I tried to make my body as least menacing as I could make it. “I’m sorry, I was upset, but I would never hurt you.”

“You’re a liar. That was supposed to be me.” Jordan held out the taser towards me with an aggressive shake in her hand. “Stay away from me. I have copies of that picture and others. If you come after me, I’ll call the police.” She didn’t wait for me to say anything else. She backed away from me as quickly as she could, and once she was through the door frame, she turned and raced to her car where she got in and sped off.

I backed against the wall next to the hole I made and slid down until I was sitting on the floor. I dropped my face to my hands and could feel myself starting to hyperventilate. It felt like I couldn’t get breath to my lungs, and my chest was starting to burn. My eyes were watering and my head was spinning. How had my past followed me? I’d taken every precaution to start a new life; to ensure I wouldn’t hurt anyone else that I loved. How? My vision started to wane as I continued taking in the short shallow breaths. I started to shake and knew that I’d be passing out any second.

“Daddy?” The tiny voice snapped me to reality like a rubber band against my skin. I looked up and Trey was standing in the hallway with tears in his eyes. “I’m scared. I heard yelling.”

“I’m sorry,” I responded to him, holding out my arms. “Everything is okay.”

Trey didn’t hesitate. He walked towards me and threw the weight of his body into my embrace. Everything that had happened washed away and I was left with a simple reminder of why I made every choice I’d made. My son. He held on tight and rubbed my back, somehow a stronger person than I ever was.

“It’s okay, daddy. Don’t be sad,” he said.

“Thank you, buddy,” I responded. “I’ll be okay.”

I said the words, but the sentiment was totally vapid. I was putting everything I had into consoling my son, when I had no idea at all how to console myself. Rubbing Trey’s back, he fell asleep and I stood up from the floor, taking him with me. I carried him to his bedroom and put him back to bed, and then called the guys and asked them to meet me at my home. I’d spent too many years running away from my past, and now that this had happened, it was finally time to face it head on and fix it.

19

Oliver

Working the midnight shift was my least favorite thing in the world. For some reason, in Dallas, criminals preferred the day time hours. Where I was at in my career, I wasn’t chasing around the petty thief or train gropers anymore. When I worked the late shift, I was supposed to research any cases I had open, listen for any huge emergencies, and most boring of all, get caught up on paperwork. I’d much rather be with Tyler or Jordan. I had better things (and people) I could be doing.

My phone rang in my pocket and I sighed, feeling like I may get a modicum of entertainment during my shift, and pulled it out. I noticed that it was Harrison, and became immediately suspicious. Why would he be calling me so late?

“Hello?” I answered.

“Hey,” Harrison greeted, “I’ve got bad news.” His voice was shaky and low; he sounded like he was panicking.

“Okay?” I responded. “What’s wrong?”

Harrison was always a bit of a wild card. Unbeknownst to any of the other guys in the group, Harrison and I had a floss-thin thread tying us together. One day, not long after Ethan conceptualized putting together a club, of sorts, for he, Lowe, Rogan, and I to bond together as single fathers, the captain of my department showed up with Harrison in tow. He brought him to me and introduced us, telling us that we had being single parents in common, and he was hoping I could look after Harrison as a personal favor to him. It seemed very odd to me, and despite the fact that everyone assumed I was your run-of-the-mill meathead, I was quite observant and intelligent. My boss wouldn’t delineate any additional information about Harrison to me, not even tell me where he was from. Harrison had only personally told us that he was from the midwest and had lived in the south as well. We knew nothing of his recent past and only got details about his childhood when really pressed, and even those details were vague. He’d mentioned in passing that Trey’s mother was no longer in the picture, but never if it was a divorce, or separation, or one-night-stand gone wrong. We knew very little about him.

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