She comes out from the bedroom, not looking too bad. “Hi, Baby.” She’s too skinny, needs some color on her face, but at least she seems lucid this morning. And her clothes might even be clean. Is today a holiday and I forgot?

Taking Liv’s hand, I bring her into the living room. It smells of stale cigarettes and a lifetime of spilled shit that rotted under the carpet because she was too wasted to clean it up.

My mother looks at Liv and then me, a look of confusion on her face. I’m not sure why…I’ve brought women to her house lots of time. A different one each month for the years seventeen through nineteen, before I finally moved out.

“This is Olivia.”

Liv smiles and walks to greet my mother with her hand extended. Such a class act, I feel like an idiot for bringing her here. “Hi Mrs. Stonetti, it’s really nice to meet you.” Her smile is genuine, I can tell. Although I’m not sure why, seeing as I would much rather be anywhere but here at this moment.

“Nice to meet you too, Olivia.” My mom smiles at Olivia and then back to me. I hadn’t given it any thought until now, but it’s been a very long time since I saw that smile. Too long.

The three of us sit, my mother taking her usual spot on the couch, Liv and I sitting together on the love seat across from her. “What’s going on Mom?”

Pensively, she looks between me and Liv, not saying anything, clearly unsure if she should air her dirty laundry.

“It’s fine, Liv knows what’s going on,” I reassure her.

“The two guys were back. Said they haven’t been able to find Jason and I only have a few days left. I’m sorry for burdening you with this, all I ever do is cause you grief.” Tears well in her eyes. “I just don’t know what to do. I can’t find him anywhere.”

Exhaling loudly, I fill her in. “He’s up north. Has a sister up there.”


“How do you know?”

“Liv and I went on a road trip, had a lead on where to find him. He was gone by the time we got there. But the losers he was staying with said he went to hide out at his sister’s. That’s if you take the word of a bunch of lowlife drug addicts.”

My mother winces. It’s not nice, but it’s the truth…that’s what they are. Untrustworthy, crackhead, f**king losers. Liv’s hand goes to my thigh and squeezes to get my attention. Turning to look at her, she gives me a look of admonishment.

“I’ll go talk to them. See if we can get more time. Loser’s bound to resurface when he burns his bridge with the sister. Shouldn’t take too long for him to burn through all his support and snake his way back here.”


A little while later, back in my truck, Liv’s quiet. Until she’s not. “Can’t you be a little nicer? She’s your mother?”

She’s gotta be kidding me. “I’ve been the parent since I was old enough to carry her to bed at night, Liv. She doesn’t get special consideration. This isn’t the first time I’ve dragged her ass out from trouble, and it won’t be the last.”

“I know. It’s just…”

“No. You don’t know,” I cut her off. “You grew up in your little perfect family, with your perfect grades and your nice life. You have no idea, so don’t tell me you know anything.”

Chapter 46


Vinny and I left off in an odd place yesterday. I’d given him time to cool off, thinking he’d come around and realize that, although he’s probably right telling me I didn’t understand his relationship with his mom, I was only trying to help. But I never heard from him last night, and this morning I knew he’d be at the gym early for the first half of his two-part workout.

My stomach growls, reminding me it’s almost noon, although just the thought of walking to lunch alone makes me almost forget my appetite. The memory of Senator Knight grabbing me is still fresh in my head. The man scares me. Desperation makes good people do bad things. I don’t even want to think what it does to bad people. I skipped dinner last night, my hunger waned as I reflected on my argument with Vinny, my own guilt always guiding my thoughts, spiraling my emotions out of control.

Walking through the glass turnstile on my way to lunch, I catch a glimpse of something that makes my heart stop. Parked at the curb, leaning against his motorcycle, ankles crossed casually, a big bouquet of brightly colored flowers held up in his hand, waits Vinny. Every female head turns at the sight of him, some of the males even stopping to stare too.

The man’s just so damn ridiculously sexy. He’s wearing nothing but a white t-shirt and jeans that hang perfectly on his narrow waist, his hair a natural mess that people pay big money just to look like a knock off of the real thing. Standing a few yards away from me is the real thing. The one that others try to copy. Day old scrub, a shit eating grin with playful, deep creviced dimples, complete with sparkling blue eyes that pin you in place.

“Looking for someone?” I ask. He grins cheekily as I approach.

“Yeah, my girlfriend. She’s probably pissed at me for being an ass**le. You seen her around?”

Pointing down the block, I play along. “I think she went that way.”

Vinny grabs my extended arm and pulls me to him, taking both my hands in one of his and holding it behind my back. “Forgive me?” He kisses me sweetly on the lips.

Smiling wryly, I respond, “You think I’m easy. A sexy smile and some flowers?”

“You think my smile’s sexy?” The dimples grow deeper.

Rolling my eyes, I reply, “You only hear the parts that you want to hear.”

Pulling me closer, he arches his eyebrows. “I want to hear you moan my name when we have makeup sex,” he says too loudly.

“Shhhhhh!” I look around and see a few heads turn.

“You don’t like when I say sex in public?” He practically yells the word sex. The streets are filled in Downtown Chicago at lunchtime. I feel my skin blush as more people look on.

“Okay, okay. I forgive you. Now please be quiet.”

He smiles triumphantly and pulls my hand to take me to lunch, carrying the flowers that gets him even more attention than usual the whole time.


Walking me to the entrance of my building after lunch, he makes me feel like a teenager being walked to the door of their house with her dad watching on after the end of a date. He kisses me, uncaring that the world goes on around us, likely gawking and feeling uncomfortable at the passionate private display made public. Handing me the flowers he’s been carrying for the last hour, he smiles as he smacks me on the ass as I walk away.

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