Sam’s mom was a mess. My lip curled up, but I fought from rolling my eyes. Give me a break. She was wasted. Her red dress was hanging half off of her and she had no idea. Her hair was sticking up. I didn’t care much for feminine etiquette or dress code, but I knew she wasn’t fitting the bill for who my dad liked.
Then she opened her mouth and more craziness came out. She wasn’t making sense, some of it was about a fight with our dad and the other was about Sam’s dad? Then the door opened and Nate nudged me with his elbow. He didn’t have to. We all knew who was coming in. I gave him a slight head shake in response, but shifted back on my feet. It was show-time. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen tonight.
Analise swung her head around and narrowed her eyes.
I fought against laughing. She couldn’t even see straight anymore, then she started, slurring every other word. “Thanks. You’re bacb.”
Sam stiffened. She was standing behind me. I tried to shift so Anabitch couldn’t get a better view of her, but Sam wasn’t picking it up. She moved over and her mouth fell open an inch.
“Housse your daddy?”
“It was fine. Thanks.”
Logan looked at me. I knew what he was thinking. This was going to get ugly and fuck that. I’d had enough of seeing Sam’s mom hand her a new one. I gave him a small nod and he nodded back. It was time we did something. Then we both glanced at Nate, who was frowning at the mess. Logan snapped his fingers. It was a slight movement and quiet, the females didn’t pick it up, but Nate’s head whipped over. His eyes got big. He knew something was going to happen and he gave us the nod.
Both turned to me and settled on their back heels. They would wait for my signal.
Sam was saying, “Thanks, mom. We all know that.”
Analise sucked in her breath and sneered at her daughter. “I swear, if you werend my daughter, I’d disown you.”
I wish Sam would be disowned. It would save her a lot of problems.
“If you wanna him, you can hab him. Move in with him. I’m outta here.” She swung her arm wide again. She would’ve fallen, but Nate righted her.
As Analise said something, Logan gave him an incredulous look. He mouthed at Nate, “Let her fall.”
Nate lifted his shoulders, but moved back a step.
“You’ve god your wish, Samantha.”
“Me. And you. We’re outta here. He kicked me out. I had a few doo many ad dinner and he kicked me out. Have to pack my stuff now. We’re moving on, bucko!” Then she started crying. Logan rolled his eyes and glanced at me. He was waiting. I gave him a nod. Soon. Analise said something else. I stopped caring what it was.
“Don’t!” Her head snapped back up and her eyes were wild. “You always said it, we’d be gone. He wouldna marry me and you’re righd. He won’t. It’s over. Finite. Finido. Finished…”
Sam was going to go to her. I could tell. She let out a soft sigh and started to move. I blocked her. She tried the other way, I blocked that too. She couldn’t comfort her mom, not after what she’d been spewing. Analise didn’t deserve it. Sam didn’t deserve that treatment. I waited for her to meet my gaze. I was going to shake my head, try to tell her what I was thinking, but she wasn’t paying attention.
“Mom, it’ll be okay. We can get our own place.”
Analise’s shoulder jerked and her hand clenched around the wine glass.
Here it was. This was the real Analise came out.
She started, “It’s your fault. All of this is your fault.”
“David never loved you. Hell, I never loved you. I should’ve been with your father. I loved him, but he couldn’t stay. He had to go. He always had to go. I had no one. Me and a baby.” She threw her head back. “Who’s going want the package deal? Well, I found David. He loved me. Not you. He tolerated you, but me he loved. I should’ve been with your father, your real father. But he didn’t have the time for me so fine. Screw him.”
Sam was going again. I blocked her.
“David hates your father. He loathes him. He thinks he walked out on his daughter.” She was crying. She was an angry mess. “Jokes on him, isn’t it. Your real daddy never knew about you. Like I’d stomach that. That he’d come back for his daughter, but not me. Oh no. If he wouldn’t take both of us, he didn’t get either of us. Your father has no idea about you.”
Logan lifted his hand, motioning me to stop it. I had to wait. Analise was being honest. She was never honest. We couldn’t stop it now.
She continued to taunt her daughter, “And you’ll never know. He’ll never know about you, you’ll never know about him. You can’t leave me, Sam. I’ve all you got. David won’t take you back. Are you kidding me? He’s probably already got another woman, maybe even a kid too. He always liked to play the doting father type. Maybe he’ll pick a son this time. The daughter he had ended up being a screw-up. You always picked the worst types, Sam. Jeff. Lydia. Jessica. They’re your closest and they all screwed you. Even I knew it. You’re the screw up.”
There it was. This was the real woman my father chose to love. She showed her card. It was time we showed ours.
“Pack your stuff, Sam. We’re leaving.”
I laughed. That wasn’t going to happen.
“What are you laughing about—?”
Logan and Nate jumped off the counter. They were ready.
Analise stopped. Her gaze jumped from each of us and she was quiet for a moment. Logan wanted her head on a plate. She saw the dark promise in his gaze and took a breath. It was small, but it was filled with fear. I saw it flash in her gaze.
I moved Sam away and shook my head. “Are you this crazy?”
Logan laughed. He was waiting for my go-ahead.
“I mean, you’re fucking crazy if you think you can talk to her like this. This is how you talk to the one person who’s stayed by you?” I shook my head. “This is your daughter and if you think she’s going anywhere with you when you’re like this, you’re delusional. She’s not leaving.” I waited and made sure she was watching me. Then I grinned. “You are.”
Analise went pale. She jerked in response.
“Just get lost, woman,” Logan started, circling around.
Sam couldn’t see. I moved so she was completely behind me. She didn’t need to see this, not to her own mother. She fought and tried to move around so I trapped her against a wall. When she touched me, I sucked in my breath. I hadn’t expected that. The touch from her sent shockwaves through me and I gritted my teeth. The need to protect her doubled.
Logan caught the movement and nodded again, so slightly.
My eyes darkened. No matter what happened, Analise was going to be handled. She would not hurt her daughter anymore. This night was when we officially became her guardians.
Logan moved again until the three of us had her trapped. The fear settled further in and she started whirling around. She was looking for an escape.
“We’ve been quiet, woman. We’ve taken your presence in this house like calm good little boys, but we’re not good little boys.”
“Not at all,” Logan’s hyena laugh came out.
“What are you—what are you do..doing?”
Nate spoke in a calm voice, “We’re not going to hurt you.”
“No.” I shook my head, but we were a little. We had to scare her. “But you are drunk. You’re wacked in the head and you’re being semi-abusive to your daughter.”
Logan’s laugh came out. He was holding back. “So we could say anything to you, do anything to you, and who’d believe you? Your own fiancé sent you packing tonight and went back to his dinner.”
“You guys wouldn’t…” She was white as a ghost. We weren’t buying her shit. Then she turned for one ally. She held a hand out. “Sam, he—”
I blocked her viewpoint again. When she realized what I was doing, a snarl came over her and she smacked her hand against the counter. Then she cried out, “Ouch!”
Sam jerked behind me. I was having a hard time holding it in. She would think we hit her, but then she burrowed her head into the back of my shirt. My eyes got big and I froze for a moment. Did that mean…? She wasn’t going to stop us. I knew it then and a part of me relaxed. I didn’t have to convince her that we hadn’t hit her mother.
I could do whatever we wanted. Sam wasn’t going to fight us. “How do you think this is going to end?”
“Do you really think we’re going to be bitches and let you talk to Sam like that?” Logan was almost trembling in his anger. No one noticed it, but I did. His left hand shook with a small tremor when he was like me, barely holding it in. “You’re screwed up in the head if you think you’ve got the power to do that, especially in front of us.”
“But—bu—you guys don’t even like her!”
I grinned. I loved that sound from him. It worked wonders. “Don’t like her? We’d like anyone compared to you.”
“But—I didn’t—your father—”
Logan snapped, “Stop choking like a little bitch. I thought you had bigger balls than that.”
“Wha—huh? You guys can’t talk to me like this…”
I taunted her, “What he doesn’t know, you’re not going to tell.”
Logan rolled back his shoulders. “Here’s the way it’s going to be. You’re going to leave—”
Nate added, “You’re going to a hotel.”
“And you’re going to sleep off this drunk stupor.”
That was option one. She could take it. I waited. All of us were quiet and I was surprised to realize that I wanted her to take that option. This was Samantha’s mother. No matter the hatred or anger, I knew hurting her would be hurting Sam in a way. Then Sam pressed closer to me and I closed my eyes.
No one was going to hurt Sam. I made that vow to myself. After this night, I wouldn’t let anyone harm her again.
“I’m not that drunk.”
She hurt herself. She was willing to do that and I knew she’d claim we did that. Glancing at Logan and Nate, I wondered what they were thinking. Logan was waiting for me. He’d do whatever. Nate gestured to the alcohol. Was that—should we? It would do. It would have to. She needed to know she wouldn’t win. There were three of us against her, four including Sam. Maybe that was what she really needed to learn. Her daughter wasn’t going to stop us. We needed to hurt her without hurting her. Analise would get the message, especially when Sam would back us up. That was the real battle. This was all about Samantha.
I gestured to Nate and he handed me the alcohol.
Logan flashed me a grin, but moved in step with me. He grabbed Analise and bent his head, whispering into her ear. I didn’t know what he was saying, but I didn’t care. She had stiffened in shock and then he ran his hands up to frame her face. He titled her head back for me. I gripped the bottle tighter. We were going to do this.
This was domination. It was wrong. We were assholes and this was going to backfire on us, some time in our lives, but I heard Sam’s slight whimpering. She didn’t even know she was crying. I’d do whatever I needed if this was going to help her.
Analise shook her head. She cried out, but Logan pulled her jaw down. Nate poured the first alcohol down her throat. She tried to fight it, but she swallowed anyways. Then we did it again and again. We did it four times in a row.
I was sickened with myself, but I glanced at Sam. She had fallen back against the wall, a hand was pressed to her mouth. It was there, a slight amount of relief. Then she caught my gaze and I watched a myriad of expressions flash over her face.
Logan carried Analise out. They would take her to a hotel. She’d already been drinking. When she told our dad what happened, we’d lie and said she’d been wasted. It was one counter move to another, but I went over to Sam and pulled her into me. I think I needed her touch more than she needed mine.
She was the real test. It was about who she would protect. As her hands wound around me and she asked what would happen to her mom, I knew who was going to win. I declared war on Analise just now. I did it for her daughter. Unable to stop myself, I pressed a kiss to her forehead. “She’ll go to a hotel and sleep it off.”
“But…” She took a deep breath and pressed her forehead into me.
Shit. I was falling in love. That small movement and I would do it all over again. I kissed her again, but settled for her forehead. She didn’t need to handle anything else, but my hand fell down and I grasped her leg before I realized what I was doing. She came up. She clambered up and asked, “What if she says something to your dad?”
I kissed the side of her mouth. “She won’t. She doesn’t dare.”
She sighed and moved to meet my lips with hers. Then she asked, softly, “What do you mean?”
“Your mom’s a bitch and now she knows what we think of her…”
Her arms wound tighter around me. I swept a hand down her back, smoothing down her hair and back. There wasn’t much I wouldn’t do for her. I already knew that much. Pulling back, I watched her for a moment. That didn’t scare me. It should’ve, but it didn’t. The corner of my lip jerked up. I was falling in love. Fuck. “Because she’ll shut up now. That’s why we did it. And because she needed to know we could.”
She surrendered. I felt her entire body relax in my arms and I breathed her in. Burying my face in her hair, I savored this moment. Then I carried her to her room.
Author of Carter Reed, the Fallen Crest Series, the Broken and Screwed Series, the Jaded Series, and a whole bunch more.