Poughkeepsie, p.23
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       Poughkeepsie, p.23
 

           Debra Anastasia

  By the time she got back to her open phone, she knew Blake had probably hung up. Distracting the ladies had taken so long. But when she picked it up the screen showed she was still connected to Whore-a-saurus.

  “Blake?” Livia closed one eye while she waited.

  “Livia.” He was still there.

  “You waited,” Livia whispered.

  “Of course. I’ll always wait.”

  Livia smiled wider than she thought possible.

  “Maybe I could come to you?” Blake suggested. “Mouse looks like he’s finishing up with the body shop gentleman.”

  Livia heard what sounded like a gunshot in the background.

  “Oh, Blake!”

  “I’m fine. That was a car backfiring. I’m fine. Here’s Mouse now.” Blake spoke to the man getting into the passenger seat. “Did that go well?”

  Mouse’s squeaky voice sounded even more comical over the phone. “Yeah, Pete’s pushing the car up to the front of the line. I told them to work through the night. He’ll give me a call when it’s ready. Might be a few days.”

  “Well, Kyle will probably stomp around about that,” Livia told Blake. “Please tell Mouse thank you from the McHughs.”

  After some manly discussion about the car, the damage, and ridiculous Ford F-250s, Blake politely requested a trip to Livia’s car at the church. Mouse insisted Blake continue to drive the flaming hearse. Livia was almost positive Mouse was just trying to prevent Blake from having to step into the sun when they changed drivers.

  Blake set the phone down, but left the line open for his entire ride. Livia listened to the car noises and eventually heard the clicking of Mouse’s knitting needles.

  When the hearse pulled into the church parking lot, Livia felt an inappropriate giggle bubble up as she looked from the flame-adorned car to the church to the retirement community.

  Livia finally closed Kyle’s phone when she saw Blake step out of the car. With the pink phone to his now wool-covered ear, he looked a little absurd. Mouse nodded in Livia’s direction and folded himself into the driver’s seat. He left the parking lot as quickly as possible.

  Thank you, Mouse.

  Blake climbed in her passenger seat and pushed his mask up to reveal his face—even with the sun out! Livia kissed him and kissed him and kissed him. When she started her car, she was sure her cheeks would crack from smiling so much.

  “Do you think Cole will give Kyle a ride?” Livia asked as she pulled back onto the road. She contemplated making Blake drive. She couldn’t keep her eyes on the asphalt.

  “Absolutely.” Blake reached for her hand and softly kissed it.

  “I think I need to get home and talk to my dad. He’ll be worried if he doesn’t see us. Would you like to meet him?”

  “I’d be honored,” Blake said with a nod.

  25

  My Penis Rules the World

  CHRIS PARKED THE BEAST in the Poughkeepsie Police Department parking lot. He’d spent a good chunk of the morning deciding what, exactly, to do about Livia and his current situation.

  He brooded out the blurry plastic wrap that now served as his driver’s side window. Thinking of the punk who broke it failed to give Chris the surge of adrenaline and testosterone he wanted. That fucker was scary. Beckett Taylor was his name; he’d learned that from the blonde.

  Thinking about her made his jeans tighter. Again. She was one sexy floorboard wench. She was the kind of beautiful that people couldn’t even touch. When he got Livia bent over in the bed of his truck again, he’d picture that blonde’s face on her head.

  When King Steroidiculous had taken his phone, Chris was sure he was about to have his ass whipped. Whatever had sent Beckett back into The Launch Pad had probably saved him a world of pain. Then the über-gorgeous chick headed right in his direction. She was even better up close. He relived the moment again.

  Chris had realized he was breathing through his mouth when she gave him a snobby look. His tongue had swelled at the same rate as his dick.

  Her voice was full of promising pussy. “Are you done staring yet?”

  Chris shook his head no, but managed to pull his lips closed.

  She looked around at the skeevy batch of thugs texting and pointing at each other. The blonde didn’t fidget or bat her eyelashes like Hannah.

  She settled her blue eyes on Chris. “Yet?”

  He had to hear what she wanted to say. Maybe even get her digits. Get control.

  “You’re here for all the wrong reasons, Chris.”

  She knows my name. Fuck yeah. My penis rules the world. “My girlfriend is in there with a homeless dude. I need to protect her.” Chris’s voice was a lot higher-pitched than he wanted it to be at that fucking moment. He cleared his throat around his stupid tongue. Chris liked to tell ladies about his girlfriend. He always got a better response when they found out he was “taken.”

  He’d willed his voice go deeper. “My fiancée, I mean. We’re engaged.”

  The blonde had looked puzzled.

  Shit. I went too deep. Drag queen deep. Shit.

  “Is something wrong with you?” She lifted her intense gaze to check her phone. She looked up, found a face in the crowd, and gave him some authoritative hand gestures.

  Chris had been sure her hand would give a wicked beat-off to his power stick. He rolled his hips and tried to lick his bottom lip. He drooled by accident. He was busy wiping it off his chin with his wrist when she turned to face him again.

  “Are you leaking? My God.” She’d rolled her eyes like Chris was not worth her time. Like Chris was just dog shit on the bottom of her shoe.

  “Ya know what, slut? How ’bout you get out of my way? I need to save my woman.”

  Chris had turned his truck off. He would leave it right fucking here. He had a line of people behind him waiting to see Epic Chris. A girl wasn’t about to stop him.

  She’d snatched the keys out of his hand and grabbed his face.

  She’d brought his lips so close to hers, he’d thought for sure she was about to get a little Chris in her mouth.

  “Beckett Taylor wants you gone. Leave. Leave now. Do you think I’m pretty? Do you?” She still held his face, but her fingers were becoming uncomfortably tight.

  He’d nodded. “Mmhuh.”

  “I can rip your heart out of your chest and take a bite while it’s still beating. I can kill your body before your brain dies. Am I pretty now, motherfucker?”

  Chris could do nothing. Her words were terrifying. Her words should be in every horror movie ever written, but they were nothing, nothing compared to her cold alligator eyes. He instantly knew she could do everything she said.

  She’d let go of his face and started his ignition. She threw the truck in reverse and spit words at him. “Go. And hope I have a lot more people to murder before I have time on my hands again.”

  She’d hopped backward off his truck and sprinted to the side door of the club. She was so fucking fast. The dirty drug dealer crew began the alarming process of tossing flash-bang grenades in the parking lot like snowballs.

  The night had exploded around them. Chris watched his friends’ cars take off. Several backed into each other in the mêlée. The dirty drug dealers moved the cars that had blocked Chris’s crew in. They want us to get away?

  Not one to miss an opportunity, Chris had kept The Beast in reverse and backed up. He’d had to do an embarrassingly slow five-point turn to get the massive vehicle free of the confining cars.

  Chris paused at the exit. Damn it. Livia! Livia’s in there.

  Someone had sent him a picture. She was in there with him. They were all kinds of dressed up. He couldn’t just leave…

  Just then someone had noticed Chris’s delay and tossed a flash-bang in the back of his truck. Luckily, he’d kept the bed door open and the grenade rolled out when he hit the gas hard, leaving the club and Livia behind.

  The wind rattled his crappy plastic-wrap window, and his phone beeped at him, snapping him into the pres
ent. It was Dave.

  “Speak.”

  “Hey, asshole. How’re you doing after your fail last night? What the hell happened with that fuck-hot blonde?” Dave’s voice was bubbly.

  Chris glanced at the bath towel that covered his seat. It was soaking up the piss he’d only recently realized he’d released when that bitch had threatened him.

  “She wanted to jump my bones, of course. That shit happens all the time.” Now Chris could put on his tough guy voice.

  “You’re the king, man. The king. What’re you up to? Want to know where Livia is?”

  Chris felt his heart beat faster. “Yeah, you fucking prick. You still following her?”

  Chris was really starting to wonder about Dave. He was too good at the whole stalking thing. And a little too interested.

  “Let’s just say not all my homemade porn is fake.” Dave’s laugh was hollow.

  “You’ve followed Livia before?” No more tough guy. Chris was actually concerned.

  “Oh, yeah. Man, she’s just delicious, and so is her sister. I have a video of Kyle giving a football player a blowjob. I watch that every time I do exceptionally well on my video game. It’s my reward.”

  Chris closed his eyes a moment to clear the cobwebs of weirdness Dave had just spun in his mind. “Where’s Livia, freakyballs?”

  “She’s sitting in the parking lot at Our Lady of the River. I took a pic just a little bit ago. Wanna see?” Dave sounded more eager than Chris cared to hear.

  “No. Back off, limp dick. Just watch for once.” Chris pressed END as Dave started blathering about his fantasy world. Holy fucksticks. I’m so going to cut ties with that nerd emergency as soon as Livia’s back with me.

  Chris knew his time to hit was now. He felt like a tattletale, but with a little luck, Livia’s new love life could be twisted to his benefit. He wanted to protect her; it was kind of hard to give up worring about Livia after all the time he’d spent in her life. Chris had been in the station before, and he knew John’s schedule was like clockwork. Every third week he had an overnight, and Livia used to drag Chris along to bring him breakfast. John should be just finishing up his paperwork.

  He breezed into the building and nodded at the receptionist. “Hey, Kathy. How are you this morning?”

  “Chris. I’m doing good.”

  He could tell she was a little surprised to see him. Word must have gotten around about his breakup with Livia. He took another look at Kathy. She had that sexy teacher thing working for her. Sure, she was a little older, but she probably still had some snap in her snatch. He gave her a bigger smile. She looked him up and down in a way he really liked, so he puffed out his chest.

  “I heard John’s daughter broke up with you.” She took out a sharp-looking file and started working on her middle finger’s nail.

  “We’re still working on that.” Chris tried his best injured-boy face. He was suddenly very interested in what color panties Kathy had on, if any at all.

  “I bet you are. Livia’s a real sweet girl.” She looked at him pointedly and started filing the nail on her other middle finger, skipping the other fingers entirely.

  She actually might not be liking me that much. “Officer McHugh in?”

  Kathy nodded and pointed with her file. She kept her finger up though, either waiting for more filing or telling him to go to hell.

  When Chris arrived at John’s desk, he changed his demeanor again. For this to work he had to be the thoughtful ex-boyfriend. He arranged his face accordingly.

  “Officer McHugh, may I have a word with you?” Chris remained standing.

  John let out a tired-sounding sigh. Chris peeked at the paperwork in front of Livia’s dad. Beckett Taylor’s name was upside down and written in bold all over it. Very, very good.

  “Sure. That would make this wonderful morning even more wonderful.” Sarcasm filled every word to the breaking point.

  “In private?” Chris looked in the direction of the conference room.

  John shuffled his paperwork into a thick folder and motioned toward the room.

  Chris let John have the chair at the head of the table. You’re the boss man. He reminded himself not to smirk. He was about to play John like a fiddle. The long, black table reflected their faces and oily fingerprints from previous hands. Chris kept his hands in his lap.

  “How’s your Grandma holding up?” John asked when Chris said nothing.

  “She’s super. She’s a fighter, you know.” Bringing Mrs. Grandma into the conversation was perfect. Thanks, John.

  “What’s up, Chris?” John looked at him expectantly.

  With the door closed, Chris unloaded his pretend burdens. “Listen, Mr. McHugh. I know Livia and I aren’t together any more. I’m having a hard time with it. I miss her. A lot.” He paused.

  John nodded and worked one hand over his tired face, smooshing it like Play-Doh.

  “Well, I’m not proud to say it, but I’ve been trying to keep track of her,” Chris confessed. “She seems to be hanging with a tough crowd. It’s just not her style. I have to let her go, I know. And I’m going to—starting right now—but I had to tell someone. I had to tell you. If she were my daughter, I’d want to know she was hanging out with Beckett Taylor’s kind.” Chris stood up to leave. “Thanks for your time, Mr. McHugh. I’ll leave you and your family alone. I wish you guys only good things and happy holidays.”

  Chris reached for the door handle.

  Three…Two…

  “Hold on a minute there, son. Have a seat.”

  …One. Bingo. John’s such a fucking sucker. “Listen, I shouldn’t even be here. Livia’s choices are her choices. No matter how much I love her.” Chris was surprised to hear his voice crack on the word love, but he worked it into his act. “I just don’t want to see her hurt.”

  “Tell me everything you know. Now.” John looked like he knew he shouldn’t be pressing Chris, but he couldn’t help himself.

  “Okay. But I don’t want her to know I came to you. If I have another shot…if she comes back to me…” Chris tried to will his eyes to tear up. They wouldn’t.

  “It’s between us, son. Start from the beginning.”

  Chris tucked his smile out of sight and into his sad façade. He treated John to the alarming, agonizing tale of his fiancée dumping him for a homeless man and Livia’s newfound friends. Thanks to Dave’s big, banging geekiness, he could give John names, dates, and places. He put the cherry on top by describing last night’s vandalism on his truck—first from Kyle and then finished by Livia’s new best friend, Beckett.

  John walked Chris out to the parking lot and took a look at the damage. “Well, Chris, I can’t thank you enough for coming to me. Sounds like my girls need my attention. I’ll pay for any damage to your truck. Please send me the bill.” John reached out to shake Chris’s hand.

  “Blake Hartt, the homeless guy? I’d do a search on his background. I’m so relieved to know you’ll take care of Livia and Kyle. I’ll still keep my eye out for them. It’s a hard habit to break. You all are family to me.”

  Chris climbed in his truck and pulled out of the lot. He waited to smile until he was back on the main road going a little too fast. Perfection. John would lock Livia in a closet and pay for The Beast. I’m totally getting new rims and charging them to him. I deserve it.

  He texted Dave with one hand:

  Stay on the hobo bastard.

  Don’t lose him no matter fucking what.

  26

  Braille Sundress

  COLE HELD KYLE AS gently as he could manage. He wanted to pull her inside of him. Kneeling with her in the church had saved him. He realized now that she was his angel. There would be no denying her again.

  “Kyle, will you come with me?” He whispered the words against her forehead between kisses. His hands traveled over her back as if the Bible were written in Braille on her sundress.

  “I’m your shadow now, Cole. I’ll be where you are.” Kyle smiled, her eyes steady on his.

/>   He stood and held out his hand. She took it.

  Kyle gasped as he swooped her into his arms. One of her hands touched his cheek as the other settled onto his bare chest.

  The trip to his quarters was not smooth. He had to stop to kick open the door by the altar. At his bedroom, he awkwardly used his foot to unlatch the lever door handle. But he wouldn’t put her down. Cole nudged the door shut with his rump.

  He turned with Kyle so she could be his hands. “Lock it,” he murmured.

  She pushed the little button until it clicked. He set her on her feet, and she leaned against the closed door.

  “I need to tell you some things,” Cole began, gearing up for confession.

  Kyle smoothed his hair. “No. No, you don’t.”

  He continued as if she’d said nothing. “Kyle, I’m sorry for my past sins—especially because they may offend you. Help me to do penance, to do better, and to avoid anything that might lead me to sin.” Cole paused to take a breath, then added, “Amen.” He needed the ritual of prayer to make sense of the changes he was about to implement.

  “Don’t pray to me. Don’t pray to me!” Kyle said, her eyes widening in alarm. “We’re in this together. I’ve done things wrong too. We’re human, Cole. We’ll still make mistakes, but now we’ll always have each other to hold when it hurts.” Kyle’s eyes filled with tears.

  “It hurts now. I killed those men. How could I…” Cole’s words failed him.

  “I killed those men, Cole, before you even got there. How could I tempt them…” Kyle trailed into silence as well.

  Cole hugged her to him again. He listened to her breathe and felt calmer.

  “We have to go somewhere far from here.” Her lips moved on his chest, tickling the skin there. “Where do we go, Cole?”

  “You know in your heart that those men were wrong in the way they treated you. You know that.” Cole’s hands became two tight clenches of anger. “And they had no idea what lives inside me, what I can do.”

 
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