Home > Hold On (The 'Burg #6)(10)

Hold On (The 'Burg #6)(10)
Author: Kristen Ashley



No way I could do this now.

Truthfully, I didn’t want to do it ever, but there was no way I could do it now.

So I shook my head. “Now’s not a good time to talk about this. We’ll talk later.”

“I figure, you had him all to yourself for so long, never would be a good time. But it still has to get done. He’s ten, almost eleven. He’s gonna stop bein’ a boy soon and needs to find his way to bein’ a man. And you can’t help him with that.”



Trent was going to teach him how to be a man? Trent, on Peg’s leash, could do a better job with that than Colt? Morrie? Jack?


No fucking way.

Now he was pissing me off.

I didn’t let on.

I said, “Trent, like I said, now’s not a good time to talk about this. I gotta get to the store. I got laundry to put in. And I want to clean the house before Ethan gets home from his friend’s.”

“I just want you to tell me you’ll think about it,” he pushed.

“I’ll think about it,” I lied.

I wouldn’t think about it. I might eventually discuss it with my kid, because it was an offer he needed to accept or refuse. But I wouldn’t ever think about it because I already knew what I thought about it.

I hated it.

Trent studied me.

He knew I was lying and his tone became wheedling. “Cheryl, this is the best thing for Ethan.”

“Just sayin’, you’re talkin’ about it when I just told you that I got shit to do.”

He took a step toward me and stopped.

“Think about it,” he urged. “A house in a not-so-great neighborhood, just you and him—and most the time you’re workin’, so he isn’t even with you—when every other week he can be with us at our place. A decent pad that’s bigger. A brother and sister he can watch grow up. A mom and dad to look out for him, there all the time.”

He was right. My neighborhood was not so great.

It didn’t suck either.

Most of my neighbors were old folk whose kids were assholes and forgot they existed. Some of them were new couples or new families trying to make a go at life. Good folk, all of them.

But there were a couple of rentals that had renters who were sketchy. However, outside the occasional loud party (which got shut down real quick because my kid needed his sleep and I knew every cop in the department, so I didn’t hesitate to make a call) or a loud fight, they kept to themselves.

But it wasn’t about me feeling defensive about the home I gave my son.

It was his “mom and dad, there all the time” bullshit.

Ethan had a mom.


In other words, he was no longer pissing me off.

I was there.

“You need to stop,” I warned.

Stupidly, something they didn’t have a program for, so Trent had not in all his years stopped being, he kept pushing. “You think on this, you’ll know it’s the right thing for Ethan.”

It did not sit great with me that he was not letting this go, mostly because it shared how bad Peg wanted it and I didn’t get good vibes from that. She was an okay woman and she was also a woman made to be a mom. Not just because she had a lot of love to give, which I figured she did, but also so she could have as many people in her life that she could boss around as she could get.

I tried one more time.

“Back off, Trent.”

He pointed at the envelope before looking back at me. “We’re tryin’ to take care of you too.”

“Think I’ve proved over the last ten years I been lookin’ out for Ethan on my own that I don’t need someone takin’ care of me,” I pointed out.

He lifted his chin. “We’re doin’ right by you.”

“Woulda helped, you did right by me when I needed it, not shovin’ it down my throat when I don’t.”

I could see right away that pissed him off.

“Knew you’d throw that in my face,” he bit out.

“Trent, for fuck’s sake,” I snapped. “I’m tellin’ you to back off. I told you I’d think about it. And I told you I got shit to do.”

“Nice mouth, Cheryl. You talk like that to our son?”

That was when I lost it, and, honest to God, it was a wonder I’d held on for so long.

Leaning toward him, I hissed, “I can talk any way I want to my son because I earned that privilege by bein’ there for him every day his whole fucking life.”

“So you do,” he returned.

I leaned back, shaking my head. “Of course I don’t, you moron.”

“Name calling. Nice,” he clipped. “You teach our son that too?”

“I’ll ask again, can we not do this now?” I requested sharply.

His face changed. It was not a good change.

It was a stubborn, nasty change.

That part of Trent I knew.

“I didn’t want it to get to this, but I think it’s fair that you know, you don’t do what’s best for Ethan, Peggy and me are prepared to take you to court. And, just a heads up, she feels Ethan should be with his dad full-time. The shared custody idea was what I talked her into. You push it, she’s gonna get pissed and we’re gonna go for it all.”

At the barest thought of losing my son, I stood in my kitchen while the world collapsed all around me. At the edge of my vision, the walls and cabinets and counters and houses and the town beyond all crumbled to the earth, a cloud of dust rising, obliterating everything but me and Trent staring at each other.

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