The Bad Things

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Chapter 5. Drop Her

The fire in the fireplace in the living room flickered. The flames danced across the wall and my face. Bourbon burned my throat as it went down. At this point, I would probably just crash on the couch—it was easier than having to crawl upstairs. I laid down on the couch and watched the ceiling spin like a merry-go-round.

“Boy, what are you doing down here?” Ace asked.

“You know, you guys don’t have to stay here,” I slurred. “You said you had your own place.”

“Eh, Angel doesn’t care. This house is too damn big for just his family,” Ace said and chuckled. Ace tapped my leg.

I bent my legs up so he could sit down. “Do you stay a lot?”

“Not usually, but we are here a lot,” Ace said. “Your mother and I said we would retire, but we haven’t been doing a good job about that. Carlos didn’t either. He continued to help your mother. He’s still in pretty good shape, too, for his age.”

I snorted. “So are you and Aria,” I said. I hadn’t gotten used to calling them, Mom or Dad. I hadn’t called either of them that.

“We take care of ourselves,” he said.

I sighed and sat up. I reached for the bottle of bourbon on the coffee table, but Ace swiped it from me and my glass. He poured bourbon into the glass and took a sip.

Ace looked at me and smirked. “You’re cut off. Do you need help to bed or what?”

“Nah. I’m going to kick it down here.”

“You’ve been sleeping down here every night since Abigail left. I wasn’t very good about sleeping in bed without your mother either.”

I tilted my head. “Did you two split up at one time? That’s hard to believe.”

Ace chuckled and shook his head. “No, we didn’t. Well, not exactly. At one point, she lost her memory, though. She didn’t remember being with me. She didn’t lose nearly as much of her memory as I did. We both got it back, though. We were back together before either of us got it back.”

“You two remind me of a fairy tale. That kind of shit doesn’t exist,” I said. “I mean, you two make it seem like that’s what it is. I’ve seen that portrayed in books and movies, but not real life.”

“Hm,” Ace hummed. “Well, I don’t know about fairy tales. We’re not exactly a normal couple, are we? Your mother and I have had our fair share of fights, grief, and mistakes, but we came out stronger. Not a fairy tale, but we love each other very much.”

“Do you ever wish you could go back and do something different?”

“Like regrets?”

I nodded and pursed my lips.

Ace shook his head. “No. Life is too short to regret things. Sometimes life knows what you need better than you do. I can’t bring myself to regret anything. I wouldn’t want to do things differently because it wouldn’t have gotten me here, and I’m happy with where I am.”

“What about me?”

“You turned out just fine, Andrew.”

“Then why do I feel so fucked up?”

Ace sighed. “We never wanted to lose you. Until a couple of months ago, we thought you were dead. But we love how you turned out. You don’t realize this, but you’re so much like your mother. You treat everyone as if you’re no better than they are. You work hard. You’re strong, smart, brave, and respectful.”

“Really?” I scoffed. “Do you think if I were any of those things, Abigail would have left?”

“I think you let go of an amazing girl. I also think you’re going to find your way back to her when you’re ready. Maybe you pushed her away because you’re scared. What you have been through has confused you and changed you. But don’t you think for a second that you have to change for us. We’ll love you no matter how you are. We see you’re a good guy, and that’s all that matters to us.”

“I fucked up, didn’t I?” I whispered.

“Everyone falls down. It’s not about how hard you fall. It’s about how hard you work to pull yourself back up. Don’t confuse the two. If she loves you, she’ll forgive you.”

“I apologized.”

“Yeah? Did you mean it?” Ace challenged. He raised one eyebrow and tilted his head. Even if I didn’t want to admit it, I knew he was right. I didn’t mean it when I apologized.

I sighed and shook my head.

“And you didn’t think she wouldn’t pick up on that? If there is one thing a woman can pick up on, it’s a fake apology, trust me.”

I stared at him for a long moment before I got up and headed for the foyer. I stumbled slightly, and my eyes were hazy from the alcohol that I consumed. Abigail danced around in my mind. I need her. Car keys jingled in my hand.

Ace swiped the keys from me, and I stumbled forward and laughed at my clumsiness. Ace kept the keys out of my reach and shook his head.

“Give me those. I want to see her,” I slurred. I reached for the keys again and stumbled into Ace.

“Boy, not tonight. You’re smashed, and you’re not going anywhere. She’s clear over in Florida. Someone will go with you just in case, and you can take a jet to get there faster,” Ace said.

I thought about it. “But I want to see her now.”

“Call her, but you’re not leaving.”

“What on earth are you two doing?” Aria walked into the foyer.

“Road trip,” I said and smirked.

“Not tonight,” Ace said sternly.

Aria took in my state and chuckled. “Trying to go see Abigail?”

“How’d you guess?” I arched a brow and swayed.

Aria looked over at Ace and smiled. Her gaze flickered back to mine. “Just a lucky guess,” she said.

“Well, if I can take a plane, I don’t have to be sober for that, right?” I asked and smirked.

“Andrew, you should wait until you’re sober. People sometimes make choices that they wouldn’t make if they weren’t drunk,” Aria said.

“But if I sober up, I’m not going to have the balls to do it,” I said and chuckled. “Or I might remember the reason that I sent her away in the first place.”

“Jesus, Ace, what did you tell him?” Aria narrowed her eyes at Ace.

“Don’t blame me for this shit, bebita. I just told him the truth,” Ace muttered.

Aria chuckled. “So, who is taking him? Angel has too many meetings tomorrow.”

Ace sighed. “I guess I am.”

“I’ll call Austin,” Aria said.

“I can do it,” Ace argued.

“And you can take your brother with you just in case,” Aria said sternly.

I chuckled.

Ace rolled his eyes when she turned her back. “You can’t argue with your mother, trust me.”

“I’m gathering that,” I said and shrugged.

***

When I woke up, confusion set in instantly. I groaned and looked around. My head pounded, and my stomach twisted. Ace and Austin sat at a small table next to a few round windows. They held a few cards in their hands, and the rest were scattered on the table.

“Good morning, sleeping beauty,” Austin teased and laughed.

Ace’s gaze swept over me, and he chuckled. “I thought you might need these.” Ace threw something at me.

I caught it and fumbled slightly. I squinted to see what the bottle said. Tylenol, thank god. “Thanks.”

Austin tossed me a bottle of water.

“Where the hell are we?” I asked.

“Look for yourself,” Ace said.

I peeked out the window. The clouds were too thick to see past, at first. However, when they cleared, I saw a beach below. It looked very familiar. “What the fuck? Are we in Jacksonville?”

“Yep,” Austin popped the P.

“You insisted last night that we come here to get your girl. So, here we are,” Ace said.

“Don’t you know not to listen to someone when they’re drunk?”

Ace and Austin shared a look and shrugged. “Nah,” they both said.

“Drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts,” Ace said.

“You’re not backing out of this, you little shit,” Austin said. “I pulled my ass out of bed, away from my sexy ass wife, to be here. You’re going to get your girl back.”

Ace snickered.

“I don’t even know if she’s going to forgive me,” I muttered.

“Apologize like you mean it, and she might,” Ace said.

What he said sounded familiar somehow. As the Tylenol kicked in and the headache faded, the memories of last night’s conversation with Ace resurfaced. Abigail and Stormy danced through my mind as I considered what I might say to get them back.

The private jet landed.

“So, now what? We walk?” I asked.

“No, of course not. We’re taking that,” Ace said and gestured across the parking lot. A limousine rolled into the parking lot.

We climbed into the vehicle. I told the driver where to take us.

When we pulled into the parking lot of the apartment complex, I looked around, and my eyes stopped on her car.

“One of these days, I’m going to have to get my things from the apartment.”

“We’ll have some workers come over and pack it up if you want,” Ace said.

“That would probably be easier. I’ll just put it in a storage unit. Some of it is probably disposable,” I said. “I do want to grab a few things today, though.” I climbed out of the limo and shut the door.

The morning sun shined bright, and the complex shaded the parking lot. My legs shook as I made my way to the door. It felt like I hadn’t been here in a lifetime. Nothing felt the same at all. Everything looked different. I was different. When I first met Abigail, she tipped my world upside down and shook it, but now, I barely remember the man she fell for. In some ways, I hadn’t changed, but in other ways, I changed drastically. The world didn’t look the same to me as it did before. Experiencing a lifetime of drama, tragedy, and romance in just a matter of a year really fucked me up. It just so happened that today was Stormy’s fourth birthday too.

Part of me worried that they might not be here. The other part of me hoped they weren’t. One thing that I wasn’t good at was facing my problems or demons, and I sure as fuck wasn’t good at apologizing or being romantic. It wouldn’t be like prince charming showing up on a white horse.

The hallway appeared longer than I remembered, but I knew it was probably my nerves. I considered getting the things I wanted out of my place first, but I didn’t want to miss Abby either.

I sighed and pounded my fist against the white wood that was her door. Faint footsteps grew louder as they got closer to the door, but somehow, they were too soft and too quick to be Abby’s footsteps.

The door swung open.

Stormy stood in front of me, barefoot and in pajamas that I bought her. They were of her favorite movie, Frozen. Her tired little chocolate brown eyes widened when she took me in. “Daddy!” she screamed. She jumped into my arms.

I pulled her into me and hugged her tightly. The only thing I could think at that moment was that I didn’t want it to be the last time I held her. “Hey, baby girl. Happy birthday.”

She leaned back with tears in her eyes. “It’s the best birthday now,” she said and smiled. She rubbed her little nose against mine and gave me a kiss. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too.”

A throat cleared.

Stormy and I both looked at Abigail.

Abigail stood frozen near the hallway. I walked in, carrying Stormy, and closed the door behind me. From the look on her face, I knew that she never thought she would see me again. Some part of me felt the same way, but I couldn’t let her go because I didn’t know how to live without her and Stormy. If I tried, I would turn into a worthless drunk most likely. When they left, it fucked me up worse than I thought it would. No matter what Abigail wanted from me, she would get it. I was giving into it, to all of it. I hated the thought of her getting hurt. I hated myself for hurting her. I hated the fact that she made me fall in love with her, but it happened, and for that, I wasn’t leaving without her, even if that meant that I had to stay in this shit hole.

I slowly sat Stormy on her feet, but she clung to me.

“Stormy, go to your room,” Abigail said.

“But, Mommy—”

“Go to your room,” Abigail and I said at the same time.

Stormy sighed and stomped down the hallway. She slammed her bedroom door behind her.

“What are you doing here, Andy?” Abigail asked. From her expression, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.

“I wanted. . .” I trailed off. No. Wanted isn’t a strong enough word. “I needed to see you. Both of you.”

“Why are you doing this to me? To her? Do you know how long it took me to get her to come out of her bedroom and to talk to me? She hated me for taking her away from you,” Abby spat.

“She never hated you. I’m sure that it’s me she is upset with,” I argued.

“No,” Abby scoffed. “She blames me because she doesn’t understand what happened.”

“Then let me correct it.”

“You’ve done enough,” Abigail snapped. “Just leave.”

“I can’t.”

“Can’t or won’t?”

My steps were measured, but I didn’t stop until I stood in front of her. “I can’t.” I grabbed her chin and forced her to look up at me. “I fucked up. I’m a complete idiot. I never should have hurt you. God knows I don’t deserve you. I don’t deserve another chance, but I’m selfish, and I’m going to ask for one anyway. I’ll never stop trying to make up for the things I’ve said to you that hurt you. I’ll never stop trying to make up for pushing you away.”

Abigail’s eyes teared up. She tried to shake her head, but I still had a hold of her chin. “I can’t. I’ve tried with you. I’ve stayed loyal to you. I’ve done everything for you. Jason did the exact same shit. I won’t go through that again.”

“There is one problem with that,” I said with deliberation.

“What?”

“I’m not Jason. Jason couldn’t have possibly loved the two of you the way I do. I was hurting, and you were the easiest target. I needed someone to feel what I was going through, so I took out on you, and that was wrong, but I won’t ever do that again.”

“How do I know that?” Abigail challenged. “You’ve said this more than once.”

“I’m not leaving here without you and Stormy,” I said sternly. “For once in my life, I’m sure about two things.”

“What’s that?” Abigail swallowed hard.

“You and her.”

“Why does it matter, Andy? You can have whatever girl you want in California. I saw the way girls looked at you out there. They don’t know about your past. You have the chance to start over. You could be with a girl that doesn’t have a kid that’s not yours. What the hell can I possibly give you?”

A smile crept across my face, and it probably wasn’t a good time to be smiling. I lowered my lips to hers without hesitation. My lips demanded hers. She couldn’t have pulled away if she wanted to. This kiss wasn’t like the others. There was a certainty behind the kiss that never existed before. Her warm, soft lips made it hard to stop kissing her, but I managed to break the kiss and rest my forehead against hers.

“That, bebé,” I whispered. “I can’t get anything like that from anyone but you. And what the hell do you mean a kid that isn’t mine? As far as I can tell, she is mine. By the time she’s much older, she’s going to have little to no memory of Jason, and Jason wasn’t much of a father. I haven’t been perfect, but I sure as hell have treated her better than he did.”

Abigail’s lips parted, and she swallowed hard. “I—”

“I don’t want anyone else,” I said sternly. “Not today, not tomorrow, not for the rest of my life. I’ll spend my life alone if I can’t have you. There is only one girl I’ve ever wanted, and I’m looking at her. I wanted you long before you ever wanted me.”

She stared at me, confused. “What do you mean?”

“I mean. . .” I trailed off. “I had a huge crush on you, but never in my wildest dreams. . .”

She smiled and rolled her eyes. “Sure.”

“So, should I tell Ace and Austin to leave or wait? Because if you’re not going back to California, neither am I.”

“You would give all of that up for me?”

“Hell yeah, I would. No money or items could ever replace you. I told you that and I meant it.”

“What about being miserable?” she challenged. “You said you wouldn’t come back to Florida, not even for me.”

“People will find out the truth, eventually. Besides, the best memories I have are right here. It doesn’t matter where I go as long as I’m with you.”

She sighed. “Can I visit my mom once in a while?”

“You can visit her whenever you want.”

“What about my stuff?”

“Take what’s important for now. I’m going to my place to grab a few things too. Ace and Aria will have some people come to get the rest of it.”

“If you do this again, Andy, I swear there won’t be any more coming back. I can’t. . .” she trailed off. “My heart can’t take it again.”

I brushed her hair behind her ear. “Neither can mine.”

The door busted open. I spun around, and my eyes widened. A bunch of Mateo’s men came into the apartment with guns in their hand. “Fuck,” I hissed. “Go!” I shoved Abigail toward Stormy’s room.

A gun went off and struck my right arm. I hissed in pain but continued to block Abigail from the gunmen. Bullets ricocheted off of the items throughout the hallway. Abigail threw Stormy’s door open as more shots were fired. I shoved Abigail into the room and locked the door behind us.

“What’s wrong?” Stormy asked.

“What the fuck are we going to do?” Abigail asked in a panic.

I ran over to Stormy’s window and threw it open.

“Are you insane? We can’t jump.”

“We don’t have a choice,” I said. “I’ll go out first, and I’ll catch both of you.”

“You’re going to break a leg,” Abby hissed.

“We don’t have time to argue,” I said and threw myself out the second-story window. I managed to land on my feet, but the jolt was strong, and Abby probably would break her leg if I didn’t catch her.

I spun around and looked up.

“Are you okay?” Abigail asked.

“Throw her.”

“Andy, please, what if you don’t catch her?” Abigail looked at Stormy with fear in her eyes.

“Look at me, Abby,” I snapped. “Just trust me, okay? I’m going to catch her. Lower her as far as you can and let go of her.”

“Mommy, I’m scared,” Stormy cried.

“I know, baby, but Daddy is going to catch you.” Abigail lowered Stormy out the window.

Stormy squirmed frantically and stared down at me with wide eyes.

“Hey,” I said. “Do you trust me?”

They both nodded.

My heart thudded against my ribs. I swallowed hard. “Drop her.”

Tears rolled down Abigail’s face. She squeezed her eyes shut as soon as she let go of Stormy.

Stormy screamed as she fell toward me.

I opened my arms out and caught her.

“It’s okay, baby girl. I got you. Now, I have to get your mother. Come on, Abby.” I sat Stormy down beside me and looked up at Abigail.

“I can’t,” she whispered.

“Get down here now!” I shouted.

Ace and Austin dashed around the building.

“What’s going on?” Ace asked.

“Mateo’s guys are here,” I said.

A loud bang came from the upstairs. We all looked up quickly.

“Andy!” Abby screamed as she disappeared from the window.

“Mommy!” Stormy screamed.

“Fuck!” I shouted. I grabbed Stormy and tossed her to Austin.

“Ace, stay here,” I said. I gestured to the back door. “There’s only one other way out.”

I ran around to the front, and nobody came out of the building. I gazed up to the roof. “Fuck,” I whispered. I dashed into the building.

The building was four stories. My legs ached in protest from the jump I made as I pushed myself faster. I busted out the door to the roof. Mateo stood on the roof with a gun pointed at Abigail’s head. Two of the other members stood beside him.

“Mateo, stop,” I pleaded.

Mateo stepped near the edge of the roof. “You should have joined us. She will die, and you will follow,” he said.

“I’ll give you money, man. I’ll give you whatever you want.”

He laughed. “Kid, you’re damn near broke.”

“I’m not. I found my birth parents. They have a lot of money, please,” I begged.

Mateo pursed his lips. “No, I don’t believe you.”

They stepped closer to the edge. Mateo hung her over the side.

“No,” I whispered. My heart pounded hard against my ribs. The blood rushed through my body so fast that it felt like I would explode. A gunshot echoed in my ears. “No!” I screamed. I ran toward them, but I realized it wasn’t Abigail that had been shot. It was one of Mateo’s men.

Mateo pushed Abigail over the edge. Mateo and the other guy ran in fear, but I paid no attention to them. I dived, landed on my stomach, and caught Abigail by her wrist.

Abby stared at me in shock. “Andy,” she whispered.

I looked past her. Ace stood on the ground under Abigail. I knew I couldn’t hold onto her. My palm was slick with sweat. My face reddened as I gripped her wrist as tight as I could. “Bebé?”

Abigail looked up at me as tears flooded her cheeks.

“Do you trust me?” I whispered. I didn’t even trust me. Fear clouded my eyes.

Relief clouded her eyes, and she smiled at me as her chin trembled. “I trust you,” she whispered.

I let go of her. “Dad!” I shouted. I closed my eyes and bowed my head against the concrete of the roof. I couldn’t look. Fear shook through me. To catch her and save her would be nearly impossible. Pulling her up wasn’t possible. I love you, Abby. I couldn’t bring myself to open my eyes.

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