“That’s one way to keep you quiet,” he mutters, and I take a pillow and throw it at him. He ducks as it flies over his head then prowls towards the bed. He picks me up under my arms, my legs wrap around his waist, and his mouth steals my breath as he leads me to the bathroom, where he takes me up against the shower wall before carrying me back to bed, where we spend the rest of the night. Our plans of meeting up with his friends forgotten.
“Babe, what the fuck are you doing?” Wes asks, looking at me under the table.
“I dropped something,” I lie, feeling around on the floor like I really did drop something, but then regret it instantly when my hand runs over a piece of chewed-up gum. Eeewww! I wipe my hand on my jeans, cringing at the thought of what I just touched.
“Get your ass up here,” he growls, and my heart, which was already beating hard, begins to beat erratically at the idea of my Uncle Nico who had walked into the clubhouse moments before seeing me once I get out from under the table that I hid under.
Wes’ eyes narrow and I reluctantly get out from my hiding space, and he wraps his arm around my shoulders and places a kiss on my hairline that has me closing my eyes, only to open them and come face-to-face with my uncle.
“Hi.” I smile and give him a little wave while pleading with my eyes for him to not say anything.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” he asks, looking between Wes and me.
So much for wishful thinking.
“You may want to watch how you’re talking to my woman,” Wes growls, making me cringe once again.
“Your woman?” Uncle Nico says, and I see something flash through his eyes, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.
“My woman,” Wes replies, and my body freezes and my lungs compress as I wait to see what’s going to happen.
“Does my brother know his daughter is your woman?” Uncle Nico asks, crossing his arms over his chest, looking between the two of us, and all I want to do is dive back under the table and hide.
“I’m sure he does,” Wes says, and I press my lips tighter together, because no way does my dad know about Wes.
“You sure about that?” he asks, and Wes looks from him to me, where he searches my face. I know the moment he sees what I’m trying to hide, because disappointment fills his eyes.
“I—” I start to explain, when he pulls his eyes from me, looks at Uncle Nico, and pulls his hand from behind my chair, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Is there a reason you’re here?” Wes questions through gritted teeth.
“I told my nephew he needed to back off, but he and my sons are hard of hearing. Like I told them, I’m telling you. Stay out of it and let the authorities handle what’s going on,” my uncle says, setting his fists on his hips. His words barely penetrate over the fact that even though Wes is right next to me, it feels like he’s miles away.
“You’ll have no problems from me or my boys.”
“Appreciate that,” Uncle Nico mumbles, and I’m sure his eyes are on me, but mine are locked on Wes. I set my hand on Wes’ thigh, and his muscles flex under my palm and his jaw goes hard at my touch.
“Sorry,” I whisper, wishing he could understand.
His eyes come to me and I see pain flash in their green depths before he stands. “I’m heading out. Did you need anything else?” he asks my uncle, and my chest compresses under the pressure as a completely consuming pain slices through my body.
“Nah, we’re good.”
“Mic,” Wes calls, and Mic, who has been watching everything play out, looks from me to Wes.
“Make sure July gets home okay.”
“Got it,” Mic says, nodding his head.
“What?” I wheeze out, still stuck in place. This cannot be happening. I look at my uncle, who is watching me, looking concerned, and then his eyes go to Wes and so do mine, but all I’m able to catch is his back as he walks out the door.
“July,” Uncle Nico calls, but I shake my head and place my hand to my throat as I attempt to fight for a breath. “I’ll take my niece home,” he says gently, but before he can reach me, I stand and run towards the door Wes just left out. I slam through, causing the large metal door to bang loudly against the brick exterior. The moment the cool outside air hits my face, I see Wes straddle his bike. He stops, looks over his shoulder, and then turns back around, and the loud roar of his bike fills the air.
“I know you don’t believe me, but I’m sorry. I just couldn’t tell him. No matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t do it.”
I see him shake his head and his boots leave the gravel as he takes off. “Oh, God,” I whimper as pain explodes through my chest and I fall to my knees on the gravel.
“July,” Uncle Nico says, picking me up like he used to when I was a little girl. I hold onto him as tears stream down my cheeks.
“I was so stupid,” I whisper.
“Love makes us stupid,” he says gently.
“I’m so in love with him.”
“I see that, beautiful.”
“He hates me.”
“I promise you he doesn’t.” He sets me in his truck.
I inhale a few deep breaths then shake out my hands, trying to get myself under control enough that I can figure out what my next move needs to be. “I’ll drive myself home,” I tell Uncle Nico while hopping down from his truck.
“I don’t think that’s a good Idea.”
“I’m not crying right now, and my house is five minutes away. I’ll be fine.”
His eyes search my face for a moment and he shakes his head. I know he doesn’t want to let me go, but he knows he doesn’t have a choice. “I’ll follow you.”
“Sure,” I agree, pulling my keys from my pocket and getting into my Jeep. I turn down the music so I can focus on driving. It takes only a few minutes to get home, and I wave Uncle Nico off then look at my house. The windows are dark, and I know when I get inside I will be greeted by emptiness, and that thought brings a fresh wave of tears to my eyes.
I let out a ragged breath, pick up my cell phone out of my cup holder, and dial.
“Dad,” I sob like an idiot when he answers the phone.
“July?” he asks, and I rest my forehead on the steering wheel of my car and will myself to calm down enough to talk.
“Dad, I need to tell you something.”