Ex-Con: Bad Boy Romance

By: M.S. Parker

Chapter 1

There’re few things in my life that are certain.

I need coffee to wake up my brain.

At some point in the month, I'll pay at least one bill late. Most likely two.

I’ll freeze my ass off through the winter, and roast all summer. The heater in my place isn't worth shit, and I can't afford to pay the bill for the A/C so I never turn it on.

And at some point during the year, I’ll be let go from my job.

You see…my luck just isn't that great.

I’d held my current job going on two months, and that was a record, but I had a feeling that streak was about to come to an end.

It wasn't that I couldn't do the job. I was a damn good mechanic, and a damn sight better than the slack-jawed moron standing across from me. But that slack-jawed moron had a wrench in his hand, and if he lifted it in my direction, I was going to shove it up his ass.

In fact, I’d just pointed that promise out to him.

He stared at the wrench for a moment before grinning at me. “Seems to me that a guy like you would probably enjoy it, Bobby. But maybe you should let me do the shoving.”

The joke wasn’t a new one, and it hadn't been worth getting myself in trouble the first time I'd heard it.

The girl cowering in the corner darted a look at me, and then at him. “Candy.” I waited until she looked at me again, although I didn’t take my eyes away from Frank Hodges. “Why don’t you call your brother to come pick you up?”

Candy helped out up front from time to time, but today wasn’t an ideal day to have her name on the schedule.

Frank pointed at me with the wrench and it took an extra burst of self-control not to make good on my threat right then. “Boy, you ain’t got no place telling the employees when they can leave and when they can’t. You just one yourself.”

“You are.”

His brows scrunched down low over his eyes and I could see him trying to figure it out.

Helpfully, I said, “You’re saying it wrong, Frank.” I pointed at him. “Now see, I really am from the backwoods of Kentucky, but when you talk like that, you make us all look bad. The proper way to say it would be… you are just one yourself.”

His face turned an even uglier shade of red, and he took a step toward me.

I sighed. Shit. He really wasn't going to let it go.

“You really want to do this?” I cracked my neck and gestured at him. “All you had to do was leave Candy alone. Stop breathing down her neck and staring at her chest. Treat her like a person, and this would all be done, but you had to go and act like an asshole. Now I’m asking you again...do you really want to do this?”

“You’re the one who oughta be asking.” Frank hitched the wrench up and propped it on his shoulder. He grinned at me, baring teeth stained yellow and brown. “All you gotta do is get in trouble one time, Bobby boy, and you know what happens to you.”

I shrugged. “True.” Then I smiled. “But I doubt that'll be much comfort to you when you’re picking metal shavings out of your ass for the next six months.”

I took a step toward him.

His eyelids flickered.

The door in the back opened in that moment, and the garage owner stepped inside. Peter Brewster studied me, studied Frank and the wrench, and then crossed his arms over his chest. “Why did Candy’s brother just call me?”

Frank’s face underwent a total transformation. “Beats the hell out of me, boss. This ex-con you hired...” He shrugged and jutted his chin in my direction. “He’s always bossing her around, telling her what to do.”


I heard a faint sniff from the doorway, but I didn’t look back.

“That the truth of it, Bobby?”

Running my tongue across my teeth, I studied Peter. He’d been a pretty decent boss, hadn’t made a big issue out of my past, just told me to keep my nose clean. I appreciated the chance, but I wasn’t sure I could keep my nose clean if I had to keep working around Frank. He was going to hurt somebody – a girl like Candy probably. I may be an ex-con, but he was a perverted bastard.

“It’s not true.”

She was the first one to speak, and she peaked around the corner, glanced at me, then at Pete. Not once did she look at Frank. His face bled back to that ugly red, and I subtly shifted, staying between them in case I needed to move.

There wasn’t any need, though, because Peter was doing the same. He’d had his eye on Candy for a while. More evidence that Frank was a dumbass.

She swallowed and in a halting voice, started to talk.



***



Frank ended up getting his teeth knocked down his throat that night.

But it wasn’t me who did it.

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