***RV Park, Shamrock, TX***
Vic swirled the amber liquid in the shot glass. Don Julio was nowhere near as good as Clase Azul, but he was lucky to find anything other than Jose Cuervo in this tiny backwater hellhole.
The women were asleep inside his home on wheels. And it had been that for the past decade. Had it really been that long since his last relationship ended? Yeah, growing old sucked when you had been that ‘boy.’
It was probably a good thing there were no mirrors out here. He spent enough time staring into the stranger he saw there. Maybe his mama had been right? Perhaps he had wasted his whole life?
He lifted the glass and tossed it back. The burn as it slid down his throat reminded him that he was alive. Which was more than Jose or Roberto was. In some ways, more even than Diego. Was his oldest brother more imprisoned in that jail cell or his own mind?
Vic poured himself another shot of the tequila. It was the middle of the afternoon, hours before it would get dark. They had pulled into here just before dawn this morning. He had insisted. Not only had he been driving for close to thirty hours with only a couple of hours sleep, but those women needed a break. The constant motion was making the pregnant girl’s morning sickness worse. And the other one…she needed a fucking hospital.
But Vic, of all people, understood being on the run. He had been since he was sixteen years old. On the run from his family name. On the run from being gay in a machismo society. Now on the run simply for being born in the wrong family. Guilt by association.
Or was it? Wasn’t he planning to destroy the people who had brought his family down? Was that right or just? Certainly, Diego deserved everything he got. Hell, mama was no saint either. And Roberto? But hadn’t even his youngest brother chosen to be involved with those things? With criminal activity? There, he had said it. Criminals. His family was criminals.
If he were smart, he’d take these people where they wanted to go and just keep driving. Forget that little hell hole where his father had spawned another family. Forget the ‘sisters’ that had destroyed it all. The ones that had taken Roberto’s life.
“Mind if I join you?”
Vic looked up at the handsome young black man. Too bad he wasn’t gay. Hell, even bi would do. But this one had eyes only for that woman. “I’m surprised you left her side. How’s she doing?”
The kid stretched, and it drew that t-shirt tight across his impressive chest. Fuck, when was the last time he had been attracted to a man? Even if this one was off-limits. A guy could look and appreciate, couldn’t he?
Donovan slipped into the chaise lounge next to him. Did the man know that Selena had spilled the entire story to him? The girl was too idealistic and sheltered. And this mess was simply more than she could manage. The moment that she heard him speaking Spanish, she had taken to him. Glommed on to him would be more accurate.
The young man ran his hand over his braids and sighed heavily, “I don’t know. She won’t talk to me. She just lies there in the bed, staring at the wall. Or sleeping.”
He nodded, “So, what’s your plan?”
“Fuck, I wish I knew,” Donovan turned and frowned at him.
Vic shrugged, “Selena told me.”
“Told you what, man?”
“Everything. Or at least enough. I know that the girl is pregnant. That your former boss had someone shoot at you, try to kill you. That you’re on the run. I know that those men who beat up your girlfriend were sent by him.”
Donovan closed his eyes and shook his head against the back of the chair. “I need to keep them safe.”
“But you don’t know how? You know she needs a doctor, right?”
The other man shook his head, “I’m not so sure of that. Her face probably looks worse than it is. I keep waking her up every couple of hours, making sure that she doesn’t have a concussion or something. But….”
“They both need someone to look them over.” Vic held up a hand to stop the man’s arguments. “I have a tia, an aunt. She was a nurse, at least. She and her husband Hector are retired now. But she does a bit of midwifing and private care on the side. They live not far from Houston. We should stop and have her examine them.”
“No,” this voice was feminine and came from the doorway behind them. The woman leaned heavily against it as if she might fall.
Donovan was out of the chair quickly, scooping her into his arms. “I thought you were asleep, sweetheart.”
She shook her blond head, then winced and shut her eyes. “No.”
“You need a doctor.”
She opened them and looked directly at him, “No doctor.”
“Then my tia is the only alternative.”
“Where are we?”
“A small town just inside the Texas border. I needed to stop and rest.”
She looked at the shot glass in his hand and carefully motioned with her head, eliciting another wince. “Looks like it.”
Vic lifted it and drained the contents. His eyes never felt hers. Then he wiped his lips with the back of his hand, “You should try it sometime, sister. It might loosen up that tight ass of yours.”
He allowed Victoria to speak for both of them. He had spent a lifetime being judged by people. And he’d be damned if they let some uptight redneck attorney look down her nose at them.
“Jo, he’s right,” the young man backed him on this at least.
“No, we get out here.”
“In the middle of podunk Texas? A bitchy middle-aged white woman, a young Latina, and a black man? Good luck with that one, sister. You won’t need to worry about the Vegas mob or former partners. These good white folks will be happy to handle you themselves.” Sometimes even he was surprised by the outrageous things that came out of Victoria’s mouth.
“So what do you suggest, sistah?”
It was the first sign of actual life that he had seen from this one. Though he knew she was some highfalutin lawyer from Los Angeles, those few times she had been conscious, the woman had acted more withdrawn and frightened than the girl. And that was saying something.
“We stay here a couple of days. Let you and that girl rest and recover. Then we head to Houston like I planned. We stop along the way for my aunt to check you both out.”
“And what then? What’s your big plan?” Oh, yes, he could see the fire reigniting in this one. That was good. They would need it.
“It will probably be safer if we stay together.” No one would expect Martin Garcia to be traveling with a woman. Assuming they managed somehow to connect Martin to Vic-Victoria. “You can pretend to be my wife. Selena is our daughter. And this one her boyfriend,” he motioned with his head towards Donovan.
She laughed as Vic poured more tequila into the glass and passed it to her. “You do realize you’re gay, right?”
“Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed.” But he knew that Victoria was not going to win this argument. “Just to bring you into the twenty-first century, the LGBT rainbow has gotten surprisingly wider. It isn’t unheard of for openly bi-sexual men to be married and have families. Or even for wives to support their partner’s choices. Admittedly, most women don’t. But it is possible. And certainly not what the Tysons would expect of you?”
He watched the shock spread across the woman’s face as she tossed back the tequila. She turned to the young man. Vic could see the accusation on her face. “Don’t be upset with your lover boy. It was Selena that told me.”
“Told you what?”
“Pretty much everything. Most of it for certain.”
She shook her head and, this time, did not wince. Tequila that strong was a surprisingly effective medicine. It would either cure you or kill you. Vic played his ace as he looked from one of them to the other, studying their faces. “Do you have any better plans?”
“And what do you get out of it?”
Oh yes, this one was sharper than she looked. “Let’s just say, I have some unfinished business in Texas. And just as no one would look for you as the married mother of a twenty-something Latina, neither would they expect me to be married to a loud-mouthed like you.”
“I don’t like it,” Donovan pulled her tighter against him
“Oh, grow a set of cojones. I’d rather have you in my bed than her,” Vic lifted the bottle and took a long swig of the tequila. Staring the younger man in the eyes, he passed the bottle to him. “But I figure neither of those things is going to happen. I’m still right. This is the best option. Unless, like I said, you have a better one? Besides getting killed in podunk?”
The couple looked at one another for a long moment. Surprisingly, it was the young man who answered for them, “We’ll go as far as your aunt’s. They do need someone with medical training to check them out.”
The woman started to open her mouth, but Donovan quelled it with a stern look. “I’m not arguing with you anymore, Jo. It’s that, or we go to the hospital.” Vic could see that she wanted to disagree but, for whatever reason, only nodded slowly.
He stood up from the lounge, “Well, if you’re out of my bed now, I’ll get a bit of sleep.” He stopped right in front of her, “Do I need to change my sheets, sister?” Damn, sometimes he forgot just how bitchy Victoria could be.
Donovan tugged her hand gently, and Jo stepped down the steps and out of his way. “Buenas noches.”
He just hoped he did not live to regret this. Hell, there was no guarantee he would live at all. Not with his plans. But he would do what he could for them. Though he had no idea why. Maybe mama was right? Perhaps he was too soft?