“I dropped my car off and ran into him on the way out. Literally. He was stopping me from falling on my ass, you dipshit.” With those words, I stepped around Trip and stomped off down the road to Scarlett’s parlor, cussing and grumbling under my breath the whole time.
A few minutes later, I walked in the front doors of Needle’s Kiss and flopped down on the sofa, throwing my purse in the corner.
“Whoa now, sparky,” Scarlett greeted from where she sat behind the front counter. The smell of antiseptic and sounds of the tattoo guns buzzing were oddly calming. “Who pissed in your Cheerios this morning?” She pushed away from the counter and came to the sofa, sliding in beside me.
“Stupid boys and their stunted displays of testosterone,” I grumbled.
“Explain.” She chuckled.
“I’m not a baby. Why do those boys keep acting like I can’t make decisions on my own?” I took a deep breath and continued my rant. “It’s like I’m five years old all over again and not allowed to walk to school. I can’t do anything for myself. I’m not a damn kid!”
Scar’s laughter cut through my words and pulled me up short. I stared at her with confusion. “The fuck?” I shot at her.
“You.” She laughed harder. “You just walked in here stomping your feet like a petulant child. Now you’ve got your arms crossed over your chest and you’re pouting and throwing a tantrum like a toddler, yet you want to be taken seriously?”
My face flushed when I realized she was right. I was acting like a little brat but I was pissed the fuck off. Who were they all to tell me what I could do and who I could do it with? Jude was no different. What a pussy. Not standing up to my brothers and fighting for us. Clearly, I meant very little to him if they came first. Fine. They could do whatever they wanted. So would I!
I went to stand up and add a nice finale to my tantrum when Scarlett put her hand on my arm and stopped me. Her face conveyed her seriousness as she pointedly told me, “You want them to stop treating you like a little brat? Stop being one. Grow up and do something about it.”
My defenses spiked and I huffed at her. “And pray tell how the fuck am I supposed to have them take me seriously?”
“Look around you. Take a look in the mirror Haven and ask yourself what you want. Then damn well take it!”
“And how do you suggest I just take it?” I snapped back.
“They’re just boys, honey,” she implored. “Boys are essentially idiots.”
I must have shown my complete confusion because she chuckled and bestowed her wisdom on me. “Boys think with their egos and penises ninety percent of the time. You can always count on that, and the fact they’ll do anything to protect their sister or the woman they love. Stupid shit, the dumbest and most irritating things you’ve ever seen. They’ll do it. Never fail. “
“I’m not seeing your point here on how exactly I make my life choices,” I interrupted her speech.
“Do whatever the hell you want and don’t make apology for it. You want Jude? Make him want you. You want the boys to treat you like an adult? Be one. Without apology. Get a job. Be a big girl. Show them you’re capable of doing shit on your own and don’t back down.” She slapped her hand down on the table in front of us to accentuate her point.
“I’ve been looking for a job for months and still I’ve had no callbacks. Nobody is hiring.”
“I am. Teeny and Trip are both part timing to spend time with Javier now. I’ll be taking some time off soon and we need a receptionist. Just keeping track of timeframes, appointment bookings, enquiries, all that kind of crap.” She made her way around the other side of the counter and pulled out a few papers from a drawer before dumping them and a pen in my lap. “Fill this shit out. You start tomorrow. No uniform. Just don’t dress like a dirty skank and we’re golden. “
I looked at the papers and back up at Scar’s retreating form, then back at the paperwork and my shaking hands. Tears welled up in my eyes and I sucked in a breath. Scarlett was family, yet she’d asked no questions, made no commotion about it and just gave me a job. I loved the woman like she was blood and everyday she proved why we loved her. She was the perfect balance to my pig-headed brother and his stupid antics. She was just all around loveable. There wasn’t ever a time you were near her and you didn’t smile when she did or felt the overwhelming need to take a bullet for her. She really was an angel. A little rough around the edges but an angel none the less.