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The Nerd & The Ex-Con_Deleted Chapter




 

Griff

He didn’t think of me, did he? So why the fuck should I be thinking of him?

Scottie looked pale and devastated. How could I leave him like this? But Jay’s angry words pulsed in time with my heartbeat. Over and over, each word hammered at my brain, driving home what Scottie had been trying to tell me all along.

My son was gone.

He wanted nothing to do with me.

If I pursued a relationship with him, pushing Scottie to do something he was clearly reluctant to, I would also damage their relationship. It had to be enough that Jay had someone like Scottie in his life. Sweet, kind, and gentle Scottie.

I brushed the back of his cheek gently. His skin was cool to the touch and soft. I didn’t want to stop touching him. For precisely that reason, I had to.

“Thank you for everything,” I whispered.

For the years I’d experienced Jay through his letters. For caring that a convict wanted to rebuild a relationship with his son. For his company that had made the prison years less lonely. For giving me hope each time I sent him a letter and looked forward to receiving his reply.

Tears filled Scottie’s eyes. I dropped my hand away from his cheek. I’d never forget that touch. Or the taste of his lips on mine. After the legal system had stripped me of the right to feel, he’d made me feel human again.

But he wasn’t my human.

I took a step back and then another, branding his face in my memory. Then I spun on my heels. My footsteps echoed along the hall as silence escorted me out.

He hadn’t even tried to stop me from leaving.

What more proof did I need that me being back would only ruin the lives of these two young men? What right did I have to wreak more havoc in their lives?

I closed the front door behind me and trudged down the street to where I’d parked my motorcycle. I got on and sat there, staring into space. Where to go? The apartment was too small. I didn’t want to answer questions about my mood or face how much I’d fucked up my life because I’d been a stupid, arrogant prick back then.

If only I could change things.

You think what’s best for me is to form a bond with a murderer?

I closed my eyes and winced as my heart broke into a million pieces. Jay would never come to see me as his father. He saw me as the villain. A murderer. Never Dad.

An image of the little boy I’d left behind stole the breath from my lungs. He’d stood at the door, crying when the police had led me away that day.

Shaking off the onslaught of emotions didn’t work this time. I could no longer avoid what I’d done.

I started the motorcycle and pressed the accelerator, shooting off into the night. The wind rushed past me as I rode down the empty streets, accompanied by streetlights and shame. The hum of the engine filled my ears and should have drowned out my thoughts, but it didn’t.

Jay…Scott…I couldn’t stop thinking about them.

With no destination in mind, I allowed my bike to take me where it would. City lights blurred, and the cool night air sent shivers coursing through my body, but none of it mattered. Would anything matter to me anymore?

If only I’d snuck out of the house when I had the chance. But it was better for me to have heard those words from Jay’s mouth. Scottie had tried to warn me, but I hadn’t listened. The words might have been brutal, but that was the language I understood.

A neon sign advertising “Joe’s Bar” loomed before me. I steered in that direction and slowed down as I rode into the parking lot. Why the fuck not? Who would care if I wound up back in prison?

Maybe the alcohol would numb the pain in my chest. I couldn’t think of a better idea.

I parked my bike, and the sound of the engine died down, leaving me in silence. I secured my helmet, took a deep breath, and trudged toward the entrance. Stale beer mingled with other spirits couldn’t disguise the ripe odor of unwashed bodies. I weaved my way past rough-looking men and skimpily dressed Sidewalk Sallies to the dimly lit bar.

This bar was different from the fancy little place where Scottie and I had met up. He wouldn’t have set foot in a dive like this. As he shouldn’t. Scottie was better than this place. A bar where murderers like me went to. I would bet I wasn’t the only one here with a rap sheet.

A young woman with raven-black hair, way too much makeup probably intended to hide her tired eyes, and a low-cut top that showed off her incredible knockers sauntered up to me from the other side of the bar. She smacked the gum she was chewing and blew a bubble that popped almost in my face. The scent of cherry and cigarette made me turn my head.

“I’m June. What can I get ya, handsome?”

“Whatever you have on tap.”

Anything more expensive and I would have to stop drinking long before I wanted to. With beer on tap, I could down several mugs before I passed out.

“Coming up, honey.”

She grabbed a mug from beneath the bar, then walked over to the tap. “You new around here?” she asked.

“Kind of.”

“You should come around more often.” She glanced down to the other end of the bar where a mean-looking son of a bitch was scowling at me. She smirked and winked, then cleared her throat and said loudly, “Not too many men like you around.”

“That so?”

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what she was getting at. And her plan was working. The man had damn turned red and was shooting daggers at me.

“Mmm-hmm.” She brought over the beer. “On the house.”

“Just the first one?” I flirted right back.

Usually, I avoided trouble, but I welcomed it tonight.

“You play your cards right, handsome, and you can drink as much as you want.”

She tugged at the neckline of her blouse, rubbing her hand along the material and giving me a peek at a dark pink areola. With a swoop of her hair, she went to serve another patron. I took a sip of my beer and caught the glare of the other man. I tipped the beer mug in his direction, then turned and lifted it to my lips, downing it all at once.

Not bad for on tap. No wonder this place was filled. The bar might be seedy, but the drinks were all right.

June poured me another beer without me having to ask. She kept them coming, and I drank them down as fast as they did. Little by little, her words stopped making sense. I ignored the steady stream of chatter coming out of her mouth but stared directly at her tits.

Once upon a time, if a woman flashed them under my nose in invitation the way she had been doing all night, I would have found the nearest corner and bent her over.

But now, nothing.

Hmm, her fun bags were round and full like Scottie’s perky little ass.

Twitch.

Fuck.

I shook my head.

Forget about Scottie. You don’t fuck guys.

I pointed at June and mumbled something that sounded like me inviting her around back with me. June laughed, caught my face in her hands, leaned across the counter, and pressed her lips against mine. She wriggled her tongue into my mouth, which felt like a worm trying to get away.

Not sexy at all.

Why didn’t Scottie’s tongue remind me of worms?

I pulled back, but she wasn’t even looking at me. I followed her gaze. The man who’d watched us all night strode up to me. Why were there two of them?

Fuck. I widened my eyes and shook my head. He merged back into one figure in front of me.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing, June?” he shouted.

“What?” she barked right back. “You won’t leave that woman but want to crawl into my bed every night. Get the fuck out of here with your rubbish.”

“I can’t leave her. We got kids.”

Why the fuck were they so loud?

With a groan, I stumbled off the stool to my feet. Playing around with this woman was no fun. Not when it did nothing for me.

I opened my wallet and took out some bills. I didn’t bother to count them out. The numbers didn’t make sense in the condition I was in.

“You don’t have to pay me,” June said. “All the drinks are on me for keeping me company tonight.”

I waved a hand but didn’t retrieve the money. After studying the treacherously swaying path toward the door, I put one foot forward.

“Where do you think you’re going?” A heavy hand landed on my shoulder, halting me.

I slowly turned my head and nailed the man with a glare. “Don’t touch me.”

He tightened his grip. “You put your hand on my woman. Why—”

His head snapped back, and he crashed into the bar, clutching his nose. My knuckles hurt. I opened and closed my hands, unflinching when he raised his head and stared at the blood on his palm.

“You’re fucking dead meat.”

At least I thought that was what he said before all hell broke loose.


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