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Because of Low (Chapter Six)

Marcus

Sadie was twirling a strand of her blond hair around her finger. She did that a lot when she was nervous. "I am so sorry I walked in on that Marcus. I feel like an idiot," she began explaining as soon as I made it to Jax Stone's Hummer.

"No worries," which wasn't exactly the truth. Sadie walking in on me about to kiss Will ow had screwed with my head a little. Sadie had wrapped me so tightly around her finger not too long ago I'd expected to feel something when I turned around and saw her standing there with Will ow's warm body pressed against my back. But I hadn't. Nothing. No ache at the sight of her. Absolutely nothing. Righteous anger at my father and the hell he was putting my mom and sister through, yes, I'd felt that. Worry for Amanda, yes, I'd felt that. But nothing for Sadie. My immediate response was to protect Will ow. Not sure what I was protecting her from but none the less that had been my goal.

Sadie opened the door and Amanda sat curled up in the corner sniffling like a little girl. My heart broke. It was like I'd stepped back in time and the little sister I loved and protected needed me to fight off the monsters under her bed again. But this time the damn monster was our father.

He was ripping us apart for a twenty year old whore. Or however old she was. She was young. That's all I knew.

"He didn't come home last night and Mama won't come out of her room. She's screaming and packing her things.

She's running away." A choked sob escaped her and she buried her face in her hands again. My spoiled sweet little sister hadn't ever had to deal with life's shit. She'd been given everything she wanted. Her life had been cake and ice cream, until now.

"Come on baby, I'm going to talk to Mama and I'll get her calmed down. She isn't going to run away. I promise."

"She can stay with me if you need her too. We've already missed an hour of school. Might as well make it a day." I glanced over at Sadie and nodded. That was probably a good idea. What I had to say to Mama probably didn't need to be heard by Amanda.

"You want to stay with Sadie while I go handle Mama?" She nodded slowly looking up at me with a tear streaked face.

I leaned inside and hugged her, "It's going to be okay sis.

I'm here and no matter what, I will fix this mess."

"K," she muttered against my chest.

I knew I was making a promise I might not be able to keep but I said it anyway.

"Thanks Sadie," I said letting go of Amanda and stepping back so she could climb inside the Hummer. Jax supplied a Hummer and a chauffeur for Sadie complete with black privacy windows. Since the world found out Sadie White was Jax Stone's girlfriend she'd become a celebrity.

Paparazzi actually came to Alabama to get pictures of her.

People treated her differently when she went out in public.

Jax didn't like being away from her and left her with several things that made him feel she was safe. The Hummer and chauffeur/body guard was just two of them. Why the dude didn't just get her a private tutor and take her with him was beyond me. Something about not wanting to take away her high school experience or some crazy shit. Only from a guy who never lived through high school would feel like he was robbing someone of the experience. Sadie would leave in a heartbeat if he'd let her.

"I'm glad I can help. Anything y'all need from me, I'm more than willing to help out. I hate this is happening. Amanda's tears are breaking my heart."

Sweet, kind Sadie. I expected nothing less. One of the reasons I fell head over heels for her after only minutes in her presence last summer. She was gorgeous sure but the girl was a sweetheart. However, I had to admit standing here talking to her and feeling nothing but gratitude was pretty damn freeing.

"You're an awesome friend Sadie," I said nodding and then left as she climbed inside beside my sister.

I needed to go deal with my mother.

The Mercedes CLS63 my dad had given my mother as an anniversary present four months ago was still sitting in the garage. This was a good thing. She hadn't taken flight yet. I headed inside the three story beach front stucco home I'd lived in my entire life. "Mom," I called out as I headed for the stairs leading to her room.

"Marcus," she called back followed by a loud wail. The little boy in me took off running up the stairs scared of what I might find. She was my Mom. I didn't want her hurt. As my foot hit the top stair she flung herself out of her bedroom and threw herself into my arms.

"You're here," she sobbed out.

I stroked her blond hair gently hoping to calm her down.

How many times had she held me while I cried in her arms?

I couldn't even begin to count. Now, here I stood holding her.

"He didn't come home last night," she sobbed, "he didn't even call."

I hated him. At this moment with my mother sobbing pitifully in my arms I knew I hated him. I didn't just hate what he was doing. I truly hated my father.

"I know. Manda told me. Come with me. Let's get you a wet wash cloth for your face and clean you up a little." She nodded against my chest and relaxed the death like grip she'd had on me.

"Go sit down on the sofa Mama. I'll get you a cool wash cloth then we can talk about this and what we need to do.

Okay," she let out another sob.

"I'm here Mama. I won't leave you. I'm going to fix everything. You just trust me okay."

A small smile of relief mixed with misery tugged on her lips.

The pain in her eyes however didn't lessen.

I was going to kill him. With my bare hands. I was going to kill my father. And God help me if that slut that works for him ever comes near me. I can still remember that flirtatious smile she shot me when I'd gone into his office that day.

She was a gold digger. And my dad was a sucker. A selfish sucker.

"I called his cell phone this morning and he answered. Said he was at work and would deal with me later," she let out a choked laugh, "Deal with me Marcus. Like I'm a problem.

I'm his wife. His Wife."

I sat down beside her and used the wash cloth to clean her tear streaked face.

"Just don't call him anymore. I'm going to go talk to him. I want him out of this house Mama."

She sniffed sitting still while I washed her face as if she were the child.

"You think I should divorce him?"

"Yes Mama, I do. He's sleeping with someone else. He doesn't deserve you. You're better than that." She nodded and reached up to grab my wrist and pulled my hand to her mouth and kissed it. "I love you Marcus Hardy. You're my good boy. Always taking care of me and your sister. You're nothing like your daddy. You know that don't you?"

There was my Mom. Even if it was for a brief moment I needed that little bit of motherly affection. Knowing she was still in there under all this hurt and pain eased my fear still in there under all this hurt and pain eased my fear some.

"I know that," I assured her allowing her to take the wash cloth from my hand so she could wipe her nose.

"God Marcus how did this happen? Where did it all go wrong?" she asked in a defeated tone dropping her hands into her lap.

"The minute Dad lost his mind I guess. I'm going to go talk to him. Don't wait up for him tonight Mama. I'm going to tell him I'll bring him his clothes but I don't want him back on the property."

"Oh honey is that the best idea? What if he realizes this was a mistake? Do I really just end twenty five years of marriage over this?"

"Yes Mama you do! The bastard cheated on you. He is cheating on you. You're so much better than that Mama.

Don't you let him win. Don't do it."

I hated seeing her this way. She really thought Dad would change his mind and come back to her. Maybe he would when his little girlfriend left him or began to get on his nerves. But then there would be another one just like her somewhere waiting to take her place.

"Mama, listen," I pleaded taking her cold soft hands in mine,

"You need to divorce him. Take everything you possibly can by law. Clean him dry. Do you hear me? He is using his money on that slut. Get what he owes you and he owes you everything Mama."

She straightened up and nodded her head in agreement.

Thank God I'd gotten through to her.

"You're right honey. I need to make him pay." Good. I could see the revenge flashing in her eyes. At least it wasn't pain. Let her be mad as hell. Let her suck him dry.

That's the tough as nails woman who raised me. I leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, "I love you Mama. We're going to get through this. You're not alone. Don't push Manda away either. She needs you right now. The two of you need to eat a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream and watch movies together. Bond over this Mama. Don't let him win."

Standing up Mama reached out and squeezed my hand.

"You're right. I'm stronger than this. My baby girl needs her Mama. As long as I have you to lean on I can do this Marcus."

"Well you've got me. Now, why don't you get out of your pajamas and come make me some breakfast because I'm starving."

Hearing her laughter was music to my ears.

Willow

It was Spring Break season so the tourist had begun flooding Sea Breeze. Which was a good thing because tips were double their norm. I'd already made two hundred dollars and that was mostly from the lunch crowd. The evening crowd was just beginning to pick up. On nights when the bar side of Live Bay has a relatively known band the restaurant suffers some. Families looking for a nice seafood restaurant are put off by the packed out parking lot. They don't realize it's for the bar side. Tonight however crowds were low at the bar so the restaurant was hopping with tourists.

"Low, can you take a four top in section C for Macy? She said she can't handle any more in her section. That twelve top party is consuming her."

I nodded my head at Kim, the hostess for the evening and went to grab some waters and a bowl of lemons before heading to their table.

"Hey you still looking for someone to close for you?" she asked me as I turned to walk away. I glanced back at her,

"Yep."

She pointed to Seth, a waiter who I knew she'd been seeing lately. She must want him to work late with her tonight.

Giving her a knowing smile I headed over to intercept Seth on his way to the kitchen.

"Hey, you want to close tonight? I've got to keep my niece and I need someone to close for me."

Seth glanced back over his shoulder toward Kim.

Apparently he was looking for her approval before answering. His gaze shifted back to me and he grinned.

"Sure. No problem." His obvious enthusiasm had me biting back a laugh. No doubt he was already planning his evening alone with Kim in a big empty restaurant.

"Hey, isn't that the lead singer of Jackdown?" Seth asked I looked over and sure enough sitting at my four top in section C was Krit, Trisha, Rock and Green.

"Yep and the bassist too."

"Switch with me please," Seth begged.

I glanced back at the table and Trisha waved. I couldn't do that to her.

"I would Seth but Trisha and Rock are my friends. I can't." Seth's eyes widened, "You know Krit then?"

"Yep."

"Well then can you at least introduce me. I've been wanting to audition for Jackdown for forever but they're never looking for anyone new."

He was helping me out tonight so I really owed it to him.

Even though he would no doubt be getting lucky back in the stock room tonight with Kim.

"Sure, stop by after I've got their orders and I'll introduce you."

Carrying a tray full of waters, I headed back to my newest table.

"Hey girl, hate you left early last night. You missed the last song. Krit wrote it and it was amazing," Trisha said smiling up at me.

"I'm sorry. It was just once I got outside in the clean air I couldn't bring myself to go back inside into that crowd." Not to mention I didn't want to see Marcus dancing with Jess.

"You broke my heart. I was looking forward to the end of my set so I could come find you. The boots and mini skirt were hot Low, you were killing me."

"She had on a mini skirt and boots? How, exactly, did I miss this?" Green asked looking from me to Krit.

I laughed and pulled out my order pad.

"What can I get y'all to drink?" I asked changing the subject.

"Bud on tap," Rock replied

"Diet Coke."

"Miller Light long neck."

"Sweet Tea."

I wasn't twenty-one so I couldn't serve alcohol. This would be the perfect reason to get Seth to the table.

"I'll have Seth bring y'all your beers since I'm not old enough to serve you. But be prepared he's a huge Jackdown fan and really wants to meet y'all."

Krit leaned forward and bit his bottom lip while staring me down. He really did think his sex appeal worked on everyone.

"What time do you get off Low?" he asked in a husky voice.

"Ah shit he's already using his fuck me voice on her. Run Low before he starts the winking and dimple flashing." Green warned, then gave Krit a playful punch in the arm when everyone at the table burst into laughter.

"I'll go get the other drinks," I said smiling as I turned back toward the kitchen.

Seth was at the soda fountain filling up two glasses.

"Alright I need a Bud on tap and a Miller long neck delivered to the table. The Miller is Krit's. Enjoy."

"Awesome Low thanks," Seth rushed off leaving the sodas behind.

Krit's flirting proceeded throughout the meal but I was use to flirtatious customers so it didn't bother me. When I knew they were getting to the end of their meal I printed out their check and started to make my way over to them. But before I could take another step the front door opened and I halted.

The small audible gasp that escaped me luckily went unnoticed since no one was close enough to hear it.

Walking into the door was a very gorgeous and very determined looking Marcus Hardy. His blond hair was short enough it didn't require much brushing and although he pulled off the just got out of bed style with ease, tonight his hair had been paid attention to. The short blond locks were neatly in place with the front flipped up just barely. The jeans rode low on his hips hugging them in just the right spot and the pale green polo he had on made his green eyes stand out even more under his heavy eyelashes.

He nodded at Kim but kept his eyes on me as he headed directly to where I stood frozen in place.

directly to where I stood frozen in place.

"I heard you needed a ride tonight," he said with a pleased expression on his face.

"I do, um, but how did you know?" The twinkle in his eyes made me feel warm all over.

"I have my sources. Didn't want you walking or being stranded so I thought I'd come grab a drink and wait until you're ready to go."

I had planned on walking to my sister's. Cage had a game tonight and I hadn't wanted to ask him to let me borrow his car.

"Well, okay, um, thank you. Rock's here," I said trying to process the fact Marcus had just shown up to take me to my sister's after work as if this was normal behavior.

He followed my gaze, " I see that. I'll go say hello to them.

Take your time. I have nowhere to be. I've got all night." With one last long look directed at me he turned and walked to the table I'd been heading to before he walked in.

How the heck had he known I needed a ride? And furthermore why would he come to give me one without me asking him?

Shaking my head in confusion I followed him to the table.

"Marcus, man you missed the meal," Rock teased.

"Yeah I can see that but I'm here for Low not you." Krit glanced past Marcus and locked eyes with me. His blond eyebrows shot up in question at Marcus's comment.

"You taking Low somewhere Marcus?" Krit asked tearing his gaze off me and staring back up at Marcus.

This might get more interesting than was good. I'd been dodging Krit's advances for almost a year. The boy didn't take "no" for an answer.

"Yep, you got a problem with that?" Marcus asked pulling up a chair and sitting down beside Green.

"I guess I do. I'd been hoping to convince her to go out with me when she got off work tonight. Kinda screws that up if you're here for her."

I couldn't help but watch Marcus's face to see how he reacted to Krit's explanation. He scowled and leaned back in the chair.

"No I don't think that's a good idea Krit. You aren't Low's type."

"And you are?"

I couldn't bring myself to walk completely up to the table.

This was as embarrassing as it was fascinating.

"Alright boys calm down," Rock interrupted them and waved me over.

"I'm gonna pay for this meal and Krit you're going to leave with us. Low has plans tonight to leave with Marcus. You two can argue this out or beat the shit out of each other whatever, some other time. Right now I want to get home and spend some time with my girl, alone." Marcus looked entirely too pleased with everything. If he wasn't so darn cute I'd remind him I wasn't some piece of property he owned. Heck we hadn't even been out on a date and here he is acting like he has some claim on me.

His eyes lifted and locked with mine. All the reasons I had to be aggravated with him vanished. Who could stay mad at that face?

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