Chapter 1 - No Honeymoon Phase Left
“You never told me what happened a few weeks ago in Harp’s office.” Connor looked up from his phone, sliding it down on the coffee table next to the leather chair he was seated in.
Wiping off the gray and black marbled kitchen counter, I paused. I’d been finding everything under the sun to do to stay busy and not think about that fact that our son had been missing for nearly six weeks all ready. We hadn’t been able to find any leads to bring us to where he was and it was getting fucking unbearable. Part of me pitied my family when they had gone years without finding a trace of me. Then the thought that they had just simply wanted to find me to kill me hardened me up once again. They weren’t worth my pity.
“Why do you ask?” Furrowing my brows, I rubbed a clean spot harder on the counter, not bothering to keep my eyes on him. He was healing nicely, but still slow with continual pain flare-ups.
“Just wondering if it’s something I need to know about.” His voice held hints of curiosity in it, bringing my gaze up once again.
Narrowing my eyes, I felt like his curiosity was a trap. I didn’t like traps, especially from my husband. “Why did you wait weeks after the fact to ask me?”
“Joanner, between our time taking care of Tempest and my recovery we haven’t really talked. Not like we used to.” Hints of disappointment filled his suddenly gravely voice. And I fucking hated feeling guilty.
Swallowing hard, I stood up straighter, staring at him through my still narrowed slits for eyes. “Does you being on your phone just moments ago have to do with your question?”
Letting out a heavy breath, he shook his head. Standing up, his tall frame made the ceiling look shorter than I remembered. “Why are you keeping me out? You’ve played hardball since finding me. Why? Are you hurting? Because I’m hurting too.” He rubbed the spot over his heart.
I blinked back at him, keeping my mouth shut. I was hurting. Every single fucking morning I woke up and every single fucking night I fell asleep, I felt the pain slicing through my heart. I missed my son. I missed the relationship I had with my husband. Something inside me had changed. Something was holding me back from fully letting him back in. I was guarding myself.
“Do you blame me?” He took a step forward, his voice loud enough for me to hear but quiet enough not to wake our daughter.
“Justin’s upstairs.” I said quietly, reminding him that his half-brother was indeed living with us and we couldn’t have a heated discussion. Now was not the time.
“What the hell does that have to do with anything?” His eyes hardened, taking another step closer to me. “I can’t talk to my wife because we have a roommate?”
“That’s not what I said.” I whispered, staring down at his feet as he took another step toward me.
“You didn’t deny it.” He accused. “Do you blame me for our son being taken, Joanner?”
“Yes.” I breathed quietly, fighting to pull my eyes back up to his. “And no.”
The hurt that had swirled around in his eyes paused. “I’m confused.”
Swallowing hard, I fought the tears feeding into my eyes. Closing them, I took a breath. My voice came out barely above a whisper. It was barely audible to even me, but somehow Conner still heard it. “I blame myself more.”
“Why? It’s not your fault.” His eyes widened before narrowing, analyzing me.
My eyes still remained closed as I felt his presence behind me, tightening my stomach. My body trembled, my chin quivering. Both steadied when his arms wrapped around my waist, pulling me to himself.
“It’s not your fault, Joanner. I should have protected you and the kids better. I should have done my job.” His voice was strong but quiet breathing into my neck. The touch was meant to be comforting, and it was, but I couldn’t do that right now. I couldn’t be comforted. I needed to feel my pain. I needed to be raw, ready to react and ready to what was necessary to bring our boy home.
Pushing his arms away from me, I snuck underneath one of them. Distance wasn’t just physical, I could feel it between us as it sucked the air out of my lungs. “I can’t do this right now, Connor.”
He looked defeated, but just as quickly his eyes hardened. “You can’t or you won’t?”
“Take it any way you want to, lover.” I stepped back further, keeping the space between us as he took a step closer to me. I wrung the towel in my hands, nervous that he’d try to bring the emotion back out of me.
Snorting, he shook his head. A cold smile twisted his lips up before they twisted back down in a frown. “I don’t get it. I try to comfort you and you push me away like I’m a fucking disease.”
“Until our son is back home maybe you are.” I offered, my eyes wide as I realized how fucked up that comment had been. “Conner---“
“No, I heard you, Joanner.” He pushed past me, stalking to the door. “I heard you loud and fucking clear.”
So that was how he was going to play. Hardening my jaw, I stalked after him. “Where are you going?”
“Now you care?” He glared at me, his hand on the door handle.
“I never stopped caring. I just can’t tap into anything deep right now.” I snapped, pausing mere feet away from him. “Where are you going?”
“If you must know, I’m going to get booze.” He drawled out, twisting the door handle until the door opened.
“We have beer in the fridge.” My eyes narrowed at him. I wasn’t going to be left behind. I might be a mother, but it wasn’t my responsibility to always stay with our daughter. He needed to pull his weight too.
He paused, his back stiffening. “I need something stronger.”
“Maybe I need something stronger too!” I growled at him, tossing the towel back at the kitchen.
Twisting back, his eyes narrowed as they met mine. The ball was in his park; he needed to decide what he was going to do. Not taking his eyes off of mine, he yelled out. “Justin!”
Glaring at him, I crossed my arms. “Need that drink that bad, huh?”
“It’s not about the drink, Jo, it’s about the space.” His hard words stung, making my eyes narrow more and my jaw twitch.
I contemplated slapping him, but his reaction was because of me. He was right. I was being cold, distant. Honestly it’d been how I had been raised. My father had been a cold man, hard. I’d expunged most of it I had thought, but apparently character traits passed on from generations didn’t go away as well as I had thought.
“Ever hear of silent arguing, you two?” Justin shook his white t-shirt out, fanning his body. He was short of breath as he spoke, bringing a raised brow from both Connor and me.
“What were you doing?” I skeptically asked, eyeing up his disheveled appearance. He looked like he’d rushed to get to us.
“I was testing my quick escape route, you two being in the mob and all.” He puffed his chest out a little more than he needed to.
“What does that mean?” Connor folded his arms over his chest, giving me a sidelong glance to see if I backed his question.
Folding my arms, I cocked my head to the side, equally curious.
“It means I climbed up the side of the house and through the window in record time.” His eyes sparkled before narrowing curiously. “But I doubt that’s why I heard you shouting my name. You two should be ashamed of yourselves using a tone that loud with a sleeping baby in the house! Tempest definitely wasn’t named for being a quiet baby.”
“She was named to weather a storm.” I spoke simply, crossing my own arms over my chest. “It’s a name of power.”
“It’s a name all mankind should fear.” His brows popped up as he looked past me to Connor.
Glancing over my shoulder, I arched a brow. He looked at me rather innocently, leaving me to conclude he had agreed with his brother, simply not wanting me to know. Leveling him, I looked back at Justin. “You’re on baby duty.”
“Wait, what?” He swallowed, his eyes widening. He’d been on baby duty before and had complained enough for me to contemplate putting him out of his misery to give me my much-needed silence.
“You heard me. I’m not happy right now and I would suggest you not test me.” My eyes narrowed, my voice equally as pungent.
“Fine. I’ll watch my poor balding niece.” He started rolling his eyes before catching my own widening eyes and raised brows. Throwing his hands up, he took a step back. “I didn’t mean anything by that, Jo. I love my niece to pieces.”
My nostril twitched, my fingers itching to grab the dagger stuck in my piled up dark hair. My breathing was dangerously slow as I decided what to say.
“He’s right, Joanner. Why didn’t you make our baby with more hair? Yours is lustrous, her’s…” Connor shrugged, obviously thinking of our daughter. “…lacks there.”
Twisting around, my jaw twitched. My brows were still raised, eyes bulging wider then I thought possible. How dare they!
Forget the dagger in my hair; my eyes were throwing them in rage. Bitterness at the comments twisted my features. I felt ready to kill and I’m sure I equally looked it. I watched Connor swallow slowly, stepping out of my way by the door.
Not daring to breathe a word, I stalked past him. My elbow clipped his ribs sharply on my way out. A tease of a smile twisted the corner of my mouth when I heard him groan in pain. I needed air.
Part way down the hallway, I pulled my phone out. I didn’t wait for the person to answer, the second the phone quit ringing I had my words stumbling out of my mouth. “I need a fucking therapy session.”
“Isn’t that what your husband is for?” The voice breathed back to me, curiosity lacing every word. I honestly didn’t know why I was calling her. I rarely let anyone in. It wasn’t worth the risk; yet here I was, letting someone in.
Stalking down the steps of our two-story house, I fished in my jean pocket for the car keys I knew I still had stuffed in them. Pausing, I stuffed them back in my pocket. I was only a few blocks away from O’Connell’s Pub. I’d walk.
Ignoring the comment, I veered around some unidentifiable splotch on the sidewalk. Continuing on my journey, I didn’t notice the chill to the night. I was too heated from the discussion to notice. “I’m heading to O’Connell’s. Are you in or not?”
“I’m here all ready. Find me when you get here.” She breathed out through chomping, making it obvious she was stuffing her face. I should have noticed the noise in the background and the chewing of food as she spoke. I was too worked up to notice.
Groaning inwardly, I sharpened my focus. We were still in wars; still targets to be used and abused. I couldn’t afford to be sloppy, even if my life felt turned upside down at the moment.
Looking up at the Buckers Street sign, I glanced down both sides of the street as I worked my way across the crosswalk. “I’m two blocks away.”
“Driving?” She questioned casually.
“Walking.” My words going straight to the point, I glanced at a red impala driving past me. It wasn’t late, but it wasn’t early evening either. My guess was it was somewhere between nine and ten, cars out at this time were perfectly normal.
“I’ll see you when you get here.” She mumbled, munching on some other piece of food that I could care less about.
Numbly sliding my phone from my ear, I tucked it in the back pocket of my skintight, dark jeans. They left little to the imagination, but they felt right hugging my wide hips and long, lean legs.
The fresh air felt just that --- refreshing. It nipped at my pronounced nose, making my eyes sting as the breeze hit them just right. The motion sent my mind wondering to when I was a young girl. I’d never do as I was told, but I also did well in never getting caught. One rule had been to stay inside, especially at night. What my parents never understood was that I needed to be free. I needed to see the stars, feel the wind on my face, the sand between my toes.
The green lights flashed off of O’Connell’s sign, a signature four-leaf clover twisting around the name. The brick building didn’t really stand out, but it was still nice looking. The bricks seemed to age it to a degree, but not enough to make it unwelcoming. Standing in front of the door, I stared in through the glass. It didn’t look packed, but it still looked busy for a Tuesday night. Reaching for the handle, I tugged the door open. It felt lighter than it looked, a pleasant surprise.
I could feel a few sets of eyes on me as I walked in. Some knew who I was, others just curious. Glancing around, my eyes locked on a familiar redhead. Her green eyes met mine, welcoming me over with a pleasant, knowing smile.
Paying little attention to the others in the room, I stalked over to her. I was sure I looked more riled up then I should have in a public place, but I really didn’t care what people thought so it didn’t really matter. Most didn’t know what I was dealing with, not that I wanted their sympathy anyway.
Taking the free seat next to her at the bar, I finally truly acknowledged her and the name she chose for the ears of the public. “Siobhan.”