Harper started to scowl.
I kept on, “This picture was taken when she was twelve years old, you sick fuck. She’s modeling pre-teen clothes. Your comments turned this into child pornography. You know the guy who raised me? The assdick who’s got a lawsuit coming for him? Guess what? He knows guys in the FBI. Guess what numbers it would be really easy for me to send this entire fucking group chat to? And if you don’t think my dad isn’t motivated to cut some form of deal, in any way possible, you’re too stupid to have a phone. Deleted texts can be undeleted if you get my fucking drift.”
Harper wasn’t scowling anymore. He was staring back, a pale green color coming to his ugly face.
No one was texting anymore.
“You’re going to delete this group chat. You’re going to delete those pictures of Aspen, and you’re not going to say another fucking word about my woman. Got it?!”
I wasn’t done. “And for the rest of you coward weasel fucks who are not chiming in, but I know can hear me, you’re going to thank Zeke when he comes back because if he hadn’t let me take his phone, I wouldn’t be giving this warning. I would’ve collected every fucking piece of evidence that your group chat would’ve continued with and I would’ve gone straight to the authorities. You fucking pussy dicks don’t know me, but you don’t fuck with me. You got it? I would’ve gone to anyone to get your house shut down, and if you think you could intimidate me, then try me. Just fucking try me.”
I ended the call and threw the phone at Zeke.
He caught it against his chest, not doing anything else. He stared at me, so still because he knew me. He knew me.
I wasn’t okay with just that call, those threats. Not by a long shot.
He swallowed, his gaze bleak and then it was gone. It went hard and he asked, “You want to go now?”
I drew in a sharp breath. “Hell yeah.”
He nodded. “Just Harper. I’m not going to clear it with the house, but it can only be him. The guys will understand.”
My own phone buzzed and I pulled it out, every cell in my body stood on end.
Aspen: My parents are here. You’re still coming to dinner, right?
I counted all the way to ten, breathing in through my nose and out my mouth.
I needed to calm the fuck down.
I texted back.
Me: Yes. Can I pick you up, drive you there?
Aspen: Yes! I’ll be ready in twenty minutes.
Twenty minutes. That gave me fifteen minutes to clear my head of murderous thoughts.
“What’s going on?”
I typed back to Aspen.
Me: See you in 20.
I lifted my head, putting my phone in my pocket. “I have to do dinner with Aspen and her parents, but tonight I’m coming over.”
He nodded, his face dark, as if a shadow hung over him.
I asked, “Will you be okay going in alone?”
“Yeah. You have a rep already. Some of the brothers heard about you in New York. They know not to mess with you. I’ll be fine.” He waved his phone in the air. “I know this worked. Half those guys are terrified of getting any rape charges against the house. What you said, about her being twelve, fuck. I know a few probably pissed their pants then and there.” He paused, his face clearing, but a question lurked in his gaze. “Was that true? She was really twelve?”
I shrugged. “Fuck if I know, but she was young. I do know that.”
He grinned, his shoulder relaxing. “That was a good bluff then. Worked.”
“You’ll be okay?”
His head moved up and down. “I’ll be good. Don’t worry.” He went to the door, pausing before he opened. “About the other thing with Harper?”
My gut tightened. That other thing had to do with Cross and his group.
“Let’s wait it out. I have a feeling they’ll find me about it.”
“I think that too.”
He opened the door, one last glance back. “I’ll see you tonight.”
“So, Blaise.” Aspen’s mom smiled brightly at me. We’d been at the restaurant for an hour. Most of the conversation had been small talk. They asked Aspen how her classes were coming, about her roommates. They wanted to hear about her dorm, general things. I figured out that they hadn’t talked to Aspen prior to when I picked her up. This was the first visit since Aspen had come to Cain.
The shift of conversation was coming now, coming towards me.
Some of her smile was forced, but some of it was genuine. They’d been reserved about me since we met at high school graduation.
I got it. I did.
Parents seem to know I’m a dick, but I’d been nothing but good to their daughter. That had gone a long way. I knew Aspen’s brother spoke for me too. They shared their concern, stating they heard I had a reputation for being a prick and worried how I’d treat Aspen. Him telling them I was wrapped around Aspen’s pinkie helped. A lot.
But seriously, I got it.
I wouldn’t like me too.
She continued, “Since our project was finished, we’ve been spending more time getting to know people in Fallen Crest. I have to say that it’s been just lovely meeting your mother. Marie and Stephen make a wonderful couple.”
Aspen seemed to deflate whatever breath she’d been holding. She blinked, giving me a smile at the same time squeezing my hand tight under the table.
I chuckled under my breath, squeezed her hand back before shifting our hands and running my thumb over the inside of her palm. She jerked, but I kept her hand in place, enjoying this slight torment. Her breath was growing shallow because of it. She’d be squirming in a second.
“My mom mentioned the same thing to me. She’s enjoyed getting to know Malinda Strattan as well.”
“Oh, that’s right. Malinda uses her husband’s name. I used to know her as Decraw back in the day.”
I nodded, knowing there was history there.
“And soccer?” This question came from Aspen’s dad. “I’m hearing exciting things about the Cain soccer team this year. It’s usually their football team getting the attention.”
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard that as well.
I nodded, still holding onto Aspen’s hand under the table, but I stopped teasing her. “Yes, sir. The team is good. Our goalie is one of the best in the nation.”
“And you? What position do you play?”
“I’m a center forward.”
“What does that do?” From Aspen’s mom.
“I’m mostly on offense. I help move the ball forward, acting as a striker too.”
“Right. You’re the guy by the goal?”
“Uh. Kinda.” There was more to it than that.
“You score the goals, though.” Her dad waved his hand in the air, sitting higher, almost proud.
I hid a smile. “I score goals.”
He dipped his head down. “Good. You help bring the wins in. Cain is known to produce quite a few professional athletes, in all sports.”
“That’s the goal.”
“To go professional?” From her mother.
“Uh.” I rolled my shoulder back. “I’m not sure, to be honest. A lot of those guys overseas have been in clubs since they were fourteen, younger sometimes. I’m behind.”
“You could play professional here?”
I turned to her dad. “I could, yes.”
He frowned a little. “But you’re not sure if you want that?”
“Right now I’m just in college, spending time with your daughter. That’s all I’m focused on.” That wasn’t totally true. Soccer was huge in my life right now, but I hadn’t decided if I wanted to go abroad or not. And because of that, I wasn’t lying when I said Aspen was part of my focus. She was. And training as hard in soccer as I could until I did decide.
“Right. Well, whatever you decide, you’ll have our full support.”
“Thank you, sir.” I looked at Aspen’s mom. “Ma’am.”
Her smile was much more genuine now. The pride too.
But then again, this was also normal. Star athletes got a lot more attention than others. Aspen’s parents were like others. But I caught a little look Aspen’s mom shot her. There was a trace of hesitation and that made me feel better. She was still worried about her daughter, but time would tell. I didn’t pull out a smooth facade, how some parents wanted, if only to appease their own inner doubt. That wasn’t me. I would hope that Aspen’s parents would come to know that as well, but I wasn’t worried.
I loved their girl. It would be fine.
As if sensing my thoughts, Aspen patted my hand under the table. “I think I’m full. I can’t eat anymore.”
I shot her a dark grin.
She grinned back.
Aspen’s dad noted the shared look and seemed to sigh. “Yes. I’ll signal for the check.”
“That went well.”
I’d been kissing down her throat. We were lying on my bed and, if I didn’t want to forget my promise earlier and just sink inside Aspen.
I lifted my head. “You want to talk about your parents now?”
She laughed, her fingers going through my hair. “No, but I’m happy.”
A good feeling uncurled in my chest. My dick was already throbbing, but there was a warmth entwining with the lust and pleasure I always felt when I touched her. “Good. That’s my job.”