After what was probably the most humiliating moment in Dare’s life, getting bitched out by his mama was nothing. In fact, his mind kept sneaking out of the shouting and cussing she was doing at him, and instead he replayed images of the two sexy men he’d confronted.
Not that the confrontation had done any good. Now the guys would think he was a total loser—true, but still—and if he ever saw them again, Dare would probably just drop dead from sheer embarrassment.
Although, with the way Mama was railing at him, Dare would never get to set foot in the club again.
Bar. Mama says it’s a bar cuz it ain’t classy enough to be a club. Dare had tried to fix the place up some. It looked better than before he’d taken it over, and fixing the club—bar—up had let him do what he truly enjoyed—carpentry, building things with his own hands, fixing things that were broken.
A sharp slap knocked him out of his thoughts. Dare knew better than to make so much as a whimper. Mama’s slaps hurt like a fucker, though. She wasn’t a small woman.
“Are you even listening to what I’m sayin’, you dumbass?” Mama rasped, her smoker’s voice making her sound rather masculine, as deep as it was. “You let your brother get jumped!”
“That’s not what—“ Dare turned his head just enough to make the second slap less painful. He stumbled back to avoid any more hits. “Mama! Stop it!”
“Oh, you think you’re gonna tell me what to do?” Mama bellowed.
“He’s a pussy, Mama. Always has been,” Earl said.
Dare glared at his brother. “Yeah? Well I’m not the one who got his ass beat by a little guy! And your two buddies got their asses kicked too!”
“There was five guys!” Earl shouted. “And they jumped us!”
“Did not!” Dare yelled right back. “I know it was two guys, and I know you and your rats were gonna do bad shit to them!”
“Don’t you talk about your brother like that!”
Dare dodged another slap—his mama was fast as she was mean. “I ain’t lying! You know what he went to prison for!”
“That boy lied,” Mama snapped. “You know it! And he was an adult anyway, so it wasn’t like he was forced!”
No, Dare didn’t know any such thing, and his mind was utterly boggled that his mama was linking age with consent, as if once a person hit eighteen, they wouldn’t ever say no.
“Earl and Marty can take over,” Mama said firmly. “Once Marty’s out of prison. Meanwhile, I’ll set cousin Andy to workin’ at the bar, too.”
Dare shook his head. “Mama, you know he’s violent when he gets in one of his moods. I can run the—“
“No you can’t. You don’t have the balls to do the job right.” Mama nodded at Earl. “You don’t have to let your parole officer know any of this. Dare ain’t gonna tell, and no one else will, either.”
Dare turned away. She was right; he wouldn’t narc on his brother. That made him a shitty person, he realized, because if Earl was willing to rape two men in a bathroom of a club—bar—he wasn’t running, what would he do once he thought he was in charge?
Dare shuddered. He’d already been forgotten by his family, who were now talking about how they were going to start running drugs through the bar.
It was safe for Dare to slip out the back door and head for his own tiny apartment on the bad side of town… which didn’t put him far from his family, but there were good people around, too.
He just wasn’t related to any of them, and most ‘good’ people stayed far away from him and his family.
As he pulled out the key for his place, Dare felt a moment of panic. He didn’t have a job now; how was he going to afford rent? There was some money he’d hidden away, but that would only cover his bills for a few months.
No need to panic. I got time to try and find another job. He wished he could get on at the Carpenter’s Union, but he’d never gotten past eighth grade in school. He was fairly certain they wouldn’t want jack shit to do with him.
The apartment was run down but clean. Dare hated a dirty space. His mama had never cared about picking up or anything like that, but Dare had a hatred for roaches and trash that was unparalleled. He’d scrubbed the entire apartment from ceiling to floor when he’d first moved in three years ago, and he repeated that cleaning every two months.
It was a miracle he hadn’t scrubbed away the floor and walls.
Dare wanted to repair everything there, but Mr. Bosco had vetoed him doing anything to it.
“That’s just gonna raise my property taxes,” Mr. Bosco had complained. “No way am I lettin’ that happen!”
Well, Dare could dream. He sat down at the small table he’d sanded down and refinished. His sketch book was hidden under the table, where he’d added in a shelf just for his sketch pad and pencils. Dare didn’t want his family to ever know that he still liked to draw. His mama had tried to ‘beat the sissy’ out of him. Dare had just learned to be a liar and tell her he didn’t care about drawing anymore.
But he needed the freedom it gave him, though he wasn’t particularly talented at it. Still, he could sit and sketch out the way the apartment would look if he could renovate it.
Or he could draw his own dream home.
Or…Dare gave up fighting it. He could draw the two sexy, naked men he’d gotten whooped by. Dare wasn’t great at portraits, but he took his time, putting in every detail he could remember about the men.