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Ride Steady


PAGE 112


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"Lee found Tine. He sang for Hank. They're booking Monk right now for conspiracy to commit murder," Tack told him.

Knight was silent.

Tack gave him that for a few beats before he said low, "We need to deal."

"He stands trial," Knight returned quickly. "He goes down. I want him to squirm."

"Agreed," Tack replied.

"He'll be taken care of after he goes down."

Tack drew breath in through his nose.

Then he stated, "You got a Chaos marker."

"No," Knight said quietly. "No marker from Chaos. I do this for a woman I didn't know named Heidi."

Tack heard the disconnect.

He didn't smile at his phone.

He dropped his hand and stared at the quiet peace of his mountain.

Then he turned and went inside to his woman and their boys.

Chapter Twenty-One

My Place

Carissa

THE NEXT EVENING, I was at the stove making dinner. Joker was still at Ride. There was a meeting of the brothers. Therefore, for the first time when we'd both worked during the day, he was going to be home later than me.

This meant I got my house all to myself, another first.

I didn't mind solitude. I liked it.

But I wasn't a woman who wanted a big family just because.

I preferred company.

So I was looking forward to him being home.

On that thought, my phone rang.

I turned down the water that would eventually be boiling the broccoli and went to the counter where my phone was.

I saw the name on the screen and sighed.

Then I took the call and put it to my ear.

"Hello, Aaron. Is Travis okay?" I greeted.

"Hey, Riss. He's fine," he replied. "Listen, I have some interns working on things for me at the office and that means I have a break. I thought I could bring Travis over and we could all go out to dinner."

I wouldn't mind him bringing Travis over but only if Aaron left him and he could have dinner with Joker and me.

I didn't say this to Aaron because I didn't think he'd be big on that idea.

"I'm not sure that's a good idea," I mumbled.

"I'll bring your boxes."

Darn.

I wanted those boxes.

"Did you get them out of the attic?" I asked cautiously.

"Yes, Riss. I can just load them up, grab Travis, and we could be over there in fifteen minutes."

He had the boxes down and he was bringing them.

Maybe he hadn't looked inside.

"How about if you bring them when you return Travis to me on Monday?" I suggested.

"Would like to see you sooner, honey," he said softly.

"Aaron-" I started.

"We shouldn't be apart," he declared, a declaration that seriously concerned me. "This isn't good for us. For Travis. For you, having to stand on your feet behind a cash register at a fucking grocery store all day. Travis being with people who aren't his parents while we both work."

He was such a jerk.

He knew that'd get to me. He knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.

But things had changed. Big Petey was awesome. And as much as I hated to admit it, Tory loved Travis. She watched him during the day for Aaron, and as far as I knew, she liked doing it. It wasn't optimal, but any child should have as many people love him (or her) as they could get .

Further, I liked my job. LeLane's was great. They took me on when I was pregnant, knowing I'd have to take a maternity leave imminently, but they'd still done it. Sharon managed everyone's schedules as best she could to fit their lives. They employed nice people. They were family owned, and as such, they treated their employees as if they were family.

Scanning groceries might not be very challenging, but I liked people. I liked gabbing with the folks who came through my line. I liked making the ones I'd become familiar with feel a part of the LeLane family.

It didn't pay a lot but it was good work.

I didn't like the way he'd started knocking it.

I also didn't think I should tell him that.

"I'm thinking we should start to talk only through our attorneys," I told him instead.

"Don't do that, Riss. Not to Travis."

Emotional blackmail.

Another something not new from Aaron.

But I was in a pickle.

I needed those boxes. I needed to stay in his good graces so he didn't get angry and do something ugly, not only with those boxes but to me and through me to our son.

But I also needed him to stop doing this.

Treading carefully, I said, "Aaron, if you've been thinking on things, I'd like to ask you to think more. Think about all the water that's under the bridge. Think about what's happened and where we are now and the fact that leads to us moving on but doing it in a way where we can take care of our son, just separately."

"It's always been you," he whispered.

I closed my eyes, feeling the heat of anger hit my cheeks.

He did this too, telling me these things, trying to make me feel special after he tore me apart.

And anyway, what about Tory?

I didn't get the chance to ask that.

"You know that, Riss," he continued. "No matter what we've been through, you know it's always been you. It'll always be you."

"No matter what you put me through," I hissed, unable to stop it from coming out of my mouth.

"I know," he agreed immediately. "I know I fucked up. I know I did it repeatedly. And I know this is the biggest fuck-up of them all."

I could take no more, but more importantly, I didn't want to.

"I can't do this," I told him. "I don't want to do it ever, but if you feel you must, I can't do it now. I also don't want to do it over the phone."

"Then let me bring our son over."

"I don't think that's a good idea," I told him firmly. "It goes without saying I want to see Travis, but Joker will be here soon. If you're fine with him being here then okay. Joker can look after Travis while we talk. He'd like that. But if you come, I want you to bring the boxes, and before you come, I need to talk to Joker to ask if he's okay with that."

"Why would you need to ask him?" he asked. "It's your house."

"Because we have plans," I answered. "I'm making him dinner right now, and it's rude to change plans at the last second or force someone to spend time with someone they might not wish to spend time with after they've had a long day at work."

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