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Ti held out her arms and took a deep breath, inhaling the fresh air. She looked down at me as I approached and my chest tightened.

“This place is perfect,” she said, flashing me another brilliant smile. She hopped down onto the bench part of the table and walked to the edge, leaping off dramatically before landing on her feet in the dirt like she was a gymnast, raising her arms above her head and taking a step back like she was in the Olympics.

“Seven,” I said, holding up a fake score card.

“Bullshit, biker-boy,” she scoffed. “That was at least an eleven. Seven? Please!” She jumped back up onto another bench and pointed her index finger in the air. “Let’s go to the tapes!” she announced, queuing up her imaginary replay.

“Sorry,” I said, sucking air in between my teeth and bobbing my head from side to side. I stood below her, my face just inches away from the top of her thighs. “The judges have reviewed the tape, and they all agree. Although it would have been a two…” I said, turning her around by her legs so that she was facing away from me. “But you got the extra points because I really dig your ass being at eye level.” I turned my head to the side and rested my cheek on her ass like it was a pillow that I wanted to take a nap on.

Because it was.

I wasn’t able to linger on the phenomenally sexy image of my face pressed against her naked ass for too long because she reached back and swatted at my head with her hat like I was a bee buzzing around her legs. “Bear!” she screeched playfully, jumping back down from the bench and then running around it, holding onto her butt like we were in a locker room and she was protecting it from an impending towel swat.

“Just watching you jump around is exhausting,” I said, reaching into my jeans and pulling out my cigarettes. I lit one and waved the smoke away from my face.

“Mama used to call me her little jumping bean because they could never get me to sit still,” she admitted, finally sitting down on top of the picnic table.

“Fitting,” I said, feeling like I was able to relax now that the jumping bean had stopped jumping.

I took a drag of my cigarette and blew out the smoke. It had taken me forever to figure out where to take Ti. So long now that the sun had just started to set into the horizon. I liked the night. I liked the dark. Smoking in the dark always held more appeal for me than smoking during the day. Maybe it had something to do with being able to see the smoke against the dark background of the night sky. Or maybe it was being able to see the glowing ember from the end of the cigarette or the bright yellow flame when I fired up my lighter. Smoking was familiar to me. It felt good.

It also reminded me of home.

I’d be shit at making one of those anti-smoking public service announcements.

Ti leaned back on the table, closing her eyes like she was soaking up rays that had long disappeared with the setting of the sun.

“I feel like you know so much about me,” she said, although I didn’t think that was true. I don’t think I’d tapped into even half of what made Thia Andrews tick. “But I don’t know that much about you.”

“You know more than anyone else,” I said, and that really was true, but for the exception of King and maybe Grace. In the short time I’d spent with her, she learned more about me than the men back at the club.

Men who were supposed to me my brothers.

Most of whom I’d known since the day I was born.

I leaned back on my elbows, the same way Ti had, soaking in the same imaginary rays. An eerie sense of calm washed over me. I wanted to burn the feeling into my memory, because I knew it wouldn’t last. After the meeting with Bethany tomorrow plans needed to be made.

Decisions needed to be made.

Quickly.

My phone rang. “It’s Bethany,” I told Ti, holding the phone up to my ear. “Yeah,” I answered.

“We have a problem,” Bethany said. I looked over to Ti who thankfully hadn’t heard her. I stood up and walked away casually.

“Go ahead,” I said as calmly as I could muster.

“She’s no longer wanted for questioning,” Bethany snapped.

“That’s great,” I said, looking back over to Ti who smiled.

“No, she’s no longer wanted for questioning because there is a warrant out for her arrest.”

Fuck.

“They finished analyzing the gun and they called in some fancy CSI from Atlanta. There is only three sets of prints in that entire house and only two sets of prints on both guns. The mother’s and Thia’s and since the mom is dead…”

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