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Second chance holiday, p.5
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       Second Chance Holiday, p.5

         Part #4.50 of Until series by Aurora Rose Reynolds
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  “You’re a good guy, Mike,” he says, patting my chest as he leans into me.

  “When you’re not drunk, we’re gonna sit down and have a talk,” I tell him, walking up to the front door and pulling out my key.

  “Fuck, you have a key. It is serious,” he says, his body almost pulling me down with him.

  As I unlock the door and push it open, he leans over and vomits all over the porch. I hold him up, trying to help him over to the grass. The poor kid is going to have one hell of a hangover tomorrow, and cleaning up puke isn’t going to help.

  “Mike? Brandon?”

  I turn slightly to look at Kat, who is standing in the doorway wearing nothing but a robe.

  “What’s going on? Oh my God. Is he drunk?” she asks, starting to step outside.

  I turn towards her, taking one hand off Brandon, placing it in her stomach, and pushing her back inside. “He got sick out here, baby,” I tell her, and she nods, looking at her son.

  “I thought that, when we moved, you wouldn’t do this anymore, Brandon,” she says.

  I can see the worry in her eyes, and I understand it, but I also understand why her son is acting out right now. Brandon stands up and leans his body weight completely on me.

  “Let’s get him into bed. Tomorrow, we’re all gonna sit down and have a talk,” I tell her.

  She looks ever more worried. The urge to comfort her almost strangles me, but I need to deal with her son first. Then I can talk to her and hopefully make her understand what’s going on and what this kid really needs. She can’t continue to act like his behavior is normal. It’s not fair to her son or her. Without saying anything else, I follow her into the house and up the stairs towards Brandon’s room.

  “You want to shower or you want to sleep?” I ask Brandon, who is now moving more quickly to his room.

  He lifts his head slightly and looks at me. “I just want to sleep,” he mutters, falling back onto his bed.

  I find his garbage can and put it next to him. Then I make sure that he’s on his side before I pull his shoes off and cover him up. Kat comes in with a cup full of green liquid and holds it to his mouth. He rinses his mouth then leans over to spit in the trash can before lying back again.

  “I love you, Mom,” he says, closing his eyes.

  Kat sits down next to him on the bed, pushing his hair away from his forehead and pressing a kiss there, muttering, “I know you do,” softly before pulling away.

  “I’m sorry,” he says.

  I see her body sag. I step towards her, putting a hand to her back.

  “This is not okay, Brandon. I love you more than life, but this is not okay.” The pain in her voice is obvious and I know she’s close to tears.

  Brandon’s eyes open and he looks at his mom. The look in his eyes is so bleak that I want to track down his father and kill him for doing that to his son and the woman he was supposed to love.

  “I’m sorry,” he repeats, and I don’t even know if he knows what he’s apologizing for.

  “We’ll talk tomorrow. I’m going to leave your door open so I can hear you if you need me,” she tells him, leaning in again and kissing is forehead.

  We both head out of his room then down the stairs. I pull off my jacket and toss it onto one of the chairs in the living room before going to the kitchen and grabbing a beer.

  Chapter 6

  MIKE

  “So what happened?” Kat asks.

  I turn to face her and see that she has her arms wrapped around her waist and her eyes have become full of worry. “James called me and told me that Brandon asked him to call me to come pick him up after he was arrested.”

  “Why didn’t he call me?”

  “I think he was hoping that he wouldn’t get in trouble if he called me.”

  “What?” she whispers.

  “Baby,” I say softly, running a finger down her cheek. “I’m your boyfriend. My guess is he thought I would pick him up and ease the blow with you to try and get on his good side.”

  “He used to do this before we moved. This was one of the reasons we moved to begin with. He was always hanging out with the wrong crowd. He would come home late or not at all. Sometimes, he would show up drunk or high. I tried to talk to him, but nothing was working. Then I decided to move here. I loved growing up here and figured that it was probably a safe place to raise my son.”

  She takes a deep breath, letting her hands drop to her side. “When we first moved into town, he was okay. He was doing good in school and not giving me any problems. Then, a few months ago, right after his birthday, something happened and he stopped listening. He started getting angry easier and our relationship, which had started to repair, went downhill fast.” She looks away when I see tears begin to fill her eyes. “I don’t know what’s going on with him. I don’t understand why he’s so angry. I don’t know why he’s mad at me or how to help him.”

  “I think that whatever happened has to do with his dad more than it has to do with you,” I say, and her eyes come back to me. “Did you know that his dad told him that he couldn’t take him on a graduation trip because his girlfriend’s kid needs braces?” I ask, watching her body still and her face contort with anger.

  “No, I didn’t know that.”

  “He did.”

  “That dick.”

  “Yep.” I nod and take a drink from my beer. “I talked to James, and what he said along with what Brandon said got me thinking,” I say, pulling her into me by the rope of her robe. “I think that Brandon needs some male bonding time. Every year, me and the Mayson’s go out on the lake for a few days, and I’m gonna take Brandon.”

  “Really?” she whispers, leaning into me. Her eyes go soft, and I lean in and press my mouth to hers.

  “I think it would be good for him and I to get to know each other better. I also think it would be good for him to have someone to look up to. Asher, Trevor, Cash, and Nico are not too much older than him. I know that I don’t have a conventional job and I’m not much of a role model, but I think that the other guys will be a good influence.”

  “You know, when I first found out that you owned a strip club, I was a little put off,” she says.

  I raise an eyebrow because a little put off is a huge understatement.

  “Okay, so I was a lot put off,” she says, smiling. “But now I know to you. It’s your business and nothing more. You would also be a good influence on him. You’re a hard worker, you love your child and grandchildren, and you take care of the people you care about. I think all of those things are the qualities of a good man.”

  My stomach tightens ‘cause those are not things I would have thought of. I know that a lot of people look at me and my club and say that I’m taking advantage of the women who work for me and I only see women as sex objects, but in my club, the women are safe. They are treated with respect. Most of them are students or mothers just trying to make a better life for themselves or their families. If I knew that the women who worked for me would be able to find somewhere else to work that had the same kind of environment, I would have closed the doors to Teasers after November moved home.

  “Do you think that I should call his dad and tell him that his son needs him?” she asks, bringing me back to the moment.

  “I don’t need him,” Brandon says, swaying into the kitchen. “He has never wanted to be a part of my life—even when you were married to him. He didn’t want to be a dad to me, so I don’t need him or want him in my life.”

  “Honey.”

  “No, Mom. Fuck him,” he growls, opening the door to the fridge.

  “Watch your mouth,” I say.

  Brandon looks at me over his shoulder. “You’re not my dad,” he states, holding my eyes.

  Mine narrow on him. “You’re right. If I was your father, your ass would be handed to you for the stress you’re putting your mom through. I’m not your dad, but I’m an adult.”

  “Whatever,” he mutters.

  “You feelin’ better?” I as
k him.

  He shrugs, which only pisses me off further.

  “You’re up and you don’t seem as drunk as you were, so take the hose and go wash off my car.”

  “What?” he asks, looking from me to his mom.

  “Go rinse off the vomit from the side of my car.”

  “But it’s, like, midnight or something.”

  “And?” I ask.

  “Mom?” he says, looking at his mom again.

  “Don’t look at me for help. And when you come in, we need to talk about your punishment.”

  “Fine,” he says, stomping out of the kitchen, the sound of the door slamming shut echoing through the house.

  “That went well,” Kat says then looks at me and smiles.

  “Why are you smiling?”

  “My son doesn’t agree to do stuff he doesn’t want to do. You have to understand that, as much as he’s mad right now, he respects you enough to go outside in the middle of the night to clean off your car because you told him to do it. That’s huge.”

  “I think you’re reading to much into that, baby.”

  She shrugs and takes the beer from my hand before putting it to her mouth and taking a drink. “Regardless, thank you for picking him up tonight.”

  “You’re welcome,” I tell her, kissing her head.

  After about fifteen minutes, the front door opens then shuts and Brandon comes into the kitchen.

  “How long am I grounded for?” he asks his mom, and an idea comes to me.

  “You’re gonna come work for me,” I say.

  Kat and Brandon both say, “What?” at the same time.

  “November has been trying to transfer all the stuff from my office to her home office. You’re gonna help her get everything organized.”

  “So, I’m going to work at a strip club?” he asks.

  Kat’s mouth has opened and closed a few times, but she still hasn’t said anything.

  I look from her to Brandon and shake my head. “No, you’re not working at the strip club. You’re going to help November.”

  “I think we should talk about this,” Kat says.

  My eyes go to her and then back to Brandon. When Brandon’s eyes come back to me, something flashes in them before he looks at his mom.

  “I wanted to get a job anyways, so I think this would be a good opportunity for me,” he tells his mom.

  I give Kat’s waist a squeeze then look at Brandon. He needs something, and though I may not be the best person to give him what he needs, I want him to be successful and I want to heal the rift between him and his mom. I just hope I don’t make shit worse.

  “Okay, but you’re still grounded. You can use the car for school and work, but no hanging out with friends for a month.”

  “A month?” he asks, stunned. Then he looks at me like I should help him out.

  “Do I need to remind you that you were picked up by the cops for underage drinking? If you were anyone else, you would have spent the night in jail and had to go in front of the judge in the morning. You’re lucky that this is your punishment,” I tell him.

  Kat leans slightly back into me. “A month, Brandon. If you mess up during the month, another month gets added,” she says.

  Brandon looks at her and nods.

  “I love you, honey. I know that you’re mad about your dad and what happened, but I love you and I want you to be a better man than he is, and right now I’m worried about you,” Kat says softly.

  Brandon’s body loosens completely. He nods again, and Kat steps out of my hold and gives him a hug.

  *

  “Want a beer?” Asher asks.

  Brandon’s face lights up and his hand goes forward to take the beer when Nico snatches the beer from Asher and opens it.

  “Sorry, kid. You need to get some hair on your chest. Then you can have a beer,” Trevor says, handing Brandon a soda, smirking.

  “Whatever,” Brandon grumbles, sitting back in his chair and taking a drink of his soda before looking around the campsite.

  It’s been over a month since I picked up Brandon from the station. He has made a lot of changes since then. He is home more often than not or he is hanging out with me, Joe, or one of the Maysons. His grades have improved, and his and Kat’s relationship has done a complete one-eighty. Not only has he been helping November, but he has also shown a great interest in the club and improving it. I know nothing about social media, but the kid is a damn wiz and he has helped build clientele online with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Joe is completely impressed with the damn kid, and I have to say I’m proud as hell of him.

  “So, who is the girl you were hanging around the other day?” Nico asks.

  I look at Brandon and then Nico and raise an eyebrow.

  “No one,” Brandon mumbles, glaring at Nico.

  “Didn’t look like no one to me, kid. You were making goo-goo eyes at her.”

  Brandon glares harder. “I wasn’t.”

  “Shut up, Nico,” Cash says and smiles at Brandon. “That’s his study partner, right?” Cash asks, looking at Brandon.

  Brandon’s eyes narrow even further. “She’s a friend,” he grits out.

  ‘Who’s this?” I ask.

  “She’s no one. Just a friend from school,” Brandon says.

  “Friend… Hmmm,” Trevor says.

  Brandon glares at him. “She is a friend,” he says.

  Trevor gets a strange smile on his face. “Liz is my best friend,” he says, which makes me chuckle.

  “You’re an idiot,” Brandon says, laughing, and the rest of the guys laugh too.

  “So, are we going to go fishing or sit around all day gossiping?” James asks, walking up to the group with his fishing pole.

  “Come with me for a second, bud,” I tell Brandon.

  He follows me to the back of Asher’s Jeep, where we have all our stuff stowed. When I open the hatch, I pull out the gift I got for him and hand it to him. His eyes go from me to the box then back again.

  “What is it?” he asks.

  “Open it,” I tell him.

  He pulls off the paper his mom insisted I wrap it in last night and his eyes go from his new pole to me.

  “It’s a good one,”

  He swallows hard and nods.

  “Your mom insisted on wrapping it even though I told her not to,” I tell him.

  His lips twitch and he looks at me again. “Thanks,” he says.

  I nod, patting him on the back. I fell in love with Kat a long time ago, but I have slowly fallen in love with her son over the last month.

  “You want me to help you set it up?” I ask him.

  He nods again, pulling it completely from the box. We spend the next ten minutes getting his new trigger pole ready to use. Once it’s completely set up, I grab my pole and the tackle box I brought and head out to the boat we launched into the water when we arrived at the lake.

  Once we all get in the boat, we head out into the middle of the lake, where the water is deeper and the fish radar is showing a school of fish below. We all cast off into the water and settle in for the day.

  My dad used to bring my brother and me to this same lake when I was growing up. Most of our summers were spent out on the water. I have a lot of good memories here, and it feels good to share this place with Brandon. It makes me feel closer to him.

  “I think you got something, bud,” I tell Brandon as I watch the end of his pole bend slightly.

  “How do you know?” he asks, looking from the pole to me.

  “Watch the point of your pole,” I tell him, and his eyes move to the pole. The end moves again.

  “What do I do?” he asks quietly.

  I look around the boat and see that everyone is focused on Brandon and me. “You’re gonna give your pole a tug. If something is on there, you want to make sure that it’s hooked good and tight. Then you’re gonna start reeling it in,” I tell him.

  He nods then does as I said, giving the pole a firm tug before reeling in the line.

/>   “It’s heavy,” he says, his body and arms flexing as he fights against the fish that is determined to get away.

  “You can do it,” I tell him, standing at his side, coaching him the whole time—letting him know when to release some and when to bring the line in.

  It takes a good half hour to get the fish to the top, and I’m surprised to see a giant bass break the surface of the water.

  “Holy shit,” Asher says, leaning over the side of the boat.

  “That’s one big fish!” Nico laughs and Brandon smiles looking over at me.

  “Get the net,” Cash tells Trevor.

  “You did good, Kid,” Trevor tells Brandon, leaning into the water to help Asher scoop out the fish.

  “Well, you caught dinner,” James says.

  The smile that was on Brandon’s face disappears in an instant. “You mean we’re going to eat it?”

  “Hell yes, we’re going to eat it!” Asher smiles bringing the fish onto the boat.

  “I never agreed to eating fish. Didn’t we bring hot dogs or something?” Brandon asks, making me laugh.

  “This is like the Wild West, Kid. You live off what you catch,” Trevor tells Brandon, and all the boys laugh when Brandon shudders.

  “You did good, bud,” I say, bringing Brandon’s attention to me. “I’m proud of you.”

  “It was cool,” he says. Then he looks back at the fish then to me again. “Are you sure we don’t have hot dogs?”

  “I may have a pack in the cooler,” I tell him, squeezing his shoulder.

  “Thank God,” he mumbles under his breath, making James and me laugh.

  *

  “So, what college are you going to?” Cash asks Brandon. We just finished dinner and are now all sitting around the bonfire.

  “I’m not sure. I may stay local and just do some business classes,” Brandon tells him then looks over at me. “Joe said that, if I worked hard and proved to you both, he would talk to you about me managing Teasers.”

  “Did he?” I say. It doesn’t surprise me that my brother would say something like that. I know he has been thinking about stepping back from the club just like I have.

 
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