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“Thanks. Feels good to have a workspace again since the kids take up every inch of the house and then some. Never knew kids had so much shit,” he said, smudging a line with his pinky, wiping the top of the page with the side of his hand.

“You always surprise me, brother. This is next level shit right here,” I said, pointing to his dragon.

“You’ll never fucking guess who it’s for,” King said, spinning around on his stool.

“Who?”

“Ray’s dad.”

“No fucking shit. Senator asshole is getting tatted up? What happened to the good old days when we were planning his quick and timely demise?” I asked as I continued to look around the wall at the different types of tattoos he’d done.

“Things change. He’s got all sorts of scars where he took the bullet in his chest and his shoulder. Wants a dragon to cover up part of it, reminds him of the old Jet Li movies he likes or some shit like that.”

“If I had any room left I’d have you put that on me. Shit’s totally fucking tits man,” I said. “Speaking of tits, I just saw Ray up at the house and I was wondering if you’ve got any weed.”

“Why the fuck did that sentence start with SPEAKING OF TITS?” King asked, tacking his sketch onto a board beside the window and glaring at me like I just told him I fingered her in his bed.

“’Cause your girl was up there feeding your kid. She was in the living room. Calm down dude, it’s not like I saw nip or anything.”

“You’re starting to sound like Preppy,” King said. “And the only reason why you’re not dead right now is because you are about to tell me that you covered your eyes, turned your ass around and walked right out the fucking door when you realized she had her tit out.”

“Sure. Sounds good. That’s exactly what happened,” I said sarcastically. “But seriously you got any weed? I’m out and I need it for something.”

“Like getting high?” King asked.

Smartass.

“Yes, motherfucker, like getting high. But it’s not for me, it’s for Ti. She asked me why I was doing blow and I told her to check out of reality for a bit and she surprised me by begging me for it so she could forget too, I damn near gave in.”

I neglected to tell him that I also needed it to apologize for tonguing her down without finishing. For promising to help her forget and instead running away right when I was getting to the good part.

“Why didn’t you let her? Never seen you stop a girl from a good time before,” King said.

“I didn’t have any left, but it didn’t feel right anyway. She’s not some club whore.”

“You finally decided she’s not out to get you?” King asked.

“I guess not.”

“You figure out what to do with her yet?”

“Plan hasn’t changed. And I made a call which should help.”

“What kind of call?” King asked, eyeing me warily.

“Bethany Fletcher,” I admitted.

“Wow.”

“Can’t call club lawyers, they don’t work for me any more. Figure if I can get Ti off the hook for shooting her parents then I can sneak her out of here and drop her off far enough away where the MC won’t ever look for her.”

“I still can’t believe you called Bethany,” King said.

“When you’re at war with the devil sometimes you gotta dial up a demon,” I said.

“Hope you know what you’re doing.”

“I do.”

I had no fucking clue.

King walked over to the wall where a big painting of a melting clock hung from the ceiling to the floor. He shifted the painting, revealing a hidden safe. He turned the dial and when he opened it there was another safe inside, this one requiring a code.

“You want me to wait while you dig a key out from the backyard to open safe number three?” I asked.

“Fuck off,” King said. “Got kids running around here now. Things are different. Can’t have shit everywhere like we used to.”

It was hard to imagine King, a man who did what he wanted his entire life without giving two shits if it was right or wrong, sneaking off at night to get high in the garage after the kids went night night.

“My mom did everything and everyone in front of me,” he continued. “I don’t want that for my kids. Want them not knowing about the bad shit. Want them believing in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the goddamn tooth fairy until they’re fucking forty.”

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