Love, Save the Empty

chapter one.

The bass of the music thrumming through the house on Pacific Coast Highway, is drowning the laughs and chats of friends and acquaintances. Outside, waves crash and recede before repeating the natural cycle of the world and the moon's gravitational pull. Here, this is life. There is a balance of white and black - fifty different shades of the gray that make up daily living. There are the surfers and the skaters - the punks and the preps - the rich and the rehab. Here, life is all that there should be.

And life is all there is.

Music, the kind meant for parties between friends and fun, echoes over walls and miles of shore line. It drowns the laughs and words of greeting, though. The laughs and words of close friends. The laughs and words of people are our enjoying the life they are given and all the things they get.

Brian Haner, Jr., is one of these people.

He has an ice cold Budlight beer in one hand, which he drinks from every few minutes, and a dark haired girl on his hip. She laughs, one arm around his waist and the other holding a possessive grip on his white v-neck shirt. Brian does not mind the possessiveness of this woman, Michelle, for he holds his own possessive hold around her.

But its not out of love.

Love, such a funny word. A word that is meant to hold passion and adoration for another being, but is thrown around like an old dollar bill. No, their possessiveness is not out of love, it is for something complete different.

The party continues, and its at moments like these, that Brian Haner, Jr., enjoys the life he is given and finds no regrets. Well, he has one regret, but that incident he had very little control over.

It's the beginning of October, and the nights are cooling off faster than they do in the summer. Some girls have decided to have some alcohol-induced fun at the beach that is just outside Brian's door. The girls are followed by three familiar faces of Brian's friends - Johnny, Zacky, and Jimmy.

Brian can see his other closest friend, Matt, off to the side with his own heavily tattooed arm around his fair-haired wife, Valary. He looks back down at Michelle, the twin sister of Valary, and his attention is turned back to the party of the friends he's invited to his humble abode.

But soon it is part midnight, and Brian is saying goodbye to his friends. The door is closed, and Brian drinks the last of his beer before placing it on the coffee table that is already littered with other beer bottles. He can hear Michelle on her cellphone in the kitchen, but he doesn't disturb her. He knows it is important.

"Hey, babe," Michelle says, coming back into the main room of Brian's house. He looks at her, raising a dark eye brow in response. "Just got a call. The designers need me in New York by noon tomorrow. I've got to catch the next plane there."

Brian has a look of frustration on his face, but nods and kissing her gently on the lips before she goes off to pack a quick bag and call to reserve the ticket. She leaves within the hour, and Brian is left in his home. He muses on the idea of going for a midnight surf, but decides against it. Instead, Brian grabs the nearest trash can and dumps all the empty bottles into it.

His house is clean in ten minutes, and it is quiet. Usually, he would be working on music for the band by now, or going to town with Michelle in his bed, but neither were going to be happening tonight. So, in response to this dull ending to the night, Brian just strips down to his boxers and climbs into his bed.

It's comfy, and the firmness is prefect for his long-day-aching back. The home is silent, other than the air conditioner as it turns on and the few sounds from Brian as he reached for the empty spot of his bed, wanting Michelle back. But she's gone, and he doesn't know when she'll be back.

Sometime, just before Brian dozes off, Pinkly, his little fluffy white Maltese, jumps into the bed with him. She curls up to him, and Brian decides she will have to fulfill Michelle's spot for the night.

This is how Brian Haner, Jr., falls asleep.

However, when he wakes up in the morning, there's the distinct annoying ring of his doorbell. Why did I get that thing installed? he curses himself, before getting out of bed and pulling on a pair of board shorts. Yawning into his hand, scratching his side like always, the bell rings again.

"I'm fucking coming!" he yells, and the bell ringing stops. Pinkly is barking from some part of the house, but he does nothing about it. Brian huffs and does one last stretch of his back before opening the front door. He is met by the rising sun shining over the Pacific Ocean. It makes a bright blue, one that used to always take his breath away. And that's all he sees.

"Goddamn teenagers," he mumbles, but knows he has no where to speak since he was once doing the whole ding-dong-ditch thing too.

"Hey!" a small, feminine voice says, and Brian stops, looking down. He's met with bright hazel eyes that make him blink in surprise. The little girl, who can't be older than twelve, holds a doll in her arms, and there are two bags behind her.

"Look, kid, I don't do Girl Scout cookies," he tells her, before turning and closing the door. He's taken three steps before the bell rings again. He curses under his breath, runs a hand through his chopping black hair and opens the door again. The girl is still there with her wavy golden brown hair and bright hazel eyes.

"I don't know what it is you're selling, but I don't have any cash. So run on home."

She frowns. "But I don't want your money. I want-"

Brian grins, "Oh, I know what you want! Your sister or whatever must have sent you here. You want an autography. Sure kid, one second."

When he turns, his grin falls and he tries to hold back another yawn. He would have rather the sister come inside of this squirt.

"You have a dog!" she says, running into the front room of his house. Pinkly runs up to her, and instantly starts to lick her face as the girl scratches at her ears and neck.

"Hey, hey! Careful! She's got flea medicine on her..." he mumbles the last part before Pinkly lays on her back and the girl rubs at her belly. The young girl continues to pet Pinkly. Brian growls. "Look, you can't just come walking into strangers' homes like this."

She looks up, her bright hazel eyes burning into Brian's before she stops petting Pinkly and slowly starts to get up. Pinkly starts, unhappy with the lack of attention. The girl wears a pout on her lips as Brian crosses his arms over his chest.

"There are a lot of weirdos out there in the world. Didn't your mom every teach you that?"

She looks down, and says a small, meek, "Yes."

"Well, where is she?"

"On an airplane." Brian's brow lifts up to his hair line.

"An airplane? Well who the hell are you here with? You got anybody I can call?"

"I'm here with my dad," she says softly, slowly, almost as if trying to give Brian bad news. His eyebrow drops and his fists clench under his arms. He's tired, and grumpy, and this little girl won't get to the point.

"Well, where is he? I'm sure he's looking for you."

She shakes her head, bouncy golden brown hair swaying with her head. "No, he's not looking for me."

Brian groans at this. He can't deal with orphans right now. "Well why not?"

Her next words send Brian into a slight state of panic.

"Because he's looking at me."

He wears an expression of confusion, and the little girl sighs to herself. She takes a step forward, and looks up at Brian, looking into his brown eyes. Those hazel eyes are bright and remind him of someone.

"Hi. We've never met, but you were with my mom before. Nina, Nina Pierce."

Brian's world is thrown into a flash of memories of the woman Nina Pierce. He sees her, for the first time, in high school. And then one late night at the Spot with all the other guys and their girls. And then her on Prom night - she's under him, only in a pair of lacy frilly things that he wants to get off of her more than anything -

And then the fight. The horrible, horrible fight that broke them up and sent her off to Florida to live with her dad and older sister.

"I'm Audrey. I'm your daughter."
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I do hope I get a few readers and those that will enjoy this. I know I am going to enjoy writing it. :)
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