Home > Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)(4)

Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)(4)
Abbi Glines

Micah was so special. He had his father’s charm, and he was so smart. He was like a little grown man in a child’s body. Everyone who had ever met him fell in love with him. Just like his father. His smile was Dustin’s, and so was his laugh. It was like having a part of Dustin with me all the time. Micah was his own person, and he had wonderful qualities his father hadn’t had. He was perfect.

Dustin would have wanted Micah to have his last name. That would never be. I did the only thing I could do and gave him his father’s given name instead. Micah Dustin Roy was what I put on his birth certificate. Back then I had hoped that one day the Falcos would allow me to change his last name to Falco. That dream had passed years ago.

“Momma?” Micah’s voice was filled with concern.

I walked over to him and squatted down to his eye level. He knew he shouldn’t have answered the door. It was something I had drilled into his head since we’d moved out of Aunt Cathy’s. We still had to talk about this. Just because he felt safe here didn’t mean there was no danger.

“You know better than to open that door,” I told him.

His shoulders slumped and he nodded. “Yeah. I know. I forgot. But that man was nice. He wasn’t a bad guy, was he, Momma?”

I thought about that. Dewayne wasn’t a bad guy the way that Micah meant. But he wasn’t a good man. A good man wouldn’t have turned on his brother’s child. “He’s not someone we need to spend time with. He won’t hurt us or anything, but I don’t trust him. Our business is our business. That’s it. Okay? We don’t share our business with anyone. When someone comes into our life who I feel we can trust, I will let you know. Until then, it’s just me and you.”

Micah nodded. “Okay. Just me and you.”

I held up my fist. “Dynamic Duo,” I said.

He fisted up his hand and bumped mine. “Dynamic Duo,” he repeated. Then he threw his arms around me and hugged me tightly. “Love you, Momma.”

“I love you, too, baby boy.”

I held on to him as long as he would let me. When he was done, he dropped his arms and stood back. “I’m gonna go back to my room and play.”

I stood up and pressed a kiss to his head. “I’m gonna fix us some supper,” I told him.

“Mac ’n’ cheese!” he called out as he ran for his room.

“No. You’re gonna turn into mac ’n’ cheese,” I called back to him, laughing, before heading to the kitchen. Tonight we were eating bread pizzas. It was something I had come up with to make a cheap meal interesting. Slices of sandwich bread with tomato paste, cheese, pepperoni, and mushrooms didn’t cost much and made several meals.

“You’re gonna make bread pizzas, aren’t you?” he said as he stuck his head back out of his room and looked down the hall toward the kitchen.

“Yep. You gonna help me?”

“Yup!” he called back. “You don’t put enough cheese,” he explained as he came running back toward me.

DEWAYNE

“What’s the verdict? You think the kid who answered the door is gonna be the new neighborhood drug lord?” Dad asked as he followed me into the house.

I shot him an annoyed glare and he chuckled. He didn’t realize that shit actually went on in some places. It was my job to keep them safe, even if he didn’t accept that.

“Looked right terrifying. ’Specially when he peeked around your legs at me.”

The kid had been cool. Dad would love him. . . . But . . . I wasn’t sure I was gonna tell him just who that kid belonged to. Sienna wasn’t the same girl they’d known. She was cold, distant, and hiding something. I knew enough about people to know when someone wanted to get rid of me because they didn’t want me to see too closely.

The boy had to be what had made her clam up. She didn’t want us to know she’d turned around and gotten knocked up, probably no more than a year after Dustin was killed. Can’t say I blame her, because it didn’t look real good. Maybe she really had snapped, and because she was mentally unstable, she’d made a mistake and ended up with Micah.

She sure didn’t look mentally unstable now. Fuck. Who was I kidding? The woman could be crazy as a loon and I wouldn’t have noticed. Her body and that gorgeous face of hers had hindered my seeing the real her. She was the kind of good-looking that made guys not give a shit if she was insane.

But the boy had been normal. Happy, even. Didn’t look scared or neglected. A crazy momma couldn’t raise such a normal-acting kid. Could she? Was he even hers? Could that be her secret, that she was raising someone else’s kid?

“That brain of yours sure is a-workin’. The tiny tike drug lord worrying you?”

I shook my head and rolled my eyes at my dad.

“Is that Dewayne I hear? Did my boy finally come see me?” Momma’s voice called out from the kitchen. The guilt swamped me as she came around the corner, smiling like I had just lit up her world, and opened her arms to me. I was the only kid she had now. Not the one who was going to be a star and make them proud. I was the tatted-up rebel who had planned on raising hell and traveling the world with nothing but a backpack. No reason to stay anywhere long.

But then the good son, the one who had been meant for greatness, got drunk and ran his car into a f**king tree going over a hundred miles an hour. Now she had me. I was it. And I was still a fuckup even though I tried like hell to do the right thing. Make her proud.

“Sorry, Momma. I should’ve slowed down long enough to get over here. Won’t happen again,” I told her as I returned her hug. The top of her head didn’t even touch my chin.

“Good. I missed you,” she said, stepping back and then swatting me with the dish towel in her hand. “I’m about to pull the apple pie out of the oven and run it over to the new neighbors. Then we can sit down and eat.”

Fuck. I hadn’t thought about Momma and her apple pies. Of course she’d want to take one to Sienna. I needed to prevent that. Bad idea. Momma was still too raw from the anniversary of Dustin’s death. She didn’t need to see her new neighbors just yet.

“Yeah, not gonna happen tonight. I just went over there and met them. They were headed out to dinner and to get some groceries. Didn’t seem much to want company. Really odd woman.”

Momma frowned and then shrugged. “Then y’all can eat my pie and I’ll make another tomorrow and see if I can’t get it over there to them. Shouldn’t be calling the poor woman odd, though.”

She turned and walked back toward the kitchen, and I followed behind her. I knew there would be beer in the fridge, and I needed one.

“All I saw was legs, but from the look of them, wasn’t nothing about them legs odd,” Dad said behind me.

The old man loved to cause problems. He found that shit funny. “Legs were okay, I guess, but the rest of her was average. Nothing special,” I lied.

I so f**king lied.

Chapter Three

Eight years ago . . .

DEWAYNE

“Dude. Seriously. Fuck.” Preston’s tone of voice caught my attention, and I looked up from unlacing my football cleats to see what he was so excited about.

Ellie Nova was headed our way. And she was smoking hot. But then, Ellie was always smoking hot. When she’d moved here our freshman year, we’d all walked around with hard-ons, hoping to get a glimpse up those short skirts of hers or a go at her tits. Which were f**king huge.

“I want some of that. Before we graduate, I want that pussy,” Preston said in a low voice.

The problem with Ellie was that she had a whole shit ton of money and she was a princess. No, she was a f**king queen. She looked down her nose at everyone. Didn’t matter—guys still fantasized about her. She was Sea Breeze High’s own centerfold.

“Good luck. I think she may be the only ass in our senior class you haven’t tapped—and the only one you never will,” I said. I loved rubbing it in to pretty boy that Ellie hadn’t given him the time of day.

“Okay, first of all, I’ve not tapped ugly ass. I have standards. And second of all, I’ll get between those thighs before we leave this place. I’m Preston Drake,” he reminded me, with a cocky shrug and a smirk.

Truthfully, if any of us was going to lay Ellie, it would be Preston. I had no doubt.

“Dewayne,” Ellie’s voice said, startling me, and I turned to look at her. I was pretty sure she’d never actually said my name in four years.

“Yeah?” I replied, refusing to let her know I wanted a taste.

She twirled a lock of golden hair around her finger and nibbled on her bottom lip as she looked up at me through thick lashes. I didn’t even care if those lashes were fake. This was a hot look. A very f**king hot look.

“I was wondering if maybe you could give me a ride home,” she said with a pouty mouth.

I could give her a ride, all right. One she wouldn’t soon forget.

“Fuck that,” Preston cursed behind me. This was going to drive him nuts.

I couldn’t help but grin. “Sure. Just let me get my bag out of the locker room,” I said, trying not to act like I was happy about this. Playing it cool with Ellie was the only way I’d get what I wanted out of her.

“Thank you so much. My car’s in the shop, and I didn’t want to call Daddy to come get me.”

I didn’t want her calling Daddy either. I had plans that I was sure Daddy wouldn’t approve of.

Preston shoved me as I walked by him, and I bit back a laugh. This was so pissing him off. And I’d have it to rub in his face for the rest of our lives. I got between Ellie’s legs first. Because that was the game plan. I wanted to see if that stuck-up, hot-as-fuck pu**y was worth all the attention it got her.

“Hey, Sienna, what’s up with you, girl? Come looking for me?”

Preston’s words stopped me, and I turned back around to see Sienna looking unsure as she smiled that sweet, shy smile at Preston. Then she looked at me. Damn. That smile. It made something in me clench up like a motherfucker every time. Did she realize that?

“I, uh, was going to see if I could get a ride. I missed the bus and Dustin has already left, I think. I didn’t see him much today, and I don’t know where he goes after school,” she said, her cheeks turning pink as she looked at me.

“Yes, beautiful, you sure as hell can. I was just thinking I hated riding home alone,” Preston replied in that sugary-sweet tone that was meant to goad me. He was getting his revenge. Or he thought he was.

“No,” I said, walking over to Sienna to take her arm. “I’ll get Sienna home. You take Ellie home,” I told him, making sure he understood I wasn’t f**king around.

Preston understood. His smirk was more than pleased. He’d be f**king Ellie first after all. And after this I was pretty damn sure I’d never get a taste of Ellie Nova. But she wasn’t important enough to ignore Sienna for. If Sienna needed me, I couldn’t find it in me to tell her no. And I sure as f**k wasn’t letting Preston around her. Alone. Hell no.

Present day . . .

SIENNA

By Friday we had found our rhythm. Micah got up and dressed himself while I made breakfast, which consisted of a Pop-Tart and a glass of milk. That wasn’t going to win me Mom of the Year, but he liked Cookies & Creme Pop-Tarts, and I liked getting him to school on time. We did eat breakfast together. I ate my breakfast bar and drank some coffee while Micah chatted away happily.

I was not a morning person. I couldn’t even form words until I’d had at least thirty minutes of wake-up time and two cups of coffee. Micah, on the other hand, woke up singing. This morning he had told me his predictions for the upcoming basketball season. I’d had no idea what he was saying, but I nodded and sipped my caffeine.

Getting myself dressed took more time, but it gave Micah a chance to play with his toys and pick out what he wanted me to pack him for lunch. He liked having choices. Most days we didn’t have many choices, but he still wanted to pick it out.

He hadn’t been late once all week, and neither had I. My new job was Tuesday through Saturday. Micah went to after-school care until five every day. The counselor at his school had told me about it. The cost was determined by my income, so it was much more affordable than a day care.

An added bonus was that several of the kids from his class went to after-school care too. So he enjoyed getting to play with his new friends. If it weren’t for the fact that I had to see the Falcos’ house every day, then this would all be perfect. But seeing Dustin’s house continually reminded me of the rejection that Micah didn’t deserve from people whose blood he shared.

“Sienna . . . Roy?” a familiar voice said, breaking me out of my thoughts while I was sweeping up the hair from my last appointment. Lifting my head, I reminded myself that I was prepared for this. People were going to recognize me. Just because I had gone a week without being recognized (aside from Dewayne) didn’t mean it wasn’t going to happen eventually.

Amanda Hardy smiled at me as she tucked her long, shiny blond hair behind her ear. Her eyes sparkled with actual pleasure to see me. But then, that was Amanda. She’d been a year behind me in school, but her older brother, Marcus, was a close friend of Dewayne’s and I had gotten to know her through him. She had always been pretty, but she was gorgeous now. I hadn’t seen her since she was fifteen. The diamond on her left hand caught the sunlight. Not surprising that she was engaged. I imagine the guys around here had beaten down her door—that is, if they’d been able to get past Marcus.

I leaned the broom against my work station and walked over to where she stood at the receptionist desk. “Hello, Amanda,” I said.

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