The Bad Things

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Chapter 7. We're Professionals

Flames erupted in the sky as the clubhouse blew to pieces. The sun, a fiery orange color, shown through the trees as it set. We wired the place and peeked through the windows to ensure everyone was in the clubhouse, where they were supposed to be.

Benny had the button to the bomb in his hand. “That never gets old,” he said and chuckled.

“Admit it. You don’t want to be retired any more than the rest of us. You wouldn’t know what to do with yourself.” Ace raised his fist for Benny to bump it.

Benny bumped his knuckles with Ace’s knuckles. “I’ll give you that.”

“And we wouldn’t know what to do without you,” Aria said and smiled at Benny.

“Don’t get sappy on me,” Benny teased.

Sean jumped into the van, and I slid the door closed. Sean pulled the black gloves and black ski mask off. Sean exhaled sharply. “Well, nobody lived through that. I guess this means I’m fired.”

Austin chuckled. “I like him.”

I smiled and shook my head. “It’s kind of a relief,” I said. “That’s one thing that isn’t hanging over my damn head anymore.”

“One down, one to go,” Ace said.

“Yeah. . .” I trailed off. My gaze flickered to Sean. Sean would never admit it, but I saw the concern in his eyes. I understood it. Sean no longer had a job, and with no job, he wouldn’t have a roof over his head. His only option would be to go back to Marlena’s, his mother’s house.

“What?” Sean asked as he took in my thoughtful expression. Sean had been in trouble and built a reputation. The chances of him getting a job in Jacksonville weren’t good, and it would likely be a while before he found one.

Before I could answer, sirens sounded in the distance. The firetrucks would be here shortly. Someone might have seen the vans, but the vans wouldn’t be linked back to us. We jacked them from a rival gang.

“Let’s get the hell out of here,” I said.

The van started and peeled out of the parking lot of the clubhouse. The sirens grew quieter as Luis put more distance between us and the clubhouse.

I couldn’t just invite Sean to California without asking my parents, but I understood his need for a fresh start. If anyone knew that feeling, it was me.

Abigail sighed with relief when I walked into the hotel room. She wrapped her arms around my neck and buried her face into my chest. “You’re okay,” she said.

“Of course, he is. We’re professionals,” Joey teased.

“Thank Benny very much,” Benny added.

“Thanks, man. Seriously,” I said and put my hand out for him to shake it.

Benny tilted his head and stared at my hand. “Wow, a genuine thank you. You can definitely tell you weren’t raised in this family,” Benny said and chuckled. He took my hand and shook it. “No problem, boy. Happy to help, but can we get the fuck out of dodge?”

Ace laughed. “Whatever, Benny. We thank you all the time.”

“No, they don’t. Don’t let them lie to you, kid,” Benny said.

Aria gave Benny a playful shove. “Benny is right, though. We have to go soon. Nothing can be left behind.”

“Especially not anything Benny brought,” Andrea said and smirked.

“You guys just don’t want anyone to see how freaky I am, so someone doesn’t sweep me off my feet with better pay,” Benny said and wiggled his eyebrows.

“Get real, Benny. We all know how much is in your bank account,” Luis said and lit a blunt.

“Can I talk to you guys?” I looked pointedly at Ace and Aria.

They both nodded and followed me silently out of the hotel room. We went down to the hotel’s lobby and sat down in an area where there weren’t people around.

“What is it, Andrew?” Aria’s face scrunched up with concern.

“You’re staying here, aren’t you?” Ace asked. He wouldn’t beg me aloud to go back to California with them, but his eyes pleaded with mine.

I scoffed and shook my head. “No, no, I’m not staying in Florida. Abigail, Stormy, and I are coming back to California. Actually, I was going to ask you if Sean could come back too. We’ll work for Angel and earn our keep. We’re both mechanically inclined, too, if you need help with vehicles. Sean no longer has a job, and he can’t keep that apartment without one.”

“Of course, he can. If you trust him,” Aria agreed.

“And Chelsea too,” I added. “Because I don’t think Sean would leave without her, and I don’t doubt that Chelsea would follow him.”

“Do you trust him?” Ace asked.

I sighed. “For a while, I questioned it. I don’t trust people easily. But I know that when it comes to his sister, he will always side with her. They’re twins, and they’ve always had each other’s backs. We had some problems, but it’s all good now. Mateo left Sean under the impression that he wouldn’t do anything to Stormy or Abigail, but Mateo lied to Sean.”

Aria and Ace shared a glance as if they were talking with their eyes. Most people would believe that isn’t possible, but they’re wrong. Abigail and I were able to do the same thing at times. We read each other like we knew what the other person wanted. It was an intense thing, and at first, I thought I was crazy. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized Ace and Aria had the same type of relationship—maybe even stronger because of how long they had been together.

They looked back at me and nodded.

“As long as there aren’t any problems, they can come to stay in California,” Ace said.

“What about asking Angel?” I argued.

“We’ll deal with him,” Mom said and chuckled.

I smiled, but I felt like I missed some sort of joke. “Thank you.”

Mom, Dad, and I went back upstairs to the room. I pulled Sean aside and told him to come outside with me for a cigarette. Everyone else was in their own worlds, so they probably wouldn’t notice us missing.

Sean and I stepped outside of the hotel and lit our cigarettes. I quickly went through the plan with Sean that I conjured up with my parents to try to help Chelsea and him start over.

Sean stared at me in disbelief. “Come on, man. I don’t know anyone in California. I can’t move out there. I’ve lived in Florida my entire life.”

“Look, I get it, okay? I’ve lived my entire life in Florida too, but you don’t understand what it’s like out there. Just give it a try. If you don’t like it, you can always come back. I’m giving you an opportunity to start over.”

“So, this isn’t because you think I’m going to squeal to the cops?”

I chuckled. “No, man. If I thought that I’d kill you.”

“That’s reassuring,” he snorted.

“Look, if you work for my family, they’ll pay you way better than Mateo did. You have no idea, Sean. You would be turning down an opportunity of a lifetime,” I said. “It’s up to you, but I talked to them about it already. I figured you might need a change of scenery after all the shit that happened. You have a chance to start over. You showed a lot of loyalty by what you did tonight. We’re leaving tonight. So, you might want to figure it out soon.”

“You know that I can’t just leave Chelsea,” he said and shook his head.

“You don’t have to. She can come too.”

Sean stared at me in disbelief for a moment and exhaled sharply. “Okay, I’ll talk to her.”

Sean and I put our cigarettes out and went back into the hotel. We would leave within an hour. Angel had a few private jets that would fly all of us back to California.

By the time we got back into the room, all of the bags were packed. Sean pulled Chelsea out of the room.

“Why can’t we just stay for a night?” Andrea groaned. “I got jet lag, mama.”

“Don’t whine, Andrea,” Aria said sternly. “We need to get out of California. Besides, the hotel doesn’t have any rooms open apart from this one, and we can’t all sleep in here.”

“I feel you,” I muttered. I plopped down beside Andrea on the bed and yawned loudly. “I’m not ready to get back on that plane yet, but Mom is right. We should get the hell out of here now while we have the chance. It shouldn’t lead back to us, but Sean was involved with them, and they’re going to want to question him. However, if he is in California, and we all stick to the alibi that we were home, we shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”

Sean and Chelsea came back into the room shortly after.

“We’re coming with,” Sean announced.

“With to where?” Abby asked, confused.

“California,” I said. “I figured he could use a job.”

Abby smiled at me. “Really?”

I nodded.

“Yay!” Abby shouted and jumped off the bed. She jumped into Sean’s arms and embraced him. She turned and hugged Chelsea too.

“Well, then, it’s settled. Now let’s get out of Florida,” Aria said and smiled.


Abigail’s tan skin glistened under the sun and looked so inviting that I had to look away—I had to remind myself we were in public. The attraction that I felt toward her sometimes complicated things more than I cared to admit. She wore nothing but a leopard print bikini and a hat that matched it.

We laid side by side on a couple of beach towels. She laid flat on her back with her sunglasses on and her eyes closed. I laid on my side, propped up on my elbow. My gaze flickered between Stormy and Abigail—observing both of them.

Stormy neared the water’s edge, which I didn’t like because she didn’t know how to swim yet. “Stormy, stop,” I said.

Abigail shot up into a sitting position, prepared to pounce.

I chuckled at her reaction. “Relax, bebé. She’s okay.”

Stormy came back toward us with a pout on her face. “I want to go in the water.”

Abigail sighed and smiled at Stormy. “Come on, bug. I’ll take you in the water.” Abigail stood up, which gave me a full view of her ass, and I had to look. Abigail took Stormy’s hand, and they walked toward the ocean.

We had only been home for a couple of days. We managed to put together a birthday party for Stormy, which wasn’t until tomorrow. Abigail would kill me when she found out what Ace and Aria bought Stormy. Stormy wanted to come to the beach for her birthday. I brought my surfboard and surfed for a short time. Stormy went crazy when she saw me surf—she went on about how she wanted to surf when she got older, just like her dad.

Abigail picked Stormy up and walked deeper into the ocean with her. People started to clear the beach as the sun sank low into the sky.

The two of them played around in the water for a little bit before they came back to shore.

Abigail sat back down on the towel beside me and huffed. “Okay, I think that’s enough beach for one day.”

“Are you ready to go?” I asked.

“Yes,” Abby said.

“No,” Stormy whined.

I threw my head back and laughed. I tilted my head toward Abby.

Abby stood up and grabbed her towel. “Tell her no, Andy,” Abigail said in a stern voice.

I threw my hands over my face in an attempt to control my laughter. “How do you expect me to say no to that cute face?”

Abigail gave me a murderous expression.

I sighed. “Sorry, bug. You lose. Your mom will cut my nuts off, and I need those if you’re ever going to have siblings one day.”

Abigail gasped and dropped her towel.

“What are nuts?” Stormy asked and smiled.

Oops. “Um, something you eat.”

“Andrew Garcia,” Abigail hissed.

“What? I covered it,” I said and snickered. I picked Stormy up.

Abigail rolled up her towel and smacked me on the ass with it. “That’s not funny.” She looked as if she wanted to burst into hysterics.

“Sure, it’s not,” I said and wiggled my eyebrows.

We put everything into the car and left the parking lot of the beach. Abigail put her sunglasses in the glove box and took her hat off. She ran her fingers through her hair and looked around with a thoughtful expression.

“What are you thinking so hard about?” I asked. My eyes swept over her face.

She stiffened, and her gaze locked with mine. A deep blush crept into her cheeks. It was unusual to make her blush but not impossible. “N-nothing,” she stammered. She shifted her weight uncomfortably as she avoided my gaze.

“Can I have a sister?” Stormy asked.

Abigail buried her face into her hands. “You just had to bring that up, Andy.”

I looked at Abigail. I know her too well. “Is that what you were thinking about?”

Abigail dropped her hands. She opened her mouth and looked up at me, but the words got caught in her throat. “No,” she denied.

“Can we name her Elsa?” Stormy asked.

I chuckled. “Change the subject, Storm.” For whatever reason, the subject made Abigail uneasy.

We parked in the massive garage of the mansion, and I killed the car. We climbed out and went inside. Abigail took Stormy to her bedroom to change her first. I went into our bedroom to change into dry shorts and a shirt.

Everyone went back home apart from the ones that lived here. Angel and his wife Mia had been very accommodating to Sean, Chelsea, Stormy, Abigail, Iris, and me. Part of me wondered if the lack of privacy bothered them. Then again, in a house this huge, it was impossible not to have privacy when you wanted it.

Angel promised to keep Sean and me busy and pay us well. I stopped in the kitchen for a bottle of water. I had a feeling that Abigail wasn’t ready to talk about our earlier conversation, so I figured keeping my distance would be best.

Angel came into the kitchen. “How was the beach.”

“Good,” I said. “How are things here?”

“Really good,” he said. “Is Abigail’s mother using the plane ticket we paid for?”

“Yeah, of course. She really appreciated it, by the way. I’m sure she’ll tell you that when she gets here.”

“We’re having a poker game tonight. Do you want to join?”

I chuckled. “I’ve seen your poker games. You guys bet too high. I haven’t got that kind of money.” I sat down at one of the huge kitchen islands.

Angel sat down beside me with a beer. “I’ll pay your way. Sean can play, too, of course. We do it more for the fun of it. It’s a family thing.”

“Alright, sure. I’m in,” I said. “I’ll ask Sean. What time?”

“Eight o’clock. Shortly after dinner.”

Ademar came into the kitchen. “Hey, Dad.”

“Hey. Where are you going?” Angel asked his son.

Ademar grabbed a can of soda from the fridge. “Just out with some friends.” Ademar twirled his car keys around in his hand. “I’ll be back. See you guys later.”

“See ya,” Angel and I said to Ademar.

Ademar seemed like a decent kid, but I hadn’t been around him a lot. He reminded me a lot of Angel, but maybe not quite as appreciative. It wasn’t easy to explain. However, growing up in a wealthy family would do that to most people.

Angel shook his head with a frustrated expression. “That kid.”


“Ademar is supposed to take over when he turns eighteen, which he will be soon, but he’s not ready. I can barely get him to train or do anything around here. Mia and I messed up with that boy, or perhaps all of our kids.” Angel knitted his eyebrows together and ran his hands through his hair.

“How do you mean?”

“We spoiled them. I mean, growing up, we all got what we wanted too, but Mom and Dad taught us to work for what we wanted as well. We all worked for things we wanted. I should have tried harder with my kids to make them work. They don’t appreciate things the way Mia and I do because Mia and I worked our asses off for years.”

“He’ll come around, man. I wouldn’t worry about it. He’s a teenager. All teen boys just want to hang out with girls and their friends. It’s normal.”

“It’s irresponsible,” Angel argued. “At this rate, I don’t think Ademar is getting the chair. Every time I warn him about it, he shrugs it off and says he can handle it. He doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into.”

“Then I guess you’ll have to keep working with him at it.” I patted Angel on the shoulder and stood up. “I’ll be back down soon. I’m going to go talk to Sean.”

Finding Sean wasn’t hard. He and Chelsea were in their room watching a movie. Sean agreed to play poker.


Throughout dinner, Abigail had been unusually quiet. I didn’t get a chance to talk to her. She helped the maids clean things up after dinner. Abigail knew she didn’t need to do it, but I really think she did it out of habit. Besides, Abigail didn’t like anyone taking care of her.

We sat up the poker game in the study. The other guys showed up—Dad, Luis, Joey, Benny, Abel, Austin, Jesse, and Aiden. Angel told me sometimes there were more, but they decided to keep it a smaller event tonight. Alana and Arianna’s husbands weren’t here, along with other friends and workers of Angel. Carlos had plans with Tammy, and Andersen went to bed early.

Austin lit a blunt and passed it to Dad. Dad hit it and coughed hard. Austin and Luis laughed at Dad.

“Austin, you son of a bitch. What’s in this? Are you trying to kill me?” Dad said between coughs.

Austin patted Dad on the back and cackled like a lunatic. “No, bro. Don’t be mad about it. It’ll put some hair on your nuts.”

“Fuck you, Austin. I have enough hair on my ball sack, thank you.”

“Don’t blame me. I warned you it was potent,” Austin said and chuckled.

“This shit isn’t going to make me start believing in fairies, is it?” Benny asked as he looked at the blunt warily.

“Not any more than usual, buddy,” Joey said and snickered.

“Suck my dick, Joey,” Benny said.

“Is Bailey depriving you?” Joey teased.

At this point, I could no longer contain it. I laid my head on the table and shook with laughter. “You guys are something else,” I said through laughter.

“I saw some fairies once. Don’t ever do shrooms. They’re bad. Really bad. Damn near jumped off a building thinking I could fly,” Jesse said.

Angel threw his head back and laughed. “I remember that. That same night I ran down the street naked to my girlfriend’s house.”

“That’s not nearly as bad as the time I lit my ass on fire,” Aiden said and chuckled.

Ace laughed. “You boys know how to make a father proud.”

Even though I laughed through the stories they shared, part of me felt envious of Jesse, Angel, and Aiden. They grew up with our Dad, and I didn’t. I smoked, drank, and played poker with them, but I didn’t contribute much to the conversation because there weren’t any stories for me to tell. Dad won most of the games, I won a couple, and so did Angel. Austin won one game.

The others scattered out of the study and headed home. Angel went upstairs to bed. Dad and I cleaned up the mess we left.

“You were quiet,” Dad said.

I shrugged. “I didn’t have much to say.”

“You looked like something was bugging you.” Dad plopped down in a chair after he put the last bottle of bourbon away.

“No, not really. But what could I say, really? I didn’t grow up here. I’m not like the rest of you. I don’t fit into the stories you tell.” I sipped the bourbon from my glass and sat beside Dad.

Dad sighed and nodded. “But you’re wrong. You do fit in. You weren’t here back then, but you’re here now. You still have a long life ahead of you, with your family. It sucks, though. We can’t get back the time we lost together, but we still have plenty of time to go.”

“Do we? You and mom had Andrea and me when you were in your mid-thirties.”

Dad laughed. “Don’t write your Mom and me off yet, kid. We’re in pretty good shape for our age. We try to stay healthy to live longer. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way, does it? Some die young, some die somewhere in the middle, and others die old.”

“I think that’s the part that bothers me the most. You and Mom aren’t getting any younger. I’m scared that I’ll be cut short from you. Good things don’t tend to happen to me.”

Dad stared at me for a long moment and sighed. “Life hasn’t been very good to you, Andy, but things will get better. You’re home now, where you belong. It might not feel like it right now, but things will get easier. You have to look at what’s in front of you and not what you left behind. Now, I’ve got to get out of here. Your mother won’t go to sleep until I’m home. She worries,” Dad said and chuckled.

Dad and I stood up. He grabbed my shoulder and stared into my eyes.

“I’ll be okay.”

“You’re a good person, Andrew. Good things will happen. You just have to give it some time.”

I nodded. I hugged my father and patted his back. “Thanks.”

Dad left, and I headed upstairs to my room.

Abigail laid at the foot of the bed on her stomach with her ankles crossed and legs in the air. She had a book resting on the bed in front of her. The fire in the fireplace flickered and danced across her beautiful face. She didn’t notice me yet. She turned the page. Mindlessly, she grabbed a strand of her hair and twirled it around her finger. Her eyes drooped, and she squinted. She yawned, rubbed her eyes, and blinked a few times as if to force her eyes open.

“Bebé, you’re going to fall asleep one of these nights with your face in a book.”

Abigail looked up at me, surprised. “Oh, hi. I didn’t hear you come in.” She closed the book and sat up.

“I figured you might be asleep by now,” I said. I crawled onto the bed beside her and tossed the book. The book hit the floor with a thud.

“I couldn’t sleep.”

I swept her hair away from her face and rested a palm against her cheek.

She smiled and closed her eyes. Subconsciously, she leaned her face into my palm.

“Because of what I said earlier?” I asked.

Her eyes fluttered open. “No. I know you were only kidding.”

My eyebrows pulled together, and I tilted my head. My hand fell from her cheek. “Was I?”

She rolled her eyes and snickered. “Knock it off.”

“No, I’m serious. What the hell makes you think that I was kidding? What if that’s really what I want? What if I want to marry you and have kids with you, is that wrong?” Some insecure part of my heart screamed that maybe she didn’t want to have that with me, but if that were the case, what the hell were we doing?

She mashed her lips in a straight line and stared into my eyes. “Oh,” she breathed. “I just assumed. . .”

“Why would you assume that? I mean, what the hell are we doing if things aren’t ever going to change between us? Isn’t that what couples do, eventually, have kids and get married?”

“I guess I didn’t think we would be having this conversation yet.”

“We don’t have to, but I wasn’t joking. Well, not completely. I didn’t mean it would happen now or anytime soon.”

“You always told me you were scared to have kids.”

I snorted. “That didn’t last long, though, did it? I already have a kid with you.”

She leaned in closer to me. “Why were you scared of having kids?”

I pressed my lips softly to hers. “I was scared that they might turn out like me. Until I realized that maybe I wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

Her eyes fluttered open and locked with mine. A small smile stretched across her lips. “I could only hope that they would turn out as amazing as you.”

I chuckled and shook my head. “You don’t mean that.” I wasn’t horrible, but she looked at me like I was some kind of martyr, and that wasn’t true either.

She crawled onto my lap and tangled her fingers in my hair. “Yes, I do. For so long, I gave up on men. You’re the reason that I believe there are still some good men out there. You took in a little girl that wasn’t yours. You’ve done more for her than her father ever did or would have. You work harder than anyone else that I know. I think that we need you more than you need us.”

I shook my head. “You can’t possibly believe that, bebé. That’s far from true. My life wouldn’t mean anything without you two.”

She pressed her lips to mine and pushed me down onto the bed.

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