Finding Perseverance(15)

By: T. E. Black

Trent is a year younger than Rook and me, but he’s also my best friend. We weren’t always close when we were younger, but soon after Rook left, we became closer. And now, I’ve taken over Rook’s role in protecting Trent, even though he never asked for it. I guess I kind of took over Rook’s role for everyone when he left.

“Still, I’m sorry,” I apologize with compassion laced in my voice.

“Three months in rehab was good for me. I’m serious. I feel better than ever. I’ve been sober for a hundred and four days as of today.” He smiles proudly.

Setting a club soda on the bar, I smile and touch his hand. “I’m proud of you. You know I am. Making the decision to go to rehab yourself took a lot of balls. I didn’t think you had a sack that big.”

“Oh, it’s as big as my nine-inch dic—”

“Don’t finish that,” I warn. “I’ll tell Shay, and she’ll cut your imaginary nine inches off with a butter knife.”

He puts his hands up in surrender, laughing. “You’re probably right. Shay’s a force unlike any I’ve seen before. Damn, that woman never ceases to amaze me. I can’t believe I almost lost her and Abby. Did I ever tell you thanks for being there?”

He’s right about her. Shay Kirby is a bad ass woman. Not only is she a killer mother to Abby, but she was able to tame Trent. Shay used to work at Trent’s tattoo studio as a receptionist, but after a huge blowout between the two of them, she left and got a job at her daughter’s dance academy.

“About a hundred times. But you’re still welcome.”

He nods with one more silent “thank you” before changing the subject.

“So, did you hear about my big bad brother coming to fight?”


“How did you miss that shit? It’s everywhere—television, billboards, on every fucking radio station. Do you hate him so much you figured out how to block out anything pertaining to him?”

I haven’t told Trent about my talking to Rook. I’ve been meaning to, but the right moment hasn’t come. He’ll be pissed. Not because he doesn’t want me talking to him, but because Rook hasn’t called Trent since their mom’s funeral. He’ll be more hurt than anything.

“Sorry. I know how you feel about him. I shouldn’t have brought it up. He abandoned us. I guess I hoped he’d call after the funeral. I feel like I lost my brother.” It’s not why I don’t answer him, but I run with it anyway.

“He didn’t abandon us, Trent. He followed his dreams. There’s a difference. What’s the difference anyway? We’ve been fine without him. We don’t need him like we used to.”

“You’re right,” he admits. “But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s my blood. What kind of brother leaves and never comes back? I don’t even know what I’d say if he comes around this time. He gave me all this bullshit about how we’d hang out after the funeral, but then he just left!”

“You know Rook has been keeping his distance to protect our privacy. The last thing we need is for the media to find out about our problems. We’d get harassed nonstop. I know I’d freak out. I like my privacy. I like my life the way it is, and I sure as hell don’t want any cameras pointed in my face. Do you?” I cock an eyebrow at him.

Trent sighs, running his hands down his face. “No, I don’t want any of that. It still doesn’t change the fact that he could call once in a while, you know? He’s done a lot of shitty things to us, Ry.”

“So have you,” I remind him.

“Screw it.” He looks away.

“Don’t let him bother you, Trent. We’ve made it this far without him, and we’ll walk a thousand more miles before we need him again. I wasn’t trying to be a bitch, I was just reminding you that everyone screws up every now and again.”

He turns back to me with a crooked grin on his lips. “You’re right. We only need each other.”

Chapter Six


This is how I feel every time I’m about to enter the ring—calm. My adrenaline doesn’t skyrocket. My palms don’t sweat with nerves. I relax. I am the calm before the storm. Every move or technique I know flickers through my mind like an old picture show. Most of it I learned from Luke after I got to California, but some I knew before I signed the dotted line.