“Mommy, are you still making pancakes?” Sammy interrupted, tugging at the ends of my hair to get my attention. Tears formed in my eyes as I looked around from face to face of my family.
My real family.
The one I was always meant to be with.
I pushed Sammy’s hair out of his eyes and planted a kiss on his forehead. I looked over to King who smiled a rare ear to ear smile, his eyes glistening with his own happy tears. King reached out and grabbed my hand.
I gave him a squeeze and smiled.
I was finally home.
“I’m glad I didn’t just kill you the first chance I had. It turns out that keeping you alive has served a greater purpose. So in a way, I’m grateful that you’re here right now, still breathing.” I leaned over the chair and stared into the motherfucker’s black soul.
“You’re going to let me go?” Eli asked, his face swollen and bleeding, covered in burns from the fire pit explosion.
“Not a fucking chance, you piece of shit. You’re going to die. But not right now and not by my hand. I’ve got special plans for you.”
“Ww-hat are you going to do?” Eli stammered.
“I’m going hand you over to a friend of mine. Who in exchange for a little playtime with you this evening, helped me kill another stupid motherfucker who decided to fuck with the wrong trailer trash.” I stood and cracked my knuckles, clearing room for Jake to step up. Eli’s eyes went wide.
“I know you!” Eli said. “They call you…The Moerdenaar.”
“Good. I said, clapping my hands together. Then you two are already acquainted.” I pushed off the wall and headed for the door, leaving Jake staring silently down at Eli, his eyes black, the demon within him ready to do what it does best.
“But you just said that I wasn’t going to die right now,” Eli called frantically to me as I opened the door of the shed.
“You’re not,” I said. “Jake here has cleared his schedule.” I tipped my chin to Jake. “He’s got all fucking night.”
With miles and miles of nothing but the Everglades in every direction, Jake could make Eli scream as loud as he wanted. Which was exactly what he did because I hadn’t walked ten steps before Eli’s scream tore through the night. I stopped to light a cigarette and smiled to myself.
I whistled the entire way to my bike.
That night, with my girl tucked in close to me, my hand over her growing belly, Max and Sammy sound asleep in Preppy’s old room; I was able to take a very long awaited deep breath.
The sounds of Eli and Tanner begging and screaming for their lives lulled me into a very deep and very happy sleep.
Five Months Later
I was sitting at the kitchen table working on a sketch of a tattoo for one of King’s clients, my swollen feet propped up on one of the other chairs, when King came bursting into the kitchen looking frustrated.
“Baby, have you seen my keys? They were on the table and now I can’t find them,” King said, searching through drawers and cabinets.
I looked up from my sketch. “No, did one of the kids take them?”
“I don’t see how they could of, I had them an hour ago before I dropped them off at Grace’s.” I rested my hands on my belly, the baby, another little girl, had the hiccups so fierce my stomach jumped every few seconds.
“Did you try—” My thought was interrupted when a burst of sound from the living room caught both our attention. We slowly turned to face the TV, which was changing from channel to channel.
“What the fuck?” King asked, walking into the living room he picked up the remote off the side table and started pushing buttons, but the TV kept changing channels at the same pace before finally coming to a stop.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
American Ninja Warrior
“Check the freezer,” I said.
“Why the fuck—” King started.
“Your keys, they’re in the freezer,” I said, turning to face King who looked at me like I was as crazy as I felt. Reluctantly, he walked over to the kitchen and sure enough he produced his keys from the freezer and dangled them in the air.
“Who the fuck put them in there?” King asked.
Fuck yeah I am here. I’ll always be here…”
“A friend,” I said, wiping a tear from my eye. “My best friend.”