Spinning Out(The Blackhawk Boy #1)

By: Lexi Ryan
For Kai

Before midnight. New Year’s Eve. Black sky. Black clouds. Headlights. New moon.

My mother always told us that change happens at the new moon.

They’re arguing. Brogan’s drunk—not himself. Nic’s pissed—too much himself.

“Nobody raises his hand to my sister.” Nic spits in Brogan’s face, and Brogan swings. Then the sickening sound of fists connecting with flesh. My brother’s fists. My boyfriend’s. They’re going to kill each other.

“Stop!” I beg, my voice like breaking glass. “Nic, just take me home.” Sleet pelts my face, coming at me the way the guys go at each other. I pace, my arms wrapped around myself, my fingers numb. It’s so dark out here, and the only light comes from the headlights of the boys’ cars, facing each other on the side of the road.

“Get in the car,” Nic growls at me without taking his eyes from Brogan. It’s the third time he’s given the order, and I refused, as if my presence could keep them from hurting each other. This time I obey, climbing in and shutting the door behind me. It’s warmer in here without the sleet and relentless wind, but I can’t stop shaking. Cold. Scared. Fucking night from hell. I wait for my brother, but he doesn’t follow. He shoves Brogan into the street, and Brogan falls, then scrambles. Nic kicks him before he can get up.

“Just take me home!” I scream. My stomach cramps, folds, convulses around itself. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

I turn the key in the ignition and look at the clock as if it might be ticking down to the end of their ugly shouts and angry punches. 11:59. How is it still 11:59? Will this night never end?

As if answering my mental plea, the clock ticks over, and I hear screeching tires.

Black sky. Black clouds. Headlights. New moon.

My mother always told us that change happens at the new moon. She was right.

April, three and a half months after the accident

“What is she doing here?” Arrow’s words are spoken in a hard whisper that crawls up the walls and under the wooden nursery door. They creep into my sanctuary and claw at my heart. The murmurs of his stepmother’s reply float up behind the hate, but I can’t make them out.

“You couldn’t find any-fucking-body else to play mom to your baby?” No more whispering. Words directed like knives intended to hurt us both—her for being an unfit mother by hiring a nanny, me because he wants me to know how unwelcome I am.

The dull thud of toppled furniture—maybe a dining room chair, maybe an end table. Heavy footsteps. The echoing, house-shaking boom of a slamming door.

I shift baby Katie in my arms and cross to the window. Between the slats of the wooden blinds, I watch Arrow. The sight of him climbing into his electric-blue Mustang GT steals my breath. The engine purrs, and he tears out of the driveway.

Breathe, I remind myself. I close my eyes and focus on the cool air filling my lungs, the warmth of the newborn curled into my body, the hum of the ceiling fan almost whispering the reminder: Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Gwen’s heels click on the hardwood planks of the hall, and I know she’s heading my way before she knocks.

“Come in.”

She opens the door slowly and steps into the room, bringing with her a cloud of expensive perfume and a reminder of my anxieties. She looks every bit the part of the stereotypical trophy wife—from her blond hair and perfect body to the single-carat diamond studs in each ear.

At twenty-six, Gwen is only six years older than me, five years older than her stepson. She married Arrow’s father a convenient eight months before she gave birth to Katie, making her husband a father to his second child at the age of sixty-five. I don’t judge her for marrying Mr. Woodison, a man nearly forty years her senior. We all have our reasons for taking paths for which the world will judge us.

“I’m guessing you heard that,” she says.

I nod and tell my racing heart to steady. If she asks me to leave, I don’t know what I’ll do. Get a job at Walmart, maybe? The pay cut would be a bitch, but it would be something. Of course, then there’d be no school next fall, and the fact that Mr. Woodison pays me enough that I’ll be able to afford my tuition at Blackhawk Hills U is definitely the sweetest part of this arrangement.

“He hates you so much,” she says. The words hit me with the dull force of a blow to the heart. “Why?”

Because I destroyed everything. “I don’t know.”

She extends her arms for Katie, and I hesitate. Seeing Arrow again—even for only the ten seconds it took him to climb into his car—has left me feeling ugly and guilty. The baby’s warmth is a soothing balm to my battered conscience, but I hand her over.