Home > Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(9)

Ride Steady (Chaos #3)(9)
Author: Kristen Ashley

“Time will tell,” Tack muttered.

“Boy’s got secrets,” Dog muttered back.

“Boy’s never had one thing in his life he wanted,” Tack replied. “We’re givin’ him that. First time. He’s twenty-fuckin’-five. First time, Dog. Now, we’ll see how that plays.”

“Brother’s got dark in him he don’t bother to hide, secrets he doesn’t share. With the problems we got, Tack, that makes me uneasy,” Dog stated.

“Had the vote, Dog, you had a problem, you should have opened your mouth,” Tack returned.

Dog shook his head. “Saw that kid watch us, just like you. Shoulda done something then. Don’t have it in me to turn him away now.”

“No one who doesn’t have fire walks three miles to watch men work on cars, Dog. And he wasn’t at that fence watchin’ men work on cars. He was at the shop window, empty pockets, face pressed to the glass, starin’ at what he wanted but couldn’t have. I’ll wager, to survive, he’s banked that fire. We gotta help him direct it and make sure if it flares bright, it doesn’t burn him out.”

Dog held Tack’s eyes. Then he nodded sharply and looked away.

The rest of the Club came in, had words, and voted.

It was unanimous.

Carson Steele was a recruit. A recruit that would shortly after be christened Joker.

And if he did his time, took his shit, proved his mettle…

He’d be Chaos.

* * *

It took him a year and three months.

And he did.

Chapter Two

All I Wanted


“AARON, REALLY, I’M in a bind.”

I tried not to sound like I was begging. It didn’t feel good to beg.

But he’d heard me beg and I’d learned begging didn’t work.

“You bring Travis to my house in forty-five minutes or we’ve got problems, Carissa,” Aaron said in my ear and then disconnected.

I stood there in the filthy grass on the verge, looking down at the phone, my baby boy at my hip, the crawling rush hour traffic of Denver on I-25 in front of me¸ along with my old, ugly, worn out, mostly kinda still red Toyota Tercel with its flat tire.

Aaron, my ex-husband, drove a black Lexus SUV.

Aaron, my ex-husband, had also just refused to come and help me change the flat tire even though I had our son with me and I was on a stupid interstate during rush hour traffic.

I couldn’t believe this.

I should, with our history, all he’d done that I’d turned a blind eye to and all he’d done that I eventually couldn’t. Nothing should surprise me. And I was hanging on to a slim thread of hope that it still did. That I could be surprised. That I hadn’t lost that ability. That I still believed that people could be decent. Even Aaron.

I hated to admit it but I figured I would soon lose the ability to believe Aaron could be decent. Especially after he just hung up on me.

I couldn’t reflect on this.

My lip was quivering and I bit it to make it stop, but I didn’t try too hard to hold back tears as I stared at my car.

I’d cried a lot the last year and a half. And I will admit, no matter what this made me, I often cried to try to get my way. This always worked with my dad. For a long time it had worked with Aaron.

A year and a half ago, it stopped working. At least with Aaron.

But I needed to cry. I had my little boy with me, his little fist twisted in the platinum chain of the necklace my dad gave me the Christmas after Mom died, his other hand banging my shoulder, completely oblivious (thank goodness) to our dire situation. I didn’t know what to do with him if I tried to change the tire myself. I didn’t think it was safe to leave him in the car. Traffic was crawling but I was still on a busy interstate.

What if something happened?

I fretted, bit my lip and blinked away tears as I ran through my options.

My dad was in Nebraska looking after my grandma. He, obviously, couldn’t come and help.

He also didn’t need added evidence that I’d made a hideous mistake spending ten years of my life at Aaron Neiland’s side, eventually accepting his ring, his vows to honor me in sickness and health until death did us part (all lies, obviously). All this before finding myself pregnant with Aaron’s child while he was cheating on me (again), this time with a model. Then me confronting him, after which Aaron told me we were through and he was marrying his model.

No, Dad didn’t need that.

Further, I didn’t have any friends. I’d never truly had any real friends, but I hadn’t known that until it was proved true when Aaron and I fell apart and they (all of them) went with Aaron.

And I didn’t have any time to make new ones. I had a baby. I had a full-time job as a grocery store clerk. And I had an ex-husband who was a lawyer who seemed, along with his father and all their colleagues, to have made it his mission to make my life a misery.

He was succeeding.

I knew what he wanted. He wanted me to step aside, give him my son so he and Tory could raise Travis, and Aaron could forget he broke my heart, shattered my soul, destroyed my dream, and ruined my life.

Aaron didn’t like reminders of his failures. Due to his father being driven, and driving Aaron, my ex-husband did his best not to fail. But should that rare happenstance occur, he obliterated any memory of it so he didn’t have any indication in his life that he was any less than perfect.

I was a flaw. I was a fail. I needed to go away.

I wasn’t going to go away.

I just didn’t know how I would do it. After I got my divorce, I received a settlement (that I now knew was so small it was a joke) and child support (since Aaron’s income was far more than mine) and nearly full custody of Travis (since he was only two months old at the time).

This was good.

It was good until Aaron took me back to court and made it bad. Since Aaron had been born into the good ole boys network of the legal world of Denver (his father being a judge), he’d managed to win (or connive) partial custody and a lowering of child support.

Then he took me back again and won half custody with no child support.

We’d been officially divorced for six months, the decree coming through two months after I pushed out our son (alone, since Dad was driving from Nebraska, and Travis came out quickly). In that time, I’d been to court twice and I knew Aaron was looking for any little thing that he could use to prove I wasn’t fit to look after Travis or that I’d broken our arrangement so he could get me into (more) trouble.

I had long since run out of money for a lawyer. Dad sent a bunch but I stopped asking after the second trip to court. He worried about me. He was all I had left (except Travis), but all I could think about was that Travis and I were all he had left too and he’d been through enough. I couldn’t drag him through this with me.

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