Istaredatthe computer screen and grimaced at the man who wanted to know when I was available for future work. Liam had forwarded me the email, since the client had been making persistent inquiries during my time off.
I was tempted to request more information to accept the job. I wasn’t used to sitting and waiting around, doing nothing. With Kit out of the house, taking care of his business, I was restless, and my mind wandered.
If I couldn’t even go a month without my job, how was I going to decline Pinelli’s request for me to continue working for him? The plan was to wrap up this contract and take it easy while I figured out what to do next.
One thing was for sure. If I stayed in this line of work, it was only a matter of time before our luck ran out and we either landed in prison or ended up in a wooden box. Kit needed the right environment to continue growing and blossoming. This path was full of weeds that would one day choke the kindness out of him.
I never wanted to see him lose himself the way I had before Kit came along. After the incident at the club, he’d already withdrawn, and now he was almost back to his usual self. I never wanted to see him that hurt and angry again.
Kit deserved happiness. It would have been best for him to find it elsewhere, but fate had put him in my path, and now I was too selfish to let him go.
I glanced up. Pumpkin wandered in and sauntered toward the desk. He stopped and cocked his head as if to contemplate the height of the desk, then jumped. He landed on all fours, but not without knocking over the paper clip container with his paw. A waterfall of color rained down from the desk.
He reminded me of Kit’s disaster when we’d last played. Of all the items he’d thrown onto the floor while playing stray kitty.
“What do you think, Pumpkin?” I picked up the cat, placed him in my lap, and scratched him behind the ears the way he liked. He immediately started purring with his eyes opened in tiny slits. “If I give up my job now, what would I do?” I shook my head. “No, don’t give me that look. I know myself. There’s no way I’ll be content not having something meaningful to do.”
I wasn’t built that way.
My cell phone rang, startling Pumpkin out of my lap. He strutted away, sending me an annoyed look, and hopped onto a chair.
Wait a minute.
The first ring stopped. I counted the seconds down to the phone ringing again. I didn’t waste any time answering.
“Jimmy’s Flower Shop.”
“Hi, Jimmy. I’d like to order a dozen white roses, please.”
“Mom,” I said. “I thought something bad had happened. You didn’t reach out like you always do.”
“I thought that was what you wanted. To cut us off again.”
“Mom.” I hated the hurt in her voice. “Why do you make me feel like a terrible person for wanting to keep my family safe?”
“There has to be a better way, Milo, but I didn’t call to cause you guilt. How are you?”
“Good.” But was I? “Actually, I’m having a hard time deciding which direction to go with my life right now.”
“Does this mean you’re not working for Pinelli anymore?”
“Not after my contract is up.”
“You have no idea how happy this makes me.”
“I have some idea. You know I didn’t have a choice after Dad passed, don’t you?”
“I know you did what you had to. Are you happy otherwise?”
“I am. Happy and worried.”
“That I can’t keep my loved ones safe.”