Chapter 11. Jealous
Hayden avoided me for a week. I figured it had to do with what we talked about. Hayden walked through a lot of his past that night just to share it with me, and I think he knew I didn’t look at him the same. When I looked at him now, he struck me as somehow stronger and more impressive than before. I tried to call him and go to his place, but most of the time, he ignored me or wasn’t home.
“Hey, Christy. I’m sorry for being late. Traffic was bad, and I had to stop at the courthouse before work,” I said.
“No problem. What were you at the courthouse for?” Christy wondered.
Christy took Hayden’s spot on the night shift at the coffee shop. We got along really well, and she didn’t know about Hayden. Christy was from Texas and didn’t know what happened with Hayden’s family. She knew I had a boyfriend named Hayden, but she hadn’t even seen him.
“I changed my last name,” I said.
“Oh. What’s wrong with Vasquez?” Christy tilted her head confused.
“Well, it’s my married name, or it was. My husband and I went separate ways, and he died shortly after.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Stormy’s dad?”
“Yes,” I said. “She misses him, but she’s doing better than she was when he first passed away.”
We went about our night. There wasn’t much to do. It was a slow night. We went out of our way to do extra things we wouldn’t usually do just, so we had something to do.
I sat on the counter and smiled like an idiot—a memory of Hayden picking me up and putting me on the counter to kiss me flashed in my head.
“Are you thinking about me, bebé?” A husky voice asked.
I gasped and jumped off the counter. I turned to see Hayden. Not just Hayden. Stormy sat on Hayden’s shoulders with a wide smile. Hayden had ahold of her hands to keep her balanced.
“Hi, Mommy,” Stormy said and giggled at the shock on my face.
“What are you—” I stopped and scoffed. “Why do you have my daughter?”
“She was dying to see me, just like you,” he teased.
“Hayden,” I said sternly and placed my hands on my hips.
“What?” he laughed. His face grew more serious, and he sighed. “I’m telling the truth. The sitter called your mother, and your mother called Sean, and Sean called me. Sean said that she wouldn’t stop crying, and when I got there, her eyes were all red and puffy. I couldn’t just leave her there. I thought I would take you both out to dinner.”
“I’m working,” I said and rolled my eyes.
“Oh? Is that what you were doing? It kind of looked like you were daydreaming,” he said and smirked. “I think I know why. That’s a dirty thing to think about while working, bebé.”
“Hayden,” I groaned and facepalmed. “You do realize that you have ignored me for a week.”
“Well, not intentionally,” he grimaced. “We’ll talk about it, okay? I’m sorry.”
Curiosity bubbled up inside of me. “What?”
“Mommy, I want food,” Stormy demanded. “And I want to stay with Hayden.”
I tilted my head and gave my daughter a challenging look. My gaze fell to Hayden.
Hayden put his hands up as if in surrender, and Stormy kept her hands on his neck to keep her balance. Stormy swayed slightly. Hayden grabbed her arms instantly and pointed one of his fingers at me. “You do realize this is your fault. She got all that sassiness from you. Don’t blame me for this,” Hayden said.
I looked away to hide a smile and rolled my eyes.
“I saw that cheeky little grin,” Hayden said.
“Hey, Abby. Where did you put—” Christy bustled out of the kitchen, and when she saw Hayden, she nearly dropped the coffee pot she had. She let out a whistle. “Never mind, it’s not important.”
“Christy, wait,” I said and laughed. “This is Hayden and Stormy. Do you mind if I leave early? They want to have dinner.”
“Nice to meet you,” Christy said politely to them. “Go ahead. I got this.”
“Thanks,” I said. I followed her to the back to remove my apron and clock out.
“Honey, I know what you’re having for dessert,” she said and giggled. “I’d skip work too if I had such a fine man, and he is good with your kid. Oofta!”
I laughed. “Thank you.”
“Enjoy,” Christy said.
“I will,” I said and smirked.
Hayden, Stormy, and I headed out of the coffee shop. “What do you two want for dinner?”
“I don’t care,” Stormy and I said simultaneously.
“I hate to break it to you, ladies, but nowhere serves that,” Hayden said and chuckled.
“I want quesadillas,” Stormy said.
Hayden looked at me questioningly.
“Sounds good to me,” I said and chuckled.
“Los Loros restaurant is probably still open. We’ll go there. I have to warn the two of you, though. My quesadillas are way better,” he said with a cocky smile.
“I guess we’ll find out,” I said. However, I had a feeling Hayden was right. Hayden was a skilled cook, and his cooking skills made mine look really bad.
The restaurant was still open and wasn’t very crowded. We found a small table for four people. Stormy sat by Hayden, and I sat across from Hayden.
The waitress took our orders and promised to be back out with our drinks. I hated how she stared at Hayden, but Hayden didn’t even look at her.
“Can’t take you anywhere,” Hayden said suddenly.
“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
“Two of the waiters have been staring at you since we got in here. That shit drives me crazy. I can’t take you anywhere without someone looking at you,” he said. “I hate other guys looking at you.”
“He’s jealous,” Stormy said and giggled.
Hayden bit his lip to hide a smile at what Stormy said.
“Kind of like how our waitress was gawking at you. She’s probably going to tell all of her girlfriends tomorrow what a hot guy she saw. It’s kind of rude considering how we must look.” My eyes swept over myself, Stormy, then Hayden.
Hayden pursed his lips and tilted his head. All humor vanished from his eyes. “Is that what we look like?” he whispered.
I shrugged. “A guy, a girl, and a toddler, what else would it look like?”
Hayden nodded. “Interesting, I guess I never thought of it that way. Does that give me even more of an excuse to go whoop those guys?” The humor in his eyes was back, and his mouth twisted to keep from laughing.
“Um, no,” I said and chuckled.
The waitress came back and sat our drinks down. She smiled at Hayden, but Hayden didn’t look away from me.
“Whatever you do, don’t look at the waitress,” I teased. “She might get excited.”
“But I won’t,” he said absentmindedly. His eyes bored into mine.
“Oh yeah. Why is that?”
“I’m too wrapped up in you. I told you that.”
“Like how I am too wrapped up in you to notice other guys?”
“You deserve something better, though,” he said and looked away.
His last sentence killed the conversation. We ate and headed to the car. Hayden strapped Stormy into her carseat, which he had bought so that we didn’t have to move it back and forth from my car.
We drove home in silence. The longer the silence lasted, the more irritated I became. He wanted me to go out with him tonight only to push me away like he always does. How does that make any sense?
By the time we got to the apartment, Stormy was fast asleep. Hayden carried her to her bedroom while I busied myself with cleaning. I cleaned when I was irritated.
Hayden snuck up behind me. “Abby.”
I jumped slightly and turned around. I shoved him harder than necessary.
“What the hell is your problem?”
“You scared me.” I stormed past him and walked to the kitchen to clean up the dishes I had left this morning from breakfast.
Hayden stood behind me and pressed his back to my chest. “It’s because of what I said.”
I spun around and threw my arms in the air. “You know what? You’re right. It is because of what you said. You ignored me for a week. You pick my daughter up from the babysitter and insist that you take me out to dinner, just to push me away again?” I shook my head in disbelief. I sounded like a crazy nagging wife, and I hated that he made me sound that way. I turned back to the dishes and scrubbed them harder than necessary. My fingers ached in protest from gripping the plate in my hand so hard.
“Stop, Abby,” he said soothingly. He pulled the plate from me and dropped it into the sink.
I huffed and spun around. “You stop, Hayden,” I snapped. “I’m fucking tired of you pushing me away! We’ve been seeing each other for several months now. If I was going to leave you, don’t you think I would have done it by now? You think that I deserve better, but I disagree. I think you’re an idiot for thinking that. I think that I’m pretty fucking lucky, actually. I have a boyfriend that is loving, caring, sweet, funny, smart, strong, and who is very good with my little girl. What the hell more could I ask for? I love you, and I don’t want anyone else!” I shouted and shoved him back. “You’re always looking for a reason to leave.”
Hayden’s eyes widened, and he swallowed hard. Disbelief flashed in his eyes, and he shook his head as if to shake away what I said.
It slipped out, but I knew that it was true, but some part of me wished I could take it back because I didn’t want to be fighting the first time I confessed it. Who does that? I insulted him, complimented him, and told him that I loved him at the same time.
“What did you say?” he whispered.
I moved closer to him, but my steps were measured, even though I was still very much upset with him. My eyes locked with his, and I didn’t miss a beat. “I said that I love you. It’s true. Whether you like it or not. Stormy loves you too, obviously.”
Hayden knitted his eyebrows together. His breathing became erratic. His body tensed up the way it did when people got too close to him.
“You’re so much stronger and braver than you give yourself credit for, but you can’t accept that. You can’t accept compliments. You can’t accept the idea of people getting close to you because you’re afraid to be hurt or let down. You’re not afraid of hurting us, Hayden. You’re afraid of getting hurt. But do you think that I’m not? Stormy has gotten so attached to you, and it scares the hell out of me because if we don’t work—”
Hayden grabbed my face between his hands, and his lips crashed against mine. The kiss was so powerful that I staggered backward. Hayden gripped my thighs and lifted me. He carried me to the bedroom.
My body hit the mattress. My eyes couldn’t leave his. They held mine and made it impossible to look away. With every bone in my body, I knew that I loved him, and I knew that he loved me too. He didn’t have to say it. I saw it every time he looked at me.
Hayden pressed his lips to mine, but the kiss was softer than before. “I love you,” he mumbled against my lips.
My eyes flickered to his, and I smiled.
He didn’t just tell me he loved me. He proved it. He proved it by the way his eyes would trace my body, his lips would memorize the taste of my skin, and his body put out the fire that burned inside me.
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?” I asked. I sat beside Hayden on the couch as I sipped my coffee. We didn’t talk last night. We were busy doing other things.
Hayden sighed and shrugged. “There’s not a lot to tell. I was trying to figure out what gang my dad was a part of. I tried visiting my aunt, but she refused to see me—not that I blame her. I pushed the issue about seeing my mom. Her name is Iris, by the way. Anyway, they told me not in a hundred years. I asked if they could tell me anything, but they refused. My father is in Miami, and he might be linked to the Aryan Brotherhood, but I’m still not certain yet.
“I figured out what adoption center I came from too. My aunt worked for the adoption center back in the day, I guess. There aren’t any records of my birth parents at all. Whoever they are, they clearly didn’t want me to find them,” Hayden said and shrugged. “What were you up to?” His tone casual, as if we didn’t just discuss gangs, his mother, who is in a coma, and his adoption.
“The usual,” I said and shrugged. “Oh, I did change my last name.”
“What? Why?” Hayden asked.
“Vasquez is Jason’s last name. I meant to divorce him and go back to Ortiz, but it didn’t turn out that way. Since he died, I was legal to change it back if I wanted. I never wanted to even get married.”
“Really? Why did you?” For once, it was Hayden that was curious.
I chuckled. “I got pregnant, and he asked. At the time, I just couldn’t come up with a good reason to say no. My mom kind of pushed the subject too. She didn’t want me to be a single mother like her.”
“What is the deal with your dad? You never did say.”
“I never met him because he raped my mother when she was sixteen and got her pregnant. Her parents insisted that she get an abortion, but she refused and ran away to live with her aunt, Francisca. Francisca took care of her and us until my mother could get on her feet. She never took us to meet our grandparents. She didn’t want us to know the truth, but she told us when we were about sixteen.”
“Damn,” he said. “No wonder why your mother is so. . .tough.”
We were silent for a long moment.
“I found a different job. Mateo isn’t happy about it. Sean isn’t either. Sean wanted me to join it like he did. Gabe isn’t happy either. It just didn’t seem right. I’m mixed up in so much shit as it is. I don’t want to do something that could jeopardize Stormy and you even more.”
I smiled and grabbed his face in my hands. “See, I knew you were smart,” I teased. I pecked his lips, but Hayden deepened the kiss.
“I want to play outside!” Stormy shouted as she dashed into the living room.
Hayden and I broke apart breathlessly.
Hayden pursed his lips. “With your car or the tricycle, bug?” he asked.
“The tricycle,” she said.
Hayden grabbed the tricycle that he bought for her from her room, and we headed downstairs.
“Just stay on the sidewalks, and don’t go too far,” I said.
“Okay.” Stormy sat down on her tricycle.
Hayden fastened her helmet, and she pedaled away. Hayden taught her how to pedal it a few weeks ago. Hayden sat down beside me on the stairs and lit a cigarette.
“Maybe you should just go to your aunt’s house unannounced. She should be able to tell you something. Especially since she worked at the adoption agency,” I said.
Hayden sighed. “I tried calling her. She hung up on me instantly. If I showed up there at random, she would have me arrested. I’m required to keep a distance from all relatives unless they invite me to see them. I’m not even allowed at the cemetery where my siblings are. I don’t want to be arrested again. It’s not worth it. For all I know, my real parents are dead.”
“There you go, thinking positive.” My voice dripped with sarcasm.
Hayden smiled and shrugged. “I’m thinking realistic.” Hayden craned his neck to look for Stormy. When his eyes caught her, they shifted the other direction. Hayden always watched her carefully, and he did it subconsciously.
“You know something?”
Hayden tilted his head in my direction and eyed me curiously.
I cleared my throat. Emotion overwhelmed me because I realized that Jason never even looked at Stormy and looked after Stormy the way that Hayden did. Jason loved Stormy in his own way, I think, but he wasn’t always good to her. Drugs were always his priority, along with his friends.
“What is it?” Hayden asked, confused by my sudden mood change.
“It’s strange to me that people don’t trust you. Stormy is my entire world, and there isn’t a soul on this earth that I trust with her more than you,” I said. “You always watch her so carefully. I’m never scared to leave her alone with you. You’re so protective of her. Somedays, I think maybe even more than I am.”
A strange mix of emotion clouded Hayden’s eyes, and he shook his head. His eyes wandered back to Stormy. “I—” Hayden stopped suddenly.
My gaze followed his, and I stiffened instantly. My nostrils flared, and my blood began to pump unsteadily. I jumped to my feet and started down the sidewalk.
“Bebé, wait,” Hayden called after me.
I had tunnel vision. Tracey walked across the parking lot toward me. Her eyes were remorseful as she took in my expression.
Hayden grabbed me to stop me.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I spat through clenched teeth. My fists balled up. I wasn’t normally a violent person, but I hated her. I gave her more chances than she ever deserved, for the simple fact that she’s my daughter’s aunt.
“Please, Abigail. Hear me out,” she pleaded. Her hands fell to her stomach, and she smiled. Her hands covered up the small bump that stuck out between her hips. She rubbed her stomach and looked up at me. “I’m pregnant. I’m about to have a baby of my own. I’m not trying to take Stormy. I made a horrible mistake. I was emotional. I had just lost my brother. I didn’t even get to attend his funeral because I was in the hospital.”
I scoffed. “Fell off the wagon, I’m guessing?”
“No. I um, I tried committing suicide,” she said and shrugged. “After the bathtub incident with Stormy, I could barely live with myself. Regardless of what you might think, I love her. I’m not asking to take her anywhere. You don’t trust me, and I understand that, but if I could just visit her here and there for a few minutes—”
“No,” I said. My voice was barely audible. “No, I can’t. You put me through hell, twice.”
Four motorcycles sped into the parking lot. The loud roar of the motors grabbed our attention. Hayden’s arm dropped from me instantly, and he placed himself in front of me with a protective stance—at that moment, I realized just how dangerous Hayden could be. I was used to the soft side of him or the emotionally unattached side of him, but not the dangerous side.
I leaned around him and looked up at him. His expression turned to stone. His body turned to stone. It was as if he was nothing but a statue or frozen in time. He wasn’t going to move, and nothing would make him.
“Tracey, I think you should go,” Hayden murmured.
Tracey stared at me, shocked and confused. “Wow, and you have the audacity to scold me for what I’m involved in, but you two are involved with Latin Kings?”
The bikers walked toward us with leather jackets on. On the jackets, there were small symbols for Latin Kings, and below the symbol, a small patch on the left side of the jacket read Latin King Motorcycle Club.
One of the bikers was Gabe, and one of them was my brother Sean. I had no idea who the other two were, but I knew neither of them was Mateo.
“Hayden, can we talk?” Gabe asked.
“Mm, no,” Hayden said stiffly. Hayden placed one of his hands behind me, pressed it against my stomach, and backed me up slightly.
“Not in front of the ladies, of course,” one of the guys that I didn’t recognize spoke.
“Look, I already worked this shit out with Mateo. I never signed up for the patch. So, you can all suck my dick,” Hayden snapped. “I don’t work for him anymore.”
One of the men pulled out a switchblade, and it snapped open, revealing a four-inch blade.
Sean’s eyes fell to the blade and back to Hayden. “This so isn’t the place for this shit,” Sean said. Sean’s eyes flickered to the man with the knife. The man’s black hair blew around in the wind and fell over his eyes. “Jesús, come on, man. Put that away. My niece is out here.”
“No, Hayden knows too much, and there is only one way out,” the man who is apparently Jesús said.
“If you want to kill me, you better find something bigger than four inches, Jesús, because four inches isn’t going to kill me instantly, and it isn’t going to stop me from snapping your neck. Whether I die or not, I don’t care, but I’ll take all four of you with me,” Hayden spat. “I wouldn’t tell anyone anything. Tell Mateo if he wants me dead to be a real man and come do it himself.”
“Guys, let’s go,” Sean said. His voice strained as he took in Hayden’s expression. “He’s not a threat, and he didn’t join.”
I stepped around Hayden. “How the hell could you do this to him?” I shrieked at Sean.
Hayden grabbed me and pulled me back.
“This wasn’t up to me. I came with to stop it,” Sean snapped at me.
“You’re all a bunch of worthless assholes.” My eyes flickered to all four men as I spoke deliberately. “You had to join a big bad motorcycle gang to make up for something, didn’t you? I don’t think you’re as big and bad as you think you are.”
“Stop it,” Hayden hissed at me and shoved me behind him.
The men stepped forward but stopped when a horn blared.
“Stormy!” Tracey shrieked.
I spun around and froze. My three-year-old daughter pedaled her small tricycle into the middle of the busy street. A truck swerved to miss her.
Hayden took off toward Stormy before any of us could make our legs move.
“Stormy!” Hayden screamed.
“No!” I shrieked. “Stormy!”
Hayden ran out into the busy street. Another vehicle swerved around them and regained control. Horns blared as they drove up and down the street. I stopped at the curb when I saw a black car heading straight for Stormy and Hayden.
“Hayden!” I shouted.
Hayden stopped behind Stormy. A horn blared, and Hayden’s head snapped up to see a black car. There wasn’t any time for either of them to get out of the way. I couldn’t move. My head spun chaotically. There wasn’t time for me to get to them either.
Hayden pulled Stormy off her tricycle, and he threw her toward me as hard as he could. I opened my arms and stepped forward. I caught Stormy in my arms right before the vehicle struck Hayden and the tricycle. The blow from catching Stormy made me fall on my ass, and I watched as Hayden’s body rolled over the top of the car and fell to the ground. Another vehicle was headed for Hayden.
Tracey came up behind me. I handed Stormy to her quickly and ran out into the street. I waved my arms above my head at the vehicle headed for Hayden.
“No, please, stop!” I screamed.
The driver slammed on breaks and stopped within a couple of feet from hitting me. I got down on the ground beside Hayden. Blood trickled down his forehead. He laid on his back unconscious. His breathing was shallow.
Two men came up beside me.
“I’m so sorry,” one of the men said. “He came out of nowhere. It happened so fast.”
“Move over. I’m an EMT,” one of the men said and pushed me out of the way. He started CPR on Hayden.
I was faintly aware of the sound of Motorcycles descending in the background, but I couldn’t focus on anything. I sat on my ass in the middle of the street as I stared in horror at Hayden and the man giving him CPR.
The other man jumped to his feet and pulled a phone from his pocket. The man spoke into the phone, but I couldn’t make out what he said because I was too much in shock.
“I’m losing him,” the EMT said.
Hayden’s chest stopped moving.
“Do something,” I pleaded. “We have to move him.”
“We have to wait. His injuries are too severe to move him,” the EMT said. He hovered over Hayden as he continued to do CPR. I was faintly aware of sirens approaching. I had never seen anything so horrific in my life. I couldn’t speak or think. I was helpless. All I could do is stare as the men attempted to save my boyfriend’s life.