Home > Hold On (The 'Burg #6)(11)

Hold On (The 'Burg #6)(11)
Author: Kristen Ashley

He must have read that on my face because he quieted his voice when he said, “And you know that won’t go too good for you, Cheryl.”

It happened to me then, and I got it. I got how normal folk got pushed into corners, their loved ones threatened, and the urge came to them, overwhelming them, turning them from humans to animals focused solely on their need to protect. I got how they lost control and lost their minds and viciously attacked their attackers with nothing but annihilation in mind to void the threat.

I got it because that happened to me.

But I’d been kicked when I was down so often, I had just enough in me that morning to hold it in check.

“It won’t?” I asked, my voice barely above a whisper. “It won’t go too good for me?”

Trent looked like he didn’t want to say it.

Still, he said it.

“Dennis Lowe.”

I nodded my head. “Yeah. You’re right. I fucked a serial killer. He told me he was a cop. He told me he loved me. He took care of me. He took care of Ethan. I was taken in by that shit. Then again, so was his boss. His co-workers. His neighbors. His wife of a gazillion years.”

“You were a stripper, Cheryl,” he carried on.

“I was because, you see, my methhead, pothead, crackhead boyfriend bailed on me the second he found out he’d knocked me up, and he left me and my boy to go it alone for seven years before his wife forced him to do the right thing.”

“I’m clean,” he bit back.

“And I’ve never been not clean,” I returned.

“And I’ve never given a lap dance,” he sneered.

I took two steps toward him, edging his space but not getting into it and also not losing eye contact.

“I did,” I said softly. “I gave hundreds of them. And I’d do it again. And again. I’d do it for the rest of my fucking life if that money put food in my kid’s stomach. If it put a roof over his head. Clothes on his back. If it gave me the opportunity to give him what he needed and as much of what he wanted that I could give him. If it made certain he didn’t feel like we were hurting, he was hurting, I was hurting, or him bein’ in this world was hurting me.”

I got closer and gave him my stripper voice, all coy and tempting, giving the impression he was getting something at the same time giving nothing.

“I’d grind my crotch into a guy, shove my tits in his face, baby. I’d do it with a line forming, give it good to one asshole after another. I’d do it with a smile on my face if it gave me what I needed to give my kid what he needed. And I’d come home bein’ proud of that. I’d come home knowin’, even though not one soul would agree with me, that I should be up for ‘Mom of the Year’ every year because I’m willin’ to eat shit so my boy won’t.”

“There were other ways to give that to our son,” he retorted.

“There were?” I asked, stepping back. “You a bitch with a vagina who’s got nothin’ but a high school diploma and a history of waitressin’ who got herself knocked up and her man bailed, stealing four days of tips she had in her wallet and her change jar before he went?”

He flinched, but I didn’t let up.

“You a bitch who’s got no savings, living in a shithole apartment she can’t raise a kid in, desperate to find the cash to set up somethin’ good for her baby in a way she can keep it good? You know,” I threw out a hand and injected my voice with sarcasm, “outside of buyin’ a lottery ticket that hits or turnin’ to another profession that’s looked down on a whole helluva lot more than strippin’?”

“There had to be ways,” he stated.

“Name one,” I shot back.

“There are ways, Cheryl.”

“Name one,” I repeated.

“A secretary,” he threw out.

“I can’t type.”

“Grocery store clerk.”

“No way in fuck either of those earns more than stripping.”

He set his teeth.

“And, just sayin’,” I kept on, “you don’t get to stand in my kitchen passin’ judgment on what I had to do to take care of my son after you got the news you planted a kid in me, fucked me all night as your good-bye, stole my money, and took off not to be seen again until your bitch yanks your chain and makes you be a good boy.”

“Leave Peggy outta this,” he ground out.

At that, I threw up both hands. “The woman’s not already in this?”

“This is about Ethan. Just Ethan.”

He was so full of shit.

This was all about Peggy. What she wanted. How she felt about me. It was all her.

But I decided Trent’s current shit was over.

“You fight me, Trent, I’ll take you down.”

He shook his head, his upper lip curling before he spoke.

“In your wildest dreams, you cannot imagine that a bartender who works nights, barely sees her kid, depends on her mom and friends to raise him, and puts his ass in a shitty house in a shitty ’hood is gonna convince a judge to let her keep her kid. You cannot imagine that same woman, who got paid to shove her tits in strangers’ faces and sucked a serial killer’s cock while she helped him stalk his prey, is gonna convince a judge to let her keep her kid. And you cannot imagine that a judge is not gonna look at what Peg and me can give him and not hand him right the fuck over.”

I didn’t hesitate with my reply.

“You push this, we get a stick-up-his-ass judge who wouldn’t see that for what it was and let me keep my son, I bet all I own that if Alexander Colton takes the stand and vouches for me, that judge’ll think again.”

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