The Beast and the Harlot

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"Jesus Zack. It's not a fucking date!" Brian said viciously. Zacky made a scoffing sound and I was surprised Brian didn't punch him. His fist certainly clenched ominously. "You know why my soon to be ex-wife isn't here? Because she doesn't want to spend time around me with all you assholes. We need to make it clear to you all that we aren't getting back together. It's like making sure the kids don't get fucking confused." He took a swig of beer and scrubbed a hand over his face. "Mommy and Daddy love you all very much they just can't be together anymore," he said in a mocking tone.

Zacky uncrossed his arms and rested his hands palm down on the counter. That was positive, not quite such a confrontational pose. He was one step closer to not having his lights punched out by my guess.

"That's the point Brian. You and Michelle do have a kid and he's just a fucking baby. Maybe I'm asking you the questions your kid can't. Why his mother's left at home looking after him while his father's out drinking it up with some new chick."

Fuck me. Brian had a kid? Shit got real. And messy. What the hell was going on? Maybe my radar when it came to guys was just as fucked up as it'd always been. Although I was pretty certain that the venom in Zacky's voice when he described me as a 'new chick' had all but guaranteed that if Brian didn't punch him I would.

"Are you fucking kidding me right now?" Oops, I was wrong. Brian hadn't been angry before because now I saw angry Brian. He slammed his beer bottle into the box of empties at the end of the kitchen island where it exploded in a crash of glass. "I get that you're happy as a fucking clam with your perfect little life with your perfect wife and kid but don't think that gives you the right to fucking judge me man. Congratulations! Shit worked out for you. For fucking all of you. You want me to beg forgiveness for my life not working out in a way that suits the fucking rest of you? Fuck you!"

Brian had just gone nuclear and I stood stunned in the blast zone.

I felt rather than saw movement beside me.

"Brian. Dude. C'mon. I've got the good liquor hidden in the games room away from these assholes," Matt's voice was a low soothing growl. The guy could have tamed wild animals. He crossed the kitchen cautiously to Brian's side. Brian glared at him furiously for a moment before rolling his shoulders, his expression once again inscrutable. It was at that moment he noticed me frozen in place by the French doors. A fleeting expression of remorse crossed his features. "I'm sorry Steph."

I waved an airy hand at him as Matt wrapped an arm around him and led him from the kitchen. The guy seemed to have enough shit going on without me throwing a feminine hissy fit into the mix.

Zacky turned to me, brilliant green eyes remorseful, but there was a hint of challenge in his expression as he said, "Uh, sorry. You weren't meant to hear that."

I opened my mouth to unleash my version of Brian's rage monster when Val screeched at my side. "What the actual fuck Zack?" I pressed my fingers to my ringing ears hoping like hell that Jeff was au fait with the treatment of perforated eardrums.

"Jesus Val. Can you keep it down? Gates has already done more damage to my hearing than a three day festival." Did the guy have an actual death wish? Had he seen her nails? She'd scoop his eyes out with the ease of a melon baller cutting through a ripe honeydew.

"You need to fucking back off Brian right now. The situation with Michelle is none of your business. It's not anyone's business other than Michelle and Brian's and a tiny bit mine because she's my sister and she's fucking made it that way," Val hissed. Jesus. Val was Brian's wife's sister? Could this shit get any weirder?

"You want to know where my nephew is tonight? He's with my parents along with his cousins, my kids. My sister is out with her friends because surprise, surprise there's a life out there that doesn't revolve around this," she waved a slightly manic hand around her head, "fucking band...and that's what she wants."

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