I didn’t care. At all.
I was just curious. That’s it.
I barely touched my samich, I was so engrossed in what he was going to do.
He picked up a slice of pizza and took a bite. “Damn. That’s good.” He scowled at me. “You werrright. The pizzaisbedderheaddup.”
Uh-huh. I had no idea what he just said.
But I took a bite of my samich.
They’d forever be samiches in my mind now. I’d share that with Chad someday, probably on his deathbed.
He went back to scowling at me. “Why’d you take my best friend away? He was mine. Not yours.”
I sighed. He was a confrontational drunk.
“Arend you gonna answer me back?”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “You know who else liked to have drunk conversations? When she wasn’t passed out from drugs, I mean.” I barely paused. “My mother.”
He flinched, then started rubbing at his forehead. “Donna.”
“Her drink of choice was vodka. What’s yours?”
Another frown. Another flinch. He kept rubbing at his forehead. “I’m not an alcoholic. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Not at all.”
“You’re implying it.”
“Am I what?”
“Are you implying it?”
It was taking such effort for him to enunciate his words clearly.
I was enjoying his struggle.
“I’m confused.” That was me. I was playing again.
He shook his head all around, wiping his hand down the side of his face. “You’re messing with me because I’ve been drinking.”
“I couldn’t tell.” A straight face on me.
He stared at me, his eyes narrowed. He couldn’t tell either.
He rolled his eyes. “If you’re trying to ingratia—ingradia—ingracia—if you’re trying to make me like you, it’s not working. I can tell you’re making fun of me.”
Still a straight face. “I would never do that.”
He paused, studying me, and his shoulders rose and fell back down. He reached for another piece of pizza. He’d forgotten his first one. “I’m going to give you some hard truths. Cut will never love you. Never ever. He’ll always look at you, and think, ‘she’s the bitch who made me lose my best friend.’ And you know what? It’s going to happen. He thinks we’re done being friends because of me, but it’s you. It’s all you. It’s your fault, and you want to know why?”
He was a mean drunk.
Still deadpan. “No.” I leaned forward. “Tell me. Please.”
“Because you’re nothing. You’re nothing. You come from nothing. Your mom was a junkie whore, and that’s who you come from. Everything comes around, and when you’re old and alone, you’ll be back on the streets. You’ll be the one with a needle in her arm, and you’ll be spreading your legs for your ex-husband’s newest stepson like your mother did for me—”
“Shut the fuck up,” a snarl ripped through the room.
I couldn’t move.
Up until then, I’d been impassive, not taking anything Chad said to heart, but then he said that.
Cut was furious. I felt his anger slapping against me from the room. It was rolling off of him in waves, but then my mind went blank.
Someone was shouting.
There was a scream, a primal scream.
A tugging at my hands.
“Let him go, Cheyenne. Let him go.”
Cut’s voice sounded like he was submerged in water.
Why did he sound so far away? He was standing right next to me.
I was ripped away from someone.
Something? I didn’t know.
My hands were bleeding. I recognized the feel of warm blood.
I saw it, too, lifting up my hands.
Blood trickled down. It was coming from my fingers. My nails.
Why were my nails—? One had been ripped off.
That didn’t make sense.
“You’re not going to say a thing.”
Cut was angry. He was back to snarling, and he was sounding barely restrained.
“Are you kidding me? That bitch tore chunks out of my throat.”
“You’re not going to say a damned thing.”
“I mean it, Chad. You talk, and you’re not going to enjoy what happens next for you.”
I blinked, focusing back in again.
They were huddled together across the room.
I was shaking. Why was I shaking?
Cut looked over at me, cursing under his breath.
He started for me.
“Is that a threat?” Chad rose up from where he’d either been leaning or sitting. I couldn’t tell.
Cut never spared him a look, but he said, “You’re damn right it is.”
We were in his bathroom.
I was on the counter. He was standing between my legs.
I hissed, feeling the burn.
He was cleaning my wounds.
It started to come back to me then.
I looked up as he was holding my hand, and our eyes met.
I asked, “I attacked him?”
Cut never answered me. He didn’t need to.
Chad told me an hour after I got Cheyenne to bed.
I went back down, sat across from him, and said, “You talk or I call my lawyer tonight to start the ball rolling on how to make you sell your half of the house to me.”
He stared at me, long and hard.
There were red marks around his neck. Scratches from Cheyenne. Blood seeped out over the dried blood already, and his entire neck would be black and blue tomorrow.
I grimaced because he could take pictures, if he hadn’t already, and I couldn’t promise Cheyenne would be protected.
He let out, shaking his head, “You’re going to regret choosing her. She’s got a wild side to her, and she’ll never not have that in her. It was how she grew up. She had to be wild to survive, but that gets in them people, and that’s just how they are the rest of their lives.”
“You should stop talking about Cheyenne…seriously…and tell me about her mother instead.”
He looked to argue.
There was nothing to argue with me. He talked or I left.
Another beat where he studied me, as if he were gauging me, but then he gave in. He told me the story.
It was after Cheyenne had stayed with him. Deek wanted him to run over to their house, check on Cheyenne. Deek never told him why he wanted him to do that, but he did. He went after one of our hockey practices, and instead of Cheyenne, he found Donna.
She wanted a fix, so she needed money.
He said, “She offered to sleep with me for cash.”
“And you did that?”
“I was in high school. I was young and horny, and Donna was hot. Yeah. I did, and I’ve hated myself for it ever since.”