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Elias(West Bend Saints #1)(11) by Sabrina Paige
I sat in the car outside The Thirsty Frog for at least fifteen minutes before I finally decided to get out, just watching things. It was a new bar, but I knew that if Silas was in a bad place like my mother had said, it wasn't any kind of reputable establishment.
Silas was at the front door; I could see him standing there, arms crossed, beside the front door occasionally checking an ID, but mostly leaving it up to the other bouncer doing the ID checks while he scanned the crowd.
He'd gotten big, bigger than when I last saw him, and I wondered if my mother meant that he was juicing. Knowing Silas, if he was on the same trajectory he had been on when I left, it was more than just juicing he was doing. I thought he'd changed, but maybe not.
I got out of the car, and walked toward the bar. Silas didn't see me, but I heard his voice, loud even above the din of the people in line. One of the other bouncers was silhouetted in the doorway of the bar, pushing a guy out the front door, where Silas caught him by the back of the neck and dragged him out toward the street. Silas' face was contorted in anger, his cheeks ruddy and red.
Shit. Three years later, and nothing had changed.
He saw me standing there, and stopped, pushing the kid forward, without breaking eye contact with me. "Today's your f**king lucky day, shitbag," he said. The kid whimpered, stumbling forward into the parking lot and running away.
"You come down from on high to join the rest of us mere mortals?" Silas asked. "Or are you just coming back to West Bend to give me another lecture?"
"Screw you, Silas." I spat the words, already pissed off at his shitty attitude before we'd even had the chance to say more than two sentences to each other. He hadn't always been like this. I could remember a time when he was my best friend in the world. I could recall a time when I'd take a bullet for him, and he would have done the same for me.
His expression softened for a moment, clouded by something else. Regret? I wondered. It was probably too much to expect from Silas, but I felt my fists begin to unclench anyway. "They already cremated the ass**le, you know," he said.
"I saw," I said. "She has him up on the mantle."
Silas spit on the ground. "Real f**king awesome," he said. "On display, like he was some kind of goddamned saint."
I shrugged. "Did you expect anything different?"
"Not from her," he said, his voice bitter. Silas and I had always had different expectations when it came to our mother. I think I always understood that she was incapable of being who we'd want her to be. Silas was perpetually disappointed in her, angry at her for not living up to who he thought she should be. Angry at the world for the same reasons.
"She said you were in Vegas," I said, leaving off the rest of it, the unspoken part. Vegas was a couple of hours from San Diego, not exactly on the other side of the f**king world. My f**king twin, and he hadn't come see me after my leg had gotten blown the f**k off - not in the hospital, and not afterwards.
Silas shuffled, kicked at the pavement with his boot. "Yeah," he said. "Got on the fight circuit out there for a while."
"Legit?" I asked. Silas had always been a fighter- wrestling, boxing, MMA, you name it. Even when he was a kid, scrapping after school, taking on bullies, kids who used to talk shit about our family. It was like he had no fear, no sense of self-preservation.
"Mostly," he said. "Until I tore my ACL."
"I didn't know."
He shrugged. "I heard about what happened, the explosion. I was going to come see you, but - " His voice trailed off.
"Yeah, well, shit happens."
His expression looked pained, and he opened his mouth, then shut it again.
"You heard from Luke or Killian?" I asked. I wasn't on the outs with them, not like I'd been with Silas, but my older brothers were incommunicado a lot of the time, on the road.
Silas shook his head. "Not in a long time," he said, the implication obvious. Silas had established himself as the black sheep when it came to the four of us. "You sticking around here?"
I wasn't sure if it was hope or fear in his voice. "Not sure," I said.
"Yeah, well, West Bend ain't the place it used to be," Silas said.
"What does that mean?"
He shrugged, kicked at the ground. "Have to watch yourself here," he said, not bothering to elaborate.
A yell from one of the other bouncers interrupted us. "Stop f**king socializing and get your ass back over here."
Silas turned toward the direction of the sound. "Fuck you," he yelled back. "I'm coming."
"Watch yourself how?" I asked.
Silas opened his mouth, then closed it again. "I didn't mean anything by it," Silas said. He kicked the ground with the toe of his boot. "I'll talk to you later. I'm real sorry I didn't come out there when you were in the hospital. Got a lot of regrets and shit, and that's probably the biggest."
I nodded, calm on the outside, but really he might as well have knocked me over with a baseball bat, apologizing like that. Silas wasn't ever one for apologies, not even back when we were tight. "It's all right."
"Nah," he said. "It's not, really. I've been a dick. Don't want to rack up any more regrets, you know? Bad karma."
"Fuck, Silas," the bouncer yelled. "Get your f**king ass back over here."
"Duty calls," he said, a wry smile on his face. "I've got to go."
I drove away from the bar, my mind racing. Silas apologizing had been the last thing on earth I expected when I came back here. It had thrown me for a loop.
The road stretched out in front of me, and the thought of going home, back to the house where I grew up, was a bleak one.
I didn't know what the hell I was doing, but I didn't want to go home.
So I turned the car around.