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Broken Sparrow
Author: Chelle Bliss





“You sure about this guy? ’Cuz all you have to do is say the word…”

I’m sitting on my bike, parked in front of the entrance to the gas station. The late morning sun hits my face. There is silence on the end of the line, and that makes me sweat worse than the Florida sun.

I don’t like it when she goes silent.

It means she’s afraid.

“Jessica…baby,” I urge. “I know you said this one is different, but if he’s turning out to be anything like that motherfucker ex of yours—”

“Morris, no. God, no. Nothing like that.”

I can’t make out the hesitant tone in Jessica’s voice. What it means. What she’s feeling. There was something there with Jessica. Her sweetness, the way she looked at me like I was the answer to all her prayers. Maybe not old lady material… She had shit of her own to sort out, but she opened up something in me that kept me checking in on her.

Fuck it, I cared about her. And the phone sex was out-of-this-world hot. Her sweet voice whispering my name, the tremble I could hear when she made herself come for me, so wicked over the phone. My dick tightened in my jeans just thinking about it. But eventually, the calls started dropping off. Our plans to meet up in person never came together.

Then two months ago, she dropped the bomb. She’d met someone. Really met someone.

“Baby,” I growl into the phone. “Level with me. He treating you good? At least as good as I would? Because I swear to fuck…”

Jessica barks a soft laugh over the line. “There’s no one like you, Morris,” she says softly, wistfully. “That’s the problem.” Her voice grows a little stronger as she says his name. “Kyle is a good one,” she assures me. “He’s not you, Morris. But it’s good. He’s good. JD even likes him, which is sayin’ something.”

I listen for clues in her voice, unsure if what I’m hearing is honesty or uncertainty. “Yeah?” I press. “If JD doesn’t have an issue with him…” I echo, not ready to believe she bounced from her shitty ex Boyd to Prince Kyle Fucking Charming in one go.

Her son JD, Mammoth to me, would sniff out an asshole and chase his ass far away. If he hasn’t done it yet, then I have to believe Kyle is a solid guy. Since Mammoth and Jessica reconnected after years of living apart, Mammoth hasn’t taken his eyes off her…one of the reasons we didn’t spend more time together.

He didn’t think I was the right fit for his mom and he was right. I wasn’t the type she needed or deserved.

I must sound like I don’t believe her, because she talks over me. “You’re one of the best ones, Morris. And Kyle is too,” she reminds me. “If I sound funny, it’s because—”

“Jessica.” I cut her off. I can’t explain the static in my brain when I think about Jessica being trapped again in some bullshit relationship with a good-for-nothing douchebag.

She’s better than that. She has to know that by now.

A woman in black yoga pants with sunglasses on her face rushes past me and into the gas station. Her steps set off the sliding doors, which open and blast me with a gust of air-conditioned relief.

“Morris, if I sound a little off…” Jessica continues.

I kick a leg over my bike and pat my pocket for my wallet. This may not be a conversation I should continue inside, but my neck is starting to sweat and I need to take a leak.

“Yeah,” I say, “you do, sugar.”

I walk through the doors of the gas station, the whoosh of the doors drowning out Jessica’s soft apology. I scan the aisles, looking for the head. I’ve never been to this place before, a midsized gas station off the interstate between Daytona and Orlando, and I’m just hoping I don’t need to ask the teenager wearing green glitter eye shadow up to his eyebrows for a key so I can piss.

“Go on, sweetheart,” I say low into the phone, spotting the restroom sign and heading toward the far back corner of the gas station. “Level with me. Just say what you gotta say.”

“I’m so sorry, Morris,” she says. “It’s just that… It’s serious. Kyle and I moved in together. I can’t have…male friends or at least I shouldn’t.”

Can’t have male friends.

I roll my eyes. This Kyle guy’s douchebag status shoots into the stratosphere. Whether he is a controlling dick or an insecure one doesn’t matter to me.

“I ain’t nobody’s male friend,” I say, the words sour in my mouth. I yank the doorknob to the single bathroom, and it sticks. “Did that fucker say you can’t have male friends? Because if he did, that’s some bullshit.”

“Occupied!” a voice calls out from inside when the handle doesn’t budge.

I lean against the wall to wait.

“No, not exactly, but I think it’s best for my heart and the sake of my future if we cut our communication down to a minimum. Kyle isn’t exactly thrilled—”

“Jess,” I say, “I get it. New guy doesn’t want old dick circling his bitch,” I explain. “Look, I want you happy. You deserve to be happy.” I hear the sound of the air dryer, and I know relief is in sight. “And I get that old…friends…can cause trouble where there is none, all right?” I scrub a hand over my forehead, wipe the sweat from the bridge of my nose, and tug the sunglasses from my face. I tuck them in the front pocket of my leather vest and sigh. “Listen. You find yourself in a bad way, you call me. Night or day. We clear? One wrong move from that asshole, and I’ll be down there so fast…”

I can hear her suck a deep breath on the other end of the line. “Morris…” she says, sadness coating her tone. “I don’t want this to be goodbye.”

“Baby, I’m happy for you. Make that asshole treat you right. You deserve nothing less than the best.” I nod, not that she can see me, but because this is right for her. I’m not a keeping man. She wanted things I could never give her. Maybe this Kyle would. “But, sweetheart,” I purr low into the phone.

“Oh… Excuse me.” Yoga pants girl yanks open the bathroom door, her eyes widening as she sees me waiting against the wall.

I nod at her and step aside to make a little more room. She drops her eyes to the black-and-white checkerboard tile as she scurries past.

“Don’t delete my number, Jess,” I say. “You hear?” Something twists in my chest, a small shudder as I realize this really is goodbye.

“I won’t, Morris,” she promises. “You be good.”

I bark a laugh and yank on the door to the now-available head. “Never,” I vow.

I end the call and relieve myself, blinking away the emotions the conversation brought out.

Fuck… Can’t say I’m sad. Can’t say I’m feeling much of anything.

Jessica was one of those women like so many over the years. No. I can’t lie to myself about that. She wasn’t like the others. There was something about her.

A connection that maybe, just maybe, could have lasted past a couple of nights filled with whiskey and no-strings sex.

But like she told me, she still wants stability and safety. A life that is more than the ride and the chase.

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