Home > Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(3)

Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(3)
Author: Kristen Ashley



Drawings of Linus’s bulldog, Ruff. Carson loved that dog. He looked like a bruiser, the way he waddled was flat-out hilarious, but he always seemed like he was smiling. As he would, the love Linus showered on him.

There were also drawings of Mrs. Heely’s house.

She lived across the street and one down from Carson and his dad. She had an American flag on the flagpole, aimed high but stuck at a slant on the house at the top side of her front door, the edges tattered.

He mowed her lawn for money. He also did shit around the house for her because her son, and only child, was gone and so was her old man, so she didn’t have anyone else to do it.

She was a great old broad. Made him cookies. Noticed when he was younger and alone because his dad was out carousing and would bring him over a plate of food, warm food, good food, with vegetables and everything. Sat with him while he ate and made him eat his vegetables and watch Wheel of Fortune with her and other shit before she’d hear his father’s car in the drive. Then she’d put a finger to her lips, wink, grab his dirty plate, and sneak out the back door.

He’d asked about that flag. She’d said they gave it to her at the funeral after her son died “over there.” She put it up and it stayed up, wind, rain, snow, sun.

She told Carson she was never going to take it down. It would fly out there until she died. She didn’t care how tattered it got. Beaten and worn. Faded.

“He would too, you know, if he’d been able to live his life,” she said. “Age does that to you. All’s I got is that flag, Carson. I didn’t get to watch him be a man. Make his life. Grow old. So I’ll watch that flag do it.”

After she said that to him, Carson thought that flag was maybe the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

So he drew it.

Ten times.

He flipped the page and at what he saw, his throat got tight.

The flag might be the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, but on that page was the most beautiful person he’d ever seen.

Carissa Teodoro. Cheerleader. Dated the quarterback. Long golden brown ringlets the color of honey, warm dark brown eyes, sweet little tits, tiny waist, long legs, heart-shaped ass. He knew. He’d seen it in her cheerleader panties when she flipped around.

The golden girl.

Half of the golden couple.

It was too bad her boyfriend, Aaron Neiland, was a total fucktard.

The guy was good-looking and his dad was loaded so he got it.

But he was still a fucktard.

Carissa wasn’t. She smiled at him in the halls. She smiled at everyone. She was nice. Everyone liked her.

Carson did too. Carson wanted to make her whimper.

He also wanted to make her laugh. Throw her head back and laugh real hard, like he saw her do at lunch sometimes. Or at games. Or in the hall. Or whenever.

She laughed a lot.

He was glad she did.

Pretty girls like her who could be bitches but weren’t deserved to laugh.

He turned the page in a notebook that was filled with drawings. Drawings of things that Carson thought were beautiful. Things that made Carson smile, inside, the only place he let himself do it. Things that gave him a little peace.

And he drew a picture of the goatee guy with his son working on the car.

Only when it was done—and he was sure his dad had either passed out or was in a decent mood because he got off—did he go home.

* * *

“A minute, Carson,” Mr. Robinson called as everyone filed out of his classroom.

It was the last period. He was good to go home. He didn’t want to go home but it was better than being at school. He hated school. Bells telling him where he was supposed to go next. Teachers telling him what (they thought) he was going to do when he got home. Rules about what you could wear, what you could say, where you could be, how you could act.

Totally hated it.

Still, Mr. Robinson was the shit. He made class fun. He dug teaching and didn’t give a crap that everyone knew it.

Half the girls had a crush on him.

Half the boys wanted to be history teachers when they grew up.

Because he liked the guy, Carson walked to his desk.


As Carson was walking to the desk, Mr. Robinson got up and rounded it. That was another way he was cool. He didn’t sit behind his desk like a dick with some authority and lord over you that way. He also didn’t stand behind it like he had to have the desk between so you wouldn’t infect him with high school loser-ness.

He got close. Man to man.


Yeah, Carson liked him. “You good?” Mr. Robinson asked when he stopped close but not too close. Friendly. Natural.

“Yeah,” Carson replied, not asking why he’d asked because he had a bruise on his cheek and one on his temple so he knew why Mr. Robinson asked.

Carson didn’t hide it. He never hid it. Everyone saw it. They always did.

He didn’t really care. It was his life for now.

Then he’d be gone.

But only Mr. Robinson would call it out. School had started over a month ago, the first time he had Mr. Robinson’s class, and the man had been giving him looks for a while.

Carson knew right then the teacher was done with just looks.

Mr. Robinson leaned a hip against the desk and put a fist to his other one. He then tipped his chin to Carson’s face and dipped his voice quiet.

“Looks like something got rough for you recently.”

“It’s all good,” Carson lied.

Mr. Robinson gave him a long look before he sighed.

Then he said, “Talked with some of your teachers.”

Carson said nothing.

“Your grades are good, Carson, very good. Especially for a kid who only half the time turns in homework.”

Carson had no reply to that either.

“You turned it in more often, you’d be on the honor roll,” Mr. Robinson shared.

Carson had no interest in the honor roll.

He had an interest in saving for a car, then saving every dime he could make, and the second he turned eighteen, getting the fuck out of Dodge.

Something moved over Mr. Robinson’s face when Carson didn’t reply. It was something Carson had never seen. He hadn’t seen it so he couldn’t get a lock on it. It could be pity. It could be sadness. It could be frustration. Whatever it was, it made Carson feel warm and cold at the same time.

“You’re exceptionally bright,” Mr. Robinson said quietly.

“Thanks,” Carson replied lamely.

“I’ve been teaching seven years and not once have I come across a student with your capabilities.”

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