“Why am I here?” After meeting my father, and after what he made me do, I was afraid.
Mario stared at me for what seemed like forever before he met the gaze of my uncle and held it for long moments.
My uncle finally took the hint and spoke up. “Because you belong here.”
My gaze passed between the two men, and when I realized it was for real, I didn’t say more. Maybe this time it would be a good thing.
John seemed to sense my acceptance and reached out to grab my hand. I stared at it for a few moments before taking it. He led me to the car, but then Mario called out to him.
“Wait. There’s something else.”
“What are you talking about?” A frown now covered my new uncle’s face.
“I need you to do something for me.”
Mario walked back to the car and opened the door. That’s when I realized I almost left without saying goodbye.
“Who is that?” John asked.
I decided to answer him because I knew Mario didn’t know his name.
“His name is Quentin.”
* * *
“Keiran. You know I choose not to say much about anything you do, but now isn’t one of those times. What the hell are you doing, man?” Quentin had been waiting outside my place by the time we pulled up. I ignored the numerous protests from Monroe when I dragged her to my house. She was even more pissed when I ordered her upstairs.
“Whatever it takes.”
“When is it going to be enough?”
“It may never be. What’s your point?”
“You trying to ruin that girl?”
Five months ago, it was exactly my plan. But now, I didn’t know what I wanted from her. I just knew she was someone I needed. Period. I shrugged, feigning nonchalance, but he knew better. The look he gave me said so.
“She’s different now, you know.”
“What’s it to you?”
Since when did Quentin nag? That’s what I had Dash for. Quentin usually gave less of a fuck than I did. It was why I called on him for all the illegal tasks. Dash dubbed himself my moral compass, and I’d only ever wanted to protect Keenan.
“She’s not going to make it easy for you. Whatever you decide. She will fight you.”
“She won’t win.”
“You might let her.”
“Q… Fuck off.”
“Look,” he said, getting in my face. “She’s yours. I don’t give a shit what you do to her, but these games you’re playing with Arthur is going to get you killed.”
“Maybe so, but he’ll be taking his last breath with me.”
Quentin gritted his teeth and shook his head, looking away for a beat before turning back to me with angry eyes. I knew my stubbornness was pissing him off, but I didn’t know how much until now.
“I remember, okay? I remember how it was. I remember all the fucked up things they made us do. It would have only worsened.”
“Mario saved you,” I reminded.
“He saved you, too.”
“Mario didn’t save me. He helped me out of guilt.” Everyone knew Q and I were close friends, but no one knew besides Dash and Keenan that we were more than friends. We had history. Quentin was owned by the same people who enslaved me, and that was how we met. He took a lot of beatings on a daily basis and was often called retarded by the other trainers because he would never talk. It wasn’t until discussions of putting him down circulated that he mysteriously disappeared.
“Look,” he huffed. “I got your back. Just don’t be so fucking stupid. If you die, then who will help those kids?”
He shook his head with a solemn expression. “I’m not you, man. I can’t—” He stopped to watch me carefully.
“Kill?” I finished what he couldn’t say and watched him squirm.
“Then don’t. I’m not asking you to.”
“I know. I just wish we could leave it behind for good.” Before I could respond, his phone began to ring, and after briefly talking to the caller, he hung up and announced he had to go home.
“Yeah. Stephanie is having nightmares again, so they want me home more often.”
“She still won’t tell you what is causing her nightmares?”
“No, and she gets so scared when I ask her. It pisses me off because I don’t know how to help her.”
“What about the parents. They straight?”
He rolled his eyes before answering, “Not all parents are bad, Keiran.”
“That doesn’t answer my question.”
He took a deep breath before releasing it slowly. “They’re okay, but I’ve been keeping an eye on them. Maybe I should ask about her real parents and find out where she came from.”
He left after we formed a new plan to deal with the threat of Arthur close by. Dash was running late so I would have to run it by him and get his opinion once he arrived.
As soon as the door was closed, Monroe attempted to casually walk around the corner. I sent her a knowing look, and she blushed. I loved the sight of her skin reddening in embarrassment, but this time, I was too distracted by the sorrow present in her eyes.
“He was there?” she asked so softly, I almost didn’t hear her.
“You weren’t supposed to hear that.” I lowered my voice to a low level that usually made her squirm. I could practically see the goose bumps on her skin now. The perverse part of me still got off on her fear.