Craving Vera(13)

By: Nicole Jacquelyn

I looked at her mom who was staring over my shoulder at the driveway and then back to Vera. I might not have understood what the weird eye thing meant, but I sure as hell knew why she wanted me to kick rocks. No way in hell did she want her father to come home and find me on their doorstep.

“I’m stayin’ at my ma’s for a couple days,” I told her impulsively. “If you start feeling better.”

“Thanks for stopping by,” she replied dismissively.

She very politely shut the door in my face and I was left wondering who the fuck I’d just talked to. The Vera I’d just seen was nothing like the impulsive giggly girl I’d been hanging out with all summer. It was like she’d been drained of everything that had drawn me to her in the first place.

* * *

Later that night I was the one surprised by a knock on my ma’s door.

“Yeah?” I said, swinging it open.

Standing on the front porch was Vera’s grandma. She was tiny, barely reached my shoulder, and her back was straight as an arrow.

“You’re Charlie,” she said, looking me up and down.

“Uh, yeah.” The way she was staring made me fidget a little.

“I’m Nadine.” She reached out to shake my hand.

“Nice to meet you,” I replied. Her hand was delicate except for the knobby knuckles of her fingers.

“I’m sorry to barge in like this,” she said, meeting my eyes. “But my granddaughter called.” She let go of my hand and pulled her purse higher on her shoulder. “I need to get to my son’s and I’m no longer able to drive.”

It took me a second to comprehend that she was asking me for a ride.

“I can give you a lift,” I replied, nodding. “No problem.”

I yelled to my mom that I was borrowing her car again and led Vera’s grandma out to the car. I wanted to ask what was going on, but the woman looked freaked out and I didn’t want to make it worse. When she started talking, I breathed a sigh of relief that I’d left my pistol in the couch cushions, because I sure as hell didn’t want to get booked for possession when I went to jail.

“If you could hurry,” she said, her voice a little wobbly. “That would be good.”

“Everything alright?” I asked, pushing down on the gas pedal. Unfortunately, we were on a residential street, so there was only so much I could do.

“My son has a temper,” was all she said.

As soon as we were parked, Nadine was out of the car and striding up the front walkway. For an old lady she was fast as hell. She didn’t knock on the front door the way I would’ve, she just opened it up and strode inside without pausing. Since she didn’t ask me to stay in the car, I took that as an invitation to follow her inside. What we found would be the source of my nightmares for years.

Chapter 5


Present Day

“Sounds like the old lady had some brass ones,” I muttered.

I’d heard a lot of tales about the old days. Men liked to talk when they were drunk, and most of them told stories the way a fisherman brags about the size of his catch—if the story seemed unbelievable, even better—but I’d never heard this one before. It surprised me that Vera and Charlie had never mentioned her grandmother, especially if she’d been as ballsy as Poet was describing.

“Yes, queen,” my baby girl sang, raising her hands into the air like some evangelical preacher. I had no fucking clue what Trix was doing, so I ignored her.

“She did,” Poet said, nodding. A little smile played around his lips.

“You do what you have to,” Amy said simply.

“Bet she fucked him up,” Hawk muttered, making me grin. I loved all the girls, especially my little warrior, but Hawk cracked me up. Tommy picked a good one.

“I doubt she had to with Slider there,” my wife replied, leaning more heavily against my side. Once upon a time, Brenna had been a wild drunk. These days, she fit more into the moody drunk camp. I didn’t mind it. I’d had my fair share of both wild and moody and I couldn’t say I liked one better than the other—she was still the best lay I’d ever had either way.

“To Vera’s grandma, who clearly taught her granddaughter a thing or two,” Lily said. She lifted her drink into the air. “And to Vera.”

“To Vera,” we all repeated, raising our drinks.

“So, what happened when they got inside the house?” Leo asked, leaning back in his chair.

Poet made a scoffing noise and shook his head. “The place was a mess. Broken lamps and overturned tables. Charlie said it looked like they’d been robbed.”

“But they hadn’t,” Brenna said knowingly. I pulled my woman a little tighter against me and kissed her head. She understood what Vera had gone through, and while the younger girls around the table waited on pins and needles to hear what happened next, my Brenna already knew. I wasn’t sure what I believed in, but I thanked God daily that my wife had survived and found her way home to me.