I knew I shouldn't engage. I knew it.
But I did anyway.
"He won't cheat on me, for one," I replied, and Aaron's eyes narrowed. "He loves me, for another, really, truly, in the sense that it's genuine. In the sense that I believe in it... totally. In the sense that I believe in it in a way I know in my heart of hearts it's forever. Then there's the fact he doesn't ask me to change my dress for one he thinks is more appropriate. There's also the fact he doesn't look down on my job. He loves my son just like he's his own. He has fantastic friends who are loyal and care a lot about him, something he earned. He's talented. He has a great job that he's so good at, even Wilde and Hay know it, which is why they want to do an article about his work."
Aaron stared at me.
"But in the end," I carried on, "I really shouldn't be asked to explain this because it's really none of your business."
"I can give you a better life," Aaron told me.
"I already know that's not true," I retorted, and Aaron's face turned to stone.
"I love you too, Riss," he bit out.
I now knew what love was.
And I knew I gave that to Aaron.
He just didn't give it back.
"I hope you listen to this, Aaron," I replied. "Because it's important for you and your future and the woman you may someday have in it, but if you think that's love, the way you've treated me, you need to rethink it. I have love now, so I know by the way you treated me that you don't understand the right way to do it."
His eyes flashed with hurt, and I knew that was not a good thing. Aaron lashed out when he hurt.
I was right.
The hurt vanished and his lip curled as he said low, "Never thought that was you. If I'd known how you like it, I wouldn't have had to find Tory."
I was confused, so much so, I stupidly asked, "What are you talking about?"
His sneer turned to a leer, he inched closer, tipping his head down to me, and even though he was really close, I thought it best to stand my ground.
That time, I was wrong.
"You like it nasty, baby?" he whispered. "You like it rough? You like to get fucked?"
I felt steel coat my spine, didn't look away, and replied, "Actually, yes."
His head jerked with surprise.
"I like taking my fucking, getting it hard and rough on that couch," I told him casually, throwing a hand out to the couch. "In bed. On the floor." I threw my hand behind me. "On the hood of one of Joker's builds." I rolled up on my toes and changed my tone to suggestive. "Anywhere he wants it, any way he wants to give it, and he gives it good, Aaron. I know because I get it good, every time, and I've had it the other way around, where I didn't know if my man would put in the effort. So yeah, oh yeah, I like it just like that."
He lifted his head so he could look down his nose at me. "You're disgusting."
I tipped my head to the side. "I don't understand. You just told me you found Tory to give you the nasty. You don't like it like that?"
He clamped his mouth shut.
"You are very, very done, friend
I jumped and stepped back, my head turning to see Joker standing with his shoulder leaning against the wall of the doorway to the hall.
Travis was in his arms, crawling and burrowing, pulling hair and babbling.
The stance was calm and relaxed.
But Joker was absolutely not.
His eyes were locked to Aaron, and it was a wonder a trail of fire didn't go from them to my ex.
"You leave, or Carrie's got Travis and I put you out," Joker went on. "You don't got time to think about it. Use the door," he growled. "Now."
Aaron glared at him.
"What'd I say?" Joker asked, and I felt a chill cover my skin at his tone and the look on his face.
"We're done," Aaron clipped, and my eyes went to him to see he was looking at me. "And you're fucked in ways you won't like to be, baby."
With that, he turned to the door, threw it open, and slammed it behind him.
This was from Joker, and it was still in that chilling tone.
I turned to him.
"Attorneys only from now on, Carissa, are you hearing me?"
I had a feeling he'd heard everything.
"We don't get this shit sorted and soon, the hand off, you do not see that fuck, when Travis comes or when he goes," he stated. "I do it."
I nodded but said gently, "I'm sorry. That was my fault. I lost my temper-"
"It was not your fault," he bit out, interrupting me. "But it's done and I mean done, you with me?"
I nodded again.
Travis, feeling the atmosphere, started fretting.
Joker, feeling Travis fretting, turned to him, took him in, then bent in and kissed his forehead.
After he did that, he ordered in a soft voice, "Your Joke is done, kid, you can cool it."
Travis studied him.
Then his head wobbled a bit before he dropped it to Joker's shoulder, cheek first, and grasped on to the neckline of Joker's tee like he knew Joker was upset and he was giving him a baby hug.
Gosh, but I loved my boy.
And I loved my biker.
I took in a breath.
"It's done," I whispered.
Then he said, "Come get your kid. He needs ma time."
I grinned. It was shaky but I pulled it off and walked across the room to get to my boy.
And my biker.
* * *
The next morning I was changing Travis's diaper on the floor in the living room. I had an afternoon shift, which stunk. But Joker was at work, and he was coming home to look after Travis while I was at work. Then I would be home and sleeping with Joker with Travis home so it would all be good.
My cell phone rang in the kitchen as I pressed down the last diaper strip.
Travis, very much done with the changing routine, instantly rolled and started crawling toward a scattering of toys on the floor.
I nabbed the balled-up dirty diaper, got up swiftly, and dashed into the kitchen to grab my phone.
Not surprisingly, but a little scarily, it was Angie.
"Hello," I greeted, heading to the Diaper Genie in the laundry room.
"Hey there, Carissa. It's Leanne. Can you hold for Angie?"