The next day
“You’re overreacting,” Mercy said.
I winced. “Mercy…”
She shook her head. “I saw you two together at the Block Party. I know how y’all were together. That act wasn’t staged. You’re going to ruin something good here, all because you think your father betrayed you, but Downy didn’t. You don’t even know his side of the story.”
When I would’ve offered an instant rebuttal, she held her hand up.
She shook her head adamantly. “No. I’m tired of hearing you whine. You need to suck it up, buttercup. You miss him, and I have a very reliable source that tells me he misses you, too.” She pursed her lips. “In fact, my dad tells me that the men at the PD are calling him something.”
I raised a brow, curious now. “And what’s that?”
Mercy and I had become really good friends over the last three and a half weeks.
With me no longer being in school, and my job not starting until the temp’s contract finished, I had a lot of free time on my hands.
I used it to help Mercy and her band of Merry Men.
They were all actually quite cool.
Some of the veterans were okay, only needing a transitional job until they were able to find a job elsewhere.
However, there were a few of them that were recovering.
One man, Donald, was recuperating from his below the knee amputation, and was only able to do small things, such as paint what he could reach from his wheelchair.
Another, Briscoe, had somewhat severe PTSD, and he wasn’t able to work inside, so Mercy found him jobs where he was able to do outside work only.
She catered to these boys, and they loved her like crazy. Not in love, in love, but a true, pure love. Like one would love a sister, or a family member.
They were all one big, tight-knit family, and I found that I loved helping where I could.
“Bearded dragon,” she said with a smile.
I just shook my head. “Jesus, I bet he’s loving that.”
She nodded. “From what I’ve heard, he doesn’t like it much at all.”
No, I wouldn’t think he would. He wasn’t the type of man to allow anybody to just make fun of him. I was fairly positive it was only coming from his friends. He wouldn’t tolerate it from anyone else.
“What’s going on with the investigation?” Mercy asked as our food arrived.
I took a deep breath and blew my hair out of my face.
“Not much, to be honest. Both men pled guilty. They’re serving quite a bit of time, they’re just waiting for the DA to tell them exactly how much,” I shrugged. “From what I’ve been told, they made some sort of deal that would help uncover nearly fifty other dog fighting rings throughout the state of Texas.”
Her mouth dropped open. “Holy shit! I wasn’t aware they even had any dog fighting rings…let alone fifty.”
I nodded my head, taking a sip of my drink and inconspicuously looking over my cup at the man with his back to the room. That was another thing he wouldn’t have done three weeks ago, have his back to the room.
I’d seen him walk in with the rest of the men of the SWAT team and take a seat at the table closest to the bar.
He was wearing a t-shirt that said, bearded guys cuddle better.
A shirt I’d bought him about a week before I’d witnessed seeing him get the shit beaten out of him. And then hearing the revelation of my father telling him that he’d failed at his job of ‘watching me.’
His usual smile was gone, and not once did he turn to where I was sitting.
He had to know I was there, though. My car was hard to miss, especially when he had to walk directly beside it to get in the front door.
“What about all those people who got caught?” She asked, dipping her French fry into ketchup.
“Those people,” Miller dropped down in the seat beside me and yanked me into his chest. “Are going down for three counts of animal cruelty, plus a slew of other charges.”
He then went on to steal some of my chicken, dipping it into the honey mustard before he shoved nearly the entire piece into his mouth.
Mercy giggled and I couldn’t help but do the same. “Help yourself, big man.”
He nodded and swallowed the chicken after only a few chews. “You won’t eat it all anyway. I’m only doing you a favor.”
I just shook my head. He was right, of course, but he didn’t need to know that. He’d just let it go to his head. “Wasn’t the mayor’s son there?”
He shook his head. “Nephew.”
My eyes strayed from Miller to Downy, who was not relaxed in the slightest anymore.
I could practically see the anger rolling off of him.
“When are you going to put him out of his misery?”
I blinked and looked over to Miller. “What?”
“Misery. When are you going to put him out of it?” Miller asked, gesturing to Downy.
I sighed. “I’ve always planned to. I just wanted him to know I was mad.”
He snorted. “That’s such a girl thing to do. Fuckin’ talk to him. It’s cruel and unusual punishment to do this to the man that you love.”
My brows lowered. “How do you know I love him?”
He shook his head, taking a sip of my coke before standing. “Anybody with two eyes inside their head can see it. Y’all are like two magnets. He moves, you adjust. Been doing it since you got here. It’s like some invisible force field that only the two of you are allowed on. You can’t fake that. You’re in love with him, and you’ve shown us that over and over again.”
With that, he left us, and I only had Mercy’s smug face to stare at.
“Shut up,” I said.
“Go talk to him,” she urged.
I watched as Miller got back and said something to the table as a whole, causing Downy to get up and leave before his food had even arrived.
“And take him his food,” she offered. “He deserves that and more.”
I pursed my lips. I hated being wrong.