I was home.
Present day . . .
I pulled my truck into my parents’ driveway and parked beside my dad’s truck. Normally, I tried to come over and visit once a week. The past two weeks, however, I just hadn’t been in the mood. Momma had broken down and cried the last time I was here, reminding us all that it was the six-year anniversary of my little brother’s death.
The only way I knew how to deal with that was to get my ass drunk every damn night until I was numb again. Until I was past the pain, and the empty space in my chest didn’t ache so damn bad. After managing to stay sober for the past two nights, I decided I had better get back over here to see my momma before she came looking for me.
That woman had a temper on her, and I didn’t need her coming after me. I wasn’t scared of much, but Tabby Falco was someone I feared. Loved all five feet three inches of her, but I was terrified of her.
Glancing across the street, I noticed a beat-up white Honda Civic. It had seen better days. Nina Roy had moved out about a month ago, just a few weeks after her husband’s death. Momma said she’d gone to Florida. The place had sat empty for the past month. Was someone moving in? If so, that car didn’t make it look like it was the good kind of neighbors. I might have to stop by and make sure my parents were safe.
They didn’t need to be dealing with wild parties or a meth house from some trashy new neighbors. I took a step closer and checked out the license plate. Texas. Now I was as curious as I was concerned. Who the hell did Nina Roy sell her house to? I never even saw a For Sale sign in the yard. If she’d rented it, we might really have a problem. Just last week three rented houses just an hour north of here were busted for meth.
“What you gawking at our new neighbor’s car for? Get in here and see your momma!” I turned to see my dad standing at the door with it wide open, an annoyed look on his face. Once upon a time I wouldn’t have felt the need to protect the man. I wouldn’t have thought anything could touch him. But then he’d had the stroke. Things had changed. I had officially taken over my dad’s construction company, Falco Construction. Dad just couldn’t handle it anymore. He had always seemed larger than life, but nothing had been the same since Dustin’s death.
“You met them?” I asked him, nodding toward the house across the street.
He shook his head. “Car showed up. Haven’t seen who was in it. No moving van or U-Haul. Just the car. Sometime around noon yesterday. Car was gone at two today when I glanced outside, but then it was back when I went to water the flowers at four.”
This was just getting worse. Someone had moved in without stuff. This wasn’t the best subdivision in Sea Breeze, but so far it had been safe from things like meth houses. I wasn’t about to let that shit find its way into my parents’ neighborhood.
“I’ll be right back,” I told him, and started across the street before he could stop me. Not that he could stop me.
“Get back over here, boy,” he called, but I held a hand up.
“Just a sec. I need to check this out,” I replied, and kept my eyes focused on the door and the windows. I didn’t want to spook whoever was inside and end up getting shot if they were in there setting up shop.
Nina Roy should’ve thought about who she was letting move into this place. But then, I wasn’t sure that woman had much of a heart, anyway. Her daughter had been shipped off shortly after my brother’s death, never to return. They’d been best friends for most of their lives, and it had progressed to the relationship stage. Word was, sweet little Sienna had suffered a mental breakdown and they had sent her off to a facility. No one had ever seen her again. It wasn’t easy for me to accept for a long time. Much as I hated to admit it, I’d taken her leaving harder than I should have. Especially knowing what Dustin’s death had done to her. That was one more thing to add to my list of f**kups.
I knocked on the door and waited. I kept my eyes on the doorknob in case it slowly turned. If the f**ker had a gun, I was ready to disarm him. Before I could think about just how I would do that, the door swung open and a pair of brown eyes were looking up at me with keen interest.
“Hi,” the little boy said, staring at me as if he wasn’t sure he had done the right thing by opening the door.
This was not what I had been expecting. I hadn’t imagined a family had moved in across the street, not from the looks of that vehicle. It didn’t look like a family car—it wasn’t safe for adults, much less kids.
“Hi, your folks home?” I asked him, and he stared at me a moment longer before frowning.
“I don’t have folks. I have a momma, but she’s in the bathroom. She had to go pee. I probably shouldn’t have answered the door.”
The kid was cute. And he was right. He didn’t need to be opening the door. And giving a complete stranger that kind of information. If he had just a mother, then the car in the driveway concerned me for other reasons. If that was all she had, how the hell had she afforded this house? It wasn’t an expensive house or anything, but I’d think a used rental trailer would have been more in her price range.
“Maybe in the future you should wait for her to open the door. You got lucky this time.” I pointed at my parents’ house. My dad was standing on the front porch watching us. “That’s my parents’ house. I was coming to meet the new neighbors.”
The kid peeked around my legs and looked at the house and my dad, then turned his attention back to me. “You live with your parents? My momma ain’t got no parents.”