Always There by Alexis

Challenger: Audrey
Rating(s) of the fic you want: T (Teen 13+), MA (Mature 17+)
Which brother do you want your story to be about?: Zac
Genre you want your story to be: Adventure, Comedy or Drama
Three specific things you want your fic to include:

  • Romance
  • adoption of an animal
  • a trip to Malibu

Three things you do not want your fic to include:

  • slash
  • death

The white ceramic tile was cold against Audrey Marks feet as she held the phone to her ear waiting for her paternal grandmother to get to the point of her call. Her gaze shifted to her mother who was sitting outside on the cool Sunday evening of June, wrapped tightly in a blanket.

“Audrey, dear, are you still there?” Her grandmother’s voice echoed through the phone.

“Ye- yeah.”

“So will see you a week from Saturday?”

“Uh, Saturday?”

“Yes, Saturday, were you not listening to a word I just said?” Came her grandmother’s agitated reply.

“Sorry, Meema.”

“Darn right you’re sorry, I told your daddy that he should be the one to tell you, but he wanted me to do it.”

As the words trickled out Meema’s lips, Audrey felt a knife slice through her heart. Audrey’s gaze shifted to her mother who had encountered more pain than a woman her age should have to endure.

“So what time will we see you on Saturday?”

A wave of bravery washed into Audrey’s brain as she replied, “You won’t.”

“Oh, Audrey,” her grandmother sighed. “I know you’re mad at him, but he’s your father.”

“I’m not going and that’s final.” She started to hang up, but thought better of it and put the phone back to her ear. “Maybe next time.” She slammed the phone onto the cradle and could picture her grandmother staring at her phone shocked.

Without bothering to slip on her shoes, Audrey walked outside, goose bumps instantly forming on her arms and legs. “Mama, will you be okay for an hour?”

Her mother’s dull blue eyes, which had once sparkled, melt her own. “I’ll be fine.”

“Can I get you anything before I leave?”

“No. I’m going to turn in soon.”

“Okay.” Audrey bent down and kissed her mother’s forehead. She gave a slight wave before she headed to her car and drove off.

The streets of Tulsa were empty as Audrey drove the back roads to the neighborhood she called home for the first 19 years of her life. She paused her beat up Honda to look up at the beautiful white, farm house inspired, house with the bright red front door. Memories flooded her brain when she saw the mother and daughter, of the house, in the kitchen laughing together.

She tore her eyes away from the house and continued down the street until she got to the house she was looking for, the Hanson’s. Before they had moved in, when Audrey was five, the house was two-stories and painted diarrhea brown. Now, fifteen years later, the house stood three-stories, was painted a vibrant shade of blue and lots of flowers.

Glancing at the clock on the dash board, Audrey noted that it was only 7:00 and Zac, the Hanson’s third oldest, wouldn’t be excused from the dinner table until 7:30.

Meanwhile inside the Hanson house, Zac heard a car pull into the driveway and leaned back in his seat to see who it was. He frowned when he saw Audrey’s little blue Honda sitting there.

“Zac, don’t rock you’re chair, the little ones will only copy you,” his mother scolded.

“Sorry, ma,” he replied.

“What were you looking at anyway?” His older brother, Taylor, asked.

“Audrey’s parked out there,” Zac explained.

“Well go invite her in,” his mother told him.

“Yes, ma’am.” Zac pushed back his car and stood. He left the dinning room and stepped out the front door into the cool air. He rounded the house and saw Audrey getting out of her car. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Her tone was sad.

“What’s wrong?”

“He’s getting married this weekend.” Her eyes filled with tears.

“Oh Audrey.” He wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly.

“It’s just not fair. He cheated on my mom, destroyed our family and now a week after the divorce is final, he’s marrying the tramp?”

“Oh god, Aud, I’m so sorry.” Her tears were seeping through his t-shirt, but he didn’t care. “I’ll go with you to the wedding if you want me to.”

She pulled away quickly, as if she had been slapped. “I’m not going to the wedding. There is no way I am ever going to speak to that man again!” She began to cry again. “But I don’t know what I’m going to do this weekend to keep my mind off it all.”

“You leave this weekend up to me, okay?”

She looked up at him and nodded.

“Now that that’s settled, do you want to come in for some dinner?”

“I’m really not hungry.”

“Okay.”

“Do you think you could drive me home?”

“Yeah, wait here and I’ll go get my stuff.”

Zac waited until she was back in the car before he ran up back into the house. He grabbed his jacket and car keys from the closet before going into the kitchen. “Hey Tay, can you drop my car off at Audrey’s new place before you go home?”

“Uh, sure,” Taylor replied, barely catching the keys when Zac tossed them to him.

“Where are you going?” His mother asked.

“Audrey just found out that her dad is getting married next weekend,” Zac explained to them all.

“That poor girl,” his mother said, laying a hand over her heart. “I never liked that father of hers.”

“Diana, hush,” his dad said. “We’ll see you next Sunday, Zac.”

“Actually, I’m taking her away for the weekend. I don’t know where yet, but we won’t be back until late Sunday or early Monday,” Zac explained.

The room which had been full of chit-chat went silent as everyone turned their gaze to Diana. Sunday dinner at the Hanson household was mandatory and nobody missed it, ever.

“Mom, she really needs to get out of here for a few days and well I’m going to tell her this weekend so I want it to be special,” Zac explained.

“You’re going to tell her?” His oldest brother, Isaac, asked. “After all these years of keeping it to yourself.”

“I was waiting for the right time,” Zac shrugged. “And I think now is the right time.”

“Well good luck,” his mother replied. “And I expect both of you here the Sunday after and her mother, too.”

“But it’s for family only,” Taylor’s wife Natalie said. “I didn’t get to come until after we got married.”

“Hush.” Diana looked at her son. “This is the only time, until I am dead, that you will be allowed to miss a Sunday dinner.”

“Within reason,” his father added.

“Thank you!” Zac kissed his mother’s cheek before running out of the house. “Let’s go!”

“You look really happy.” Audrey frowned at the smile on his face.

“I just got out of Sunday dinner so I can take you some place special this weekend.”

Audrey’s jaw dropped. “What did you put in your mother’s drink?”

“Funny, especially since I’m supposed to bring you and your mother next Sunday.”

“Seriously, what did you put in your mother’s drink?”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out.” Zac started the car and backed out of the drive way. “So do you want to go straight home or do you want to stop somewhere?”

“I don’t care.” She leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes.

“Are you in the mood to share a pint of Java Chip ice cream with me?”

Audrey opened her eyes and raised her eye brows.

“Okay, so I’ll get two pints.”

Audrey closed her eyes as a smile played on her lips.

They rode in silence and Audrey didn’t open her eyes until Zac parked the car in front of the store.

“You coming in?”

Audrey shook her head.

“Fine, I’ll go all by my lonesome.” Zac unbuckled his seatbelt and as he opened his door said, “I just hope no girls try to kidnap me and my hot body.”

Audrey snorted as she tried to contain her laughter as Zac practiced his runway strut towards the door.

Five minutes later he took his place behind the steering wheel and handed the ice cream to her. “Now don’t you dare eat that all, ya gotta leave some for me.”

“You can lick the lids.”

“Very generous of you.” He rolled his eyes.

“I have a very giving heart.”

“I can tell.”

She smiled. “So, where are we going this weekend?”

“I’ll plan it, so don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”

“The beach would be fun…”

“Okay, but I don’t want you to worry about anything.”

“Control fr-” She stopped when her house came into view.

Zac furrowed his brow when he saw Audrey’s dad’s car parked in front of the house.

“What’s he doing here?”

“I don’t know.” Zac pulled the car into the driveway. “Go into the house, put the ice cream away and check on your mom.”

Audrey nodded and opened her door. She slammed it and sprinted to the back door.

Zac got out of the car and locked all the doors before walking over to Audrey’s dad’s car. “What are you doing here, Mitch?”

Audrey’s six foot, three inch, two-hundred and fifty pound father got out of his car and stared at Zac.

“What are you doing here?”

“I came to talk to my daughter, not that it’s any of your business.”

“That’s where you’re mistaken. Anything that hurts Audrey is my business.” Zac crossed his arms. “And I know for a fact that she doesn’t want to see or speak to you.”

“You always were protective of my little girl.”

“Somebody had to be. Now get out of here, Mitch, you’ve caused Audrey and her mother enough pain to last a lifetime.”

Zac watched as Mitch got into his car and drove off. He shook his head and headed for the house.

When he entered the kitchen, he found Audrey shoving spoons into the ice cream.

“He’s gone.”

“Good. Mom’s asleep in her room; I don’t think she even knows he was here.”

“It’s probably for the best.”

Zac dug into the coffee ice cream and pulled out a spoonful. He shoved it into his mouth and instantly regretted it when a brainfreeze kicked in. “OW!! OW!!” His spoon clanked onto the table as he held his head.

“Dork.” Audrey laughed as she stole a bite of his ice cream.

“Hey! You have your own.”

“Shh, Zac, my mom is upstairs sleeping.”

“You’re mean.”

Before Audrey could reply, the doorbell rang and she looked at Zac. “Will you answer that?”

He nodded and walked towards the front door. He looked through the peep hole and smiled when he saw it was his brother. He opened the door and said, “Hey Tay.”

“Hey, here are your keys. Do you think you could drop me off at home?” Taylor asked.

“Uh yeah, come in for a second.” Zac walked into the kitchen while Taylor closed the door. “Hey Aud, I gotta take Taylor home, but I’ll call you about this weekend, okay?”

“Yeah. Thanks for the ice cream.” She left her spoon in her ice cream and stood to give him a hug.

“No problem.” He looked at his pint of ice cream and at her. “I guess I’ll leave that here for you.”

“Thanks.” Audrey grinned and followed Zac to the door where Taylor was waiting. “Hey Taylor.”

“Hey, I’m sorry about your dad.”

Audrey looked at Zac and shrugged. “It’s his life.”

Zac wrapped Audrey in his arms and kissed the top of her head. “Lock the doors after we leave.” Audrey nodded. “Night, Aud.”

Taylor opened the front door and Zac followed his brother out the door.

Once they were in the car, Taylor turned to his brother and said, “So you’re really going to tell her?”

“Yup.”

“What if she doesn’t feel the same?”

“I don’t want to think about it right now.”

Friday morning, Audrey tossed her pink bikini into her suitcase and zipped it closed. She glanced around her room trying to decide if she needed to grab anything else. After deciding she had it all, she pulled her bag down the stairs and left it by the front door.

She could hear her aunt talking in the kitchen and decided to find out what was going on. When she entered the kitchen she found her mother staring into a coffee cup and her aunt leaning over the newspaper.

“We’re definitely going to this garage sale, Sallie,” Audrey’s aunt Michelle said to her older sister. “They’re selling baby clothes and Teresa is going to need all she can get when the twins get here.”

“Morning,” Audrey greeted.

“Oh, Audrey!” Michelle exclaimed. “Have you seen your cousin’s ultrasound of the twins?”

“Ya, she sent them to me.” Audrey walked to the fridge and pulled out a carton of orange juice.

Michelle took a glass from the cupboard and handed it to Audrey.

“Thanks.”

“I know you’re worried about leaving your mom here this weekend, but we’ll be fine.”

“I know.”

“What time is Zac coming to get you?”

As she was opening her mouth to speak the door bell rang.

“Now.”

“You finish your juice and I’ll give him your bags.”

Her aunt disappeared down the hall and Audrey chugged her orange juice. She rinsed her glass out and put it in the dishwasher. She gave her mother a hug and kiss before grabbing her purse and running out of the house.

She gave her aunt a hug and thanked her for coming down on such short notice.

“Travel safely,” her aunt said. “And don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine.”

Audrey smiled and climbed into Zac’s car. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

“Hey.”

Audrey opened her eyes and smiled at Zac. “Hey.”

“Busy morning?”

“My alarm clock didn’t go off, so I woke up an hour later than I was supposed to.”

“That sucks.” He started the car and backed out of the driveway. “So are you ready for a weekend of fun and excitement?”

“As soon as you tell me where we’re going, like you promised.”

“Fine, we’re going to Malibu.”

“Malibu as in the city in California?”

“I do believe that is the only Malibu in the world…”

“Where are we staying?”

“The Malibu Beach Inn.”

“Oh man, I bet it’s beautiful.”

“It is. I saw pictures online.”

“I wonder if we’ll see any movie stars. I mean how awesome would that be.”

Taking his eyes off the road, Zac looked at her and his heart filled with happiness when he saw the ear-to-ear smile that was spread across her face. It was the first real smile he had seen from her in months.

An hour later, Audrey looked at Zac’s sleeping frame and sighed. Without Zac to distract her, memories of happy times with her dad seeped into her thoughts.

There was the time when she was six that her dad had forgotten to buy her a birthday present so he took her to the local Humane Society and told her to pick out any dog she wanted. She spent two hours looking at the dogs and wasn’t able to choose one before the center was closing. She cried all the way home because she hadn’t been able to get a dog. Her dad promised to take her the following day, but that turned into the following week and that into the following month and so on.

She didn’t get her dog until Zac showed up one afternoon cuddling a black and white puppy, who’s mother was the Hanson’s Dalmatian Precious. Audrey squealed at finally having a dog and it was then that her mother found out about her father’s promise to get her a dog. It took a lot of negotiating but Audrey was finally allowed to keep the puppy that she named Bam.

Ten years to the day Zac brought Bam to her, he helped her bury his lifeless body. Audrey’s father had been out of town when Audrey and her mother learned that Bam had a tumor. Though she had pleaded and begged, her parents refused to spend five grand on a dog. Unable to watch her dog die painfully and slowly, Audrey made the decision to put him to sleep and Zac held her hand as they waited in the vet’s office.

Then because her father did not want a dead dog in his yard, Zac helped her dig a grave in his backyard and even built a doggy coffin with Bam carved into it.

Coming back to reality, Audrey glanced at Zac. All the memories she considered were happy ones between her and her dad, were only happy because Zac was there to help out. Her father hadn’t done anything but let her down and let Zac pick up all the broken pieces.

A smile spread across her face as she watched him sleep. His face was relaxed, his full red lips were curved up and his eye lids were closed softly. Every few seconds, he would take a breath and a soft snore would surface.

Audrey suppressed a giggle as she leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes.

Three hours later, Zac led Audrey out of LAX and to the car rental place to pick up the red Mustang convertible he had rented.

“Zac, how did you afford all this?” Audrey watched as he loaded their suitcases in the trunk.

“I got a great deal.” He shrugged and opened her door. “Your Mustang awaits, madam.”

After Audrey was seated, Zac closed the car door and ran around to his side.

“So when are we going to Malibu?”

“Right now.” He started the car and grinned like a little boy when the engine roared to life.

Audrey rolled her eyes and turned on the radio as Zac merged on to the freeway.

“And here is Jesse McCartney with his song “Why Don’t You Kiss Her”,” the radio DJ announced.

We’re the best of friends
And we share our secrets
She knows everything
that is on my mind
Lately something’s changed
As I lie awake in my bed
A voice here inside my head
softly says

Why don’t you kiss her
Why don’t you tell her
Why don’t you let her see the feelings that you hide
Cause she’ll never know
If you never show the way you feel inside

Zac reached over and flipped the station.

“Hey! I was listening to that!” Audrey glared at him and flipped back to the station.

Oh, I’m so afraid
To make that first move
Just a touch and we could cross the line
And every time she’s near
I wanna never let her go
Confess to her what my heart knows
Hold her close

Why don’t you kiss her
Why don’t you tell her
Why don’t you let her see the feelings that you hide
Cause she’ll never know
If you never show the way you feel inside

What would she say
I wonder would she just turn away
Or would she promise me that she’s here to stay
It hurts me to wait
I keep asking myself

Why don’t you kiss her
Why don’t you tell her
Why don’t you let her see the feelings that you hide
Cause she’ll never know
If you never show the way you feel inside

Why don’t you kiss her (tell her you love her)
Why don’t you tell her (tell her you need her)
Why don’t you let her see the feelings that you hide
Cause she’ll never know
If you never show
The way you feel inside

Why don’t you kiss her

Zac felt uncomfortable as he tried to grip the steering wheel with his wet, sweaty palms.

“You okay, Zac?”

Zac nodded nervously as he changed lanes.

“Do you think we could stop at the beach for a little while? I wanna check out the ocean.”

“Okay.” He hoped that she hadn’t noticed his voice cracking. He took the next exit and parked at the beach wayside.

“Last one down to the beach is a rotten egg!” Audrey jumped out of the car and ran down to the beach. She threw off her shoes and spun around in the hot sand.

Zac got out of the car and locked the doors before slowly making his way down to beach.

“Come on you rotten egg!!” Audrey laughed as she raced down to the water.

He sat down on the sand as Audrey splashed in the ocean.

Growing tired of playing in the ocean, Audrey ran up to Zac and rang the water from her shirt on him.

“Ah, thanks, Aud.”

“You’re welcome.” She flopped onto the sand next to him and smiled. “So what’s got your tongue?”

Zac raised his eyebrow and looked at her.

“It’s my spin on the over used phrase cats got your tongue.” She shrugged.

Zac stood and helped her up. “Let’s walk.”

“Okay…”

They walked for a few minutes in silence before Zac turned to her. “I need to tell you something.”

“Okay. Shoot.”

Zac closed his eyes and took a deep breath before looking at her.

“I’ve been hiding something from you for several years.”

Audrey frowned.

“No, it’s not a bad thing, well I don’t think it’s a bad thing…”

She raised an eye brow.

“Look, what I’m trying to say is that I love you, as in more than a friend.”

Audrey’s eyes widened in surprise but she stayed silent.

Zac felt a lump growing in his throat. “Please say something.”

Audrey smiled and said, “I love you, too.”

Zac’s eyes widened in surprise. “Re- really?”

Audrey nodded. “On the plane I realized that every time my dad let me down, you were there to pick up all the pieces. And I can’t imagine my life without you in it.”

“Oh, wow.”

“Mmm hmm.”

“So can I… well… um… kiss you?”

Audrey nodded and squealed when Zac grabbed her waist and pulled her body to his. He lowered his lips to hers and sucked on her lower lip until she opened her mouth to receive his tongue.

She pulled a way a few seconds later and smiled as she tried to catch her breath.

“You ready to go to the hotel?”

Audrey nodded and jumped on to his back. “Let’s go.”

Zac carried her back to the car and dropped her into her seat. He got in the car, started it and pulled back onto the freeway.

He pulled into the parking lot of the hotel fifteen minutes later and they grabbed their bags before heading inside.

“Wow, look at this place.”

“I know, right?” Zac set their bags down and walked over to the front counter. “Reservations for Zac Hanson.”

“Ah, yes. Please sign here and I’ll get you your key.”

Zac signed his name on the solid line and traded the receptionist the paper for the key to room 214.

“Have a nice stay.”

“Thanks.” Zac picked up their bags and led Audrey to their room.

“Oh wow,” Audrey said after they entered the one bedroom suite. She ran her hand over the white bedding and continued into the room running her hand over the mini kitchen before looking out the sliding glass door. “Zac, is that a hot tub?!”

“Yeah.”

“Oh my god! That is so awesome!!”

“So I take it you like it.”

“I love it! Can we stay here forever?”

“That would be rather expensive…”

“I’m not going to even try and imagine how much you spent on this room.”

“Let’s say you’re worth every penny.”

“Well good, I’m going to go put on my swim suit and get in that hot tub.”

After Audrey grabbed her suitcase and carried it in to the bathroom, Zac pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and called his parents to let them know they got there safely.

Audrey came out of the bathroom as he was hanging up dressed in a white robe.

“Go change. I’ll be in the hot tub.”

Zac nodded and took his swim trunks into the bathroom. He changed quickly and went out onto their private patio over looking the Pacific Ocean.

“Breath taking isn’t it?”

Zac looked out at the many colors of the sunset that decorated the sky, before turning his attention back to Audrey.

“Yeah you are.”

“Such a cheesy line, Zac Hanson.”

“It may be cheesy, but it’s true.” He used the steps on the side of the hot tub to climb in and eased his body into the hot water.

“You’re lucky I like your cheesy lines.” She crawled over to where he was sitting and sat down on his lap.

Zac felt the lump in his throat growing again and looked up into her sparkling blue eyes.

She placed her hands on either side of his face as she pulled him in for a kiss, sliding her tongue into his mouth immediately. She crushed her body into his and ran her hands through his hair.

He groaned against her lips as her pelvis grinded against his.

“Let’s go inside,” she whispered.

Zac nodded and with his member hardening quickly, followed her into the room. She sat down on the bed and motioned for him to join her. When he did she pushed him backwards and climbed on top of him, kissing him as if her life depended on it.

He ran his hands down her sides and squeezed the sides of her breast.

She moaned against his lips and cried out when he pulled away.

“Are you sure you want do this?” His brown eyes dug into her blue ones.

“Positive.”

Zac pulled the strings of her bikini top and watched as the top became slack. His mouth began to water as her perky white breasts were exposed to his eyes.

She pulled the top off completely and laid flat against the bed.

Zac lowered his puffy red lips on to her damp, slightly erect nipple and sucked on it until it was hard and red. He moved to her other nipple and gave it the same treatment.

He felt Audrey run her hands up and down his back. He moved his mouth to hers and kissed her passionately while attempting to get his swim trunks off. Audrey untied her bikini bottoms and lifted her hips briefly to remove them.

With his swim trunks around his ankles, Zac looked at Audrey, waiting for permission to continue.

She smiled and nodded.

Carefully, Zac eased his member into her wet womanhood, pushing farther in every time, even though he knew she wasn’t a virgin. She moaned when he pushed all the way in, filling her completely.

He looked down at her naked body and smiled. Beads of sweat were building on her breasts and above her ‘o’ shaped lips.

As if feeling his eyes on her, Audrey opened her eyes and blushed. She wrapped her arms around Zac’s neck and pulled him to her for a kiss. He sucked on her bottom lip and played with her tongue as he pushed in and pulled out.

Slowly, he felt the walls of her womanhood clamp down on his member. Together they came her with a squeal and him with grunts.

He pulled out of her shortly after and kicked off his shorts before climbing into the bed next to her and wrapping his arms around her tightly.

“I love you, Zac.”

“I love you, too, Audrey.”

After placing a kiss on her bare shoulder, he closed his eyes and pulled her close.

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