quick right hook against Jeff’s face, temporarily dazing him and knocking him back a few steps. The rest of the Marshal’s men caught Jeff as he stumbled backwards, propping him up and holding him back.
Jeff saw red. The rage burned in his eyes and the anger consumed him to his core. He would like nothing better than to slug his old man in the face, but his cohorts kept him from doing so. After what he’d had to endure over the last eight years, nothing would please him more. He’d had no parents, no family, and no help to get him through the world run by the walking dead. He had just turned thirteen when his mother died, and it still stung him to talk about her. After a few seconds, he stopped struggling against their grasp and righted himself. Running a hand across his lip, a small trickle of blood smeared across the back of it.
“You hit like a pussy, old man,” Jeff spat. “Why don’t you go over to the bar and have another one, you fucking lush.”
This time, Rip saw red. He wanted—no, he needed —to go over and beat some sense into his son. Thankfully, Jake stepped in front of Rip, planting a firm hand in the middle of his chest. Rip looked down, and then to Jake’s face. His face read now’s not the time. Rip gruffly shoved Jake’s hand away.
“This ain’t over, boy. Not by a fucking longshot. You go run back to Crane and you tell him that Rip Irving is alive and wants to talk to him. You tell him he better have a good goddamn explanation why he didn’t come looking for me. There are a lot of questions I need answered, starting with that asshole.”
Jeff laughed, as did the rest of Crane’s men. It seemed out of place for the situation, and there was a degree of disturbing pleasure with it.
Rip’s temper flared again. “What’s so goddamned funny?”
Jeff strode forward, the blood drying on his lip. He leaned forward, almost taunting. “I’m sure he’ll want to talk to you. He can explain to you why he was banging mom for all those years.”
Rip felt that old familiar feeling—the same as the first time he killed a man in combat. It was a way of dealing strictly with the problem at hand. It was a way to shut off his emotions, making him uncaring, unfeeling, and numb to the outside world. Rip could shut off the outside world and do horrible things, bottling it up inside and making the lines between right and wrong become very blurry. He was getting that feeling now, staring at his son— his son! The one person in this world that he knew, and the one person that wasn’t going to help him out. He gritted his teeth and swallowed hard, desperately trying to compartmentalize and remove the image of Crane having sex with Katrina. As with most things over the last few hours, it wasn’t working that well.
Now’s not the time, Rip. You’ve got bigger fish to fry right now.
Like hell I do! I’ve got a bone to pick with Crane!
Kill that motherfucker!
“C’mon fellas. Let’s get out of here before the great Geoffrey Irving has a goddamned seizure,” Jeff said. A few seconds later, Jeff was on his horse and moving out, away from Fort Drum. He had no further use for his belligerent father. Not that he had much use for him when he was around, but doubly so now. He’d managed to make it this far without Rip’s help, and he damn sure wasn’t going to ask for it now. Disgusted, he rode on by, staring daggers through his old man. “Don’t bother looking me up, you son of a bitch. You so much as get within my sight again, and I’ll shoot you myself,” Jeff said as he rode by.
Rip didn’t hear any of it. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t speak. He was locked in place by an invisible force of his own making. Sure, he’d been on too many deployments over the years, but he never imagined that Katrina would cheat on him. Maybe she hadn’t. Maybe she’d been taken by Crane. Maybe she just needed someone to take care of her and Geoffrey Jr.
Yeah, and maybe I’m a Chinese jet
Jennifer Estep, Cynthia Eden, Allison Brennan, Dale Mayer, Lori Brighton, Liz Kreger, Michelle Miles, Misty Evans Edie Ramer, Nancy Haddock, Michelle Diener