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The Beard Made Me Do It (The Dixie Wardens Rejects MC #5)
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He’s only a friend.
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Love is finding someone to get fat with.
-Fact of life
“Oh, my God, Mom!” Ellen cried out in frustration. “There’s nothing wrong going on here! He’s only a friend.”
Ellen had lied.
My heart skipped a beat as, yet again, the damn girl didn’t claim to have anything going on with me. Ellen wouldn’t acknowledge that we had any type of a relationship.
Am I fucking stupid or something? How was this ever going to work when she wouldn’t even acknowledge that we were more than just friends?
Her mother looked at her like she knew she was lying, but we all knew that she couldn’t prove it.
We hadn’t gone too far, and I was sitting here, on the couch, just like she’d asked me to do.
Don’t touch. Don’t do anything untoward. I’ll be watching.
Sure, I’d had my hands down Ellen’s pants before Marian had walked in here, but she didn’t need to know that.
“I think it’s time for you to go home, Jessie.”
Ellen’s mother’s anger was palpable, and I knew before she said anything that Ellen would never hear the end of it.
You’re going to get a bad reputation. Why would you want to date a boy like that?
Jessie James? Really? You know he’s trouble.
One day you’re going to wind up hurt and pregnant, and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.
“All right, ma’am.” I stood up. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Ellie.”
Ellen stood up, and she waved goodbye. Both of us knew better than to touch in front of her mom or dad. If we did, they started to turn red in the face.
It wasn’t like I was an axe murderer or anything, but they didn’t seem to care.
I was lucky they even let me in their house.
I waved goodbye to Ellen and walked down the hallway to the front door, wondering how long it would be before the next bus arrived at the bus stop.
I’d just gotten to the front door when I heard Ellen’s mom start talking.
“Seriously, there’s no way in hell that kid is only eighteen,” Marian whispered—just not soft enough for me not to hear. “He has a damn beard, Ellen. You can’t do this anymore. Your father was going to talk to you later, but I can’t wait until then. This either ends or we won’t pay for your frivolities anymore. That means no cell phone. No car. No college. No nothing. You’ll have to get a job.”
I froze with my hand on the knob.
Ellen’s dream was always to go to school. Her hope was to go into the medical field and become a doctor, like her brother was in the process of doing.
“Mom, that’s not fair!” Ellen said. “You know how much college means to me. You know!”
I knew, too. I knew.
“Then I won’t go to college,” Ellen snapped. “If that’s the way you want to treat me, then I’ll leave and never come back. This has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with the fact that you can’t stand to see me making a decision that you haven’t confirmed as good, first.”
And that was why I couldn’t do this to her anymore. If I had to let her go to let her fly, then I’d do it.
I dropped my chin to my chest.
I couldn’t do that to her. I couldn’t ruin another life. Not when I was well on the way to ruining mine and my son’s.
“He has a kid out of wedlock, didn’t graduate high school and is working a minimum wage job. There’s literally nothing you can tell me here that will make this all right. He’ll hold you down. You will end up taking care of his kid, you’ll drop out of college, and he’ll get you hooked on drugs.”
“I already told you he’s a friend. Not to mention he’s a welder’s assistant. I never knew you to be a snob.”
My belly sank.
I didn’t deal drugs, even though most of the town thought I did.
It was hard to deny it when your parents did. Hence the reason I was now on my own, with no diploma and working a minimum wage job, when I could be attending college on a football scholarship.
When you had a kid to take care of, and nobody to watch him while you were at school or while you were at work, you had to make certain sacrifices. Unfortunately, school was one of them.
It’d been two years since Linc had come into my life, and not a single day went by that I regretted anything I’d done or given up for him.
I thought I was doing all right. Thought that maybe, after time, Ellen’s family would see me as the man I was, not the man they thought I was.
But I was wrong.
With one final look in the direction of where Ellen had last been standing, I walked down the steps and didn’t look back.