“P—please?” His eyes lowered to the ground, but I could still see the tear escape and watched it fall onto his shirt. “My dad told me to go find you. He never wants me around. No one wants me around anymore. I think that’s why my mom ran away.”
He looked back up at me with hope in his eyes and his chest moving up and down rapidly. “I’ll be good and I’ll be fun, I promise! You won’t ever get tired of me.”
“I’m tired of you now, kid. Go away before I hurt you.” I turned away to pick up my bike but watched him out of my peripheral.
“Everyone is an enemy, kid. Everyone!”
I shook Frank’s voice out of my head in time to see Keenan’s eyes harden and narrow into slits, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see his fists ball. Interesting.
“You’re a kid, too. I’m not afraid of you.”
I laughed because I couldn’t help it, and I never laugh. “Yes, you are, and I’m not a kid.”
“You’re only a year older than me and—”
“Your mom’s dumb, and so is your dad. Maybe it’s better she’s dead. I could—”
I never got the chance to finish the rest before Keenan’s fist connected with my nose, knocking me down. My bike nearly fell on top of me.
“Don’t you call my mom and dad stupid!” he screamed. “She isn’t dead! Why did you say that?” He stood over me as I brought the back of my hand up to my face and then peered down at the crimson smear on my skin.
Instead of the anger a normal person would feel, I smiled.
The little shit made me bleed.
I let the smile drop from my face before I looked back up at him. I quickly jumped to my feet causing him to take a step back warily.
“One on one?”
“Would you like to play one on one?”
“I… don’t you want to hit me back?”
I huffed and let my annoyance show on my face. I was just a little taller than he was so I could easily intimidate him if I wanted, but after what he had just shown me, I no longer had the desire to. I hated weak people, but this kid isn’t weak. He’s angry… and doing a damn good job of hiding it.
“Tell you what… if you can score a basket, I’ll never tell you why I said she’s dead. Deal?” I held out my hand for him to shake and waited.
He frowned and eyed me strangely before taking my hand. “Deal.”
* * *
“One hundred and twelve. One hundred and thirteen. One hundred and fourteen.”
Sweat. Anger. Lake.
Up and down my arms went. I fought the images of her fucking face and her smell and her voice. I needed out of here.
On my last push, I jumped to my feet and called for the guard. It was time to execute the next part in my plan. When the burly looking guard finally showed his face, I fingered the picture in my pocket with a slow smile spreading across my face.
“I need to make another phone call.”
I went through the usual procedure of being shackled before being led to the phones. I dialed the number from memory and waited for him to pick up. I was allowed three rings to mull over my decision, and by the time he picked up, I was sure of the course I needed to take.
“Quentin, I have a job for you.”
“I need you to find Jesse Fitzgerald.”
* * *
“What the fuck, Masters?”
Two days after I gave Q the order to find Jesse, they came for a visit. Judging by the look on Jesse’s face, it wasn’t exactly voluntary.
I almost laughed at his attempt to intimidate me. Fitzgerald had earned my respect when he stood up to me to protect Monroe, but it didn’t mean I had to like him. After all, he did try to keep me from what’s mine. He’s lucky I didn’t kill him.
I ended up laughing anyway when Quentin shoved him in the seat directly in front of me as Jesse shot him a dirty look.
By some miracle, my visitation rights weren’t taken away, which made this little meeting possible. “Did you have any trouble?” I directed the question to Quentin though my eyes never left Fitzgerald.
“Tons. The fucker never shuts up.”
“What is this about? Why am I here?”
“See?” Quentin gritted his teeth. “He never shuts the fuck up.” My gaze passed slowly between the two of them. Suspicion clawed its way out as I studied them.
“Did something happen between you two?” I’d never seen Q’s feathers ruffled before. He was about as emotionally challenged as I was. Anger wasn’t a common occurrence for him.
“No.” They answered simultaneously and then shot each other a look I didn’t understand.
“Do you two know each other?” The sharpness in my voice had both of their heads whipping back to face me. Jesse wore a wary expression while Quentin looked contrite.
“No,” Quentin sighed and took a seat next to Jesse. He shot me a look to drop it, and after I held his gaze long enough, I finally decided to do just that. For now, anyway.
“As to why you are here,” I started without missing a beat. “You came highly recommended as someone who could find things that aren’t meant to be found.” I waited for the sign of recognition and waited a beat for his response.
“So what? You need help with your history homework or something? I’m sure you can find someone willing to tutor you. You seem to be really talented at getting people to do your bidding.”