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Authors: Rose, Leighton

Finding home

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Finding Home

 

by Leighton Rose

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Leighton Rose

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Author:

 

Digital Edition: June 2014

 

Editors:Adriana D’Apolito, Cool Beans Editing

Cover image licensed by www.shutterstock.com

Cover Photo design by G.D. Leigh

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. If certain places or characters are referenced it is for entertainment purposes only.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the Author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

WARNING

This book contains material that may be offensive to some and is intended for a mature, adult audience. It contains graphic language, homosexual relations,explicit sexual content and adult situations.

 

Dedication

For Maris.

Your friendship, love, and support has meant more to me than I can express. Thank you for everything.

Acknowledgements

Thank You:

 

To my real life Dillon for inspiring this story and cheering me on at every point. I hope you know how much I love you.

 

To Franca, Dana, & Sammie for being the best pre-readers a girl could ask for. Your insight and encouragement was instrumental in getting this book finished. I love you all so much.

 

To Dee for being there for me every step of the way. You can’t possibly know how much I owe you for everything. I love you more than books.

 

To Barb, Sandy, andBrandilyn for beta reading for me and helping me polish the story even more. I appreciate you all so much.

 

To Kade, what can I say, Princess? You are one of the best cheerleaders and friends I could have asked for. Thank you for talking me down from the ledge more than once and for just being authentically you, who has been an inspiration to me since I started reading your books.

 

To my real life Cody for inspiring fictional Cody. Your humor brought out the best in him and made him easy to write.

 

To T.M. Franklin for coming up with the suggestion for Adam’s tattoo shop, Inkspiration.

 

And finally, to Brett for being an amazing tattoo artist who went above and beyond for a customer. I promise not to go anywhere else as long as you’re around! What you did for me for the BONUS at the end of the book took my breath away. Your talent amazes me.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Epilogue

About the author:

Chapter 1

“Happy fucking birthday to me,” Dillon Turner mumbled to himself as he looked around the crowded bus, trying to locate an empty row of seats but finding nothing. Most of the people he could see appeared grumpy, because everyone knows a Greyhound bus is never a fun place to be. It appeared unlikely that he would find a seat because none of them seemed open to having him sit by them, but then again, Dillon was used to feeling unwanted.

 

About three-quarters of the way toward the back, a man who looked to be in his mid-forties moved his bag off of the seat next to him and motioned for Dillon to sit. Dillon’s heart began to race, but he smiled politely and sat, stuffing his backpack between his legs and digging around in it for his iPod, internally grateful that the man next to him didn’t smell like garbage or cigarettes.

 

“Where ya headed?” the kind man asked Dillon, turning slightly in his seat to face him.

 

Dillon barely kept the groan in his chest from escaping. He didn’t want to talk to anyone on this trip, and the guy looked like he was settling in for a long conversation. “Omaha,” he replied as he plugged his ear buds into his music player, hoping the stranger would take the hint.

 

He didn’t. “Looks like we’ll be seatmates for the next ten or so hours.” The guy seemed genuinely nice, but Dillon really, really wasn’t in the mood.

 

“Looks like,” Dillon agreed and then put the ear buds into his ears. He pressed play and suddenly the noise around him was drowned out by Coldplay, his favorite band. His head fell back against the seat, eyes drifted closed, and he let Chris Martin singing about paradise take him to his place of peace.

 

Dillon had turned eighteen literally ten hours before, and instead of being out celebrating like most teens would have been, he’d packed his ratty duffel bag and backpack with the few earthly possessions he had and walked to the nearest Greyhound station. Once he got there, he bought a ticket to Omaha, for no real reason other than it seemed like a good place to start and then he waited. His parents were not aware of his leaving, but then again, they most likely wouldn’t give a damn when they did figure it out. He was legally old enough to be responsible for himself, and they couldn’t report him as a runaway any longer, so there was nothing keeping him at home.

 

Home.

 

It’s such a funny word, Dillon thought, because the tiny run-down house he’d grown up in was never really a home. It was the place where he’d slept and sometimes ate, but it wasn’t ever a place where he felt safe and loved. His parents had never wanted to be parents in the first place, but when he came along they kept him. Dillon was never really sure why because what he wanted or needed was never at the top of their list of priorities, so he’d basically raised himself. He’d always figured it must have been because his presence in their life meant that the statewould give them money, so in that way he was valuable to them. Besides, when his parents were present, his father was always either drunk or high and his mother was so zoned out on pills that it was never worth the effort to try to get their attention, so he stayed invisible.

 

Once Dillon was finally old enough to get a job, he’d applied at the local grocery store as a bag boy and eventually worked his way up to cashier. At least then he could save up money to feed himself and get new clothes when he needed them, rather than when his parents thought they were obligated to buy them. He’d been saving every penny since he was fifteen, minus the money needed to survive, in order to get out of his own personal hell the second he could.

 

It almost felt like a dream when the bus finally pulled away from the station, and Dillon gave the city of Chicago and his parents the middle finger in his head as a final, silent fuck you for not caring about him in the slightest. They could rot in hell for all he cared.

 

Dillon had no fucking clue what he was going to do when he got to Omaha, but he was finally free to actually start living his life, and there wasn’t anyone who could take that away from him. It felt fucking fantastic, and he couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across his face. Chris Martin was still singing to Dillon from his ear buds, seducing him in a way that only he could, so Dillon forced himself to push all the negativity out of his head and instead celebrated his birthday on his own terms.

 

Dillon’s stomach rumbled loudly, reminding him that in his rush to get out of that place, he’d skipped breakfast. Not that it was the first time he’d skipped a meal or anything but he remembered the granola bars and Gatorade that he’d packed for the trip were in his bag. He opened his eyes to rummage around in his backpack, only to spot the guy sitting next to him staring like he was some oddity that the guy had never seen before.

 

While Dillon twisted the lid off his drink, he pulled one of his earbuds out and asked, “Is something wrong?”

 

“No… No,” the guy replied hurriedly, shaking his head. “I’ve just never really seen anyone look so at peace on a bus before. I’m Tom, by the way.”

 

“Dillon,” he offered before taking a big gulp of the orange flavored drink.

 

“Well, Dillon, whatever your reasons for being on this bus are, I sincerely hope it works out for you. The smile on your face is breathtaking when you think no one is looking.” Then Tom blushed bright red. “Oh my God! I’m so sorry! That sounded really creepy, and I swear I’m not. It’s just refreshing is all I meant by that!”

 

“It’s all good. I promise, and thanks for the good luck wish. I think I’m going to need it.” Dillon smiled politely at Tom, put his music back on, and drifted off to sleep. He slept pretty well for a few hours, until the bus made its first stop which startled him awake. Once he realized that he was not at his final destination, he just zoned out.

 

The rest of the trip was a blur of stops and starts, and Dillon was thankful that he’d spent a little of the money that he’d saved on the iPod. It had such a long battery life, and Dillon was glad to have some sort of entertainment. Music and books had been his escape for most of his life. Today was no different. It was the best way he knew to leave reality behind and give himself something to hope for.

 

Love.

 

Dillon read about it all the time and heard about it in the songs he listened to, but, to him, it was the stuff fairy tales were made of and not something he really felt like he was ever going to be able to attain. He’d never felt like he was somebody worthy of being loved, and he couldn’t remember ever feeling anything other than disdain for the people who’d brought him into the world.

 

Aren’t I just a fucking ray of sunshine?

 

Dillon stared out the window as the miles passed by. He watched as the sun slowly drifted toward the horizon, turning the sky a really cool shade of pink, mixed with purple and orange. He’d never been outside of Chicago, so this was his first real chance to see what the world was actually like, and so far, he really liked what he saw. Chicago never got amazing sunsets like that in the middle of the city, or at least Dillon had never paid attention enough to notice if they had. Then, just like that, the sun was gone and the moon was shining down, illuminating the fields of corn and cows. It might seem boring and bland to someone else, but it was the path to freedom for Dillon, and it was a welcome fucking sight.

 

It wasn’t long after that when he saw a green sign that read,‘Nebraska… the good life,’and he certainly hoped it would be. God knew something had to give.

 

*****

 

Dillon was standing in line with several other people who’d departed at the Omaha station, waiting to get his duffel bag, when the enormity of the situation at hand hit him like a ton of bricks. He was homeless now. He looked around at the buildings surrounding him and was quite intimidated.

 

The driver handed him his bag, and Dillon thanked him before walking toward the station. He needed a place to stay, as cheap as possible, and figured that someone at the ticket counter might have some idea of where he could find something like that.

 

“Can I help you?” a beautiful, young, blonde woman at the counter greeted him cheerfully. Her name tag said Amy. She flashed Dillon a bright smile and cocked her head slightly to the side as she waited for him to answer.

 

He smiled nervously back at her as he chewed on his lip. “Um, yeah. Hi. I… uh… I’m kinda new to town, as in I’ve been here for like five minutes, and I was sorta wondering if you had any idea where I might be able to find an extended-stay motel that won’t cost me a ton?”

 

Amy laughed heartily. Her laugh had an unusually musical quality to it which made Dillon feel at ease instantly. He really hoped that he ran into more people like her while he was in town. “You’re in luck, kid,” she told him. “It just so happens that my grams owns a small place, Banks Motel and she offers weekly rates.”

 

“Really? Where’s it at?” Dillon asked a little too eagerly, excited that he might not have to sleep on the street tonight.

 

Amy wrote an address down on a piece of paper and slid it over the counter to him. “How old are you, kid?” She appeared to be appraising him, maybe trying to decide how old he was for herself.

 

“My name is Dillon,” he informed her, irritated at being called kid. He’d been taking care of himself for so long that he’d never really gotten a chance to be a kid, so the name pissed him off, and rightly so. “I’m eighteen.”No need for her to know how early into my eighteenth year I actually am.He kept that thought to himself.

 

“Okay,Dillon.” She emphasized his name and winked at him playfully. “Normally she requires you to be at least twenty before you can rent a room without an adult present,” Amy stated.

 

Great.

 

He knew it had to be too good to be true. “Iamlegally an adult now.” He almost pouted but thought better of it. If he was going to convince her he was old enough to rent a room, he needed to act like an adult and not a child. “What am I supposed to do now? I have nowhere else to go.” He was mainly talking to himself at that point, but Amy’s face scrunched up, and she looked genuinely concerned for him.

 

“Where is your family?” she asked.

 

He visibly cringed when she questioned him. “I don’t have a family.” It was basically true.

 

A sympathetic look crossed her face. “Hold on a minute.” She picked up the phone and dialed. “Hey, Grams, it’s Amy. I have a young man here who just got off a bus from…” She looked at Dillon expectantly.

 

“Chicago,” he answered.

 

“Chicago,” she repeated. “He doesn’t have anywhere to go and no family around, but he’s only eighteen.” She nodded silently at whatever she was hearing, and then a huge smile overtook her face again. “Thanks, Grams! I knew you’d come through for me. His name is Dillon.”

 

She winked at Dillon again. “I love you, too, Grams. I’ll see you Sunday. Bye!”

 

Dillon was extremely uncomfortable witnessing such a loving exchange, and it was only one side of the conversation.

 

“Okay, Grams said to send you on over and she’ll set you up. Do you need me to call you a cab?”

 

“How far away is it?” Dillon asked. He was pretty sure cabs were expensive and was trying to save as much of his money as he could. “I could probably walk if you gave me directions.”

 

That made Amy chuckle. “Oh, sweetie, no. It’s all the way across town.” Dillon’s face fell in disappointment as he tried to mentally calculate how much of his money he’d lose on a cab.

 

Amy’s face softened as she witnessed his internal struggle. “Listen, I get off work in about forty-five minutes. If you want to wait; I can drive you then.”

 

“Why would you do that for me?” he asked her, immediately suspicious of her motives. “You don’t know me from Adam.” People just weren’t that nice without wanting something in return.

 

“Actually, Adam’s my brother.” She laughed again, and it made Dillon feel happy. It was all very strange to him. “And you just look like you could use a run of good luck for a change.”

 

“So, you’ll really give me a ride?” he clarified, still skeptical. Amy nodded. “What do you want in return?”

 

“Nothing,” she answered dismissively. “You can wait on that bench over there.”

 

“That doesn’t make any sense…” Dillon muttered under his breath as he walked over to the bench to wait. He pulled out a book and started to read in order to pass the time. The story had sucked him in; he was lost in someone else’s world when a hand on his shoulder startled him back to reality. He gasped in surprise.

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