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Because of Low (Chapter Eighteen)

Marcus

My mother prattled on about the upcoming Sea Breeze Seafood Festival and the charity event she was heading up. Will ow was perfect. She acted interested in my mother's pointless chatter and even kept the conversation going with questions about the event. Amanda caught my attention twice. She was very happy with Will ow. Right now having my mother preoccupied was the best thing and Will ow was doing a fantastic job. It took all my will power not to lean down and kiss her senseless. When Will ow asked if there was anything she could do to help, my mother's face lit up like the Fourth of July. Relief at seeing a real smile on her face made it easier to swallow my food.

The sick knot in my stomach at the devastation shining in her eyes when we'd arrived had felt like a lead weight in my stomach. But with each smile Will ow brought out of her I could eat more easily and relax. Amanda's tense posture had also eased. By the end of the meal I'd given up all pretenses of not being as fascinated with Will ow as my mother was. I openly stared at her, drinking in her smooth skin, silky hair that curled over her shoulders and those expressive eyes of hers. The light pink color in her cheeks told me she knew I was ogling her.

"I'd love to help out. I'll have Marcus text you my number.

Then you can let me know when you need me." She was going to spend time helping my mom. Damn I was so far gone at this point I'd do anything she asked of me.

"Marcus, honey?" My mother's voice broke into my thoughts and I jerked my gaze off Will ow and turned to focus on my mother.

"Yes?"

She chuckled and seemed very pleased. Tonight hadn't been a bust after all. Will ow had saved the day.

"Can you help me get the caramel cake and dessert plates please?"

Nodding I stood up and Amanda covered her laughter with a napkin. I had a feeling Mom had called my name more than once before I'd heard her. Both my mother and my sister were way too easily amused.

I followed my mother into the kitchen and the moment we were safely hidden from the dining room she spun around and hugged me tightly.

"Oh honey she's perfect. I love her. She's gorgeous and smart and you're just so smitten with her. It does my heart so good to see you like this. And she's local. I'd always worried you'd meet some girl off at college and move away from me. This is perfect. I can't wait to introduce her to the ladies at the club when she comes to help me with the decorations for our booth at the festival." I couldn't help but laugh at my mother's enthusiasm. My father's no show was completely forgotten.

"She's special. I told you that."

"Yes she's definitely special. I adore her."

"I adore her too, Mama."

Will ow had worked the past two nights and she'd spent all day yesterday at her sister's keeping Larissa. I was having withdrawals. Tonight I needed her all to myself. We'd have a moonlight picnic on the beach. A little dancing under the stars, and then I was going to make love to her. It was time.

I wanted to sleep in a bed with her at night, holding her all night. This couch stuff sucked. But before I dealt with all that I had to meet with my father. He'd called me twice and left messages which I'd deleted without listening to. This morning my mother had called me for him. She begged me to go see him. She hated having us at odds with each other which baffled me because he had shattered her world. The woman was just so damn forgiving.

I pulled into his dealership in Seabreeze. Dad was always at this one. He only visited his other dealerships. This was his home base and largest lot. Taking a deep breath I stepped out of the truck and headed for the front doors. The curly red hair that belonged to the secretary he supposedly had fired was the first thing I noticed. Scowling at her as I walked passed caused her smile to falter, and for the first time in my life I wanted to hurt a woman. I didn't ask if he was in his office. Talking to the whore who had broken up my family wasn't on my to do list today.

Dad glanced up as I stalked into his office.

"Marcus," he looked surprised.

"Mom asked me to come. I'm here. You got ten minutes." Frowning he nodded and motioned for me to sit down. I considered refusing and standing up so I could glare down at him the entire time but decided it may be safer if I was seated. That way if I lunged for him he'd have time to duck.

Clearing his throat my father loosened his tie and rested both elbows on the desk leaning forward.

"I know my not showing up for the family dinner upset you." I let out a hard laugh, "No dad, the fact that slut is still working for you when you told Mom you'd fired her is what has me furious at the moment."

His mouth formed a tight line and I could see my comment about his paid for toy bothered him.

"Let's leave her out of this, shal we. There are things you don't know and until you're my age and have walked in my shoes then you'll never understand."

A red haze settled over my vision.

"Your mother and I have been living as roommates for so long Marcus. She was wrapped up in her world and I was busy with work making it possible for her to live the charmed life she's lived. Making it possible for Amanda to have everything she desires. And I'd have done the same for you had you let me. Your refusal to let me help you with anything bothers me. You're my son. I want you to have the best. I can supply the best. But you've fought me every step of the way. That isn't the point," he waved his hand as if swatting those words away. "Your mother and I no longer make each other happy. Our marriage was over long before I moved on. I need affection—"

"Stop," I snarled standing up. I couldn't listen to this anymore.

"I.Don't. Care. About. Your. Needs." I bit out each word with as much venom in my voice as I could manage. "I only care about the woman who dedicated her life to making a home for me and Amanda. Making a home for you. Nothing she did warranted you running off and fucking a girl half your age. Do you really think she loves you? Really? That's stupid and pathetic. She wants your money, you stupid ass wipe."

Dad shot out of his chair, slamming it against the wall behind him. "I will not listen to you call me names. You are my son. I deserve more respect than that." A sickened angry laugh bubbled out of me and I shook my head. "Any respect I may have held for you was killed the moment you betrayed my mother."

I didn't wait for a response. I jerked open his door and slammed it in my wake needing to let some of my fury loose before I exploded. Customers and salesmen jumped and spun around to stare at the spectacle I was causing. I hoped they all left without buying a damn thing. Slicing my heated gaze through the showroom I found the girl responsible for all this. She was watching me with a shocked almost fearful expression. I wanted to hurt her.

Slam her against a wall and scream at her. But I couldn't.

So I settled for words.

"Suck him dry while you can because you won't be young forever. He'll leave you one day too. For someone younger.

A zebra doesn't change his stripes and I can assure you there is nothing about you that's special. You're just a young piece of ass."

Her jaw dropped open at my words and I heard gasp from others who'd heard me. Good. My father would think twice before he called and requested I meet with him again.

Storming out of the dealership I turned my truck toward Live Bay. It was early but I needed a beer. No, I needed a damn shot of whiskey. Several shots of whiskey.

Willow

"Hey Low," Preston's voice startled me and I spun around to find him standing behind me with his hands tucked into the pockets of his jeans, frowning.

"Preston, hello."

He glanced around the almost empty restaurant. It was time for me to get off and I'd called Marcus but he hadn't answered. I was getting ready to start walking. Calling answered. I was getting ready to start walking. Calling Cage was out of the question. Maybe Marcus sent Preston.

I sure hoped so. I was exhausted and walking was the last thing I wanted to do.

"You about done here?" he asked bringing his attention back to me.

"Yep, I was just about to leave. Did Marcus send you to get me?"

Preston's frown deepened, "Well, not exactly. He's next door at the bar."

He was? Why hadn't he answered my calls? "Okay," I replied waiting for more of an explanation.

Preston sighed, "He's trashed. Like drunk off his ass, doesn't know what the hell he's doing, trashed." Alarmed, I untied my apron and threw it in the dirty basket and started for the door. Preston followed me.

"Before you see him like this you should know he met with his dad today and it was brutal. He went directly to the bar and he's been there ever since. He's got a lot of family issues right now and all the pressure is on him to keep his mom and sister from falling apart. Don't be mad at him.

Just, understand okay."

The pleading tone in Preston's voice scared me. I mentally prepared myself for the worst as I opened the door to the bar and stepped inside, scanning the crowd for my drunk boyfriend.

"Rock has him. I called Rock first. Ginger, the bartender tonight called me and I called Rock. He came with me." I found Rock first and he was sitting at a booth off to the side away from the dance floor and he was alone. I made a beeline for Rock. His eyes met mine and I could see the apologetic expression before he even spoke. My heart was racing in my chest. Where was he? Surely Rock wouldn't let him leave? Drive drunk?

"Where?" I asked the minute I got to his booth.

Rock pointed his mug toward the dance floor. Spinning around I immediately found him.

He was dancing with Jess and she was humping his leg while he held onto her hips and grinned like he was having the time of his life. Furious, I stalked out to the dance floor.

That bitch had pushed me too far. I didn't care whose cousin she was. I'd had it. Marcus was mine. Bloodshot green eyes met mine as I stopped behind Jess. Grabbing her shoulder I jerked her back with all the strength I could muster. Stumbling back I heard her shocked squeal.

"Baby," Marcus slurred reaching for me. "My Low's here," his garbled words were muffled as he pulled me against him burying his head in my neck.

Fingernails bit into my arm and I cried out in pain startling Marcus whose head jerked up looking confused and unstable.

"Back off bitch," Jess shrilled behind me. Pushing Marcus back just enough so he didn't end up getting in the way of any blows that were about to happen, I turned around and glared up at her.

"I suggest you back off. Touching my boyfriend like that is not cool with me. He's drunk. He won't remember this tomorrow. So back the Hell off before I break that perfect little nose job of yours." I hissed taking another step toward her.

She cackled, "I'm not scared of you."

I raised one eyebrow and smirked, "Really? Well, princess, you ever got into a fight with a girl from my side of town?

We don't fight fair. I won't pull your hair and scratch your face. We fight to live. You'll wake up flat on your back on this dance floor. Want to see if I'm bluffing? Please, by all means, take a swing at me. You start it and I'll finish it." I heard chanting and a few cat calls and whistles but I ignored everything. Blocking out the crowd was the first rule. I could take her down. I had no doubt. Cage had taught me to street fight at a young age. The indecision in her face as I held her gaze unflinching and waiting was laughable.

"Back off, Jess," Rock came up behind her taking both her arms and pulling her back. She didn't fight him. She went willingly turning around and let him lead her out the front door. Once they were outside I turned around to see Marcus's glassy stare focused on me with a goofy grin on his face. Yep, he was completely wasted.

"That was hot, Low," he slurred reaching out and pulling me against him.

He smelled like Cage. I didn't like it. I wanted my Marcus back. Pushing against his chest I stared up at him. A frown puckered his brow.

"What's wrong?" he asked swaying slightly.

Telling him what was wrong was pointless.

"I'm taking you home," I replied and grabbed his arm slipping mine through his to help keep him straight.

Preston met us at the door and opened it.

"I'm sorry you had to see him like this," Preston whispered.

I nodded. I was sorry I had to see it too. I was also sorry I had to go all badass in a bar full of people. I remembered Preston's reasons why Marcus was drunk but I had a hard time accepting it. So what! He had an argument with his dad. Well he has a mother and sister who love him. I don't even have that but you don't see me running off to get drunk every time my sister and I fight. Which is every time I see her. No, he didn't have an excuse for this. Nor did he have an excuse for letting another girl hump his leg. And his hands had been on her waist. His big hands had been mere inches from her massive tits. For all I knew he could have copped a feel before I arrived tonight.

"He just has some family problems," Preston said as he opened the passenger side of Marcus's truck. I let him help Marcus in and buckle him up then I closed the door.

"I'm the poster child for family problems. But do you know how many times I've been drunk? None. Not one time. I realize he's your friend and you're protecting him but the fact remains he got drunk and had his hands all over another girl. She was humping him rather hard I might add.

Do you think he'd been okay with things if the situation was reversed? No! I can tell you he'd have lost it. I'm going to take him home. Put him to bed and I'll deal with it in the morning. But please Preston no more excuses. He doesn't have one that will fly in my book."

Preston let out a long sigh and nodded stepping back so I could walk around to the driver's seat of the truck.

"Oh, here's his keys. I took them off him when I got here," Preston threw me the keys.

"He really does love you," Preston said then held up his hands in surrender, "don't yell at me. That's all I'm saying. I'll shut up now."

I managed to give him a tight smile that I did not feel before getting into the truck and driving us home.

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