Authors: Lina Andersson
They both stayed silent for a long time, and Tommy made up his mind.
“You’ve got thirty minutes tomorrow.”
“Where?” she immediately asked.
“There’s a café here in Greenville on Main Street called Java. Meet me there at two.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
He regretted his decision the second he hung up.
Sisco and Bucket were out in the bar when he got up the next morning. Bucket’s number of nights at the clubhouse had increased the last six months, so no one had been surprised when he’d told them he was getting a divorce from his old lady. They had a kid together, and Tommy knew Bucket was worried he’d lose custody of the boy. They’d gotten pretty close, Bucket and him, since they worked out together almost every morning. Something that had started around the same time as Bucket started to… interact with sweetbutts again, so Tommy assumed it had to do with the shitty marriage.
Besides Bucket, there were a lot of guys with families in the club, and most of them went home at nights, since none of them strayed on their old ladies. Tommy liked the family feeling of the club, but he also liked that the singles like him, Sisco, Bull, and Wrench stuck together for the evenings at The Booty Bank. And lately, Bucket, whenever he didn’t have his kid living with him.
Tommy’d been a member for about four years, and Wrench had become a member after him, but Tommy still often felt like the new guy. Most of them had been around for decades, and even the younger, newer members, like Mac and Mitch, had been around for a long time, since they’d grown up in the damn club. It wasn’t that he didn’t feel welcome; he just didn’t fell all in, yet.
It might be that geniuses surrounded him. Tommy’s brain had never been his strong suit, and he was very well aware of it. He’d passed a lot of the exams thanks to Zach’s smarts, but on the other hand he’d been the one who’d pushed Zach in the physical things, because Tommy’s strongest card had always been his physical and mental strength. He could push his body to the maximum, and then he’d let his head take over and get by for a while with the help of that. It wasn’t that he was stupid, but he’d always compared himself to Zach, who’d been smart and really quick-minded. Tommy’d often thought it was something of a waste that Zach had gone into the Marines. He would’ve done well at college, but the Jensens were all about the military and serving their country.
“Hey,” Sisco said when he noticed him. “Did you call her?”
“Fucking hell. You guys gossip worse than old ladies,” he muttered as he sat down by the bar.
“Like you’re any better,” Bucket laughed and pushed a cup of coffee towards him. “Did you?”
“Yeah. I’m seeing her later.”
“She was hot,” Sisco mumbled. “Sexy in that ball-busting way.”
“Do you hit on every fucking woman that walks through those doors?” Bucket asked Sisco.
“Pretty much,” Sisco shrugged. “I’m not picky, so I cast a wide net.”
“She’s not worth it,” Tommy told him.
“You sure? Tits looked great.”
“I’m sure. She’s… I don’t know. I’ve known her since she was born, so I know her pretty well, and she’s not worth it,” he shrugged. “Also, she’s never been much for short things. She’s the relationship kind.”
“Damn,” Sisco muttered. “Not gonna happen, then.”
“What did she want?” Bucket asked.
“Don’t know. Guess I’ll find out.”
He worked until lunch, and then told Brick he needed the afternoon off. When Brick asked him why with a big smile, Tommy assumed he knew but wanted to hear him admit it, so he told him.
Billie was already at the café when he arrived and stood up when she saw him. He hadn’t really had a good look at her the day before, simply since he’d seen red and just wanted her out of his fucking sight, but now he did. She looked good, she always did, but when he got closer he noticed the dark circles under her eyes. Her blonde hair was up in a messy ponytail, and even though her eyes had the same green-brown color as she and Zach had always had, they didn’t have the same shine. She looked dead tired.
“I ordered coffee for you,” she said and pointed at the cup waiting for him while she sat down. “I assumed you still drink it the same way you used to.”
Coffee with just a dash of cream, that was how he always had his coffee. The coffee in the cup in front of Billie looked more like a latte than a regular coffee; it had so much cream in it. Zach had used to tease her that her kind of coffee was pussy coffee, but she’d never minded, and Zach had stopped commenting on it when she’d pointed out that she had a pussy. In general, she hardly ever cared when they teased her, but she always gave as good as she got. That was okay, though; it had just made it more fun.
He looked at her again, and he had no idea where to start. He wasn’t even sure he’d be able to stay for the full thirty minutes, because as nice as it was to see her again, he was still so fucking pissed at her.
“So, I’m listening,” he said.
“I’m really sorry for what I said to you. I was just a mess, and losing Zach…” She drifted off, and after taking a few deep breaths she boldly met his gaze. “I know it wasn’t your fault, and I’m sorry I said that.”
It really wasn’t just what she’d said, but just as much what she’d done. She’d cut him off, and they’d been his family. He hadn’t just lost Zach, he’d lost the rest of them, too, and that had been almost as bad. He knew she’d been in a bad place when she’d said those things, but so had he, and he’d taken care to not make it worse for her. She was trying now, though, so he should at least give her a shot.
“Okay,” he said, and she gave him a nod. “How long have you been in Phoenix?”
“Four years. Dad was transferred here and I followed them. He retired two years ago.”
“I have a hard time seeing Clay as a content retiree.”
“He’s doing okay. Got a lot going, but I think he’s bored at times.” She looked at him. “I didn’t know you lived so close until a few weeks ago.”
“How would you know?” He’d probably said that slightly more harshly than he’d intended, and he wanted to at least try to be pleasant. “So, why did you move with your parents?”
“I needed help.” She kept her eyes on the cup in front of her. “I have a son.”
He was surprised. Tommy talked to his brother, Dwayne, on a pretty regular basis, but he’d never mentioned that Billie’d had a kid. Although they’d never really talked about Billie or anyone in the Jensen family, so he didn’t even know if Dwayne was in contact with them.
When their dad died, their mom fell apart, or rather, got worse than normal. When Dwayne was moving on to college, he’d flat out said to Tommy they needed to get their mom help because there was no fucking way he’d leave Tommy with her. So their mom had ended up in an institution, and Tommy with the Jensens. He hadn’t minded. Their house had always felt more like a home to him than his own. His mom had committed suicide while he was in boot camp. In her farewell letter, she’d claimed it was his fault because she couldn’t see ‘that fucking army take another one of her family members.’ Strangely, losing the Jensens had hurt a lot more than losing his mom, and he didn’t know if that spoke volumes about him or his mother.
He didn’t see his brother often, but they were still pretty close. They kept in touch, and Tommy owed his brother for the decision he’d made when he left for college. It had been the right thing to do.
“Yeah.” Billie smiled at his surprise. “He’s… God, I don’t know where to start. He’s sick. Really sick.”
“I’m sorry.” He reached over the table and took her hand. “Really, Billie, I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Thank you. He’s got something called Polycystic Kidney Disease. He’s developing cysts on his kidneys, and they’re shutting down. He needs a new kidney, and we’ve all been tested, but none of us are a match, and he doesn’t have long. He’s on the list, but… if it takes much longer, he’s going to need a new liver, too, and that’s an even longer wait.”
“Fuck, Billie. That’s rough. Is there anything I can do? I know you probably don’t need money, but anything.”
He’d help her in any way he could. If a kid was involved, an argument six years ago didn’t matter.
“I was hoping that… maybe you could see if you match. That’s why I came to find you.”
“Why…” He’d just started the question of why she thought he would be a match, when the obvious reason hit him like a brick. He let go of her hand “Oh, you fucking
“You fucking thunder cunt. He’s mine, isn’t he?”
It had been once, or rather one night, just after Zach’s funeral. Some weird attempt from them both to just be closer to Zach by being closer to each other—the two most important people in Zach’s life. It had been amazing. He’d had his entire leg in a cast and a funky shoulder, but it was still probably the best sex he’d had in his entire life. He might not be the smartest guy, but even he understood that the reason it had been good was that it was the first time in weeks he’d been able to relax and think about something else than his best friend dying in his arms. Actually, he’d been so relaxed, he’d started talking to her once they were sated and told her what’d happened when he was injured and Zach died. The next moment, she’d started yelling at him. It had escalated and eventually he’d left her. The unfairness of it had grown into a huge raging ball of anger—all of it directed at her. Walking into the bar and seeing her there had been like a punch square to the jaw.
But this… She’d had his kid, and hadn’t even bothered with telling him. That was so fucking wrong! So fucking… There weren’t even words for how fucking wrong that was.
“Yes, he’s yours.” Billie had the decency to look ashamed, but it didn’t help. “I didn’t know what to do. We’d been fighting, I said some mean things, and you’d said to never contact you, and… Frankly, I wasn’t sure you cared.”
“You thought I wouldn’t care if I had a kid? What the fuck do you think about me, Billie? Was I really that much of an ass to you?” All he really wanted to do was to reach over the table and slam her face into it. “What the fuck gave you the right to make that decision for me?”
“Nothing!” she yelled before lowering her voice again. “Nothing gave me that right, and I know it. Don’t you think I’ve thought about it? Then you were gone. The longer it went, the harder it got, and then he got sick, and it was all I could think about. There is nothing you can say or call me that I haven’t already thought myself, and I know it doesn’t mean shit to you, but I am sorry, and I need your help.”
He bit down on all the other things he wanted to call her, or do to her, and decided to try to remember what was important. “What was it he had?”
“Polycystic Kidney Disease. It’s most often a genetic disorder, but they don’t think it is in his case, since he got it so early. Cysts are basically fluid-filled bladders, and they’re developing at a rapid speed inside his kidneys. It was discovered when he was just two years old. He’s getting dialysis now and medication for the associated symptoms and conditions. So it’s as much under control as it can be.” She hesitated before saying the next thing. “His name is Felix.”
He could’ve made a comment about the absurdity of a kid named Felix in Phoenix, but he didn’t. He sighed, and Billie continued talking,
“He’s very brave and so smart. Really smart, and always in a good mood. It’s usually him cheering me up instead of the other way around.” She looked at him. “Please, just think about it. You don’t have to promise me anything, but just think about it.”
“To test and see if you’re a match. I know I have no right to ask you—”
“Fucking hell, Billie! Of course I’ll do it. I’m not the ass you obviously think I am.”
He could see her exhale, and her face broke out in a smile.
“Thank you. I know that’s not enough, in any way, but thank you. And we’ll cover any medical expenses, loss of income, anything you want.”
Tommy didn’t give a shit about money. “What have you told him about me?” The kid should have been five years old, so he must’ve asked about his dad. At least Tommy thought he might have.
He should’ve known. “You went for the Jensen way.”
They were always brutally honest about everything. Tell the truth and shame the devil, was basically their family motto.
“Yes. Rather have him know than having to try to remember what lies I’ve told him. It would just mean he’d hate me when he grew up and found out the truth,” she explained. “He knows you were a friend of Zach’s, that you lived with us for a while, and he knows you don’t know about him. He doesn’t think you’ve stayed away by choice.”
“Good. Because I’m not gonna do this and disappear. That’s not fucking going to happen.”
He might not have wanted a kid, but now he had one, and he’d be damned before he ignored that. It was his kid, a Jensen-Miles kid. He was bound to be an awesome guy, Tommy thought to himself and tried to hide his smile. He couldn’t wait to meet him.
“I didn’t think you would,” Billie said.
“I want to meet him.”
“He knows I’ve been looking for you, but I haven’t told him I’ve found you. Just in case…”