“What?” he asks, looking from me to his mom.
“Go rinse off the vomit from the side of my car.”
“But it’s, like, midnight or something.”
“And?” I ask.
“Mom?” he says, looking at his mom again.
“Don’t look at me for help. And when you come in, we need to talk about your punishment.”
“Fine,” he says, stomping out of the kitchen, the sound of the door slamming shut echoing through the house.
“That went well,” Kat says then looks at me and smiles.
“Why are you smiling?”
“My son doesn’t agree to do stuff he doesn’t want to do. You have to understand that, as much as he’s mad right now, he respects you enough to go outside in the middle of the night to clean off your car because you told him to do it. That’s huge.”
“I think you’re reading to much into that, baby.”
She shrugs and takes the beer from my hand before putting it to her mouth and taking a drink. “Regardless, thank you for picking him up tonight.”
“You’re welcome,” I tell her, kissing her head.
After about fifteen minutes, the front door opens then shuts and Brandon comes into the kitchen.
“How long am I grounded for?” he asks his mom, and an idea comes to me.
“You’re gonna come work for me,” I say.
Kat and Brandon both say, “What?” at the same time.
“November has been trying to transfer all the stuff from my office to her home office. You’re gonna help her get everything organized.”
“So, I’m going to work at a strip club?” he asks.
Kat’s mouth has opened and closed a few times, but she still hasn’t said anything.
I look from her to Brandon and shake my head. “No, you’re not working at the strip club. You’re going to help November.”
“I think we should talk about this,” Kat says.
My eyes go to her and then back to Brandon. When Brandon’s eyes come back to me, something flashes in them before he looks at his mom.
“I wanted to get a job anyways, so I think this would be a good opportunity for me,” he tells his mom.
I give Kat’s waist a squeeze then look at Brandon. He needs something, and though I may not be the best person to give him what he needs, I want him to be successful and I want to heal the rift between him and his mom. I just hope I don’t make shit worse.
“Okay, but you’re still grounded. You can use the car for school and work, but no hanging out with friends for a month.”
“A month?” he asks, stunned. Then he looks at me like I should help him out.
“Do I need to remind you that you were picked up by the cops for underage drinking? If you were anyone else, you would have spent the night in jail and had to go in front of the judge in the morning. You’re lucky that this is your punishment,” I tell him.
Kat leans slightly back into me. “A month, Brandon. If you mess up during the month, another month gets added,” she says.
Brandon looks at her and nods.
“I love you, honey. I know that you’re mad about your dad and what happened, but I love you and I want you to be a better man than he is, and right now I’m worried about you,” Kat says softly.
Brandon’s body loosens completely. He nods again, and Kat steps out of my hold and gives him a hug.
“Want a beer?” Asher asks.
Brandon’s face lights up and his hand goes forward to take the beer when Nico snatches the beer from Asher and opens it.
“Sorry, kid. You need to get some hair on your chest. Then you can have a beer,” Trevor says, handing Brandon a soda, smirking.
“Whatever,” Brandon grumbles, sitting back in his chair and taking a drink of his soda before looking around the campsite.
It’s been over a month since I picked up Brandon from the station. He has made a lot of changes since then. He is home more often than not or he is hanging out with me, Joe, or one of the Maysons. His grades have improved, and his and Kat’s relationship has done a complete one-eighty. Not only has he been helping November, but he has also shown a great interest in the club and improving it. I know nothing about social media, but the kid is a damn wiz and he has helped build clientele online with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Joe is completely impressed with the damn kid, and I have to say I’m proud as hell of him.
“So, who is the girl you were hanging around the other day?” Nico asks.
I look at Brandon and then Nico and raise an eyebrow.
“No one,” Brandon mumbles, glaring at Nico.
“Didn’t look like no one to me, kid. You were making goo-goo eyes at her.”
Brandon glares harder. “I wasn’t.”
“Shut up, Nico,” Cash says and smiles at Brandon. “That’s his study partner, right?” Cash asks, looking at Brandon.
Brandon’s eyes narrow even further. “She’s a friend,” he grits out.
‘Who’s this?” I ask.
“She’s no one. Just a friend from school,” Brandon says.
“Friend… Hmmm,” Trevor says.
Brandon glares at him. “She is a friend,” he says.
Trevor gets a strange smile on his face. “Liz is my best friend,” he says, which makes me chuckle.
“You’re an idiot,” Brandon says, laughing, and the rest of the guys laugh too.
“So, are we going to go fishing or sit around all day gossiping?” James asks, walking up to the group with his fishing pole.
“Come with me for a second, bud,” I tell Brandon.
He follows me to the back of Asher’s Jeep, where we have all our stuff stowed. When I open the hatch, I pull out the gift I got for him and hand it to him. His eyes go from me to the box then back again.
“What is it?” he asks.
“Open it,” I tell him.
He pulls off the paper his mom insisted I wrap it in last night and his eyes go from his new pole to me.
“It’s a good one,”
He swallows hard and nods.
“Your mom insisted on wrapping it even though I told her not to,” I tell him.
His lips twitch and he looks at me again. “Thanks,” he says.
I nod, patting him on the back. I fell in love with Kat a long time ago, but I have slowly fallen in love with her son over the last month.
“You want me to help you set it up?” I ask him.
He nods again, pulling it completely from the box. We spend the next ten minutes getting his new trigger pole ready to use. Once it’s completely set up, I grab my pole and the tackle box I brought and head out to the boat we launched into the water when we arrived at the lake.