Beneath These Chains (Page 57)

“But you will. You’re not your mother. You’re not going to become your mother. If you never want to drink another drop of alcohol because you’re worried the disease runs in your family, that’s totally cool. But the not driving thing is something I think you need to address.”

“I don’t want to address it. I’m fine without it.”

I sighed, knowing I should’ve waited longer to bring it up, but it mattered to me. I couldn’t stand to see Elle still trapped in the past over something so irrational.

“What if there’s an emergency? Or what if you want to be more independent? You were so worried about control and someone trying to pin you down, but you hobble yourself by not driving.”

“But what if—”

Pulling Elle against me, I tilted her face up to mine. “You’re a smart woman. Strong. Independent. Sexy as fuck. You’re not going to do anything stupid. You’re not some kid on a bender. It’s been almost a decade; it’s time to let it go.”

Tears shimmered in her eyes, and like they did every time, they hit me in the gut.

“I’m not saying today, but soon. I think it’s important. You’re putting the pieces back together after losing your dad. It’s time, Elle. Time to let yourself heal.”

I tucked her chin against my chest as she let her tears fall silently. The back alley behind my pawnshop was the last place I wanted to see her break down, but sometimes you had to let yourself break before you could start picking up the pieces. I held her for several minutes before she pulled away and swiped at her tears. The grief she’d never truly dealt with still hovered at the surface.

“So first I’m telling my stepdad to fuck off, causing him to leave my mom, and then I’m going to drive Eleanor.” Her mouth wobbled into a sideways smile. “Jesus, who knew my life would be so action packed.”

“If you want me to take you home—”

“No. There’s nowhere I want to be but here,” she interrupted. “Sorry about being such a girl.” She swiped at the last remaining tear.

I leaned down and brushed a kiss across her lips. “I’m happy as fuck you’re such a girl. Let’s go tackle this monster of a day.”

After a quick call, I had confirmation from a friend that the treatment facility was on standby as soon as we needed them. Elle and I discussed how we wanted to break it to her mother, and her nerves shined right through.

“She’s going to hate me. So much. Even more than she already does.”

I kept her hand in mine, something I couldn’t seem to stop myself from doing, and told her, “She’ll forgive you. It might take some time, but eventually, it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done for her.”

Elle’s face pinched with worry. “I should’ve insisted on it years ago. I should never have let it get this far.”

“There’s nothing you can do but focus on the now.”

“You’re right.” She sucked in a deep breath. “Focus on the now. Everything else can wait.”

“Good girl.”

Her smile faded. “It’s still totally shitty that he can divorce her and leave her with nothing. I can’t believe she signed a prenup. I mean, I get that he has basically supported her the whole time they’ve been married, but she deserves hazard pay for putting up with him.”

I shrugged, because there was nothing I could do about that. “At least she’s getting out.”

“It’s still bullshit.”

“We’ll figure it out.”

The chime rang to signal a customer entering the shop. We both looked up at the kid. Probably mid-twenties, clean cut, but something was off about him. I studied his body language as he came toward the counter. Sniffling, wiping at his nose. And then he started talking fast as fuck and my suspicions were put to rest. Coked up. Great.

“I got a car out front I wanna pawn.”

A fucking car? He must be in deep with his dealer.

I walked to the window.

“Which one?”

He pointed to a yellow Honda S2000, at least ten years old, rims scuffed from where he’d gotten too close to a few curbs.

“Can’t say I’m in the market.”

“I just need like ten grand, man. On pawn, not sale. I love that fuckin’ car.” He was waving his hands around, and his watch face caught the light and damn near blinded me.

Elle cleared her throat, and I looked her way. She jerked her head to the side and mouthed can I talk to you before starting for the corner of the shop where we’d still be able to see him, but far enough that he probably wouldn’t hear anything we’d say.

“Hold on a sec,” I said to the kid.

I met Elle in the corner. “What’s up?”

“He’s one of DJ’s friends. I’ve seen them together before. I think he might even work at Denton’s firm.”

“Well, he’s got a drug habit that has him wanting to pawn his fucking car.”

“How can you tell?”

“He’s got all the signs. Isn’t the first cokehead who has walked through my door looking to sell something.”

Elle glanced over at him and then back at me. “Are you going to do it?”

I gave a sharp shake of my head. “No. The kid can find another way to feed his habit. I’m not gonna bankroll that shit.”


“I’ll take care of it.” I headed back toward him.

“Can’t help you, man.”

“Come on. I just need a loan. That’s why pawnshops fucking exist.”