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“Don’t you think that if you take her to the hospital you run the risk of ruining whatever it was she needed your help for?” Ray asked.

“Never thought I’d hear you suggest a hospital,” King said.

“It was a lie! A joke. I was a dumb fucking kid!” I dropped my head in my hands.

And now you’re a dumb fuck pushing thirty, Ghost Preppy chimed in.

“Go in there and you tell me if the girl in there looks like a fucking joke.”

“I’ll take care of it. I’m not a Bastard anymore. I’m not worried about hospitals or getting caught. Besides, if she’s a fucking rat what the fuck does it matter? I’ll drop her and be on my way.”

“Where?” Ray asked.

“Wherever that’s not here,” I said.

“That hurts you know,” Ray said, disentangling herself from King.

“You can’t run forever man,” King said.

“I’m not running from those fuckers!” I yelled. Ray’s eyes darted to the closed door, I lowered my voice again.

No, but you’re running from yourself.

“I have to go check on the baby,” Ray said, stepping toward the door. She picked up a radio looking thing off the table on her way out. “Baby monitor,” she said, holding it up with a tight smile on her face. The last thing I wanted was to hurt her, but I didn’t know how to fix it. I just needed to leave. To be on my own. To figure out my fucking life.

Why didn’t they get that?

“What’s the baby’s name?” I called out to her, but it was too late. Ray was already gone.

King lifted the gauze from the side of his neck revealing an intricate new tat in grey and black lettering that read NICOLE GRACE.

“You named your kid after the whore who shot at your girl?” I asked.

“There was more to that and you know it. Besides, Nicole Grace is a lot better than what Sammy and Max wanted to name her.”

“And what was that?

“Baby Pancakes,” King said, rolling his eyes and smiling.

“Maybe a little better. But holy shit on the tat man. Ray did that? That’s good fucking work.”

King ripped the rest of the gauze off and chucked it into a nearby trash bin. “And yeah, it is. She gets better every day. You should see some of the shit she sketches.”

“What’s HER name?” King asked, jerking his chin at the closed door.

“Thia,” I said. “Her mom calls her Cindy, but she hates it,” I said, remembering her words to me from all those years ago. “If this is a ploy by Chop, and she’s in on it, you best believe that I don’t give a shit how old she is. I’m sending her back to the MC in a fucking body bag.”

“Agreed,” King said. “But how long has it been since you’ve seen her?”

“Six years, maybe seven?” I answered scratching the hair under my nose. “Why?”

“Cause that girl in there? She’s young. But she’s no fucking kid.” As the last word left his mouth, another shrill scream pierced through the air.

“I’ll go get Ray,” King said.

“No, let her be with the baby, I’ll go in. Better I figure out what the fuck is going on sooner rather than later.”

King nodded but then he stopped, again searching my face for something I already knew wasn’t there. “You sure you’re good man?”

“Yeah man, I’m sure. Go. Get some sleep,” I said, waving him off.

King went to leave but turned back around. “Sit on the ‘going to slit your old man’s throat’ plan for the night. We’ll talk it out in the morning. Whatever you need. I’m in.”

That’s when I realized what was different about King. The anger. The anger that he’d been drowning in since before Ray arrived, was gone. That’s why he seemed different. Lighter.

Calmer.

It freaked me the fuck out.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Bear

What the fuck is wrong with me?

Maybe it was all the fucking blow or mainlining Jack for months, but I was really starting to question my sanity. The picture King had sent me of the girl had been blurry at best and I couldn’t make out her face, but I’d known it was the same girl from the gas station from the weird pink color of her hair.

Thia.

Her name was Thia, I remembered.

I thought I knew what to expect when I entered that room.

I was so fucking wrong.

Thia’s long hair was splayed out above her on the pillow and it wasn’t so much the pink I remembered, but more of a blonde with a hint of red. Her skin was pale, except for the dark bruising on the side of her lip and the butterfly stitch covering a cut on the side of her eye that was getting darker and darker as the seconds ticked by. The circles under her eyes were a deep purple underneath her thin skin.

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