes inherited from their ancestors. Some of them had the nerve to look down on those whose parents worked hard to gain and maintain their riches. And they made it a point to remind the NM—new money—kids of their place on the social chain.

Below them.

So…being as he really didn’t fit with either OM or NM, to a good deal of the students Colin was invisible. Except for the girls. They saw him just fine, and the ones who did care what he was worth still wanted his attention.

Chris always told Colin that, for girls, “bad boy” was always on the menu. 

“I’m not studying those idiots. No worries.” Colin stood.

Mr. Washington gave him a narrow-eyed stare but nodded. “Even so,” he said then pulled open his desk drawer and retrieved a hall pass, “go hang out with coach Baker.”

Now, Colin and Coach Baker were friends. They got along from the moment Colin bested Baker’s “impossible physical challenge” in one attempt.

Colin took the pass and nodded his thanks. As he left the room, he felt a slight tickle of excitement. That feeling was new, strange, and a bit scary to him. But, knowing he had two free periods then he could give Shelly her valentine bouquet felt nice.
 

                                                       ***LUNCH***

 
As Colin made his way through the hall, he tried to figure out why he felt so odd. His stomach was knotting and all he could think of was how Shelly was going to respond to his offering.

It’s not like she is going to make mine a big deal, he told himself.

Hell, she probably had tons of Candy-Grams. In every class, there was a basket attached to each person’s desk. For two weeks prior to Valentine’s day, the student council sold red heart lollipops with heart tags for messages to be filled out by the sender. Throughout the school day, the student council members filled those baskets with the lollipops that were purchased for students and faculty.

Shelly was popular among the girls, so he knew she was going to have a ton of those lollipops. He just hoped some guys got her some too so 
his wouldn’t stand out too much.

God, I don’t want to give her the wrong idea.

Shelly was cool but he didn’t “like her-like her”. They hung out and played games a few times and he helped her study for a test once, but he wasn’t into her. He wasn’t into anyone but Brielle. 
Well…he was interested in Brielle, past tense.

He was a man so he stepped aside for Justin. Besides, he was all about staying focused on doing his time with Atlas and training at Olympus. He didn’t have time for girls.

Colin placed his arms over his chest as he gripped the strap of his backpack that was hanging over his shoulder. He stood just inside the cafeteria, taking a moment to take in the room. It sucked that one had to be on the offense at school but that was the new reality of his world.

When he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, he headed for his usual table. It was the one that seemed to be filled with the school’s outcasts, OM and NM alike when he first started. But since he sat there, the outcast table was now filled with “them” plus Shelly and her girlfriends. None of the outcasts complained to him or seemed to care so that mix was the new normal.

Colin kept his pack on, scooted down the long bench seat, and placed his back to the wall so he could see around him. Several others were already at the table but even with their table sharing a non-issue, the outcasts gave him his space.

“Colin!”

Colin looked up from staring at his hands to Chloe. She was a council member and they were in homeroom and Prep together.

“You forgot your Candy-Grams from homeroom and Prep,” she said holding up a red bag the size of a small gift bag. 

“Thanks,” he said, offering her a smile as she stopped beside him. He took the bag she handed him but she didn’t move away.

“I gave you a special one,” she said, preening.

Oh-kay…he thought.

“Thanks?” he repeated but this time he said it with a raised brow. He placed the bag on the table.

She stared at him for a few then smiled wider. “Mmmkay,” she said then turned and bounced off.

As Colin shook his head at the odd exchange, Shelly and her squad walked up to the other side of the table.

“Was that Chloe Dawson?” Shelly asked as she sat across from his feet that he had stretched out on the bench on his side.

“I guess so,” he said, shrugging as he looked at Shelly. He watched her as she stared after Chloe. When she turned to look at him, he asked, “Why?”

“Isn’t she dating Robert?” Grace asked. She sat beside Shelly, more across from him.

Grace was Shelly’s bestie. She was OM just like Shelly but she didn’t seem to subscribe to the shit some of the others like to claim. She also didn’t like him much. He could tell, but neither of them made it an issue.

He didn’t give a fuck.

“Who cares,” Colin said. “Where’s your lunch, Shelly?”

The girl hardly ever ate. The worried look on her face turned into a look he loathed.

Her shoulders sagged and she looked away. “I’m watching my—”

Before she could finish, he held up his hand. “Don’t even say that shit. I swear to Christ…” Colin sat his backpack on the end of the table by the wall. “I’m going to get you a salad.”

Shelly grimaced but didn’t object.

He was walking toward the food shelves when he heard her calling. He turned and called out to her, “Yeah, dressing on the side.”

She smiled.

…and, his chest…it pulsed.

What the fuck was that?

Colin slowly turned back in the direction of the food shelves. He moved but wasn’t really focused on what he was doing or where he was heading. All he could think about was that smile…her smile...and how it just made him feel.

It was nothing. I’m just tired.

With the intention of forgetting what just happened, Colin rushed forward to get the salad. He chose one he knew she wouldn’t get for herself, one with grilled chicken and parmesan, and carried it and the dressing to the cashier. He picked her up a bottled water and paid by punching in his pin.

As he walked back to the table, he moved at a slow pace. Maybe it was because he wasn’t in a hurry to face what just happened, but when he noticed Robert sitting extra close to Shelly, he sped up.

At the table now, Colin returned to the side across from Shelly but stayed on his feet. He placed the food and drink down on the table in front of her as his eyes focused on the lack of space between her and Robert. Then he glanced at Drew, who sat between Robert and Grace.

“Thank you,” Shelly said as she looked up at him and smiled.

She seems happy with him beside her.

But, Grace looked worried. Why?

Robert flirted with all the girls in school. He said a few things to Shelly, but Colin always thought it was just to get his attention. But maybe Robert liked her, and by the look, Shelly wore now, maybe Robert told her so.

“That’s right, Shelly,” Robert said with a wide grin. “You may as well train him to serve us OM’s now.”    

Shelly gasped then said, “Will you just stop. He isn’t serving me. Colin is my friend.”

“Did you show your friend the roses and the bracelet I bought you for Valentine’s day?” Robert reached over Shelly and grabbed her wrist that was under her hand. He held up her arm, showcasing the bracelet.

It was sparkling diamonds shaped in a single heart with a thin chain that wrapped around her wrist. 

“It’s nice,” Colin said. He reached for his backpack.

“He should know we are a couple now,” Robert sneered.

Colin closed his eyes as he wrapped his fingers around his strap. Another pulse vibrated through him but this was nothing like the one earlier. This one was more intense and filled with…

He sighed as he tried to analyze what it was he was feeling.

Jealousy

God dammit.

“Happy for you both,” Colin said. He swung his pack over his shoulder.

At the same time, Shelly was saying, “We aren’t together, Robert. You asked and I said no. That was that.”

Colin looked at Shelly for several seconds. He smirked, knowing she could see it. But he wasn’t mad at her. He had no reason to be. He was just laughing at himself.

“Wait, I wanted to give you something,” Shelly said then reached for her purse that was beside her thigh on the bench.

“What do you have to give him Shell, huh?” Robert sneered. “You do know he is a racist. The only reason he is even here is 
because his Grand Marshall brother landed a rich NM socialite. That they are spending up all her money should repulse you.”

“Fuck you,” Colin said as he leaned slightly over the table. “Don’t you ever fucking talk about my brother you spoon-fed asshole.”

He heard a gasp but wasn’t sure if it was from Shelly. He also heard folk reacting to him and Robert but he wasn’t going to take his eyes off the guy.

“Or what?” Robert asked as he stood. He placed both his hands on the table and leaned forward.

Colin balled up his right fist as he stared at Robert. Then he laughed. “You know,” he grinned, as he relaxed his fisted hand and pointed his finger at Robert’s face, “you prissy bitches don’t even know who you are fucking with. If I were you, I’d leave me the hell alone.”

Robert smiled then smacked Colin’s finger away.

Colin narrowed his eyes, smiled, then reacted with the speed of a trained soldier. He moved so fast, he knew the people looking didn’t catch each move as he swiped Robert’s arms off the lunch table then cupped the back of the asshole’s head and introduced it to the lunch table. Hard. And held it down.

The sound of flesh and bone-crunching made a nice noise but not everyone appreciated it like Colin did. That glorious sound and Robert’s muffled cries seemed to hush the entire room.

The asshole’s wiggling was useless.

When Drew jumped up, Colin used his other hand, grabbed Drew’s shirt, yanked him forward, and head-butted him.

Fuck, he thought as he let Drew drop.

Colin shook off the sting of the headbutt and focused on the room as he still held Robert’s face to the table. He saw Mitchell, Robert’s other crew member, walking toward his table with food in hand. Mitchell and Colin locked eyes. Whatever Mitchell saw had him turning around and walking out of the lunchroom.

Good Boy.

As Mitchell left, a few of the faculty rushed in.

So…he didn’t have long to get his point across. Colin leaned close to Robert’s ear.

“Robert,” Colin whispered, “you touched me. That is a game ender in my eyes. I’m not going to end your silly existence. But, I do think you should stay away from Shelly. She isn’t yours and she never will be.”

Colin released Robert just as security and a few teachers reached the lunch table. He held his hands up and backed away.

His cooperation didn’t matter to security. They grabbed him up and threw him against the wall.
 

                                                      ****Drama****


They took his backpack.

Funny, that his backpack was all Colin could focus on as he sat across from the Headmaster’s desk. He shifted in the seat to look around the room when the door opened.

The security guard beside him jerked forward, placing his hand on his baton.

“Calm the fuck down,” Colin snarled as he focused on the security guard. Then he looked back over his shoulder as a police officer, Mr. Hillard, who was Robert’s father, and the Headmaster entered the office.

The Headmaster walked to his desk and sat. The cop, she walked over and stood on Colin’s left. Mr. Hillard walked over to the security guard. He stood over the guard until the guy realized that he wanted the seat.

The guard stood, letting Mr. Hillard have the seat.

The Headmaster cleared his throat. “Colin,” he said then sighed, “Robert and his father, Mr. Hillard, are going to press charges. This officer is here to take you to the police station. Are you going to give her any trouble?”

Colin frowned. “No.”

Just as Colin stood, another officer pushed open the door and stuck his head inside the office. “Officer Reed, a minute.”

“Excuse me,” Officer Reed said before she walked to the door and left.

The phone on the Headmaster’s desk rang a second later. He held up his hand, motioning for Colin to sit, then answered.

Shit…is that Chris? He’s going to kill me.

Colin sat. He looked over at Mr. Hillard who was glaring at him with open disgust. Colin turned his head to the side and tried to hide his chuckle by wiping his mouth. It was then that he noticed that the Headmaster wasn’t talking to the person on the other end of the phone. In fact, the man looked frightened when their eyes met.

After a few more nods, the Headmaster extended his hand that held the phone to Mr. Hillard.

“Yes,” Mr. Hillard said into the phone receiver in an arrogant tone.

Colin rolled his eyes but frowned as the man’s expression changed from uppity ass to concerned victim. Shortly into the call, Mr. Hillard held the phone out to him, without meeting his gaze.

Colin looked to his left then to his right. But Mr. Hillard was looking directly at him now. Colin took the phone. He held 
in a curse as he slowly placed it to his ear.

“Mr. Colin Stokes?”

Wait, this isn’t Chris.

Instead, it was a sweet-sounding female who seemed extra chipper.

“Yeah?” he said. A part of him was relieved. He needed time to prepare for his brother’s disappointment in him. Another part of him was curious. Who was on the other end of the phone line?

“I assume the elder Mr. Stokes expects you to be in school the full day so there is a car outside to take you to a temporary Atlas safe house until the end of the school day. The house is stocked with food and things you find interesting. When the school day ends, a driver will pick you up and drop you off a few blocks from your apartment building. Charges will not be pressed and your brother will never hear of this incident.” The caller continued with, “Is there anything else I can do for you, Mr. Stokes?”

“Uh,” Colin said, as he looked around the room with 
surprise.

Mr. Hillard was walking out of the office in a silent daze. The Headmaster was focused on a spot on the wall behind Colin. The security guard looked confused but was smart enough to remain silent.

“No,” Colin answered. “Wait, how did you—”

“Look up and to your right, Mr. Stokes.”

Colin turned and looked to his right. In the corner, there was a security camera. The green light blinked twice.

“We protect our assets, Mr. Stokes,” she said. “Is there anything else, sir?”

“What do I call you?” Colin asked.

“My company name is Hermes,” she informed him then disconnected the call.

Colin had so many more questions but knew it wasn’t the time or place. He stood and hung up the phone then waited for the Headmaster to look at him. When the man didn’t he said, “Headmaster Yates?”

“Just go,” the Headmaster said without looking in his direction.

Colin turned and made his way out of the Headmaster’s office. He didn’t shut the door. In the main office, he found his backpack. He grabbed it up before making his way out of the main office. Outside of the main office doorway, the halls were empty except for a male police officer.

“Do you need to see a doctor, Mr. Stokes?”

Colin looked around the empty hallway then back at the police officer. “No.”

“Good,” he said. “Your ride is waiting at the curb.”

“Thanks.”

Colin walked toward the front exit. As he walked, he realized he never got to give Shelly her candy. The messed-up thing was, he couldn’t now. She probably thought he was the animal Robert made him out to be.

Maybe he was.

He unzipped his backpack as he kept a steady pace toward the front doors. What he got her couldn’t compare to what Robert got her anyway. He pulled out the candy bouquet and card and tossed it in the recycling bin. Then he placed his earbuds in his ears and left out of Vista Academy’s doors for the last time.
 

                                                ***Later the Evening***


Colin rocked slowly in the glider. He rubbed Jacks’ back, using small circles. Jacks gurgled and balled up in his arms but settled down soon enough.

When he got home earlier, Chris wasn’t there. He was out at a business meeting with Natalie, Bleu’s older sister. Bleu was knocked out and snoring on the edge of her bed. So, when he heard Jacks stirring, he decided it was time for Uncle Colin to take the lead.

Plus, he liked the way babies smelled.

He looked over at the adorable face that rested on his shoulder. Jacks’ tiny mouth still had a bit of formula running from it. Colin wiped his nephew’s mouth with a small cloth then supported Jacks’ back as he stood. He walked over to the crib and started swaying side to side. It dawned on him that he could stand holding this baby forever.

He liked holding Jacks.

Colin was about to sit back in the glider with his nephew for more bro-time when he heard the faint ring of the doorbell. He gently placed Jacks inside his crib, glanced at a sleeping Bleu, then grabbed the bottle from the side table and left the room.

He closed the bedroom door and ran down the stairs, hoping to make it before whoever it was could ring the bell again. Colin pulled open the door.

“Shelly?” he said, frowning.

She was lowering her hand that was poised to ring the bell again.

“Hey, can I come in?” she said, looking down as she swept her honey blonde ringlets out of her face.

Colin looked down the hall at the elevator. “You know he won’t like it.” It was no secret her father hated his guts since the day he met him.

“He’s out of town.” Shelly grimaced.

Colin just stared at her, seeing for the first time what he figured guys saw in girls. Shelly was cute, but right now he didn’t see cute. Her hair, a mass of light brown ringlets, kinda glowed in the light of the hallway. Hazel eyes that looked greener today, stared back at him under thick light brown lashes. Her skin glowed. Even her red and white banded braces were adorable. She was gorgeous.

“Well, can I come in?”

Colin backed away from the door so she could walk inside.

As she walked past him, he noticed she still had her backpack. “You just getting home from school?”

“Yeah, I had something to do.” She walked toward the living room and took a seat on the sofa.

Colin followed her lead and sat on the sofa beside her but not too close.

“You left before I could give you my Candy-Gram. I didn’t know if I would see you again, so I wanted to give it to you.”

“I’m not leaving until the end of April. Chris and I are just flying out tomorrow to do a tour.”

“Oh,” she said quietly. Shelly unzipped her backpack and pulled out a huge bag of school Candy-Grams. She sat the large bag on the floor then dug back into her backpack.

What the hell?

“All those are yours?”

Shelly glanced up at him. For a moment, they just stared at each other. “Yeah,” she admitted. “The guys have rankings at school. It’s a bit stupid but I’m number three so I get a lot of these things.” Shelly was quiet for a moment then said, “Chloe is number two.”

“Who is number one?”

“Miss Wells.”

Colin raised a brow. “She’s pretty, I guess. If you like the anime, faux-innocent type, with no ass and fake tits.”

“Colin,” Shelly gasped.

“True story and you know it.”

“Whatever,” she said, pulling an envelope out next. She handed it to him.

Colin took the red envelope and stared at it. His name was written in fancy script on the front. He opened the envelope and pulled out the card. The front had several red and pink hearts on it. He glanced at her then opened the card. Immediately, a small credit card sized piece of plastic fell out onto his lap.

“Read the card first,” she said.  
 

                                                                          Colin,

                                             I know that you don’t see me the way I see you.

                                                     You barely even notice I am a girl.

                                            But, I still want you to be mine, my Valentine.

                                                                          Love,

                                                           Krista Michelle Whitlock 

    

“Shelly, I know you’re a girl,” Colin said, frowning.

Before he could say another word, Shelly scooted closer and leaned into him and placed her lips on his.

It was a light, barely-there touch that set off a tickle in his stomach. Then, just like that, she pulled away. 

Colin touched his lips. Well fuck me, he thought as he looked at his fingers 
then to Shelly. Her eyes were wide; her mouth was round in the shape of an O.

“I’m so sorry. It was my first kiss. Grace said that I should woman up. I was like, no. But then she was like, Chloe was going to get her claws into you. And I was like, no! So, I thought that this,” she waved her hands between them, “was the right time to do it, but now I want to melt into the couch.” She grabbed her big candy bag and stuffed it into her backpack. “Forget what just happened.” Shelly pushed off the sofa and jogged to the front door.

“Stop,” Colin called out.

Shelly froze but her head hung.

He walked over to her. When she didn’t turn around to face him, he placed his hands on her arms and turned her to face him. Colin used one finger to lift her chin. Her hazel eyes were glossy as they stared back into his.

“I know you’re a damn girl,” he said.

Then he leaned in and kissed her again, the way a girl’s first kiss should be.

When he was done, he had to reach out and hold her steady.

“Wow,” she said. Her eyes glowed but not from unshed tears. “You’ve kissed before, huh.”

Colin shrugged, “Yeah. A lot. But nothing else.”

She started to nod frantically. “No…right, me either.” She looked down then back at him. “Oh god, I’ve never asked. Do you have a girlfriend?”

“Of course, I do,” he said.

Shelly’s face fell so fast he couldn’t keep the shit joke up.

“Her name is Krista Whitlock. She’s this little hot girl who I met a few months ago. People call her Shelly, which is spelled oddly because Michelle would suggest it should be spelled like “Chelle” but hey, I don’t get most shit people do.” he said with a smirk.

Shelly smiled big then wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him.

“Thanks for the gaming card,” Colin said as he backed away and took her by the hand. “Come on, let’s set you up with an online ID so we can play together when I leave.”

“No, that card is for you,” she argued as he pulled her toward his room.

“And I want it to keep in touch with my girl. Don’t argue with me.”

Inside his bedroom, Shelly sat on his bed while he started up his system. “What do you want your screen name to be?” he asked.

“You decide,” she said, shrugging. “I can’t play those shooting games. I get killed like in the first twenty seconds.”

“Not anymore. You will be on my team. That makes you untouchable.”

That’s it. Colin typed in her new username, 
Untuched. 

“Hey, Colin?”

“Yeah,” he said, handing her the remote, “Type in a password.”

“You do it,” she smiled, “but make the numbers 214…the date we became a couple.”

Colin’s heart sank as realized then that he didn’t have anything for her for Valentine’s Day. “I had something for you but…”

“This.” Shelly pulled his Candy-Gram from her backpack. “I saw you toss it. That police officer wouldn’t let me stop you but I pulled it out and I love it. These bubblegum pops are my favorite, you know. But I shouldn’t eat them. The gum sticks to my braces. The card…I will keep it forever.”

Colin smiled. He was amazed at how such immature words could make him feel so damn good. No, he didn’t expect her to keep it forever. She would probably forget it in a week or so, but right now, her words were magic to him.

He glanced at her wrist. “Where is your bracelet?”

“I gave it back to Robert.”

Colin looked around his room, thinking. He really didn’t have anything that would measure up to what looked like a diamond bracelet but… He did have something he liked and it was useful. Colin undid the paracord bracelet he wore around his wrist.

“It’s kinda lame, but you can wear it until I make you one in a more girly color. The cord is a lifesaver, believe me.”

“You made it?” Shelly asked, holding out her wrist.

Colin nodded and put the bracelet on her.

Shelly lifted her wrist and turned it. Her face lit with a satisfied smile. “No, this one is perfect.”

“You know, when Chris and Bleu were stranded on that island, he made her the wedding ring she wears, and his paracord bracelet was very useful in helping them survive.”

Shelly gave him a sympathetic look. “People say that there was no island. Not like they imagined. That the four of them were having some kind of woke hallucination.”

“They weren’t hallucinating. The island is real. It’s dangerous and beautiful.”

“Like you,” Shelly whispered.

Colin blinked a few times but was speechless. She thinks I’m beautiful…

“Sorry,” Shelly said looking down. Then she looked up at him again. “Can you tell me about it…the island.”

Colin smiled. “Well, Hell Island is what they call it. The one-year anniversary of them crashing there is next month. It has a thick ring of fog most days but on the days the fog disappears, on the Clear days, shit happens. Chris said…”

 
               I hoped you enjoyed this Valentine’s Day Short, a prequel to Colin and Shelly’s start.

                                                                Be sure to look for

                                                         
Proposal from Hell

                                                            Brielle and Justin’s story

                                                           And be on the lookout for

                                                                Colin & Shelly in

                                             
RETURN TO HELL ISLAND

                                                                   Electing Hell

                                             Which takes place 10 years from this point.

                                                       Happy Reading and Thank you!


 

A Valentine's Short

Krista Michelle “Shelly” Whitlock

COLIN STOKES

CANDY-GRAM

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