There were two distinct temperature zones in Marcus Taggert's big Hemi-driven pickup truck. Florence Taggert sat in the passenger seat with all the cool aplomb of the Queen of England. And like the queen, Florence was well aware of the dissatisfaction surrounding the way she had chosen to handle things.

Her son's emotions, on the other hand, were anything but cool. If it had been physically possible for steam to rise up from Marcus' ears and clean-shaven head, then the windows of the truck would be impossible to see through at that moment.

“I am not one of the people you arrest, Marcus,” Florence said into the silence. “Your scowl does not intimidate me.”

“Of course not, Mom,” Marcus agreed wearily. “My whole life, nothing I have said or done or wanted has ever had any impact on you. Unless it was something that you wanted as well. So why should this situation be any different?”


“Just let it drop, Mom.” Marcus' hands tightened on the steering wheel. He kept his gaze fixed on the road ahead. “I'm trying to drive.”

“No, you are trying to avoid the issue.” Florence laid her hand on her son's forearm. The muscles beneath her fingers felt like steel. “You need to talk to me.”

Marcus carefully removed his arm from his mother's gentle touch. “You don't want me to talk to you right now,” he responded quietly. “I will just say some things that I…”

“That you might regret?” Florence finished. “That's okay, sweetheart.”

“No,” Marcus corrected his mother's assumption. “I am worried about saying stuff I won't regret.”

Her son's curt remark shocked Florence. For perhaps the first time since Mike Corbin's death she got a chance to see how truly disturbed Marcus was by the things that had happened. Florence realized that she'd had a lifetime to grow accustomed to the facts of her son's paternity. For Marcus, it had only been a matter of weeks.

The rest of the trip home was made in silence. Marcus pulled the truck up before his mother's front door and waited for her to climb out. “I am going for a ride,” he announced. “I need some space.”

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