Page 54 of The Dancer

“I told you she was like you right. How do I usually handle you when you get all stubborn about shit?”

“You want me to rough her up?”


“No you ass, just take the initiative. Ignore all her shit the way you do everyone else and do what you know needs to be done.”

“What if it doesn’t work out?”

“Dude, when is the last time you slept on anything below thousand thread count Egyptian cotton?” He had a point. From my first paycheck in the Pros I’d promised myself I’d never look back.

“Last night you slept in that place without giving it a second thought. I think if shit was gonna go south that would’ve been it.” He made it sound so simple, but he still had a point.

I’ve been holding back with her out of fear. I no longer question what it is that I feel for her, but since the shit is all new to me, I’m afraid of making the wrong move and fucking shit up before it starts.

I knew what I wanted to do, and in the past would’ve just gone ahead and done it. But with her I felt like I had to do shit a whole new way. Was I over thinking? Maybe I am.

“I did come to a decision about something else though. I’m firing Arlene today. Regardless of the legal aspects and whether we can prove anything, I know that she sent him there. I’m not leaving her that close to Annabelle.”

“I knew you’d make that call so no surprise there. But you need to figure out how to get her out of that neighborhood. You won’t believe the shit I saw down there last night.”

“What did you see?” I fucking knew it.

“All kinds of shady shit. And there’re some undesirables living in her building.”

“Drugs?”

“Among other things. Besides, she sticks out like a sore thumb. You can’t tell me no one hasn’t noticed.” And we know all about sticking out, being in the wrong neighborhood in this town is a sure fired way to get your ass killed.

I’ve thought the same thing since my first visit, but again, I didn’t know enough to know which way to go. She had a whole lotta shit going on. But the fact that she hadn’t shared any of it with me told me she wasn’t ready to open up.

It was surprising to recall that we’d only known each other less than a month. In the past that wouldn’t have meant shit, so why did it now? Why when I needed to make a move did I feel like I couldn’t? Like it was too soon.

I ate the omelet he put in front of me without tasting it, my mind was too preoccupied. I moved shit around in my head and looked at it from all angles. “It’s not my own fear I’m battling, it’s hers.”

I explained farther at his questioning look. “Think about it. She’s new to the city, we just met, I drag her here, force her to move in with me after a few weeks. How does all that look to her? Not to mention, there’s her back story that I still know nothing about.”

“I thought you’d have taken care of that by now.”

“I have the guys looking into it but they haven’t come up with anything so far. There are a lot of people with her name.”

“I have to say, this isn’t like you. I don’t like this new look you have.”

“What look is that?”

“Playing the gentleman. I know you said it’s her fear, but it’s yours too. I keep telling you you’re nothing like him.”

This shit again. “How many kids have you put through school so far? How much money have you given to that society for unwed mothers?” He started listing off all the charitable donations I’d made over the years and I was dumbfounded.

I hadn’t realized the lengths I’d gone to-to make up for my father’s sins. I hadn’t even realized that that’s what I’d been doing all along.

I’m so afraid of being like him that I’ve practically lived my life trying to escape that shit. Now I had this girl who really needed me, who I really wanted, and I was afraid. Afraid I’d hurt her and fuck up her life.

But I know I don’t have it in me to hurt her, not her. I’m as sure of that as I am that I’m breathing. He’s right, what the fuck have I been thinking? There’s no grey area here, it’s all just black and white.

And since when have I been afraid of a slip of a girl? I’ve faced defense tackles three times her damn size and won. Hah! She’s in for it now. If she gives me any more of her shit I’ll just pop her one and drag her ass here.

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