“Just Crown,” he said from behind me. I jumped, and then laughed. “Jesus, you scared me.”
I flipped the bottle in the air with my left hand and caught it with my right, and then poured double shots into two tumblers.
Trenton’s smile got a little wider. “It’s pretty cool having a personal bartender.”
“I’m surprised I can still do it. I’ve had too many days off. By the time I get back to work on Wednesday, I’ll probably forget everything.” I handed him his shot glass and clinked my glass to his. “To Crown.”
“To f**king up,” he said, his smile fading.
“To surviving,” I said, pressing the glass against my lips and throwing my head back.
Trenton did the same. I took his empty glass, and poured us another. “Do we want teeth numb drunk, or porcelain praying drunk?”
“I’ll know when I get there.”
I handed him the glass, picked up the bottle, and led Trenton to the love seat. I held up my glass. “To second jobs.”
“I’ll drink to that shit,” Trenton said, throwing back his shot. “I love my brothers. I’d do anything for them, but sometimes I feel like the only one who gives a shit about Dad, you know?”
“Sometimes I feel like the only one that doesn’t give a shit about mine.”
Trenton looked up from his empty glass.
“He’s old school. Don’t talk back. Don’t have an opinion unless it’s his. Don’t cry when he beats the shit out of my mom.”
“He doesn’t do it anymore. But he used to. Fucked with us kids, you know? That she stayed. That she could still love him.”
“Everyone acts like nothing happened. He’s better now, so whoever doesn’t pretend that she didn’t have to spend extra time in the mornings covering bruises is the bad guy. So . . . I’m the bad guy.”
“No, you’re not. If someone hurt my mom . . . even if it was my dad . . . I’d never forgive him. Has he apologized?”
“Never,” I said without hesitation. “But he should. To her. To us. To all of us.”
He held out his empty glass this time. I poured a single, and we held them out again.
“I’ll drink to that shit,” he said, and we both knocked back the drinks.
I pulled my knees up to my chest, and rested my cheek on my knee, looking over at Trenton. His eyes were shadowed by the brim of his red baseball cap. He had brothers who were identical twins, but the youngest four could have been quadruplets.
Trenton reached for my shirt and pulled me into his chest. He folded me into his arms and squeezed. I noticed on the inside of his left forearm was thick script that spelled DIANNE, and a few inches down, in much smaller, cursive font that read MACKENZIE.
Trenton turned over his arm to get a better look. “Yeah.” We sat in silence for a moment, and then he continued. “The rumors aren’t true, ya know.”
I sat up and waved him away. “No, I know.”
“I just couldn’t go back there, with everyone looking at me like I’d killed her.”
“They need to blame someone, Trent. Someone else.”
Trenton’s phone buzzed. He lifted it, took one look at the screen, and smiled.
“Good,” I said. “Every time they schedule one on a night the Red is open, it’s empty.”
“I guess you wouldn’t know that, since you go to all of them.”
“Not all of them. I’m not going tonight.”
“I have better things to do than watch Travis beat somebody’s ass. Again. Besides, he doesn’t have any moves I haven’t seen.”
“Right. You’ve taught him everything he knows, I’m sure.”
“One third of everything he knows. That little shit. We beat his ass so many times growing up, he picked up on everything to keep from getting pummeled. Now he could beat all of us . . . at the same time. No wonder no one can beat him.”
“I’ve seen you and Travis fight. You won.”
“Over a year ago. Right after . . . he told you to quit drinking before you drank yourself to death and you beat him pretty bad for it.”
“Yeah,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m not proud of that. My dad still hasn’t let me live that down, even though Travis forgave me the second it was over. I love that little bastard.”
“You sure you don’t want to go to Jefferson?”
He shook his head, and then smiled. “So . . . I still have Spaceballs.”
I laughed. “What is your obsession with Spaceballs?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. We watched it a lot as kids. It was something we did as brothers. It just makes me feel good, ya know?”
“You just keep it in your car?” I asked, skeptically.
“No, it’s at home. Maybe you can come over. Watch it with me sometime?”
I righted my posture, creating more space between us. “I’m thinking that’s a horrible idea.”
“Why?” he asked with his charming smile. “Don’t trust yourself alone with me?”
“I’m alone with you right now. Not even worried about it.”
Trenton leaned in, just a couple of inches from my face. “Is that why you just leaned away? Because you’re not worried about being close to me?”
His warm, brown eyes fell to my lips, and his breath was the only thing I could hear until the front door swung open.
“I told you not to mention the Dallas Cowboys. Daddy hates the Dallas Cowboys.”
Raegan turned on her heels, and Kody leaned back. “But you didn’t have to say that to him! Jesus!” Raegan turned to look at Trenton and me on the couch. I was leaning back, and Trenton was leaning in close.
“Oh,” she said with a smile. “Did we interrupt?”
“Nope,” I said, pushing Trenton away. “Not at all.”
“Sure looks like it—” Kody began, but Raegan turned her wrath on him again.
“Just . . . stop talking!” she yelled, and then retreated to her room, Kody following quickly behind.
“Great. They’ll probably be fighting all night,” I said.
“Just . . . go home!” Raegan said, slamming her bedroom door. Kody rounded the corner, looking distraught.
“Look at the bright side,” I said. “If she didn’t like you, she wouldn’t be so upset.”
“Her dad fights dirty,” Kody said. “I didn’t say shit until he’d been talking about Brazil for an hour. Then I tried to change the subject, and couldn’t resist.”