Home > Falling Fast(8)

Falling Fast(8)
Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds

“Stop cursing! And fine, I’ll stop bringing her up.”

“I love you, but seriously, I don’t know how Dad puts up with you.”

“Your father counts his lucky stars every night, ‘cause I put up with him.” She pats my back.

“I’m not sure about that.” I grin then dodge her hand when she tries to smack at me.

“You’re a pain,” she mutters.

“You love me,” I remind her then look at the clock. “I need to go get ready. I’ll see you tonight. Let Loki out for me when you leave.”

“Will do, see you tonight.” She shakes her head as I head for my room.

After getting dressed, I head back to the kitchen, grabbing my keys and gym bag before going to the garage. Looking at my bike longingly, I head for my Suburban. This spring has been worse than most. It’s rained almost every day, and with the temperature dropping the way it has been, the roads have been icing over—meaning I can’t ride my bike, even though that’s all I want to do. I’ve been riding since I was eight. Back then it was dirt bikes, and then I moved up to motorcycles. My first ride was a bike. I didn’t get a car like everyone else. I didn’t want to be like anyone else, except maybe my dad.

Getting in behind the wheel, I hit the remote for the garage to send the door up, and start the engine. After backing out, I send the garage door back down and head for the road, with Loki running behind me. He stops at the end of the driveway and turns back toward the house, knowing better than to go any further.

It takes me less than twenty minutes to make it to the gym, and when I pull into the lot, I see Tide has already arrived. Tide has been my best friend since I can remember. His dad and mine are best friends, and since they spent all their time together, we spent all of ours the same way. I don’t know what the hell his parents were thinking naming him Tide, or naming his sister Crimson, even if his dad did play football during college for Alabama State University.

Grabbing my duffle off the passenger seat, I get out and slam the door behind me. I spot Tide at one of the weight benches at the back as soon as I enter the gym. Giving him a chin lift as I pass, I take my bag to the locker room then head back out to meet him.

“Yo.” He puts the barbell up in its resting place when he spots me and sits up. Tide looks like a Viking, with his blond hair and blue eyes. He’s a big guy, bigger than most, and it’s not because he works out every other day. He’s just built that way; it’s in his genes, since both of his parents are big. In high school, they called him Mac because, like his dad before him, he played football and ruled the field. Anytime someone saw him coming, they got out of his way, meaning our high school football team was undefeated the four years he was on the team.

“What’s up, man?” I ask, bumping my fist against his once I’m close.

“Nothing new.”

“How’s my Goddaughter?”

“Perfect.” He gives me the same smile he always does when he’s talking about his three-year-old daughter, Olivia—a smile that says he’s got it all. “Wish I could say the same about her mom, but it is what it is.” He shrugs and lies back to finish lifting. “We have another court date in three months.”

“What’s this one for?” I ask, stepping up to spot him.

“I want custody to be fifty/fifty. She wants me to have every other weekend so I’ll have to give her more money,” he says through clenched teeth. I feel for him. Since the day Olivia was born, he’s been working on being a good dad and being present in her life. He stayed with Anna, Olivia’s mom, for a while after Olivia was born, trying to make it work with her so he could see his daughter every day, but that didn’t work out. I don’t know what all went down, but I do know that neither of them were happy. I also know that since he moved out, she’s been working on making his life hell.

“It will work out. The judge will see that you want to be in Olivia’s life and give you the time you’re asking for.”

“I hope so.” He sits up, grabbing the towel off the floor at his feet. “I don’t want to miss out on any more time than I already have,” he mumbles, then his eyes go over my shoulder and turn hard. “Fuck,” he clips, and I turn to see who he’s looking at then shake my head when I see it’s Lisa and her two best friends walking in. “I don’t got anything against women, and normally I’d be thrilled to watch bitches strut around in tight clothes that leave little to nothing to the imagination. But seriously, what the fuck are they even doing here?” he questions, studying them.

“Don’t know, don’t give a fuck,” I mutter, taking off my hoodie and heading for the treadmills across the room.

“Christ, they even have on fucking makeup. Who the fuck wears makeup to go work out?” he asks, claiming the machine next to mine.

Ignoring his question and the fact that they’re even here, I start up my machine and begin to run. It’s not the first time I’ve seen Lisa since I’ve been home, but I wish I could say it would be the last. Lisa and I dated in high school then off and on while I was in college for two years and after I joined the Marines. I proposed to her after my first tour overseas, and we had a plan to get married after my second. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. After I was shot and lost use of my legs, she ended things with me. The doctors didn’t think I would be able to walk again, and she couldn’t handle the idea of being with a paraplegic, so she jumped ship.

I proved them all wrong. It took me a while to pull my head out of my ass and stop feeling sorry for myself, but eventually I began listening to what my physical therapist was saying and started working at getting stronger. I was in the hospital for a year and it took me six months to learn to walk again, in that time, I also had to learn what is really important in life—and it sure as fuck isn’t a woman like her.

“How have things been going with the new job?” I ask, needing to change the subject since every time I think about the years I wasted on that bitch, I get pissed all over again.

“Good. Really good. And if things keep going the way they have been, I should win the bid on the next location,” he says. I can’t help but be happy for him, since he’s been doing construction forever and this year is the first year he stepped out on his own, with his own crew.

“That’d be good,” I say on a deep breath.

“How are you liking running the bar?” he asks.

“It’s all right. We hired a new girl a few days ago.”

“Oh yeah?” he asks, and I turn my head to look at him.

“Yeah.”

“Well fuck me.” He grins, reading the look on my face without me even having to say anything.

“We’ll see,” I mutter then turn and press the button to speed up my run.

“I’ll have to stop by and have a beer.”

“She’s shy, man,” I confide quietly, wondering why I love that so much.

“Shy?” he repeats, sounding surprised.

“Yep, shy.”

“Have you ever had shy?”

“Nope, but it’s a new day.” I grin at him then curse when I see Lisa standing in front of my treadmill.

“Hey,” she says softly when our eyes meet.

“You here picking up dudes?” Tide asks, and her eyes go to him and narrow. “Just wondering, since you got a full face of makeup on and you’re not even sweating.”

“Don’t be a dick, Tide.” She crosses her arms over her chest, glaring at him.

“Don’t know how to be anyone but me,” he replies, and her lip curls up in disgust before she looks at me once more.

“Do you have a minute to talk?” she asks.

There was once a time when I would have said yes to anything she asked of me, but that was a long fucking time ago. Now I doubt I’d even spare a glass of water on her if she were on fire.

“Nope, I’m here to work out then I’m heading to the bar.”

“Oh,” she responds, looking down and shuffling her feet. “Can you call me? I’d really like to talk to you. We can meet…”

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