The Rocker That Loves Me
Terri Anne Browning
From the very first book, The Rocker That Holds Me, I’ve been in awe over how much this series has captured your hearts. I’m still left speechless by how popular The Rocker… series has become. This wonderful journey is so much more special for me with you, the fans, to travel it with me.
As always, I have to thank my husband for putting up with me and my craziness as I write these books for you. Without him there would be no Terri Anne Browning or The Rocker… series. It’s his love and support that gives me the confidence and courage to keep doing this for you.
A special thank you to my wonderful BETA readers. They keep me on track and make sure I don’t ruin anything for you readers.
What author could live without their editor? I know for sure that I couldn’t! Max Dobson is a godsend and I would be grammatically lost without her.
It looked like the entire trailer park had shown up to pay their respects.
I kept glancing around, taking them all in; anything to keep my gaze from going to the one place I didn’t want it to go, yet seemed unable to stop myself from drifting to—the casket and the woman lying there looking so peaceful…
My eyes landed on Mr. Thornton. Jesse’s old man was in a pair of faded jeans and a button down shirt that was too tight around his beer gut. His hair was actually combed for once, and it looked like he had taken the time to shave. His eyes were clear, something they rarely were. Mr. Thornton had liked Mom, I guess.
Nik was standing with his mom, really his aunt Sarah who had stepped in when his deadbeat old man died. She looked a little lost. Sarah and Mom had been friends, but we all suspected that there was something wrong with Nik’s mom. She had been having horrible headaches lately and couldn’t seem to remember things at times.
My gaze drifted past my friend and his mother, landing on random people here and there. A few girls from the west side of the trailer park were grouped together. I had screwed each of them once or twice, they were probably wondering which one of them would be lucky enough to comfort me later that night. I didn’t want comfort from any of them.
Our landlady was talking to Drake, quietly reassuring him yet again that she wasn’t going to kick us out of our trailer. She liked Drake, mostly because he didn’t complain when she made him do hard manual labor around the rundown old trailer park that she owned. That old biddy was probably scared out of her mind that we were going to pick up and leave and she’d have to find someone that wouldn’t do half the things that my brother did and for more money.
For now we weren’t worried about money. Mom had had a sizeable life insurance policy that had covered any possible death. Even suicide…
Something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye and I turned to find Ms. Jameson stumbling in the funeral home’s entrance. She had Emmie’s arm in a vice-like grip and was dragging the limping little girl behind her. Emmie nearly tripped and tried to hide her grimace of pain.
I wanted so badly to go to Emmie and take her away from that bitch. My brother had nearly gone to jail saving her from one monster, only for her to have to go home and face the one she had to live with every day…
A strong hand landed on my shoulder and squeezed. “How are you?” Jesse’s deep voice asked quietly.
I shrugged his hand away. It wasn’t that I didn’t want the comfort. I just had so much on my mind right now, and a lot of the shit I had tried so hard to forget came flooding back with a vengeance. I shuddered at the very thought of someone touching me…
“I’m fine,” I assured Jesse, but of course it was a lie. I wasn’t sure how I was, or even how I was supposed to be.
My mom was gone, and it was all my fault. I should never have opened my mouth. I should never have told my mom what had happened or why Drake had done what he had done to Rusty. If I hadn’t then she wouldn’t have killed her husband… She wouldn’t have killed herself!
Tiny fingers gripped my hand. “I’m sorry your Momma is gone, Shane,” Emmie murmured in a soft voice.
Some of the tightness around my heart eased as I glanced down at her. For the first time since my world had come crashing down the week before, I felt my eyes burn. I hadn’t cried for my mom, or for anyone else. The shock had set in and I was just now unthawing. Crazy enough, it took Emmie to do the unthawing.
I bent down so we were eye level. She was barely nine, but she had seen so much in her young life that she acted years older. I was beyond relieved that Drake had been able to spare her the added nightmares of sexual abuse on top of what she already had to go through daily.
“Thanks, Em.” I reached out to push her hair back from her face and saw the bruise on her cheek. It was faded and I figured it was about a week old. Her legs and arms were a symphony of bruises at varying stages, ranging from pale yellow to dark blue and purple. I had to fight with myself every time I saw her like that not to call child services, but I knew that if Emmie was taken from her mom and put into foster care she could possibly end up in a place worse than where she was right now.
“Is it my fault?”
Her whispered question stabbed me in the gut, and I hugged her tight for a long moment before answering. “No, baby doll. This isn’t your fault.” I pulled back enough to meet her wet, green gaze. “Don’t ever think that, okay? You didn’t do anything wrong.”
After a small hesitation she finally nodded. “Okay.”
Jesse bent down and took her hand. “I saw some cookies, Emmie. Let’s go get some.”
Even though I could hear her stomach growling, Emmie shook her head. “No, I can’t leave Shane. He needs me.”
Sadly enough, she was right…
I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and sat up, shaking off the memory of the dream from the night before.
I felt restless, which was nothing new for me. Sighing, I pulled on boxers and a pair of basketball shorts and headed for the kitchen with my shirt tossed over my shoulder. Drake’s door was closed and I could hear him snoring as I passed his room. I grimaced, feeling sorry for my brother. I had spent the last two days with Lana while he was chomping at the bit to see her again after so long.
I pulled out a bottle of water from the fridge and chugged half of it before pulling my shirt over my head and searching for my running shoes. I needed a run, something to clear my head of the dream that had haunted me the last few nights. Running always helped me see things clearer.
I took the stairs instead of the elevator so I could warm up. I nodded to the night doorman, who was still on duty, and put my earbuds in as I hit the pavement. Central Park was a few blocks away, and I headed in that direction as I stretched my calves.
The park was pretty dead at this hour, except for the occasional early bird jogger. I ran five miles before I stopped to get another bottle of water. I walked back to the apartment, cooling down but still feeling restless. I knew that it was because I hadn’t had sex in three days.
I should just hit up one of my usual clubs, blow off some steam with some stranger. But even as the thought went through my mind, I knew I wasn’t going to do that. I didn’t want to hit a club. I was tired of that whole scene…And that was just wrong for me. I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t want sex. I was used to getting it at least once a day. Three days was a new record for me. Was I getting sick? Fuck, I needed to get my head on straight!
It was still early but I was sure that Drake was up and getting ready for work by now. I wasn’t ready to see him again. He would just grill me about Lana and what we had done the day before and what she was doing today. That would just depress us both, and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to add depression to my list of emotions today.
Pulling my iPhone from the strap attached to my upper arm, I brought up Lana’s picture and sent her a quick text. Bored! Where did you say that gym was?
I had walked more than two blocks before she responded with the address of the gym that she went to and her roommate worked at. Sighing, I turned my Red Sox cap around and reattached my phone to my arm before turning around. I was going to get a week’s worth of exercise in one day.
The guy at the front desk gave me an overly fake friendly smile as I walked through the door. In my tattered baseball cap, worn basketball shorts, and holey T-shirt, I looked like I had about five bucks to my name. From the looks of the place, it didn’t cater to the underprivileged.
I liked being comfortable when I ran and didn’t give a shit how I looked. If I was doing anything other than exercising, then I made sure I looked good. Emmie and the guys gave me hell over it, but I liked the feel of designer clothes against my skin almost as much as I liked being behind the wheel of a car with some power.
“Can I help you?” Fake Guy behind the counter asked when I just stood there glancing around. From where I was standing I could see the weight room on the second floor, with the treadmills and other cardio equipment to the left of it. The gear I spotted was expensive stuff, and the guys lifting were major body builders.
I pulled out my wallet from the pocket of my shorts and handed over my California driver’s license and my Visa. “A friend of mine recommended this place to me,” I told the guy. “I’d like to start up a membership.”
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