Craving Vera(11)

By: Nicole Jacquelyn

“Well, that girl you were spending time with,” she said softly. My stomach clenched with an emotion that I refused to acknowledge. “She was next door with Nadine and they were out in the yard.”

I didn’t say another word even though I wanted to snap at her to get to the point. Pushing her wouldn’t do a damn bit of good.

“Nadine’s son showed up,” Ma said. “And he dragged her to the car.”

“What do you mean, dragged?” I asked, the muscles in my shoulders tensing.

“He grabbed her arm real hard and, well, it didn’t seem like she wanted to go.”

“That’s her father,” I replied. “He was probably just makin’ her go home.”

“I’m sure you’re right,” she said softly, her tone indicating that she absolutely did not think that I was right.

“Why you callin’ me about this?” I asked, running a hand over my face. “Not really any of my business if Vera’s dad’s bein’ an ass.”

“I just thought you might want to know,” she said. Then she hung up. She did that, sometimes. Instead of getting into any type of argument, she just checked out, or in this case hung up the phone.

“Everything alright?” my pop asked as I strode back to my seat. He’d sat down on the other side of Doc, his legs kicked out in front of him and crossed at the ankles. To anyone else he probably looked completely relaxed, but I always saw the tension around his eyes when he was thinking about my mother.

“She was callin’ ’cause she saw the girl I was spendin’ time with up there getting’ into it with her dad.”

“Woman’s got too soft a heart,” my pop said gruffly. “What she want you to do about it?”

“Who knows,” I replied. “Nothin’ I can do about it.”

* * *

Hours later I was laying on my bed staring at the ceiling and worrying about Vera. It pissed me off. She’d made her opinion of me crystal fucking clear, so why was I spending any time wondering if she was okay? It was bullshit. Jess called it knight-in-shining-armor-syndrome and always gave me a ration of shit when I stepped in to help women that didn’t ask for it.

She’d probably laugh her ass off if she knew that I was lying in bed worrying about Vera. No, that wasn’t true. She’d probably punch me if she knew I was thinking about Vera. After the mess in Tacoma, I’d stopped talking to Jess and we both knew why. Hanging with her reminded me of the look on Vera’s face when she’d found us together and I just wasn’t into it anymore.

I tried to tell myself that my ma was overreacting about Vera’s dad, but there had been something in her voice that gave me pause. My ma was sensitive, yes, but she wasn’t stupid. She’d seen abuse in all of its different forms, first when she was a kid and later around the club. My pop had treated her like she was spun glass, but that didn’t mean that other brothers treated their wives the same. She knew when something wasn’t right.

“Fuck it,” I mumbled, climbing back out of bed. I wasn’t going to be able to sleep so I might as well make myself useful.

There was always someone awake and I waved to a couple of the boys who were playing cards as I made my way to the garage. Flipping on the overhead lights, I glanced around the space. We had prospects for cleaning and bitch work, but I’d found that doing shit that didn’t require much thought helped me clear my mind. I grabbed a broom out of the closet and began to sweep.

By three in the morning I knew that I was going to be making a trip north to check on Vera. I called myself every kind of idiot—the chick didn’t even want to see me—but I knew that if I didn’t check to make sure she was alright, I’d never stop thinking about it.

* * *

I was dragging ass when got to my ma’s place around noon the next day. I should’ve slept, but by the time I knew that I’d be leaving I remembered a ton of work that I had to get done before I could go. Being the president’s son didn’t give me any special privileges and I had to earn my wages at the garage just like everyone else. No one cared if I worked through the night—some of the guys did that pretty regularly—as long as I finished what I was working on.

“Charlie,” my mom said, opening the door before I’d even made it up the walkway. “This is a surprise.”

“Bullshit,” I said, smiling at her as I strode up the steps. “You knew I’d come.”

“You’ve always had a soft heart,” she said, echoing the words my dad had said about her as she let me into the house.

“Yeah, well don’t tell anybody.”