Home > Hold On (The 'Burg #6)(15)

Hold On (The 'Burg #6)(15)
Author: Kristen Ashley

The difference was it was designer, expensive, not only the clothes but the hair. They didn’t get their hair cut in their mother’s kitchen and their color or highlights out of a bottle. They got it from folks who charged a lot more than my mom, who’d do it for a bottle of wine or me making dinner.

The extra cake spent on the entire package catapulted them from what I was considered—trash—to what they were considered—class—even if we were all going for the same effect.

I didn’t spend money on clothes and hair, and my makeup was drugstore, Walmart, or Target purchased.

I didn’t do this, because I had a kid.

This didn’t mean I didn’t have the odd piece in my closet that might show Merry I had that in me—class. The ability to turn a different kind of eye, maybe even his.

The thing was, it was the odd piece and those pieces were for hanging with my girls. They weren’t for work. And I didn’t want to say what it would say to Merry if I faced down the hit he was going to give me that day dressed in armor he’d take one look at and understand that I needed armor. I needed it because he had the ability to hurt me and that was because he meant more to me than I wanted him to know. Or, more to the point, he meant everything to me in a way I didn’t want him to know.

Besides, it didn’t matter. If he didn’t know me and want me for me, then fuck him.

So I was in my usual. Tight jeans. Thick, black belt with a huge rhinestone buckle. Black tank with a deep racerback and a rocker cross on the front, studs abounding. Black lace bra that was sexy as all hell, straps showing, giving a hint of the rest of the goodness that was hidden. Spike-heeled, black suede bootie sandals with a slouchy top that my jeans were tucked into, my black-polished toenails and heels exposed.

Add big silver earrings, black leather studded cuff on my wrist, a tangle of necklaces falling down my front, big hair, and heavy makeup, and I was good to go.

This look was me, but it also had a bonus—it was good for tips.

I walked out of my bedroom as I threw on a droopy, loose-woven black cardigan and saw Ethan at the door with his backpack.

“You good?” I asked, going to my purse in the wicker bucket chair (the purse also black suede with silver studs and the addition of silver chain as straps).

“Yeah,” he replied, opening the door and heading out.

I followed him, beeping the locks of my Chevy Equinox.

Not yet knowing he was criminally insane, I’d given my car to Dennis Lowe and he’d used it to cross state lines and continue his butchery. He’d dumped it along the way, and after all the bows were tied on the case, I’d gotten it back.

I’d then immediately sold it and used the rest of the money he gave me, plus the money I got from selling all the shit he gave me, to buy my now not-so-new, blue baby girl. She was big and roomy. She was my son’s favorite color. She had a smooth ride. She was safe. She had an awesome stereo. And of all the things Denny Lowe did to me, I did not mind one single bit that his bullshit got me and my kid in a nice, safe car.

We deserved that. So I’d made it so.

I backed out of the drive and headed toward Mom’s place.

Mom, like Ethan and me, lived in the ’burg proper. Not the old part where the houses were established, on big lots, graceful, and grand. Not the edges where the developments ranged from middle class to seriously upper middle class.

But the post-war middle part where the lots were big, the trees were tall, but the houses were small and there hadn’t been a lot of time, effort, or money put in to throwing them up.

We hit the curb at Mom’s and Ethan and I got out, moving up her walk.

Her place was not a rental; she’d bought it. Then again, she’d had a home to sell in Indy so she could. Property values, even for her ’hood in the ’burg, were higher than the not-so-great ’hood she’d lived in in Indy, so she didn’t get much bang for her buck, but she liked it and had paid for it in full.

The layout was kinda like mine except more square. Living room to the front; kitchen to the back (not the side). Bedrooms down the hall, but there was a small study and the master bedroom was bigger and had its own three-quarter bath.

It had been a bit run-down, but we’d pulled it together with the help of Colt, Morrie, Jack, Colt’s partner, Sully, Cal, Mike, and even on occasion, Merry. Precisely, I remembered Merry and Mike put in her new countertops in the kitchen and bath, and Merry re-skimmed the walls in the living room.

When we got to that living room Merry had re-skimmed, I saw Mom flat on her back on the couch.

“You best be up for movie day, honey-sicle, ’cause Gramma’s pooped right out,” she told the TV, then twisted her head back to look at us over the arm of the couch. “Or, you best be up for movie day if your homework is done.”

I looked down at my mom.

She’d never graduated from waitress work. She’d done that before Dad left. She did it after. She did it now. She worked at The Station and she was good at what she did. She was liked so much, regulars asked to be put in her section.

She also made decent money. Like me, not rolling in it but not eating cat food either.

And she was fifty-six. She didn’t look it. She took care of herself. She was on her feet a lot, so she got exercise, and she’d always taken care of her skin. She ate a helluva lot better than me. She gave a shit about how she looked, took care of her hair, dressed good. To that end, she dated. Even had a couple of men who hung around for a while, both of them treating her right, but she couldn’t settle.

I got that.

Once bitten, two hundred times shy.

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