Home > Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)(6)

Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)(6)
Abbi Glines

I dropped my hands and stared back up at Sienna.

Her little boy was a part of Dustin. My brother wasn’t completely gone anymore. He’d left behind something . . . someone.

This didn’t bring him back, but for the first time in six years my heart felt lighter. Not just for me, but for my family.

Chapter Four

SIENNA

He hadn’t known about Micah.

He didn’t have to tell me that. It was all over his face. Only once in my life had I seen this intimidating man look on the verge of crumbling, and that had been at Dustin’s funeral. How had he not known? Had his mother not told him?

“Momma? You coming inside?” Micah asked, sounding worried. I had to get inside with him. This was not the place for this. Micah was my first concern, always.

“I can’t do this here,” I told Dewayne. “He doesn’t need to hear it.”

Dewayne’s eyes shifted to the door, but Micah was back inside. Dewayne couldn’t see him. I watched as he swallowed hard and the hint of his Adam’s apple moved. Then he nodded and looked back at me. “Okay, but I have questions. He’s . . . he’s . . . I want to know him, Sienna.”

That one statement meant more to me than Dewayne could ever possibly know. “Then you will,” I replied. “But not now. This isn’t the way to handle it.”

Dewayne tilted his head back, closed his eyes, and let out a heavy sigh. I couldn’t imagine what he was thinking. All along I’d thought he’d known about Micah. This had to be a major shock for him. When he looked back at me, I saw moisture in his eyes, and that alone won this man a place in my heart. For so long I had wanted someone to love Micah and want Micah as fiercely as I did.

“When can we talk?” he asked.

“I only work half days on Saturdays. I could leave Micah at day care a little longer, though I really hate the thought of that. Maybe it would be best to wait until he goes to bed tomorrow night.”

Dewayne frowned. “Day care?”

“Yes,” I replied defensively, not liking the tone of his voice. What did he expect me to do, take him to work with me?

“Can I watch him? I won’t say anything. I swear. I just . . . I want to keep him while you work. We can talk after you get home. Maybe send him outside to play, and we can sit on the porch.”

My instinct to protect wanted to refuse his request. I wasn’t sure how much I trusted Dewayne not to say something to Micah about Dustin. But Dewayne wanted to be a part of his life. And I knew Micah wanted more family. He didn’t ask anymore, but he wanted it. Lately he’d been talking about his dad a lot. He craved a male in his life.

“I need to leave at eight tomorrow,” I told him before I could change my mind.

A relieved smile touched his lips. “I’ll be here,” he replied. Then he turned and walked back across the street. I didn’t wait to see if he was going into his parents’ home. I stepped quickly inside and closed the door behind me.

“You’re gonna let him keep me tomorrow?” Micah asked, wide eyed.

Sighing, I took his hand. We walked over to the sofa and sat down. My legs were too tired from standing all day to squat. When I was at eye level with him, I held both his hands and looked him directly in the eyes. “I know I’ve acted weird around Dewayne. It’s frightened you, and I understand that. But the truth is, I’ve known Dewayne since I was a kid. He’s a good guy. There are things in our past that make me sad, but Dewayne never did anything wrong. I wouldn’t leave you with someone I didn’t trust. I think . . . I think you’re gonna like Dewayne. Spending time with him will be fun. Much better than being stuck in day care on a Saturday.”

Micah chewed on his bottom lip as his eyebrows drew together. This was his thinking face. I let him take in what I’d said. It always took him a minute to make a decision about things. Finally he shrugged and smiled. “Okay. If you trust him, then I think it might be fun to have another man to hang out with.”

I tried hard not to smile. Micah considered himself a man already. He had been the man of the house for a while now.

He glanced over at the kitchen. “Think I could have some mac ’n’ cheese?”

I pulled him into my arms and kissed him on the cheek. “I love you. You’re my world,” I told him. I’d been telling him that since I held him in my arms for the first time. It was the truth, and I never wanted him to forget it.

“Love you, too, Momma,” he grunted in my tight embrace. “But you’re squishing me.”

Laughing, I let go of him, and he pointed to the kitchen. “I’d love some mac ’n’ cheese,” he reminded me.

I stood up and saluted him, making him giggle.

“Mac ’ n’ cheese, coming right up,” I replied.

* * *

Micah was singing “Eye of the Tiger” loudly and off-key while he stood on a chair and fixed his Pop-Tart. I poured my coffee into a travel mug and tried to ignore the nervous knot in my stomach. I hadn’t lied to Micah—I did trust Dewayne. I just wasn’t sure that leaving him with an uncle he didn’t know he had was such a good idea. Not until I was ready to talk to Micah about Dewayne and who the Falcos were to him. Upsetting Micah’s world wasn’t something I wanted to do.

He had been rolling with the punches since he was old enough to realize our life was always changing. We never knew where we would be next. Now that we had a house, I wanted him to have some security. Admitting to him that he had a family he didn’t know about was something I was going to want to handle delicately.

“Think I should make Dewayne a Pop-Tart?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder at me.

“Hmm . . . Maybe you should wait and make sure he eats Pop-Tarts,” I replied as I sipped my coffee and watched the cat clock on the wall. My mother loved cats. I wasn’t a fan, really, but taking that clock down wasn’t something I was ready to do. It reminded me of happier times.

A knock on the door threw those thoughts aside, and my nervous knot was back. I started for the door, but Micah jumped down from the chair and took off running. I let him go. Soon he’d be calling Dewayne “uncle” . . . maybe. If that was something Dewayne wanted. I knew I wanted it for Micah. Learning to share him, however, wasn’t exactly going to be easy.

Micah threw open the door, and Dewayne was there filling the space in all his tattooed and pierced glory. Even at seven forty-five a.m. the man was breathtaking. His navy blue T-shirt that said FALCO CONSTRUCTION on the front hugged his body tightly. The size of his arms made a woman fantasize about wrapping her hands around them and jumping up into them. No! Dang it, what was I doing? I tore my gaze off Dewayne’s body and didn’t even let myself check out his legs in those jeans. And why were those leather bracelets on his arm sexy? The man could make anything sexy.

“I made a Pop-Tart,” Micah announced. “You want one?”

Dewayne smiled brightly, and if I had been expected to speak, I wouldn’t have been able to. I hadn’t seen that smile in years. The devastating effect it had on me was still just as powerful.

“Never turn down a Pop-Tart,” Dewayne replied, and Micah grabbed his hand.

“Then come on into the kitchen. I’ll fix you one,” he said, tugging Dewayne behind him.

Dewayne’s expression of amazement as he looked at Micah made my heart squeeze. His dark brown eyes lifted to meet my gaze, and I managed to smile at him. But I didn’t get emotional and weepy at the sight of him with Micah. I controlled myself. “You’re better than on time. You’re early,” I said, trying to lighten the mood.

This was a big moment for Dewayne. Micah, too—he just didn’t know it yet. After today I had no doubt that Dewayne would adore Micah.

“Didn’t want to run you late. I’m trying to win the Saturday sitter gig,” he said with a crooked grin.

The idea that Dewayne wanted to watch Micah every Saturday made me almost choke on my coffee. I hadn’t expected that.

“Don’t you work for your dad?” I asked, looking down at his shirt, then back up at him. Maybe I was assuming too much from the shirt. For all I knew he could be a lawyer. I highly doubted it with his dreadlocks, tattoos, and piercings, but I didn’t know much about Dewayne. Not anymore.

“No, I run the company now. It’s mine. Dad had to step down,” he replied. “I don’t work Saturdays.”

Nodding, I held the coffee mug to my lips to give me a barrier. Not that it was much of one, but I didn’t know what to think of Dewayne.

“You can have this Pop-Tart that I just made. I’ll make another for me,” Micah told him as he stood on the chair, holding out a paper plate with one Pop-Tart on it. “Milk’s in the fridge. The good kind. Momma don’t buy that watered-down stuff.”

Grinning, I reached for my purse, then walked over to kiss Micah good-bye. “I’ll see you after lunch. Be good for Dewayne, okay? I love you,” I told him.

“Wait!” he called out, turning around on the chair and holding up his fist for me to bump. His big grin warmed everything inside me. I set my mug on the counter and tapped his fist with mine. “Dynamic Duo,” we said in unison.

“Love you, Momma,” he said, then turned back to the toaster.

“Love you more,” I replied.

I picked up my mug, then glanced back at Dewayne. He was watching me intently. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking, but he was thinking about it hard.

“I need to go. You two have fun. I’ve left my work and cell number on the fridge if you need me,” I told him, then headed for the door.

It wasn’t easy to walk away, but I knew Micah needed this. And so did Dewayne.

DEWAYNE

Last night I stayed up most of the night letting one fear after another keep me awake. My biggest fear was for Micah’s happiness. After watching Sienna with him this morning, I realized that what I’d thought was her being mental had actually been her being an overprotective mother. She loved that kid. And he loved her. That much was obvious.

But it still didn’t explain why she hadn’t told me about Micah. Why she hadn’t contacted my parents. That was another thing—I hadn’t told my parents yet. They were gonna see my truck over here today, and either my momma was gonna come knocking at the door, or I was gonna need to take Micah over there. Problem was, I was afraid my momma was gonna see what I’d missed the first time I looked at him.

Dustin had been her baby, so it would be easier for to make the connection when she saw his eyes and smile on Micah. She’d know. Immediately, she’d know. If I told her this was Sienna’s boy, she would know. But I also knew she wouldn’t say anything to Micah. She’d rail my ass later for not telling her as soon as I figured it out. But she wouldn’t upset the kid.

It was probably best that I go ahead and deal with my mother before she came over here.

“Momma normally makes cinnamon rolls on Saturdays, but she gots to work on Saturdays now. She used to not have to work on Saturdays when we lived in Fort Worth. But our apartment there was so small. I like it better here. Just wish she didn’t have to work,” Micah said as he jumped down from the chair and pulled it behind him back to the table. I had a feeling I was going to find out a lot about his life today without even prying or asking questions. The kid just shared whatever was on his mind. No filter at all.

“She just has to work half the day. That’s not too bad,” I said, taking the seat across the table from him after pouring two glasses of whole milk. That must have been what the kid meant by “the good stuff.” Dustin had always called whole milk “the good stuff.” He complained that everything else was watered down. I liked that Sienna had passed that down to his son.

Unable to stop myself, I turned the conversation to his dad. I was curious as to what he knew about Dustin. “So, your dad was a good basketball player, huh?”

Micah swallowed his bite of Pop-Tart, and his eyes got big as he sat up on his knees in the chair. “He was the world’s best,” he said in all seriousness. “No one could beat him. I bet even LeBron James couldn’t have beat my dad. Momma said he was a star.” He stopped and took a drink of his milk, and then his eyes looked back up at me. “I think that’s why God wanted him. Momma said God took him because he was such a good guy and he wanted him close to him. I think he wanted to make him a real star. You know, the ones in the sky. There’s this really big one that I used to could see from my aunt Cathy’s house in Fort Worth. I think that’s my dad.”

Damn. I couldn’t take a deep breath. My chest constricted so hard it was painful. I didn’t talk about Dustin. I had put his memory in a box and only touched it when I was too drunk to keep it hidden. Then I always let the anger take over.

But this kid . . . he kept Dustin’s memory alive. I hadn’t known I needed to hear someone talk about my brother like this, but listening to Micah eased the pain that never went away. The pain Dustin’s death had left behind.

“You’ll have to show me that star one night,” I told him. If there was a God, then I was pretty damn sure that after hearing this little boy’s words he’d make sure my brother was a star.

Micah nodded and dusted off his hands. He’d managed to finish his Pop-Tart in just a few bites. “I will. Come over at night and we’ll go in my backyard and look for it. Momma said she’d help me find him, but we haven’t had a chance this week. Been busy getting settled in,” he explained. The kid talked like he was forty. It was pretty damn cute.

“Want to go over and meet my parents?” I asked him.

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