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Blood & Bones : Rook
Author: Jeanne St. James

 

Prologue

 

 

When life kicks you in the balls and drops you to your knees…

 

 

Randy sat behind the wheel of the 1974 Pontiac LeMans and stared through the windshield. The neighborhood was sketchy as shit.

While he didn’t expect a gated, luxury community, the shit-hole house surprised him.

He’d found the Baltimore address along with her name in scratchy handwriting on the back of a torn envelope buried deep in his father’s dresser drawer. Under a loaded .40 caliber handgun with the serial number ground off and a full box of ammo.

Randy wondered why those three things were kept in the same spot. Was Dutch planning on coming down here for a final reunion? Did he hate the woman that much?

He wouldn’t be surprised if his father did.

They weren’t allowed to speak her name in their house. Not since the day she walked out.

That was three years ago. When he was twelve and his brother Chris was eight.

Three damn years.

Randy wondered if Dutch knew where she was all that damn time and never told them. Knowing his asshole father, he probably fucking did.

From where Randy had parked the piece of shit Pontiac at the curb, he twisted his head and studied the duplex through the passenger-side window. He had no doubt which one Bebe lived in.

The one with the rebel flag covering the front window.

Randy’s lips flattened. Figures.

One-by-one, he peeled his fingers off the steering wheel and gritted his teeth. He needed to get the hell out of the vehicle and go up to the door. He didn’t drive all this way for nothing.

He didn’t risk stealing the LeMans only for shits and giggles.

He was here now. He was doing this.

He was here to find out why.

Why a mother would just up and leave her sons. Never see them again. Never talk to them again.

Forget they ever existed.

He pulled a deep breath in through his nose, held it and blew it out his mouth.

Fuck this.

The driver’s door creaked loudly as he forced it open. He had to slam it shut twice to get it to latch closed.

“Piece of fuckin’ shit,” he muttered, giving the door a good kick. He should’ve stolen a Corvette or something. However, this vehicle had been easy to pinch and he could start it with a screwdriver. It was why he picked it.

Plus, it wasn’t flashy. Like a Corvette.

His goal was to get from Manning Grove to Baltimore and back without getting caught.

By his father or the pigs.

He rounded the front of the Pontiac sedan, dodged the garbage bags piled at the curb, strode over the cracked concrete sidewalk and up the porch steps. The storm door that used to hang on her side of the duplex now leaned against the siding. The screen was busted out like someone had punched it and the wood frame was splintered.

He hesitated for the few seconds it took him to take another deep breath before using the side of his fist to beat on the wood door with the peeling paint and no window or peephole. She would have no clue who was standing on the other side.

She would either answer it or she wouldn’t.

“Who the fuck is it?” came from the bowels of the house.

If he answered that question, she might not open the door. Instead, he pounded again. This time harder and louder.

“God-fuckin-damnit! Keep your fuckin’ pants on!”

A lock clicked and the door abruptly swung open with an ear-piercing creak.

And there she was. The woman who had pushed him out of her snatch a little over fifteen years ago.

His upper lip curled as he took her in.

Her dark blonde stringy hair had three inches of solid gray roots. She wore frayed Daisy Dukes that showed way too much skin for her age or body size. Her cottage-cheese thighs squeezing out of the bottom of the denim shorts reminded him of a popped zit.

She had on a threadbare T-shirt that told people to “Get Fucked.” The neckline had been cut out and sliced down the chest to show off her tits. Ones not contained by any bra.

As she stared at him, she squinted one dull blue eye when the smoke from the Pall Mall swirled into it.

She looked like hell. Way worse than what he remembered.

When both eyes narrowed on him, she yanked the cigarette from her mouth. Probably so it wouldn’t tumble from her lips when they gaped open at the sight of him on her front porch.

“Which one are you?”

What a cunt.

Her gaze roamed from the top of his head down to his toes, then back up before she answered her own question. “Randy.”

Ding, ding, ding. You won the “Mom of the Year” award for recognizin’ your first-born son.

“Got tall,” she muttered.

“Yeah, no longer twelve.”

“What you doin’ here?”

Great to see you, too, Mom. He jerked up one shoulder. “Just in the neighborhood.”

She peeked her head out the door and peered around. “Yeah? You know someone ‘round here?”

Holy shitballs. “Yeah, I used to. Gonna let me in?”

It would be nice to at least get the chance to drain his snake since he only stopped once to piss in the woods during the four-hour drive.

She took another long drag on her Pall Mall, blew it out the door over his head and stepped back. She jerked her head toward the darker interior.

He guessed that was as good of an invite as he’d get.

She closed the door behind him, turned and raked her gaze over him again. “Kinda look like your father.”

“You mean Dutch?”

Hopefully she wasn’t going to surprise him by naming someone else instead.

When she ignored his question, he glanced around the tiny living room. He thought she left for bigger and better things. Looking around her place, it was clear she’d missed that mark. By a mile.

More like a hundred miles.

The house she gave up in Manning Grove might not be some big, fancy mansion, but it was a hell of a lot better than this rat trap.

The place was filthy. Worse, it stunk.

Overflowing ashtrays were scattered around the room. Empty beer cans littered every table. The couch had bare patches on the ass-indented cushions and what fabric remained was stained.

He had no idea what color the carpet should be.

He didn’t care, either.

Thank fuck she hadn’t taken him and Chris with her. He’d deal with Dutch being a dick any day over this hell hole.

After seeing what he saw, he decided he’d rather pee in the woods once he left Baltimore. He might catch crabs by using her bathroom.

“How the fuck d’you get here?” She yanked a corner of the rebel flag away from the window. The cigarette hanging from between two fingers came close to touching the dirty fabric that covered the equally dirty window. He didn’t warn her since it would be for the best if this place burned to the ground.

“Your asshole father ain’t here, is he?” She peered out, and jerked her chin up at the LeMans. “Whose car is that?”

“Mine.”

She let the flag drop and turned on him. “You ain’t old enough to own a car.” Her brow furrowed and she used a cracked, dirty fingernail to scratch the corner of her mouth, then took another long drag on her cigarette. The ash hanging off the end had to now be an inch long. “You even old enough to drive?”

“You don’t know?”

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