Reaper's Legacy(9)

By: Joanna Wylde



I’d think about that later. Focus. I needed to find Noah.

“Mama?”

His voice was soft and trembling. I looked around frantically, then saw him climbing in through an open window facing the street. Oh my God. I moved toward him, forcing myself to approach oh-so-carefully. Four flights above the ground and my boy was clinging to a windowsill. If I wasn’t damned careful, I’d knock him off the ledge.

I reached out and clamped my hands around his upper arms, pulling him in and clutching him close. He wrapped around me like a little monkey. I rubbed my hand up and down his back, whispering how much I loved him and promising never to leave him alone like that again.

“I don’t get what you’re so upset about,” Miranda muttered, pulling herself up to make room for her asshole boyfriend. “There’s a fire escape out there and it’s not like it’s cold. It’s August. Kid was fine.”

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and forced myself to stay calm. Then I opened them and looked past her.

That’s when I saw the porn on the TV.

My eyes skittered away from the sight of a silicone woman screwing four guys simultaneously. Something terrible took fire in my heart.

Stupid bitch. Miranda would pay for this.

“What’s your problem, anyway?” she slurred.

I didn’t bother answering. I just needed to get my boy out of there and home safe. I’d deal with my neighbor tomorrow.

Maybe by then I’d have calmed down enough not to end her miserable life.

I carried Noah out of the apartment and across the hallway to my own door. Somehow I managed to get it open without dropping him, fingers trembling from suppressed rage and a healthy dose of guilt.

I’d failed him.

My baby needed me, and instead of protecting him, I’d left him parked with a druggie who could’ve gotten him killed. Being a single mom sucked.

It took a warm bath, an hour of snuggles, and four books to get Noah to sleep.

Me? I wasn’t sure I’d ever sleep again.

The summer heat didn’t help—I swear, the place had zero airflow. After an hour of sweating in the darkness, watching his little chest rise and fall, I gave up. I popped a beer and sat down on our couch, a thousand plans running through my head. First, I’d kill Miranda. Then either I needed to find a new place to live or she did. I also pondered whether to call the cops.

I liked the idea of throwing her and her stoner boyfriend to the wolves. They deserved a friendly visit from the boys in blue.

But since her man was in a motorcycle club, calling the cops might not be the smartest move. Guys in MCs generally weren’t fond of the police, a perspective he and his club brothers might feel the need to share with me once he made bail. Not to mention Child Protective Services would get involved, which could also get pretty ugly.

I loved Noah and would do anything for him. I was a damned good mother. When other girls my age were out partying and having fun, I was taking him to the park and reading him stories. I spent my twenty-first birthday holding him while he puked from stomach flu instead of hitting the bars. No matter how rough things got, I spent time with Noah every day and made sure he felt loved.

But I didn’t look so good on paper.

Single mom. Dad out of the picture. No family around, crappy studio apartment. Probably unemployed after tonight … What would CPS make of that? Would they blame me for leaving him with Miranda in the first place?

I had no idea what to do. I took a long pull on the beer and then turned on my phone, where Ruger’s message glowed at me accusingly. Crap. I hated calling him. No matter how much time he spent with us (and he made a point of seeing Noah regularly), I just couldn’t relax around him. Ruger didn’t like me and I knew it. I think he blamed me for destroying his relationship with Zach. God knows, I played my part. I pushed that memory away.

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