"Maybe you should," Joker replied. "No pressure. Either way, that little girl will have a home. But you got my number. We'll be at the hospital."
Keith nodded and didn't waste time after his handshake for Joker and letting Carissa touch her cheek to his before he took off.
"Do you pray?"
Carrie's quiet question made him look down at her to see she was looking after Keith.
"No," he answered.
Her gaze came to him.
"Start," she whispered.
He looked in her eyes.
Then he started.
* * *
Joker was leaning his shoulders against a wall in the maternity ward at Children's Hospital, watching Keith Robinson walk into a room with a physician and a CPS officer.
Carissa and Keith's wife were suited up and in a room with the incubator, holding Keith's new daughter.
The door closed on Keith, and when it did, Joker felt a whisper up the back of his neck.
He turned his head and instantly braced.
At the end of the corridor stood Knight Sebring.
Next to him was a woman Joker knew. She'd been on Chaos's patch often. He'd ousted her a few times himself. She was a mouse, a flake, and an addict. She had no business being in the life. She was too weak. That life was going to chew her up, it was only a matter of time.
He hadn't seen her in months, and he'd thought the life had chewed her up.
Now he saw she looked frail and tired, and was wearing a bulky hoodie and baseball cap pulled low over her forehead.
Knight tipped his head to the side.
Joker jerked up his chin.
The woman put her hand to her mouth and her body bucked as her face collapsed.
Knight put a hand to her back, turned her, and they disappeared.
So this wasn't Lee's deal.
It was Knight's.
Which meant that woman had just disappeared, she did it safe, she'd do it clean. Knight was giving her a new life plus the knowledge her kid would be loved.
Joker drew in breath.
Then he looked at his boots and let it out.
* * *
Carissa sat next to him in his truck as they drove from the hospital.
"You know I love you?" she asked quietly.
"I know you love me, Carrie," he answered the same way, squeezing her hand he held on his thigh.
She squeezed back.
They rode in silence.
She broke it with, "I want another one."
"I know, Butterfly."
"Soon," she whispered.
He'd do soon. He would have planted one in her that night, but he'd been declared clean (something, for her, she'd already thought of, considering her ex had replaced her, and it was something that came as a matter of course through her care while having Travis) and she was now on the Pill.
"We'll do soon," he promised.
That got him another squeeze.
"You want Las Delicias?" he asked.
"I do, but that's our family place, you, Travis, and me," she answered, and he felt his chest get light. "Why don't we get a burger or something?"
"Whatever you want, Carrie," he muttered.
She squeezed his hand again.
He drove her to My Brother's Bar for a burger.
And after, he took her to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard
* * *
He turned his head at Lenny's call, and at what he saw, Joker muttered, "'Scuse me," to the photographer he was talking to.
Then he smiled as he walked through the garage to Carissa, who was wearing a sweet tank with shiny shit stitched on the front, sweeter jeans, and the high-heeled black ankle boots he'd fucked her in the night she keyed his father's car.
She also had big hair, lots of makeup, and a huge, bright smile. The whole package meant Joker was fighting his dick getting hard as he made his way to her.
When she got close, she made that a more difficult struggle because she immediately wrapped her arms around him, pressed tight, and tipped her head back.
In return, he dipped his and slid his fingers into the back pockets of her jeans.
"I'm dressed as biker babe just in case Henry Gagnon happens to get a shot of me," she announced. "I don't want to let down the side."
She couldn't do that even if she was wearing that butt-ugly nightshirt he had thankfully not seen since he asked her to lose it.
"In other words, you couldn't stay away," he replied.
Her eyes sparkled as she pressed closer. "Wilde and Hay here to instigate their fabulous spread on my manly man biker and his brethren? No way."
She kept talking.
"And I have two pieces of good news I had to share immediately," she told him, saying the "two" and "immediately" on squeezes.
She launched in, "First, Megan called. She and Keith get to take Isadora home today."
It had been just over two weeks since the decision had been made. They needed Isadora to gain weight, learn how to suck so she could feed, and have her blinders taken off.
Guess all that happened.
"Great news, Butterfly," he murmured his understatement.
"Yes, amazing, and get this," she went on. "Aaron called me."
Joker's body got tight.
"Say again?" he demanded.
She shook her head, still grinning. "I'll say I was a little freaked when I saw his name on my phone, because he's not supposed to call me unless there's an emergency with Travis. There wasn't. He's fine."
"So why did that fuck call?" Joker bit out.
"Because," she was still smiling, "he has a date!"
Joker frowned down at her. "And he thought you gave a fuck about that because...?"
"Because Aaron asked that, instead of his mom and dad looking after Travis while he takes this woman out, maybe you and me would do it."
It was then Joker stared down at her.
"I said yes, of course," she continued. "He's bringing him over tomorrow night."
"You're shittin' me."
She kept smiling but did it shaking her head, her hair brushing her shoulders, giving him a show he really liked. "Nope."
The guy did have a soul.
And he was moving on.
And the biggest surprise of all that shit, he was finally demonstrating he wanted to give Carrie what she actually wanted, a copasetic relationship between all of them for Travis's sake.