Holding my breath, I slide out of bed trying not to jostle the mattress or the man sleeping next to me. Once my feet hit the floor, I use every muscle in my body to stand without shaking the bed. I look over my shoulder and let out a silent sigh of relief before I slowly bring up the Uber app, praying the light from my phone doesn’t wake him, and order a ride. Once I see it’s confirmed, I turn off my phone and shove it underneath the mattress as far as I can, all the while trying to keep from waking Bradley.
Tip toeing into the closet, I retrieve the bag I packed earlier in the day after I got home from the hospital, and sling it over my shoulder.
Walking backward, I count my steps; ten, nine, eight and so on while I keep an eye on the sleeping figure. When I hit one, I turn on my heel and walk as quickly as I can while still being silent. When Beckham’s door comes into view, I slip inside his room, but leave the door open a crack so I can hear any noises coming from the hall. I give myself one moment to stare down at my son and pray with all that’s holy that it won’t be too long before he’ll be sleeping as peacefully as he is in this moment.
Wiping a tear that’s slowly trailing down my cheek, I lean down and pick my son up, hoping he’ll sleep through everything, but I don’t get my wish. His toe head pops up and his sleepy blue eyes try to focus on me.
“Mama, what’s going on?” he asks, voice clogged with sleep.
Placing a finger over his mouth to quiet him, I start to leave his room, but then remember the polar bear my parents got him when they went to Antarctica two years ago. He hasn’t slept without it since they gave it to him.
Circling back to his bed, I pick Chewy up and shove him between Beck and me since he’s already fallen back asleep. I can’t risk Beckham’s heartbreak if Chewy is dropped and left behind.
Headlights flash through his bedroom window, making my heart race double time. I’m scared of what lies ahead for our future, but I know this is what I need to do to keep us safe.
In my head, I count the stairs as I descend to the living room, making sure I don’t step on the one squeaky stair that will alert my departure. I never understood why Bradley wouldn’t fix it, but now I wonder if it was in case of this very scenario. I know if I get caught now, it’s likely Bradley will kill me, Beckham, and my unborn baby.
After turning off the alarm, I open the front door, but stop when it lets out a loud noise that I swear could wake the dead and very well might have woken my boyfriend.
No, not my boyfriend.
He just doesn’t know it yet. He won’t know until he wakes up in the morning and finds us gone.
Holding onto Beckham with everything in me, I run out of the house and down the sidewalk to the waiting car. I don’t even sit Beckham down in the seat before I slide in and buckle us both in with him on my lap.
“Go,” I urge the driver as sweat starts to form along my hairline.
The man turns in his seat, his brows furrow as he looks me up and down. “Is everything okay, ma’am?”
“It will be if you drive. Now,” I whisper yell. Locking eyes on him, I beg. “Please.”
He doesn’t say a word as he turns around and looks up at the stately house. I swear I see Bradley at the window and my heart nearly stops dead in my chest.
Leaning forward with my hands on the headrest in front of me, I plead with the driver to drive before I have a nervous breakdown in his back seat or have a heart attack from stress.
The driver doesn’t speak as he takes the car out of park and slowly starts to reverse down the driveway. Once we’ve been on the road for a few minutes, his soft voice breaks the silence. “Are you and your boy okay?”
“We are now thanks to you.” I lean my head back and close my eyes. For the last twenty-four hours, I’ve lived in fear since I found out my boyfriend is involved in some very illegal shit. Now I can finally take a deep breath.
“Wasn’t that the Stanton residence?”
My right eye cracks open so I can take in the man driving. Is he one of their goons and he’s going to take me back? “It was,” I answer hesitantly.
“I never liked those Stanton’s. They think they’re better than everyone else when really they’re the scum beneath all of our shoes.”
“I couldn’t agree more, but don’t let anyone hear you say that. You never know who’s on their side.” I pray I’m not making a mistake by saying those words.
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