Secrets & Lies (Roughshod Rollers MC 3)

Page 81

I pull myself out of my chair at the table. I managed to have a shower and get dressed an hour ago. I still don’t feel like I quite belong, as though part of me is still asleep, but at least I’m on my feet and moving around.
“Mommy!” Owen says as soon as I open the door, throwing himself at me.
I smile. His beaming face soothes some of the hurt I can’t help but feel.
“Hello,” I say, kissing him on the forehead. “Did you have a good time with Allison?”
“Yeah,” Owen says. He pulls out a wrinkled piece of paper from his bag. “This is for you.”
I look at it. There are three stick figures on it. One, the shortest one, is obviously Owen. Holding his hand, the girl stick figure with yellow hair must be me. And the tallest one…
I stare. He’s drawn an alright approximation of Grant’s ponytail, though his black hair is comically spiky. Seeing all three figures holding hands, I feel a lump in my throat.
God, what I wouldn’t give to allow Owen this.
“Very nice,” I manage to say. “I’ll put it on the fridge.”
He smiles toothily at me, pleased with himself. I straighten and turn to Allison. She smiles at me quietly, some sort of knowledge in her eyes. She isn’t a fool, after all. I wouldn’t have asked her to take Owen to daycare, or be at home, if everything had gone well.
Then I realize I have another visitor. There’s a woman standing just behind Allison, yawning. She has a severe pixie-cut and her features are sharp and angular, her green eyes cutting straight through me as she glances at me. I’ve met this woman once before, and I try to remember her name.
“Hayley?” I guess. “Alex’s friend?”
“That’s me,” she says. Then she glares at me. “I’m not Alex’s friend. I hate that asshole.”
She cringes as the swear word slips from her mouth, glancing down at Owen. I’ve just remembered how rough this woman is.
“Sorry,” she says.
“It’s alright,” I say with a small smile. “I’ve said worse.” I look down at my son. “That one’s a bad word, alright, Owen?”
Owen blinks up at me.
“Yes, Mommy.”
I know that that isn’t going to work forever. He’s heard a few bad words from me by now. He hasn’t repeated any of them yet, but it’s really only a matter of time before he gets curious and mischievous enough to try one out.
“Hayley dropped us off,” Allison explains. “Sorry, did I tell you that my car is in for repairs?”
That explains Georgia’s presence the other day, too.
“No, you didn’t, but I understand. There’s been a lot going on,” I say. “Do you both want to come in?”
“Uh, it’s fine,” Hayley says, glancing between us. “You got some important stuff to talk about. I can hang around the stores and come back to pick Allison up.”
“It’s fine,” I say firmly. “Come in, I’ll make you a coffee.”
Hayley wavers and then gives in.
“Sounds good,” she says.
I lead the two women into my apartment. Owen is thrilled to see that both of them are staying. He seems surprisingly attached to Hayley, which is odd considering how rough and brisk she is. He grabs her hand the moment she comes in.
“Come play, Hayley!” he begs.
Hayley grins.
“I’m going to beat your car in a race, little man,” she warns.