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

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

“You need to stand down,” Merry warned.

“You take advantage of that?” Colt repeated when Merry didn’t answer, and I watched around the corner as Colt got an inch closer to Merry, and Merry’s already taut and alert frame got more of both. “You fuck your cares away, Mia gettin’ a ring on her finger not yours? You bury that shit in Cher?”

I watched this going down having no clue what to do.

Normally, I would charge right in. Take Merry’s back.

But I’d never had anyone but my mom take care of me the way Alexander Colton, his wife, February, and their family and friends took care of me when my life turned to shit. Took care of me. Took care of Ethan. Didn’t do it from guilt or pity; they did it out of kindness and then love.

In my life, I had a great mom, a shit dad, made an awesome kid, and there was not much else.

Until I hit that ’burg. Until Colt talked me into moving there, working at Feb’s bar, and turning my life around.

Then I got it all, worked to keep it good, and handed it right to my boy.

And there Colt was, taking care of me again. It wasn’t the first time. It was just that it was new this time, and straight up, even if years had passed, I still wasn’t used to it.

No doubt about it, the man had no sisters, but Colt made me one. He did not fuck around doing that. He took care of me. He spent time with Ethan, quality and quantity. He did everything a big brother would do.

I had no idea if this was true. I had no brothers or sisters.

But Colt did everything a big brother would do, the kind of brother you had in your dreams.

“Careful, Colt.” Merry’s deep voice wasn’t a warning now, it was a threat.

“This is Cher we’re talkin’ about, Merry,” Colt fired back. “You know I’m not gonna be careful, a man, he’s my brother or not, walks all over her. So you better stand there tellin’ me you did not drown your sorrows in her kindness and now you’re gonna walk all over her.”

“Cher and I are gonna talk it out,” Merry replied.

“And how’s that gonna go?” Colt pushed.

“Colt, you know Cher knows how it’s gonna go. And you know it’s gonna be good. She and me, we’re tight. Woman she is, she knows. She isn’t gonna have a drunken fuck with some asshole who was hung up on his ex-wife and not know how it’s gonna go. We’ll talk it out and go back to what we had. Fuck, she’ll probably be the one who suggests it, thinkin’ she’s letting me off the hook for kickin’ my ass for the exact shit you’re spewin’ at me right now.”

I pulled my head from around the corner and leaned back hard against the stone of the station behind me. It was cold and I felt that cold instantly start seeping through my sweater.

At the same time, I didn’t feel it.

I didn’t feel anything.

“You take care a’ her, man.” I heard Colt demand, losing some of the pissed from his voice.

“You know me better than that,” Merry returned, still fully pissed. “I get you. I get you’re lookin’ after her. But you know what she and me got, so when you calm the fuck down, you’ll understand that this is a kick in the teeth you wished you didn’t deliver because I’m gonna take care of her and you fuckin’ know it.”

He would.

He’d take care of me like he took care of me by not sneaking out of my house and making me feel like a stupid slut.

Merry would take care of me.

Just not the way I wanted.

Never that.

He could kiss me how he’d kissed me. He could move inside me, his eyes locked to mine, watching his work build, watching it explode. He could sit on the side of my bed and brush his lips along my cheek, wrap his hand around my neck, and tell me he’d call me.

But he’d never give me what I wanted.

I forgot.

I forgot I wasn’t the kind of girl who got what she wanted.

Not once.

Not in my whole fucking life.

Yeah, I’d forgotten that.

And as I walked down the side of the station to the sidewalk, heading toward J&J’s to get my car, passing a garbage bin and tossing the coffee and muffins in it, I reminded myself of that fact.

Slicking another thick, strong coat on that layer of hard I’d built around me, I reminded myself again.

And I did it in a way that I’d never forget it.

Not again.

Not ever again.

Until the day I died.

Chapter Two



I drove home because, caught up in visions of life actually not sucking for once, I’d stupidly not taken my grocery list with me.

And as I drove to my and Ethan’s rental—a crackerbox house on a street that was full of tiny crackerbox houses—I knew that, even if it wasn’t yet ten in the morning, my shit day was about to get shittier.

This was because Trent’s beat-up, piece-of-shit car was at the curb in front of my house.

Ethan’s dad.

He’d bailed on me the day after I told him I was pregnant.

I’d been cautiously excited. He had his problems, but I was young, stupid, and misread the situation (not unusual back then and, apparently, now), thinking I saw a decent guy underneath him smoking anything he could get his hands on—pot, meth, crack, whatever.

When you were young, you could go crazy, do stupid shit, then pull your life together, or that’s what I’d thought. And people bounced back from that all the time; I’d thought that as well. If they were in too deep, they found reasons to get clean; I’d thought that too.

And I’d been good to him. I was in love with the decent guy I saw underneath, and I was all in to pull that guy together and give him happy. We were young, so I had time to fix whatever was broken in him and build a good life.

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