Kings of Spades

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The city of Spades was coming alive with light as Dani and Nik walked hand in hand towards Frankie’s for a late dinner.

Though she was still on edge about the Queen’s new found interest in her son, she could not find it within herself to tell him they could no longer go out on late night adventures like they did every weekend since he could walk. The Queens have disrupted a lot in her life but she would not let them take her time with Nik, not when he was growing up so quickly.

A bell chimed above them signaling their entry. Dani waved to old man Frankie who was happily serving a woman a slice of pie as they passed him and slid into what had been dubbed “the King’s booth”. Dani felt at ease as she fell into routine, ordering their usual and watching with amusement as Nik drew figures on his paper menu, naming them as he pointed them out to her.

Nik paused on two figures, one small and yellow, the other taller and red with what looked like a tuft of unruly hair.

“Who are they?” Dani asked lightly, leaning forward to tap a finger against the figures.

Frankie came by then, placing a plate of burgers and fries in front of each of them and a large chocolate milkshake for them to share. Dani thanked him kindly and set to work on cutting Nik’s burger into four smaller pieces.

“Mom?” His voice was quiet and thoughtful when he called for her.

“Just a second. . .” Dani was trying not to get too crazy with the knife, she’s never had to cut stuff up like this before when it came to food. If that was ever the case she just asked Kaden or Matthias for help.

“What’s a Dad?”

The fork and knife Dani held slipped from her fingers and clattered against the plate. Her heart dropped and she began to feel just as she had when Matthias told her about the Queens’ interest in Nik.

Nik looked up at her in alarm and that was her que to look away and gain her composure. If she showed that this upset her he would shut down and never bring it up again, a habit that was so familiar to her it made her heart ache. He was only four, a few months shy of five, she didn’t think she’d have to worry about that question for a few more years.

“Where did you hear about that?” She finally asked, resuming her task.

He waited until she placed the utensils down to respond. “Michael says I don’t have one.”

Dani places his food in front of him with a careful smile, though she was seething on the inside. Michael Tate, that rotten little bastard of a second grader who liked to pick on the younger and less fortunate kids. His parents, Trevor and Nancy Tate, were the same way because of their wealth and social status.That is, until Kaden King knocked them down a few pegs. She’ll be sure to pay them a visit sometime after this.

“It’s not that you don’t have one. It’s just that. . .” She trailed off, not knowing what it was she was trying to say. It’s not as if Dani can just out right tell him that he did not, in fact, have one in his life.

“Well, what is a Dad?”

Nik was looking up at her expectantly and Dani felt her stomach begin to twist terribly. She bit her lip and fiddled with the napkin before her, finding that she couldn’t handle his doe-eyed gaze upon her.

“Well. . . ,” she started slowly, trying her hardest not to stumble over her words. “a dad is like what your Grandpa Kaden is to me and--”

Her phone began to vibrate insistently in her pocket and she suddenly felt the need to thank the heavens for the interruption. Dani pulled the device out, quickly glancing between him and the screen.

“I’ll get back to you on that, love. Eat up in the meantime, your uncle Noah is calling me.”

He pouted but picked up a piece of the burger she cut up for him and took a bite. She smiled at him and stood, walking a few paces into a quiet corner where Nik was still in her line of sight, before answering her phone on the last ring.

“Get the hell out of Frankie’s.”

Dani pulled the phone away from her ear, blinked at the screen, then brought the phone slowly to her ear again.

“How rude of you, Noah. No ‘Hi, Hello’ for me?”

“Dani, there’s no time! The Queens--”

Noah’s voice sounded urgent but she was no longer listening, for she already saw them. Silas Giovanni stood at the counter talking quietly with the waitress behind it, she recognized Levi Russo as he took a seat not too far from where Silas stood. Then there was Logan Daniels, who slid into her spot across from Nik with an easy smile.

“A bit late for that.” She snapped into her phone, ending the call as she made quick strides towards her son. A part of her felt guilty about her tone towards Noah, none of her anger was actually directed towards him, it was towards herself for stupidly letting her guard down.

Logan grinned at her as she approached, leaning back as he popped a curly fry into his mouth.

“What are you lot doing on King turf, Daniels?” She asked, sliding herself in next to Nik. Dani tried her hardest to put as much steel into her voice as she could, just as much as she used to whenever she confronted these fools. But this time was different and she knew well enough that she had reason to be afraid.

His grin grew, “Just having a friendly little chat with your boy here. Say, he asked me such an interesting question a second ago.”

Of course he did.

“Oh, yeah? And what’s that?” She asked, though she already knew the answer.

“He asked me, ’What’s a dad?’” He laughed and leaned forward to scoop up another fry from Nik’s plate. Nik looked away from them then, picking at the frayed hem of his sweater. “But I have a better question for you. Who is his dad?”

Logan Daniels was an attractive guy, the whole package really, all the ugly in him masked behind a killer smile. Dani wanted nothing more than to knock his teeth out.

“I don’t see how that’s any of your business.” She spits, rising to her feet. Dani reached into her pocket and threw down enough cash to pay for their meals as well as a large tip while Nik clumsily slid out of the booth behind her. She snatched up his coat from beside him and turned them towards the doors, catching sight of both Silas and Levi now with their full attention on her.

“Now, now, Dani. I didn’t mean to offend you. Just happen to be a bit curious is all.”

Dani kept an arm securely wrapped around Nik’s shoulders as she brushed past Logan. “You can take that curiosity and shove it.”

Logan was not deterred, “Or I guess I can ask Octavia Heart.”

She stilled.

Logan took this as an opportunity to continue, “I mean, I’d assume she’d know. You two are besties right?”

Dani felt cold all over at the mention of her name. “Don’t expect finding her to be such an easy task,” she replied coolly. Movement out of the corner of her eye momentarily caught her attention, figures emerged from the shadows of nearby alley ways

“Well it just might. Word is that she’s back in town looking for something that belongs to Ace.”

The shadows scattered then, one caught her eye, there was enough light for her to recognize it as being Matthias. He motioned for her to get down.

Dani didn’t think twice, she took hold of Nik and dropped him to the ground below her, making sure to cover his head the best she could. She heard a few other patrons follow her actions, though she didn’t see who. All she knew is that between one second and the next, chaos would reign as the Kings made their presence known in the form of shattered glass and blood.

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