Spinning Out(The Blackhawk Boy #1)(6)

By: Lexi Ryan

She tilts her face to the ceiling and sighs. “And with Arrow’s body, I might just sacrifice again and again. And again.”

I can’t help it. I burst into giggles, and my dad stirs in his sleep, grunting something. Back to reality. “Come on, Dad.” I slide my hands under his arms and help him up.

He’s unsteady on his feet and blinks at me. “You’re working here now, too? I won’t have a daughter of mine working in a strip club!”

“I don’t work here, Dad. I’m here to take you home.” I duck under one of his arms. The weight across my shoulders feels like a thousand pounds, but I take a deep breath and lead him forward.

“Got him?” Bailey asks, following us out of the office.

“Yeah. He’s fine.”

As we head back through the club toward the front doors, I immediately feel eyes on me—people staring as I lead my drunk father to the door. I’m not embarrassed anymore. Someone needs to take care of Dad, and with Nic gone, that falls to me.

“Have a good night,” I tell Bailey.

“Oh, I will,” she says. “There’s a table of BHU guys over there who are going to pay for my fall tuition if they keep it up with the tips.” She winks at me and saunters away.

Dad jerks his head up and stops walking. “Where’s Nic? I need Nic to take me home. I need my son.”

I’m waiting for the day that hurts less, but the words slice through me every time. “Nicholas is gone, Dad. Remember? We lost him.”

“Good riddance,” says a man a couple of tables away. His eyes are on the tits of the shirtless girl grinding on his lap, but I know he’s talking about my brother.

“Too bad he had to take one of the good ones down with him,” another man says in a low rumble. The night my brother died, he’d been clean for months. Not using. Not selling. But nobody cares. If your last name is Mendez, you don’t get a second chance. Not in this town.

Ignoring them, and the ache in my chest their words threaten to wake, I say a quick prayer that my dad’s too drunk to process their words.

“Come on, Dad.” I urge him forward, knowing we have an audience and determined to keep my chin up.

“Why’d God have to take my only son?” my father whispers. I hear the tears in his voice and move my feet faster. I need to get him home before he breaks down.

No one here is going to have any sympathy for him if he starts wailing about losing Nicholas. All they see is how the accident hurt one of their own, Brogan Barrett. And in my brother’s death, all they see is a scapegoat, an easy way to answer the unsolved mystery of the hit-and-run. Even the local paper was happy to report the accident as “likely gang violence” without any real evidence to support such an assertion.

The second I ease Dad into the passenger seat, he closes his eyes and his head lolls to the side. I buckle him in and take the short drive in silence.

A dark SUV passes me and makes me do a double take. It was a dark SUV that flew over Deadman’s Curve and hit my brother and Brogan on New Year’s Eve, and every time I see one, my gut twists with too many emotions.

I don’t bother with the radio. I wouldn’t be able to hear it over the clamor of my heartache anyway.

I slam a third cabinet door shut and open another, looking for the fucking skillets.

Mia left.

Did I piss her off that much, or did something else call her away? I stood in my room and watched her car roll down the drive and cautiously through the gate. I’m going to have to make my peace with her working here. And I can. I will. Fuck. It just took me by surprise. I came home from rehab mentally prepared to serve my house-arrest sentence. The judge acted like he was doing me a favor by letting me serve time here. He obviously doesn’t know what it’s like to be Uriah Woodison’s fuck-up son.

I thought I was prepared—for Dad’s disapproval, for his anger and disappointment—and then Gwen launched the curveball at me.

Mia Mendez is living here while she helps with the baby.

Mia Mendez is eating in my kitchen, sharing my shower.

Mia Mendez is sleeping on the other side of my bedroom wall in a cotton sleepshirt so thin it makes my hands itch to slide under it.

I yank open another cabinet and finally find the skillets. Christ, I just want some food, but I’ll be fucking damned if I’m going to eat any of the meals in the fridge. My stomach clenched when I saw them—perfectly balanced, prepared meals labeled in Mia’s neat handwriting: quinoa and chicken, peppered flank steak and green beans, fajita frittata.

She’s not just helping with the baby. Dad has her doing his meal prep. As if she’s the Alice to his Brady Bunch or some shit. So fucking twisted. Count me out.

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