Rock's Redemption(Insurgents MC Romance Book 8)(4)By: Chiah Wilder
“What’s your name?” she asked after his retreating figure.
He glanced backward. “Roche.”
“It means rock.”
“I know.” Their eyes locked and, in that moment, a friendship was born.
* * *
They spent the rest of the summer sharing laughs, catching fireflies in jars, and digging for worms on the bank of the Vermillion River. He soothed her through the bruises her mother put on her in places her father couldn’t see, and she sat quietly by him as he breathed heavily after a severe beating from his father. Together they found some solace, some lightness in the midst of their violent and hurtful world.
Their friendship was frowned upon by Mrs. Boucher and her older son, Armand. After all, Roche came from the poor section of Lafayette where dilapidated shotgun houses dotted the bleak landscape. His father fished and hunted for a living in the bayou while Mr. Boucher sat in his office in a suit and tie and made multi-million-dollar decisions pertaining to land development.
At first, Mrs. Boucher forbade Clotille from hanging around “the poor boy,” but when she’d realized it kept her daughter out of the house for most of the day, she relented and poured herself another Long Island Iced Tea. Not having Clotille around kept Mrs. Boucher from beating her, and she welcomed the respite. She resented her daughter because she was “Daddy’s little girl” and her father gave in to her all the time. He spoiled her, doted on her, and paid more attention to her than he did to his wife. And the fact that he carried on with his mistress—the putain—was more than Mrs. Boucher could bear. What was he thinking in setting up a woman nearly half his age in a luxury house in one of his developments in River Ranch? It was an embarrassment, something she couldn’t do anything about except punish her daughter for her father’s indiscretions and coldness. Each slap and sting of the belt on Clotille’s tender flesh was meant for Mrs. Boucher’s husband. He’d kill her for beating his precious daughter, and Mrs. Boucher derived an inordinate amount of pleasure from knowing that.
So she let the two children while away the summer, surprisingly calm when she learned that Roche would be attending the same school as Clotille due to an open enrollment policy the city had passed at the end of the previous school year. As long as she didn’t have to see the boy, she was content to pretend that he didn’t exist.
* * *
Four years later
“Gaston, I will never agree to sell the land. It’s been in my family for generations and it’s going to stay that way.” Roche heard his mother’s soft but firm voice coming from the kitchen as he scrambled to get ready for school. His father’s loud voice bounced off the walls, and he knew if his mother didn’t finish serving breakfast soon and get out of the house, she’d find his pa’s fist on her face.
He wished his dad could understand that the land meant everything to his mother. She’d inherited a large amount of it in the bayou, where an old wooden shack with one room stood on the edge of the waters. When they’d married, she’d put her husband on the title on condition that he never ask her to sell the land. Now that oil and gas companies had approached his parents, his father’s agreement was only a memory. He kept pressuring his wife to sell so they could finally have some money to get them out of poverty.
Roche scoffed at his dad’s argument; he wanted the money to gamble at Cypress Bayou Casino in Charenton, buy booze, and purchase stinky perfume for the women he screwed. Roche admired his mother for not giving in to the pressures of his dad and the oil and gas companies who were decimating the bayous.
A loud whack startled Roche out of his musings, and he rushed to the kitchen to see his father backhand his mother across her face once more. She whimpered and raised her arms to defend herself. Before Gaston could hit her a third time, Roche grabbed his hand in midair. “Leave her alone,” he growled.
Gaston spun around, eyes blazing, face contorted in rage. “You want a beating before school? I’ll beat you so bad you won’t be able to walk for a week.”
“Don’t touch her!” Roche’s voice sounded stronger than he felt.