Fighting Shadows (On the Ropes #2)(11) by Aly Martinez

“Ray!” my mother screamed.

I glanced back while Quarry continued pushing me to the car. Ray Mabie came lumbering out of the house, and a simultaneous gasp and laugh flew from my mouth. His face was nearly unrecognizable, and I’m not just saying that I didn’t recognize him as Ray—I didn’t even recognize him as human.

“Holy fuck!” I cursed.

Quarry followed my gaze only to bark out a laugh. “Dude, you should have seen it. Till lost his shit!”

“Dude, you should have seen it. Till lost his shit!”

“It looks like Mabie’s face found it.”

“That guy is such a cocksucker. Mom doesn’t give two shits about having me back. This is all about Till.”

“No, they’re up to something. This is all about Till’s money,” I corrected, sliding into the driver’s seat of the van. “Christ, when did you get so big?” I asked as Quarry shoved my chair into the back.

“When did you shrink? You look like dehydrated shit.”

“I see that your stellar personality has remained intact.”

“I see that you’re still a cranky asshole. Must be from sitting on it all day,” he sniped.

My lip twitched, but I quickly tucked it away. “Something like that,” I mumbled, starting the van and becoming familiar with the hand pedals again.

“You look like a child molester driving this thing.” He laughed, looking around the van. “When we get to a stoplight, I’m going to start crying and pounding on the window for help.”

“You do that. I’m sure dear old Mom would be happy to come pick you up off the side of the road.”

“Oh, please. No, she wouldn’t. One of her reality shows might be on. I’d have a better chance hitchhiking while wearing an ‘I’m a serial killer’ T-shirt than getting her off her ass to do anything.”

“I see she hasn’t changed, either.”

“Hey! Slow down for a second.” Quarry jumped to his feet, scrambling into the backseat.

“What the hell are you doing?” I bit out as he slid the back door open.

Not two seconds later, a girl dove into the van.

“Fuck,” I cursed, slamming on my breaks.

“Don’t stop!” Quarry shouted.

“Go!” he and our new guest yelled in unison.

Quarry slammed the door. “Go! Before they see us!”

“Who?” I questioned, confused about what the hell had just happened and who this chick was. I still appeased them both by peeling off, complete with squealing the tires on the minivan. It was a sad new level of manliness.

“You drive a party bus!” the girl exclaimed, standing up off the floorboard and dusting imaginary dirt off her pants.

She was young, but I could tell she was a good bit older than Quarry—at least eighteen, maybe even nineteen. Judging by the way she crouched over to keep her head from hitting the roof, she was pretty tall. Her long, strawberry-blond hair cascaded down over her shoulders, stopping just before the curve of her large breasts. The same large breasts I allowed myself several seconds to check out before snapping out of it.

“Who the fuck are you?” I growled as I pulled into the gas station on the corner.

“Flint, this is Ash. Ash, this stud of a man is . . . Okay, okay. Enough about me.” Quarry laughed. “Ash, this here is the king of the rolling throne, better known as my brother, Flint.”

“Hey, nice to meet you. Can we stop and get something to eat?” She flashed me a bright smile.

“Sure!” I sarcastically returned her enthusiasm before dropping it completely. “Get out.”

“Nah, I’m good,” she replied, not even remotely fazed. “There’s a really good burger place up the street.” After flopping down on the bench seat, she crossed her long legs at the ankle and lifted her neon-green Converses to rest on the arm of my folded wheelchair.

I watched in disbelief as she intertwined her fingers and rested them behind her head. She might have been completely relaxed, but as her breasts strained against her tight T-shirt, I became the opposite.

“Shit,” I whispered to myself. God, I needed to get laid.

“Come on, man. Don’t be an ass. She’s cool. I swear,” Quarry interjected.

“Thanks, Q! I think you’re pretty cool too.” She smiled, and it was genuine—a fact that infuriated me. As far as I was concerned, those didn’t exist anymore—at least, not in my life.

“I don’t give a shit about ‘cool.’ Why the hell are you jumping in my car?”

“Your car?” she asked, looking back at me, crinkling her nose.

“Yes, my car. I could have run over you back there.”

“Oh! You mean the party bus! Sorry. You confused me with the whole ‘car’ thing.” She dug into her pocket and pulled out a pack of gum.

I was hard up. Since I’d walked away from Miranda the gold digger, I’d been in quite the dry spell. It wasn’t exactly like women were throwing themselves at me though. Nothing says sexy like rolling into a room. Sure, it had been a while, but even if I had just finished fucking my way through the female population of the city, I still would have gotten rock hard from watching her fold that rectangular stick of gum into her mouth. Something about the way she slowly pressed it against her tongue left my mind reeling with a million different ideas of what else I could put in that mouth.

“You want some?” she asked, extending the pack toward me.

As a matter of fact, yes. I do.

Clearing my throat, I turned back to face Quarry, who was staring at her with his mouth hanging open.

“No. I need you to get out,” I lied. I needed her to get naked.

“Are you always this much fun?” she asked condescendingly, but again, she didn’t bother to move toward the door—or remove her clothes.

“Oh, you have no idea!” Quarry exclaimed.

“Well, I bet a burger would fix you right up. They have the best milkshakes too. Oh. My. God. They make them with real homemade ice cream. You have to suck so hard just to get it through the straw.” She looked up at me and blatantly licked her lips before raking her teeth across the bottom one.

Fuck. Me.

As she giggled, it was apparent that she was just fucking with me.

“Don’t be a dick, Flint. I’m so fucking hungry. Mom has been starving me for the last week. She cooked every night,” Quarry pleaded, causing Ash to laugh.

“He isn’t lying. I’ve lost, like, twenty pounds since she married my dad.”

“Excuse me?” I swung my head to Quarry.

“Yeah, I was shocked too. She does actually know how to operate an oven. It’s the ingredients that she struggles with the most. I know you hate Till’s ramen, but it’s like a gourmet meal compared to the shit Debbie puts on the table.”

“No. Asshole.” I looked back at Ash, who was casually lounging in the backseat. “You’re a Mabie?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” she huffed. “I can see how you wouldn’t recognize the family resemblance. Thankfully, I didn’t get the receding hairline or his affinity for bacon grease as a styling tool. Don’t worry. I also dodged the douchebag gene. So . . . burgers?”

Quarry busted out laughing.

“Fuck that. Get out of my car. Now.”

Ash completely ignored my demand. “Oh! Did I mention that they have those delicious waffle fries too? Come on. You drive and I’ll whip you up a batch of my famous fancy sauce for dip when we get there.”

“Get. Out,” I growled again. “I’m not taking a fucking Mabie anywhere.” I could see the words land on her face, but she quickly covered whatever effect they might have had.

Instead, her smile grew even wider.

“She’s cool!” Quarry looked at me as if I’d lost my mind for being so rude.

And maybe I had, but I was in no mood to deal with a Mabie, no matter how hot she was.

“I’m sorry, Flint Page.” She put extra emphasis on my last name as she slowly sat up, crossing her arms over her chest with obvious attitude, but her sugary-sweet smile never once faltered.

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