The Bad Things

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Chapter 10. Ours

Dark storm clouds rolled through the sky. The sun didn’t shine the entire day, and why should it? The threatening clouds screamed at me to leave, but I couldn’t help but stare at the coffin. Two men grabbed shovels and started to throw dirt on top of the casket that now sat six feet down in the ground.

Abigail leaned into me and sighed. “Andy, I think we better go. Those clouds look pretty dark.”

I gazed across the hole that now held Iris. Iris’s sister, Irena, stared down at the casket with a broken expression—much like me.

I turned Abigail to face me. “I’ll meet you at the car. I want to speak with Irena.”

Abigail nodded. She pecked my cheek and walked around me. My gaze followed Abigail for a moment. Abigail threw her hand over her black hat when the wind threatened to blow it away. Her black dress blew out behind her as she walked.

Irena and I didn’t have a chance to speak yet. Aria spoke mostly with Irena. Aria had a charming way about her. She had a way of making people feel comfortable near her. I wouldn’t say I carried that trait. Aria told Irena that I thought it was best to lay Iris next to her children—that’s what Iris would have wanted, and I knew that.

Irena looked up at me as I approached. She smiled weakly at me. “Gosh, Hayden. Look at you, all grown up.”

Her words caught me off guard, and I stopped. I hadn’t gone by that name in months, and hearing her call me that sent me back to a time in my life that somehow felt foreign, as if it wasn’t me at all. I hadn’t seen Irena in well over seven years.

She approached me. “How are you?”

“I’ve been better,” I said and paused. “I’ve been worse. How are you?”

“I imagine about the same as you.”

“I’m sorry. I begged her not to leave,” I whispered. “I never wanted this for her.”

“It’s strange, you know? For seven years, I believed that you killed my nieces and nephews. To be told you didn’t completely messed me up.”

“How do you think I felt when I found out? It’s no use anymore, you know? They’ll never know that I didn’t do it because the person that could have corrected it is gone.”

Irena rubbed my arm soothingly. “Iris told me about your biological family. Aria seems sweet,” she said.

“She is,” I agreed.

“I never would have been able to pay to transfer Iris clear to Florida. Not to mention the extravagant funeral that they held,” she said.

“It’s not even over yet,” I said. “My parents bought a vacation house in Jacksonville for me when we come here to visit Abigail’s mother. We’re having dinner there. We would like you to come. My parents will be there.”

“Well, I meant to go back to the hotel after this and head out first thing in the morning, but that would be rude, wouldn’t it? Considering they paid for my sister’s funeral.”

“Follow me,” I said.

“Of course.” Irena’s rental car was parked behind mine. We drove out of the cemetery, which wasn’t very far from the beach house.

The other beach houses were a fair distance from the one my parents bought. The house was far bigger than it needed to be. I told them a house wasn’t necessary. What the hell did I need a house in Jacksonville for? Sure, we came to visit Abigail’s mother, but a hotel or staying with Abigail’s mom would have sufficed. I’ve noticed that Ace and Aria love to give people things.

Abigail and I already have two brand-new vehicles. They also bought me another motorcycle which wasn’t necessary either. They claimed they had twenty birthdays to make up for.

“Is Irena coming over?” Abigail asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“That’s good.” Abigail peered back out the window. To say she looked uncomfortable would be an understatement.

“What’s wrong, bebé?”

Abigail looked up at me, and tears filled her eyes. “I’m sorry. I just don’t know what to say to you, Andy. This is horrible. We haven’t spoken in days. Not ever since Iris—” Abigail stopped and shook her head. She wiped the tears away. “I’m sorry.”

For a moment, I froze. I wasn’t upset with her, but like her, I didn’t know what to say. I gazed back out the windshield and released the breath I held. “I’m sorry too. I just didn’t know what to say either.”

“You’re not upset with me? I wasn’t sure if I was giving you too much space or not enough.”

I brought her hand to my lips without looking at her and kissed each of her fingers before kissing the back of her hand. “I haven’t any reason to be upset with you. I don’t think I would make it through half the things I made it through if it wasn’t for you.”

Abigail squeezed my hand reassuringly. “Same here.”

We pulled into the driveway of the enormous beach house. I sighed in frustration as I took in the massive house once again. To say the house was beautiful would be an understatement. They basically bought me a mansion on the beach that I wouldn’t stay at often.

“What’s wrong?” Abigail asked.

“I just still can’t fucking believe they bought me a vacation mansion on the beach,” I said and shrugged.

Abigail snorted and giggled. “Neither can I. Why didn’t they just keep it in their name?”

“Because they own three other houses in Florida just like this one, and because they knew we would come here to see your mother. They figured Sean and Chelsea would stay too. Apparently, Angel has a few places in Florida too. One of them is just down the road from here,” I explained.

Abigail shook her head in awe and disbelief as we climbed out of the car. I walked around the car and grabbed her hand in mine.

Irena came up behind us and let out a low whistle. “Your parents’ vacation home, huh?”

“Nope. It’s mine,” I said and shrugged.

Irena stared at me with wide eyes, and her lips parted. “What?”

“They bought it for me. We come to Jacksonville to see Abigail’s mother from time to time,” I explained. “They like to give people stuff.”

Irena chuckled and shook her head. “I wish my parents had this kind of money. It’s breathtaking, to say the least. From the front, it looks like a mansion,” she said.

“It is,” I agreed. “They have a lot of them.” Different colored flowers lined the sidewalk. Most of the house was made of bulletproof glass and concrete. My parents called it a safety measure. They had the windows replaced and large metal shutters just in case. On the backside, it had a large deck that hung over a concrete patio with a pool and looked over the sandy beach below. Why they thought I needed a pool and hot tub was beyond me—for crying out loud, the house was within walking distance to the beach.

We stepped into the foyer.

Andersen came into the foyer and greeted us. “Your parents are in the kitchen finishing up the food.”

“Thanks, Andersen.” My parents favored Andersen over all the other butlers. He came with because they considered him family, but during his stay here, he helped clean and prepare things.

Irena followed Abigail and me into the kitchen, stunned by the magnificent house. I was still a little awestruck myself, though I had been here for two nights already.

“Mom, Dad,” I called.

“Andy is back,” Mom said. Mom flew around the corner and smiled widely. “Oh, good. Irena, I’m happy you came.”

“This place is lovely,” Irena said.

“It’s Andrew’s place,” Dad said.

“He told me. Quite the gift,” Irena said.

Mom chuckled and nodded. “We thought the kids might be more comfortable here for when they visited.”

“Our condolences about your sister,” Dad said. His eyes held deep regret and sorrow.

“Thank you, both of you, for helping with all of this. I wish the cops would have looked further into things. It just doesn’t seem that Iris would do something like this. . .” Irena trailed off. “Do any of you think that maybe Harold—” Irena stopped and shifted her weight uncomfortably.

“Yes,” I said. “I’m pretty sure.”

Irena shivered.

“Iris wasn’t depressed. She was happy to still be alive. She wanted to start over,” I said. “She didn’t do what the cops said she did. Harold made it look like a suicide.”

Irena bowed her head and sniffled.

Mom hugged Irena. “I’m so sorry.”

Irena didn’t know about my family history. She only knew what Iris told her. Iris informed her that they were rich and owned many companies, but she wasn’t told about the Latin Kings.

***

During our stay in Florida, we visited with Marlena. Irena stayed a couple of extra days to spend time with us. We took her to the airport. Irena made us promise to visit her soon and keep in touch.

Everyone had gone back to California except for me, Stormy, and Abigail. Stormy stayed with Marlena, and we would pick her up and leave in the morning.

Abigail and I were in the pool on a double floatie, watching the sunset with a glass of red wine. “So, this is what it’s like to be rich,” Abigail said and chuckled.

My gaze flickered to her. “Bet you never thought in a million years,” I said and laughed.

Her eyes danced with amusement. “Neither did you.”

“You’re right.” I sipped the wine and rested my head back.

“The mansion is nice and everything, but I kind of wish we had a place of our own,” she said.

“Even if it was a run-down shitty little trailer?” I said and smirked.

“I lived in a run-down shitty apartment complex, remember?” she teased. “Honestly, the size of the place doesn’t matter. But, Andy, I really want to get out of the mansion. We have privacy, but it’s not ours. I’ll get a job and save up some money.”

“You don’t have to work, bebé. I mean, if you really want to, I’m sure Mom can find you something to do.”

“I don’t want to rely on your parents.” Abigail sighed and lowered her sunglasses back over her eyes.

“Me neither. That’s why I’m working for Angel. I didn’t want them to buy this place, Abby. I argued with them about it even.”

“I know that.” Abigail turned her head toward me and lifted her sunglasses on top of her head again. “I’m not saying that.”

“What are you saying?”

“It’s just strange. I never expected to be living in a mansion with a closet the size of my old apartment. It’s practically a mini shopping mall in my bedroom. It’s kind of intimidating to live like this because I don’t know how I’m supposed to act. People are cleaning up after me and feeding my daughter. I now own two brand new cars that I did nothing to get them. It’s kind of mind-boggling. It makes me feel kind of pathetic. I’m not taking care of my own. I wasn’t raised like this.”

I rolled my eyes. “Abby, if they didn’t care about Stormy and you or if they wanted to get rid of us, they would say something. Angel gave me a job.”

She snorted. “Should it bother me that my boyfriend is an assassin?”

“Does it?”

“Nah.” She wiggled her eyebrows and lowered her sunglasses. “After everything that has happened, I think I’m pretty well used to it.”

“You’re right, though. I have quite a bit of money saved up. I’ll just ask Mom and Dad to co-sign for me, and we’ll pay it off, okay?”

“If you ask them to co-sign a loan for a house, they’re going to laugh at you and buy it,” Abigail said. The sun glistened off her skin and made her brown eyes brighter than usual.

I had to concentrate hard on the conversation. Abigail was distracting. “Well, the bank isn’t going to just give me a loan. I haven’t worked for Angel long enough, but I’m on his payroll. We probably have enough saved up to buy a small house, but if you want a bigger one, we need a co-signer.”

Abigail thought about it for a long moment. “I don’t care, as long as it’s ours. I need my own place and a job. I have to contribute somehow. I can’t keep doing nothing.”

“You contribute all the time. You make it sound like you sit around and do nothing. I don’t know many people who help maids and butlers clean up around a mansion.” I chuckled.

She swatted me on the chest and laughed.

“I’m serious. They should have started paying you since we moved in,” I teased.

“Whatever,” she said and rolled her eyes.

We stayed silent for a long time. The sun went down completely, but it wasn’t dark outside. The automatic lights on the back patio turned on.

Something inside of me had been lingering for weeks, but I hadn’t put it into words. “Do you want to hear something strange?”

Abigail looked at me and arched a brow. “Hmm?”

“When we first got around each other, it seemed like a never-ending internal battle that I had with myself every day. I was so attracted to you and not just physically, but I had to remind myself of these boundaries that I put in place to keep people away from me. Even when I found out the truth that battle was still there, but I don’t feel that way anymore. I haven’t for a long time, and it’s strange.”

Abigail smiled. “Is that what you were doing?”

“Yeah. I wanted you, but I didn’t want to be responsible for hurting you. Now. . .” I trailed off and gazed away from her. “I feel like I’m doing everything to protect you against things that are coming at me. You’re not directly in danger from me, but things around me.”

“Don’t go there, Andy.”

“No, I’m not. It’s just that this is going to end at some point. Harold isn’t going to win. I didn’t come this far for that son of a bitch to get what he wants. I’m more prepared now, physically and mentally, than before. I’ve been thinking about this for weeks. Something that I want to do when all of this is over. . .” I trailed off.

She stared at me, surprised and confused. “What is that?”

“I want to adopt Stormy.”

Abigail’s eyes widened. “W-what? Are you serious? Awe, babe, she would love that.” A big smile spread across her face.

That part seemed easy enough, but it’s the second part I’m worried about. I swallowed back the lump in my throat. I grabbed her left hand and played with her ring finger. I didn’t plan on asking her tonight. Lord knows I suck at these things, but I had to man up at some point. I didn’t feel like we rushed into anything.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a small velvet box, and placed it in her palm. “And I want to marry you.”

Abigail’s eyebrows raised, and her lips parted. I opened the box for her to see the ring inside. A soft gasp escaped her lips.

“It’s not something we have to rush into or do right away, but when all of this is over, I want to marry you and adopt Stormy.”

Abigail cleared her throat, and tears pooled in her eyes. “Um, are you sure? What if you change your mind? We’ve only been together a year, Andrew. Things haven’t always gone very smoothly—”

“Which is exactly why I’m sure of it. We’ve been through hell and back already, which leaves me to believe that we could make it through anything. Dad told me a few weeks ago that there isn’t any possible way that you can’t know when it’s right. He said when it’s real, it doesn’t go away. What I feel for you hasn’t let up, and it hasn’t disappeared. Time isn’t going to make my feelings for you fade away. I love you and Stormy, and I’m sure that isn’t ever going to change.”

Abigail slammed the rest of her wine and stared at the glass for a moment. Suddenly she threw the glass over her shoulder, and it made a splash when it landed in the pool. She jumped on top of me and smashed her lips to mine.

Instantly, I knew it wasn’t going to end well. “Bebé, wait,” I said against her lips. It was too late. The floatie we were on flipped from the weight on one side, and we fell into the pool. If it weren’t for being under water, I would have laughed. I grabbed her by the waist with one arm and swam to the top with her.

She gasped for air and broke into laughter. “Oops.”

I laughed. “You’re cut off.”

She buried her face into my neck and shook with laughter.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

“Yeah,” she agreed. She gasped and pulled back. “Oh, shit. The ring. Did you drop it?”

“Nope,” I said. I held up the box for her to see. “It’s a little wet, but I think it’ll survive.”

Abigail smirked and pressed her lips to mine. She traced my jaw with her lips and stopped at my ear. “I’ll give you something else that’s wet.”

Her words sent a shiver down my spine and made my cock harden. “You’re on,” I said. I untied her swimsuit top in one swift movement and threw it onto the concrete.

Abigail threw her head back and laughed. “We have a bedroom.”

“I can’t wait that long.” I threw the box with the ring in it off to the side of the pool, and it landed near her bikini top. I pushed her against the wall of the pool and untied her bottoms.

She pushed my shorts down, and I threw them onto the concrete too. Her lips captured mine. Abigail matched the impatience that I felt. Her skin seemed hotter against mine than before.

My hands were everywhere—her hair, breasts, hips, and thighs. I lifted her and thrusted inside of her. She moaned against my lips. Our breathing grew erratic, and our body temperatures rose. The euphoria I felt could be described as a high or drunken state, but better than that. She agreed to let me adopt Stormy, and she agreed to marry me. The nervousness I felt earlier was long gone. It was just me, her, and the warm water that surrounded us as our bodies became one.

***

Abigail had her head on my chest. She stared at the ring that was now on the third finger of her left hand. She smiled and moved her hand around as if to get a better look at it.

“What are you thinking about?”

She lifted her head to look at me. “I never thought I could be this happy. It seems so surreal like I might wake up from it. If I woke up, I would cry.”

I chuckled. “I hate to break it to you, but you’re stuck with me.”

She rolled her eyes. “That’s what I want.”

“Me too.”

“Did you plan it?” Abigail propped herself up on her elbow and stared down at me.

My hand froze at the middle of her back. I stared up at her for a moment before I spoke. “Not really,” I admitted. “I’m not very good at planning things. I never have been. I bought it before Stormy’s accident, and obviously, that wasn’t a good time to ask. I just carried it around with me. I figured that I might build up the courage to ask you, eventually. Maybe that’s why I wanted to stay in Florida a little longer. . .” I trailed off and shrugged.

She smiled. “Well, for not planning it, you didn’t do half bad,” she teased.

“Oh yeah?” I snickered.

“Mhm,” she hummed and nodded in approval.

“Do you think your mom is going to give us her blessing?” I smirked.

Abigail threw her head back and laughed. “Best case scenario is she even shows up to the wedding.”

“She likes me that much?”

Abigail made an inch with her thumb and pointer finger. “Like maybe that much.”

“You think so?”

“Definitely.”

My hands reached for her, and I pulled her on top of me and started tickling her. The sheet fell off her and revealed her naked body, but I loved the sound of her laugh so much that I didn’t dare let her breasts steal my attention.

Abigail straddled me, squirmed around in an attempt to get away, and laughed. “Babe, stop!” Her pleads came between fits of laughter.

My phone started to ring, and we both froze.

Abigail groaned and collapsed on top of me. She buried her face in the crook of my neck.

“Party is over,” I said and chuckled. I grabbed the phone from my nightstand.

“Who is it?” Abigail asked.

“Probably your mom. Should we tell her she is too late?”

Marlena seemed to have a sixth sense. There were times Abigail and I would be having sex, and Marlena would call. Sometimes I swore she did it on purpose like she somehow knew.

Abigail smacked me on the chest and bursted into laughter.

My gaze fell onto the screen of the phone. “It’s my dad.”

Abigail climbed off of me and laid down on her back. She covered her body up with a sheet and watched me curiously as I sat up.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Andrew,” Dad said.

My pulse quickened from the solemness in my father’s voice. I tensed up and gazed down at Abigail.

“What is it?” Abigail murmured.

“Turn on the news to CNN,” Dad said.

“Um,” I said and swallowed hard. “Okay.” I grabbed the remote and turned the TV on. The phone fell from my hand when a familiar face flashed across the screen.

“Andy? What’s wrong?” Abigail asked, confused. She stared at me, not at all concerned at what’s on the TV. However, when I didn’t answer, she turned her attention to the TV.

“It’s Harold,” I whispered. I picked up the phone. “Dad?”

“I’m here,” he said.

“Dad, what the fuck is going on?” My heart felt like it might break through my ribcage from beating so hard. I ran a hand through my hair.

“They know, Andrew. It’s all over the news, even clear out her in California. Benny is looking into it right now. This isn’t about Iris. They found something on him. He’s on America’s Most Wanted. At the very top of the list. They’re saying he is the suspect of recurring homicide cases and kidnappings. I’m not exactly sure what is all going on, but Andy. . .” Dad trailed off.

“What is it?”

Dad sighed. “There were two cops here. They were asking for you. They knew about the adoption and that you found your real family. They know you didn’t kill your siblings. There digging and asking questions. I don’t even know where they got this information.”

My phone beeped to alert me of another caller. I pulled the phone away. When I read the caller ID, something clicked into place. I brought the phone back to my ear.

“I think I do,” I said. I grabbed my boxers and put them back on.

“Who?” Dad asked.

“Irena,” I said. “And she’s calling me. I’ll call you back.”

I switched the calls over before Dad could respond. “Hello?”

“Hello, Hayden.”

The voice on the other end of the phone was unexpected. It wasn’t Irena. I grabbed clothes from Abigail’s closet and threw them at her.

Abigail stared at me, horror-struck and confused. “Andrew, what is it?”

I grabbed a pair of jeans and started pulling them on as I kept the phone to my ear. I wasn’t sure what exactly I planned to do, but for some reason, I felt the need to be prepared to make a run for it.

A deep chuckle came over the phone. “Is it Andrew now? I always thought Hayden had more of a ring to it. I’m the one who named you, of course.”

“What have you done?” I whispered in a hoarse voice. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get any louder. Some part of me that I buried years ago came to the surface.

Abigail had all of her clothes on, and she sauntered toward me. I looked at her and raised one finger to stop her. Abigail stopped midstride.

An evil chuckle came from the other end of the phone. “I think you already know.”

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