“I’ll keep that in mind. I can assure you we’re not going to cause any problems,” I replied, walking over to the door and putting my hand on it to let him know I was done with this visit and wanted him to leave.
Dewayne frowned, and his dark eyes, which in my dreams had looked at me like he had today when I’d walked into the room, were now narrowed. Great, I’d managed to piss off the massive, monster-size man who could knock me down with one hard puff. “Where did that sweet girl I used to know go? You lose her somewhere?” Dewayne’s voice was even, but the low, menacing sound to it bothered me.
What did he expect me to do? Bat my eyelashes at him and swoon like I had when I was a kid? “She learned to toughen up and trust no one.” I gripped the door, fighting the urge to slam it in his face. Because I was pretty sure he could rip it off its hinges if provoked. “Thanks for stopping by. Now that you know we aren’t about to dirty up the neighborhood with our presence, you can go on back to your parents’ place. We’re fine here.” I started closing the door. Dewayne stepped back. To my surprise, he turned around, then started walking away.
At least he took the hint. I was torn between being angry and being relieved. He’d left without making a scene and upsetting Micah . . . but he hadn’t asked me one thing about him. Hadn’t asked to see him or asked for his parents to get to meet him. That was a pain I thought I’d gotten over years ago. Now I realized I hadn’t. Living here was like ripping the scab right off. It hurt something fierce.
Locking the door, I moved over to peek through the curtains and saw Dewayne talking to his dad as he walked inside their house. Why were they like this? I had loved them like my own family. At times growing up, I’d wished they were my family. Tabby had always had a smile and open arms when I needed to throw myself into them. Never would I have imagined that the child of the son they’d adored would be completely ignored.
Micah was so special. He had his father’s charm, and he was so smart. He was like a little grown man in a child’s body. Everyone who had ever met him fell in love with him. Just like his father. His smile was Dustin’s, and so was his laugh. It was like having a part of Dustin with me all the time. Micah was his own person, and he had wonderful qualities his father hadn’t had. He was perfect.
Dustin would have wanted Micah to have his last name. That would never be. I did the only thing I could do and gave him his father’s given name instead. Micah Dustin Roy was what I put on his birth certificate. Back then I had hoped that one day the Falcos would allow me to change his last name to Falco. That dream had passed years ago.
“Momma?” Micah’s voice was filled with concern.
I walked over to him and squatted down to his eye level. He knew he shouldn’t have answered the door. It was something I had drilled into his head since we’d moved out of Aunt Cathy’s. We still had to talk about this. Just because he felt safe here didn’t mean there was no danger.
“You know better than to open that door,” I told him.
His shoulders slumped and he nodded. “Yeah. I know. I forgot. But that man was nice. He wasn’t a bad guy, was he, Momma?”
I thought about that. Dewayne wasn’t a bad guy the way that Micah meant. But he wasn’t a good man. A good man wouldn’t have turned on his brother’s child. “He’s not someone we need to spend time with. He won’t hurt us or anything, but I don’t trust him. Our business is our business. That’s it. Okay? We don’t share our business with anyone. When someone comes into our life who I feel we can trust, I will let you know. Until then, it’s just me and you.”
Micah nodded. “Okay. Just me and you.”
I held up my fist. “Dynamic Duo,” I said.
He fisted up his hand and bumped mine. “Dynamic Duo,” he repeated. Then he threw his arms around me and hugged me tightly. “Love you, Momma.”
“I love you, too, baby boy.”
I held on to him as long as he would let me. When he was done, he dropped his arms and stood back. “I’m gonna go back to my room and play.”
I stood up and pressed a kiss to his head. “I’m gonna fix us some supper,” I told him.
“Mac ’n’ cheese!” he called out as he ran for his room.
“No. You’re gonna turn into mac ’n’ cheese,” I called back to him, laughing, before heading to the kitchen. Tonight we were eating bread pizzas. It was something I had come up with to make a cheap meal interesting. Slices of sandwich bread with tomato paste, cheese, pepperoni, and mushrooms didn’t cost much and made several meals.
“You’re gonna make bread pizzas, aren’t you?” he said as he stuck his head back out of his room and looked down the hall toward the kitchen.
“Yep. You gonna help me?”
“Yup!” he called back. “You don’t put enough cheese,” he explained as he came running back toward me.
“What’s the verdict? You think the kid who answered the door is gonna be the new neighborhood drug lord?” Dad asked as he followed me into the house.
I shot him an annoyed glare and he chuckled. He didn’t realize that shit actually went on in some places. It was my job to keep them safe, even if he didn’t accept that.
“Looked right terrifying. ’Specially when he peeked around your legs at me.”
The kid had been cool. Dad would love him. . . . But . . . I wasn’t sure I was gonna tell him just who that kid belonged to. Sienna wasn’t the same girl they’d known. She was cold, distant, and hiding something. I knew enough about people to know when someone wanted to get rid of me because they didn’t want me to see too closely.