Home > Hold On (The 'Burg #6)(12)

Hold On (The 'Burg #6)(12)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Trent’s mouth got tight.

Direct shot.

I didn’t let up.

“Put Feb up there, her and Colt bein’ that prey Denny Lowe stalked, also bein’ my boss, also lettin’ me look after her kid when she needs me, that judge’ll think even more. And they’ll do that for me. They won’t blink. They’ll wanna bury you so bad for fucking with me, they’ll do anything they can. And they aren’t the only ones, Trent. My girl Violet Callahan and her husband, Cal. Jack and Jackie Owens. Morrie. Dee. Upstanding citizens. Pillars of the fucking community. I’ll have so many people’s asses tellin’ that judge what kind of mom I am, he’ll wonder what the fuck is wrong with you that you’d try to take my boy from me.”

“You seem convinced,” he scoffed.

“I’m not convinced. I’m goddamned right,” I shot back. “You’re all kinds of stupid, you don’t rethink this bullshit. I’ll stop at nothin’ to keep my boy with me. Do not doubt it. And I’m doin’ you a solid in advising you not to take that on. There’s been one constant in Ethan’s life.” I jerked my thumb to myself. “Me. No judge in his right mind will look at my history of givin’ it all that I got to give good to my kid and then take him away from me. You fight me, it’s a battle you’re gonna lose. But you fight me, you’re gonna lose Ethan, and that shit will not be about me takin’ you away from him. That shit’ll be about him knowin’ you’re fuckin’ with his mom and him not wanting one single thing to do with you.”

Indecision flared in his eyes right before he turned, took the step he needed to nab the envelope off the counter, and shoved it in his back pocket.

He turned back to me.

“Seems I’m gonna need this to hire an attorney,” he declared.

“Right, good call. Take it. Works for me. Ten years Ethan’s been breathin’ and you haven’t given me a dime to help. I’m down with that. A judge, though, he might not be.”

“Screw you, Cheryl,” he bit out.

“You already did that, Trent, in a lot of ways.”

He scorched a glare at me, then walked out of my kitchen.

I stood in it and listened to him slam the front door.

Then I dropped my head and stared at my boots, finding myself breathing heavily.

I was not wrong. Colt, Feb, Vi, Cal, Jack, Jackie, everyone would help me.


But it’d all come up.


The stripping.


All of it shoved down Ethan’s throat.

It didn’t matter his name was Ethan Rivers, his mom’s Cher Rivers—that was on our rental agreement; that was on my driver’s license. It wasn’t like your old identity was washed away when you changed your name. That shit was public record. Which meant, however infrequently these days, fuckwads and freaks still found me for whatever reason they needed to do that to be close to Denny.

If Trent and Peg took me to court, it’d all come out. It might even hit the news. And it would definitely make Ethan vulnerable.


Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…fuck.

I lifted my head and turned it, looking at the wall of open shelves over base cabinets, which was stuffed full of retro glasses, multi-patterned, mismatched bowls, wonky-shaped pitchers, old-fashioned canisters.

I studied my things—the bowls Ethan poured his cereal into, the pitchers I grabbed to make him Kool-Aid—and I felt that thorn dig deeper.

Because if I was a different woman, the kind of woman who could attract a man like Garrett Merrick, get him close, and make him want to stay that way, people would not fuck with me because he wouldn’t let them.

Not Trent.

Not Peg.

Not my neighbors who threw wild parties.

Not the occasional person at the bar who looked at me with fanatical eyes, asking me if I was Cheryl Sheckle, the Cheryl Sheckle, sidepiece to Denny Lowe.

Not the assholes who phoned me thinking about a movie, a book, a TV show, and wanting me to help them “get in the mind of Dennis Lowe.”

I didn’t mind asking my cop buddies to shut down parties.

It would suck, but I’d do anything for Ethan, so I would buck up and ask for all the help I could get to keep my son.

And at the bar, Darryl and Morrie dealt with the lunatics who sniffed out the Denny Lowe trail because they were fucked in the head, not only to protect me from that shit, but also to protect Feb and Colt. But that message had been sent frequently, and after all these years, those nutjobs were few and far between.

Like Trent being back in Ethan’s life, no one knew about the phone calls. They didn’t need to worry about Trent being a part of our lives. And they definitely didn’t need the Denny Lowe shit dredged up. And last, I didn’t need yet another way for people to feel they needed to take care of me.

I could take care of myself. I’d done it since I was eighteen, and I knew it was my lot in life to do it until I died. I might have forgotten this that morning for one crazy, stupid, hopeful moment, but then I’d been reminded.

That didn’t mean I wouldn’t appreciate a man like Merry in my life.

I would.

And I would more than any normal woman because I knew how precious having someone to look after you, someone to share the load, someone who gave even a single solitary shit actually was.

Which was ironic, since I was one of those girls.

One of those girls who would appreciate it.

One of those girls who would take care of it.

One of those girls who would beg, borrow, and steal in order to keep hold of it.

And one of those girls who would never have it.

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