Home > Diamond in the Dust (Lost Kings MC #18)(9)

Diamond in the Dust (Lost Kings MC #18)(9)
Author: Autumn Jones Lake

“It’s not your job to fix him, Mom.”

“He’s my husband, Logan. I married him for better or worse.”

“I don’t think that’s what that means,” I answered. Even at thirteen, I was sure I was right. “He inflicts the worst on you. That’s not you two facing the worst together and supporting each other through it.”

“You don’t understand.” Her voice stretched high and thin but she didn’t take her eyes off the road. “Where would you and I go? What would I do to keep a roof over our heads? I have a high school diploma and no skills.”

The fact that she mentioned those things told me she’d considered leaving my dad at some point. Eager to encourage this line of thinking, I sat forward and turned toward her. “Your art. You could sell it.”

She scoffed. “Honey, that’s not a steady enough income. Even if it was good enough to sell.”

“You’re a good cook. Maybe you could work at the diner until you save up some money.”

She paused and drummed her thumb against the steering wheel. “I’d only be able to take short day shifts waitressing.”

The part she left unsaid was so your dad won’t know.

“So try that.”

She bit her lip. “You really think I’d be good at it? Taking orders from lots of people and keeping them all straight?”

“Yes. I do.” No matter how many times my father put her down, I knew my mom was smart and capable. “You know all the names of my teammates and all their favorite snacks. None of the other parents do.”

She gripped the steering wheel harder. “Maybe I’ll stop there after I drop you off,” she mumbled like she was trying to talk herself into it.

“Do it. At least try.” I waited a second or two before offering my other suggestion. “We could go live with Uncle Boone and Aunt Em.”

She was quiet. Absolutely still. “I can’t move in with my big brother. I can’t disrupt their lives. How would I explain to him…”

Her words dissolved into the silence.

“We could stay with them while you find a job or something,” I suggested.

“Maybe.”

That didn’t sound as enthusiastic. I needed to stick to encouraging her to try for the diner job.

“You’ll stop by the diner, though, right?”

She brightened a little. “Yes.” She glanced over and a slow, secret smile curved her lips. “If I get a job, it’ll have to be our secret, okay?”

“Deal.” I’d die before I ratted my mom out.

Maybe without us around, my father would regret what he’d lost and get help. He hadn’t always been such a miserable monster. Although, any happy memories had slowly been replaced with cruel, angry ones.

Confidence that she’d pull this off expanded in my chest. She slowed the car to a stop outside the practice field. I leaned over and kissed her cheek. “Tell the owner you have experience managing the appetites of a pack of hungry football players. Handling a few diner customers will be a breeze.”

She laughed and ruffled my hair. “I will.” Her gaze strayed to the field where my teammates were already stretching and warming up. “Be careful out there today.”

“We’re just running drills.” I climbed out of the car, then stuck my head back inside. “Love you, Mom.”

Her eyes widened and her lips parted. Guilt stabbed me right in the chest. How long had it been since I’d said that?

“Love you too, Logan,” she finally said.

I stood on the sidewalk watching her drive away.

Please let her get the job.

 

 

Exhausted from practice and school, I dragged my ass onto the van that would drop me off near my house. Not enough kids lived out that way, so we rode a van instead of a bus.

The best thing about the ride home was watching Bessy Filo, who always chose the seat diagonally in front of Jensen and me. Every afternoon, she dropped into her seat and reached up to unclip the wide barrette securing her hair in a neat twist at the back of her head. And every afternoon, I watched her hair tumble down in long, perfect, onyx ringlets. If I leaned forward far enough, I’d be rewarded with a whiff of the coconut-rose scent of whatever she used in her hair.

It was a nice distraction from the knocks I’d taken at football practice. My back and knees were still achy and sore.

Summer was almost here. Two more weeks until freedom. The van’s weak air conditioning didn’t reach this far back, so we had to suffer through the ride in a snoozeable eighty-something degrees. Well, it would be snoozeable if the jackass behind us would stop kicking our seat and taunting Jensen.

“Jenny, Jenny, Jenny,” the nasal voice taunts. “Are you gay? Is that why you have a girl’s name?”

Jensen stared straight ahead, refusing to acknowledge the shithead. But the ticking of his jaw indicated he’d explode soon.

I turned around and shoved Tom into his seat. “Shut the fuck up before I punch the shit out of you,” I warned.

I didn’t give a fuck about Tom. But Jensen would absolutely do something to get himself in trouble if he kept getting teased about his name.

Tom, unfortunately, was really stupid.

“Are you his boyfriend? His big protector, Logan?” Tom sneered, standing and gripping the edge of the seat to get into my face.

I shoved him again.

“Jenny’s in a cult, right?” Tom grinned like he’d come up with the best insult ever. “Freaky Jesus lover. That’s why he dresses so funny.”

Jensen squirmed around and knelt on our seat. Bracing one hand on the edge, he reached down and grabbed Tom by his collar, yanking him forward.

A soft metal snick to my right had me gritting my teeth. Never should’ve given him that pocketknife. He was way too fascinated with the sharp, shiny edges.

“Keep it up.” Jensen lightly slid the tip of the knife down Tom’s cheek. Not with enough force to leave a mark but the first bump or pothole the van hit could’ve changed that in an instant. “And I’ll carve your face into so many pieces your harlot momma won’t be able to put you back together.”

Tom paled and struggled to get out of Jensen’s grip.

“Don’t make me stop this bus!” the driver hollered.

I moved closer to Jensen, praying the driver couldn’t see the knife.

Jensen threw Tom into his seat and resumed his place, facing forward and flashing an angelic smile at the driver.

“Put that away,” I warned, gesturing to the knife.

He lazily slipped the knife in the pocket of his too-short black pants.

Jensen may have been my best friend, but some days I didn’t feel like I knew him at all. Especially lately. He’d turned dark. And not the whiny, angsty dark of other kids who lounged around in their rooms listening to their Staind albums on repeat.

Would Jensen really carve someone up, though? Truthfully, I didn’t know.

My stop was coming up soon. I gripped Jensen’s shoulder, forcing him to look at me. “Move up front,” I said in a low voice. “Ignore him. Don’t do anything stupid, please.”

Jensen studied me for an intense couple of seconds. “Even the blood of lambs can’t save his soul.”

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