Rock's Redemption(Insurgents MC Romance Book 8)(2)

By: Chiah Wilder

The butcher, Mr. Despres, could be a mean sonofabitch. He’d told the boy—in a loud voice so everyone in the shop could hear—that he couldn’t extend any more credit to his family. If the boy’s mother wanted the ham hocks, she’d have to pay what she owed. All the people in the shop had stared at him, a few sniggering, and he’d wished the floor would’ve opened up and swallowed him up. Anything would’ve been better than the looks of amusement and pity the patrons had thrown at him. He’d walked backward out of the shop, nodding numbly. Once the sticky air hit his face, he took off running to Greenbriar Estates, where his mother was serving the elite on china plates that cost more than his family earned in one month.

“Roche,” his mother said to him, surprise registering in her hazel eyes. “Has something happened to your father?”

A thread of anger slipped up his spine. She was always thinking about his father, even though he was drunk most of the time; beat her, him, and his brother regularly; and ran around with every putain on Louisiana Avenue and Johnston Street. Roche couldn’t believe how his mother made excuses for his father all the time. She was such a loving and patient person, and if it hadn’t been for her, Roche would have run away by now. He was scared to death to leave his mother with the monster who pretended to be his father.

The only respite the family had from his father’s anger, his hard fists punching into walls and soft bodies, and his string of crippling verbal assaults was when he went to the bayou to the wooden shack on land that had been in his mother’s family for more than seven generations. The monster would spend up to ten days fishing and hunting before he came back with some money in his pockets. Instead of paying the outstanding bills or buying his mother a much-needed new dress, he’d spend the weekend at the Three Kings Tavern, drinking it away and buying cheap perfume for his women.

And his mother always forgave him. It tore at Roche’s heart to see her eyes puffy from crying all night, but in the morning she always had a large smile on her face as she doted on her children and husband. Roche wanted to scream and tell his father he didn’t deserve a lady like his mom, but he knew his outburst would garner him a severe beating so he sat in silence, anger and hate churning in his stomach.

“Mr. Despres won’t let me buy the ham hocks unless you pay the bill. He said it’s been too long.”

His mother’s face softened and she ran her chapped finger over his cheek. “I’m sorry you had to go through that, petit bonbon. Here, take this money and tell him that’s all I have. And he better wrap up those ham hocks. He knows I pay.” She slipped her hand into a pocket of her worn dress, stuffing the bills in Roche’s small hand.

“It smells good in here,” the boy said, his stomach growling.

“The cook is wonderful.” She watched him while she moved the hair out of his eyes. “Didn’t you eat your lunch today?”

He nodded, cursing his stomach for making so much noise. How could he tell her the two bullies who picked on him stole his lunch? She had enough problems. Anyway, he didn’t need his mother to fight his battles. He was learning how to fight from Guy, a teen neighbor, who lived behind their house. Soon he’d show the bullies they couldn’t mess with him.

“Voilà.” His mother shoved a piece of French bread with a slice of roast beef nestled between in his hands, then a piece of chocolate wrapped in shiny green foil. He buried it in his pocket for later. She looked over her shoulder. “Alors, vite! I have to work. I should be home in a few hours.”

Roche hugged his mom, took a big bite of his sandwich, and scampered outside.

The mansions loomed all around him as squares of light from their windows lit up the dark, quiet streets. Deciding to take a shortcut to the main street, he crossed the road and entered a park. Finishing his sandwich, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He’d never tasted meat so tender—just like butter. He moved steadily, passing a large willow tree swaying in the late July breeze. As he went by a cluster of bushes he heard something crying. Is an animal hurt? He couldn’t be sure.

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