The Not-Outcast

Page 58


“Did you give her money?”

“It wasn’t like I paid for sex, but I felt bad and she was asking. Said she didn’t have anything for food for her and Cheyenne. I gave her what I had in my wallet. Fifty bucks.”

“She’d been sober before that?”

“Yeah. It was after her rehab stint. She was really going nuts for a hit.”


“How soon was it before she overdosed?”

I waited, hoping…

Then, a soft, “Fuck.”

I stood, moving my chair back.

Chad looked up at me. “What are you going to do?”

I didn’t know, but I took his phone. He had no camera, and he was clueless how to use a computer.

“Why are you taking that?”

“So you don’t do anything stupid with it, stupid that you and I both will regret later on.”


I shoved his phone in my pocket and turned.


I’d been heading for the stairs. “What?”

“What’s going to happen with you and me?”

This was what he wanted to ask now? I gave him the only answer I could.

“I don’t know.”



I woke up tasting peanut butter and regret.

I’d like to say the peanut butter was the strongest taste, but it wasn’t.


I looked over.

Cut was sitting on the edge of the bed, dressed in his sweats and shirt. He’d showered and he was eyeing my hands as he asked, “How are your hands?”

I flexed them, and hissed. “They hurt.”

I wanted to pretend that I didn’t know the reason they hurt, but I couldn’t. My brain thought of everything and remembered everything, and I just wanted it to shut up. Today would be the best day for that miracle to happen.

“I asked Chad to leave.”


“Correction.” He reached for a coffee mug on his nightstand and handed it to me. As I sat and took it, he added, “I packed a bag for him, woke him up, and shipped him out of here. He should be on the plane and heading for Vancouver as we speak.”

I swallowed over a knot. Damn. “You sent him to Vancouver?”

“The team has a timeshare there and I wanted him gone for a while.”

He sent him out of the country, and then I spied the phone on the nightstand beside his phone. “Whose is that?”

He gave me a dark look. “I packed a cheap throw-away phone in his bag. He’ll find out when he gets there that it’s not his phone I said I packed.”

“You lied?”

Another dark look, and if possible, this last one was even darker. “I know Chad. He won’t be motivated to buy a camera. He won’t even think about buying one, and if he tries to take pictures of his neck with his phone, then he’s an idiot. The quality will be shit.”

Oh. Whoa. He did that all for me.

Yes. He was so not an idea.

I was fully and completely in love with this man.

I murmured, “Thank you.”

He nodded. “What do you need to help you today? I don’t want you thinking about what happened last night.”

That was an easy answer. “My girls. And work.”


I nodded. “I’ll work the line. I do that sometimes. Boomer knows if I need to quiet my mind, I’ll do whatever he needs, and I’ll listen to music. I’ll put headphones on. And after work, I’ll go to Sasha’s. They’ll take care of me.”

He nodded, some of the tension leaving him then. “Good. You have good friends.”

“I have the best friends.”


Crap. “Sorry. Bad choice of words.”

“Can you handle being around him?”

I frowned at how startled and abrupt his voice came out with that question. “What?”

“He’s like a brother to me. I hate what he did. I loathe it, and I loathe him, but I’ve never been good at throwing people to the side. So, if I didn’t? Could you handle being around him? Knowing what he did?”

Oooh. He was talking about my mom, not about what I did to his best friend.

I was already nodding as I scooted over to him, holding the coffee steady. “Of course. I don’t like the words that are usually used, but my mom—she did sleep around. A lot. She did it for drugs. She did it because she liked sex. And yeah, I know she did it for money. I’m assuming that’s what happened. He showed up, looking for me or something? It’s the only thing that makes sense, unless she went looking for an easy score, but I don’t see her doing that. She liked to stay to our neighborhood and had her regulars. I’m guessing he knocked or walked in, she wanted drugs, and it’s obvious that Chad had money. And I know my mom was good-looking. She had a lot of boyfriends, some bad, but some not so bad. She was beautiful. I’m not upset at Chad for sleeping with my mom. I reacted last night because of how he talked about her, and how he was saying I was the same. It’s a trigger for me. Always was, but I haven’t gotten in a fight over her for a long time.” I laughed, uneasily. “I should be more ashamed that I’m in my older twenties and I got in a physical fight, but I’m not. Not really.”

His head dropped a whole inch as he was staring at me. “Are you serious? You’re not even bothered by what happened last night?”

I laughed, sipping the coffee. It was good, really good. “You don’t know what life is like with a junkie. That would’ve been a tame night for us.”

“What would be a bad night?”

I shrugged. Another sip of coffee. “Me being taken away. Someone in jail. Someone in the hospital where it’s a multi-day stay. Or waking up and being told you gotta run from a local drug dealer because they’re going to kill you. Those would be considered bad nights.”

“Holy shit, Cheyenne.”

I shrugged. A third sip. This was so good. “It is what it is.”

“So, me sending Chad away—”

“Probably for the best, because you’re right. He would’ve taken pictures of his neck or called someone, and they would’ve wanted to know what happened, and I’d be arrested. Not good.”

“You agree I was right to send him away?”

“You were right, and being smart, and …” Damn. He did that for me. I was so in love with him that I was becoming mushy. My voice cut out as I said, “Only people who’ve ever done something like that for me have been Sasha and Melanie.”

His eyes held mine, darkening and softening. “Come here.”

I clambered over to him.

He swept up the coffee, placing it on the nightstand, and in the next second, I was airborne. I landed with him on top of me and his mouth was on mine, and this was the best way to turn my brain off.



There’d been talk of a group picnic. That obviously didn’t happen.

Instead, I headed home for some Zen time. I did a hemp facial mask, saged the crap out of my apartment (because that made sense to me), and did yoga with some meditation. Melanie came over ready for some yoga, too, so why not? I did another session, but yeah; the second round of yoga was hella hard. I was more into the meditation that round, and because it seemed to fit the theme, we hit Sasha’s afterwards.

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