Long Beach, WA

April 18th, 2020

She felt her ankle beginning to roll as she came within reach of the fence that Aiden had already blown by, his course clear and his fists already balled at his side. He was already standing nose to nose with her ex, who was grinning from ear to ear in a way that Mariah knew meant trouble. She had no doubts that Aiden could take care of himself, but this was the last thing that she wanted Richard to see. The little boy had bonded with Aiden already, but he was still fairly traumatized from what he’d had to see his mother go through in her last marriage. The colossal prick that she’d been married to, Clinton, had tossed her around like a rag doll during his fits of rage, and all in front of Richard.

Mariah regained her footing as she heard bits and pieces of the conversation going on between the two of them, the lanky yet powerfully-built Marine grinning and talking in casual, friendly tones as Aiden resembled a volcano that could blow at any second. Normally pale when he wasn’t tanned thanks to a healthy dose of sunshine, he was turning redder and redder as the moment dragged on. She had a quick idea however before she made her way over, turning to the Ferris wheel as she saw, with gratitude, that it was coming to a full stop.

“Mom, dad!” she called, hoping to see them answer. In response they waved to her from the far left of the wheel, her mother taking Aiden down from his horse as her father gave her the “ok” sign before indicating that they would take Aiden next door to the bumper cars. He was still too little to be allowed on the cars, but he loved watching them move about all the same.

“-won’t get another warning Clinton,” Aiden all but growled as she turned around, listening intently now, “She chose to be with me. I’m not the one that swept her away, you abused her in front of her kid. Had I been there you’d have been leaving without your teeth and your balls.”

Clinton just smirked as he replied, “That’s cute. Did she tell you to say that?” He gave Mariah a wink as he saw her, “You know she’s not really worth all this trouble. I mean, the fun kind of stops above the knee.”

Mariah almost fumed at this, but she knew by now that giving this man a reaction to his barbs was giving him power, and so she merely came to stand at Aiden’s side, refusing to be afraid as she’d been before and ready to accept whatever came. Clinton’s smirk just deepened as he arched his eyebrows.

“And there you go,” he said with a smile, “Your backup is here, you can be the big man with the big balls.” He puffed his chest up and squared his shoulders in a comical fashion before laughing in a mocking tone, shaking his head as he looked at them both in turn.

“I’m not sure who the bigger poser is, you shorty,” he said to Aiden, pointedly looking down at the slightly shorter man, “Or you, Miss Taco Blande,” he said with a grin. Looking to Aiden again he laughed as he said, “Hey have you gotten to check out the barrens yet amigo? Or is she too ashamed to show anyone that wasteland between her legs?”

Mariah couldn’t help herself as she blushed, that particular barb hitting far too close to the bone for her liking. She was about to open her mouth to say something when Aiden, who’d had enough, finally decided to end this long, drawn-out moment.

“You’re a dickless punk,” he said with as much calm and composure as he could, “and a disgrace to the Corps.”

It wasn’t an insult that might have managed to hit home with many people, but as long as she’d known him Clinton had been a man that obsessed about only two things, his ability to satisfy women and his love of the armed forces. Insulting his sexual prowess was bad enough, but this was something he could laugh off most times. Insulting his place in the Marine Corps however, that was something he would never abide. Aiden knew this, as Mariah had told him more than once. But using it as a means of provoking Clinton was something that most people would find unwise only moments later.

But Aiden didn’t even look tense. Why that was became obvious in the next moment.

(to be continued)

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