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Block’s Road Bonus Epilogue

Cushion Any Blows


Nine months later…
Man on motorcycle wearing bandana. Text says Block's Road pink sticker says Bonus Epilgoue

“Why is it called onion soup if there’s bread in it?” Michelle asked.

I grinned at my niece. “It’s called that because onions give it all the flavor. The bread is there for more texture, I think. Or to hold up the cheese. I really don’t know why, but I know it’s delicious!”

She and Joey sat at the kitchen island, and I was making them lunch. French Onion soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It was an overabundance of cheese, but I doubted my now niece and nephew were going to eat all of their soup.

“What are we doing after lunch? And why does Cousin Michael sleep so much? He doesn’t do anything.” Joey said.

I slid my hands into oven-mitts, pulled the baking sheet from the salamander, and placed it on the three trivets I’d set out. It took effort not to laugh at Joey and Michelle’s expressions.

When Joey looked at me, I said, “Michael Victor is just over two months old, sweetie. Babies need a lot of sleep because they’re growing so fast. After lunch we’re going to the park. If he isn’t too fussy, we’ll take Michael Victor with us.”

“And Uncle Rob, too, right?” Michelle asked.

“Of course, I’m comin’. Who else is going to push you on the swings, little girl?” Block asked.

He came into the room with our baby boy snuggled in the crook of his arm. A sexier sight I couldn’t imagine.

“Are we spending the night again, tonight?” Joey asked.

Block’s lips pressed together. “Afraid not, bud. Your dad’s coming to get you two at five o’clock.”

School let out for holiday break in mid-December and the normal after-school care they used wasn’t available. In an effort to save money Peyton had asked if we could watch Joey and Michelle. Even though our sleep schedule was completely out of whack, I’d jumped at the chance for us to spend time with our niece and nephew.

Last night, Peyton had to work late, and Block offered for Joey and Michelle to spend the night. They’d jumped at the chance to decorate the Christmas tree. Then Michelle and I made Christmas cookies. Joey and Block helped to eat them.

“I wanna stay here,” Michele mumbled.

I bit back a grin. “Oh, sweetie. You’re welcome to come here whenever you want, but it’s the holidays. You should enjoy being at home too.”

Her big brown eyes gazed up at me and I braced. “We don’t even have our Christmas tree up and—”

I grabbed her hand. “I bet you’ll put it up this weekend, honey.”

“Mommy’s so mad all the time, now,” she said.

Mariah struggled with being on house arrest, but this was the first I’d heard of her being mad around the kids.

Block shifted Michael from his arms to me, then he lifted Michelle from her stool. “Your mommy’s having a hard time these days. She shouldn’t take it out on you though.”

She nodded. “But sometimes she does, Uncle Rob.”

He looked past her to Joey, who had an angry glower on his little face. “Your mom gets too mean, you’ll call me, right?”

He nodded, his little lips setting into a line, just like Block’s did when he was angry.

He set Michelle on her feet. “All right. I’m gonna make the grilled cheeses so Auntie Heidi can feed Mikey.”

My eyes narrowed on my husband. “We aren’t calling him that, remember, hubby?”

He grinned, carefully wrapped an arm around my waist, and kissed my forehead. “Yeah, but I can’t help it, babe. Brute and Kenzie will probably name their son Michael after Har, since that’s his given name. I got a feeling our boy’s gonna get called Mikey by my brothers.”

I gave him a dry look. “M.V. kinda works too, after all he is the MVP around here.”

He shook his head. “You’re right, but nobody’s gonna call him M.V.”

Michael fussed and it seemed as though he agreed with Block, who laughed in response.

“He’s just hungry,” I said and wandered to the living room so I could breastfeed Michael.

While my son fed, I tapped out a quick text to Victoria asking when she’d arrive at the house tonight.

Her response came quick.

How about now?

I leaned back in the armchair and saw her car pulling up the drive.

My chin tipped down to Michael. His big blue eyes stared up at me. “Your Auntie Victoria is a sneaky one, my boy.”

“Joey, you want to open the door for me? Auntie Victoria is here,” I called.

My niece and nephew had both taken a shine to Victoria over the past week. Joey zipped into the room and swung the door open just as Victoria came up the walk.

She ruffled Joey’s hair.

He grinned at her. “I have to go, Uncle Rob’s showing me how to make a perfect grilled cheese.”

Michael had stopped feeding, and I held him up, patting his back to burp him. Victoria stared at us from the couch.

“I know that look, you’re getting baby fever.”

She shook her head. “Nope. I need to get a little more seniority before I start thinking about kiddos. I just love watching you with him.”

I lowered my voice. “You know, you weren’t supposed to swing by this early.”

She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “I remember the plan for tonight, girlie. It might be Block’s birthday tomorrow, but I have a surprise gift for you… though, you might not consider it a gift. I don’t know. Could go either way.”

My head tilted. “How can a gift go either way? Wait until Christmas, it’s not my birthday.”

She leaned down to pull out a file from her over-sized purse, shaking her head. “Nope. This isn’t that kind of gift.”

Michael let out a burp that rivaled some of mine. I pulled him forward to make sure he hadn’t spit up. “Good boy,” I said.

Victoria set down a file folder, then held her hands out to me. “Great, you did the dirty work. Let me hold him.”

I gently shifted Michael over to her. “Believe me, that isn’t the dirty work, lady.” He fussed slightly, but calmed down as Victoria made faces at him and spoke to him.

Once she had him situated, I asked, “Now what’s going on?”

She opened her mouth, then closed it. Her lips twisted for a moment before she shook her head. “I might have overstepped, but… your dad didn’t abandon you. Or not like you think he did.”

My eyes narrowed. “What do you mean? Not like I think he did?”

“Open the folder, honey.”

I lifted the file, but didn’t open it. “No, I think I’d rather you tell me.”

“I did some digging. There are police reports in the folder. I was right, something awful happened to your dad when you were three. Your mother never told you or Blaine what happened.”

I shook my head. “What? Why?”

She grimaced. “That’s what I can’t get out of your mother. She hates me, by the way. Thinks I’m a nosy bitch.” She looked down at Michael and whispered, “Don’t repeat that, sweetheart.”

I did a long blink. “So, he didn’t abandon us?”

Vickie shook her head. “He didn’t. The details are in the reports. I may not have ever met him, but I feel sure he wouldn’t have done that.”

I thumbed the folder. “Does it make me a wimp that I don’t want to know?”

She aimed a small smile at me. “Not at all, sweetie. That’s why I said this wasn’t really a true Christmas gift. But… I’m a big believer that closure is a gift.”

I nodded. “After everything you’ve been through, I can definitely see that.”

Michael had his hand wrapped around Vickey’s index finger, and she smiled down at him. I couldn’t wait for her and Gamble to have a baby of their own.

When her gaze met mine again, I asked, “You were kidding right? About Mom hating you?”

She shrugged. “I’m not sure how tipsy she was each time I called, but she was very mad at me during our last call, which was yesterday afternoon.”

Block sauntered into the room. “Hey, Vickie.”

She grinned at him. “Hi, Block.”

“Want a grilled cheese? The griddle’s good and hot.”

“Oh, no, I don’t want you to go to—”

“It’s no trouble, woman. And there’s an extra bowl of French Onion soup since my niece and nephew didn’t like it.”

“What? Why not?” I demanded.

Michelle ran into the room. “It’s yucky, Auntie Heidi. I wanted to eat the cheese, but Uncle Rob said I had to have some of the soup, too.”

I nodded. “Well, that’s understandable. Can I eat it instead?”

She aimed an impish smile at me. “Nope. Uncle Rob ate it. He saved the other bowls for you and Auntie Vickie.”

No doubt about it, my man was the best.

***  ***  ***

Block snuck up behind me, wrapped his arms around me, and stopped my progress from the family room into the kitchen. “You had lunch with Vickie earlier, why is she back with Gamble? And what are you doing with that diaper bag, Heidz?”

I gave a low growl. Occasionally the nickname still bugged me. “I’m giving Vickie what she needs to keep Michael overnight.”

His grip tightened. “He isn’t staying with them.”

I took a deep breath. Even though I expected Block to go into over-protective-new-dad mode, I underestimated how sexy I’d find it. He loved our son so much.

“It’s one night, honey,” I said.

His lips brushed my earlobe. “They just got married last month, honey. Even if Vickie’s got baby fever, my brother has no desire to deal with an infant.”

My head tipped so far the right, my body was leaning with it. I caught sight of Gamble – holding Michael snug to his shoulder – and my breath caught. “I’d say you’re dead wrong about that, old man.”

Block shuffled us to the side, so I didn’t have to lean, and he groaned. “Who knew?”

“I suspect Vickie did, so let me get—”

“They don’t have a car seat, darlin’.”

I twisted in his hold. “She got a base from the same company that makes our baby carrier. It fits. He’ll be perfectly safe, honey.”

His lips pressed together, and he narrowed his eyes at me. “What are you up to, woman?”

I smirked. “It’s a surprise.”

Block took the diaper bag from me, wrapped an arm around my shoulders, and guided me into the kitchen.

Vickie grinned. “You weren’t kidding about him being over-protective. I couldn’t help but hear him say we don’t have a car seat.”

Block shook his head and focused on Gamble. “I don’t know what’s going on with this shit, but if you’re not cool with it, brother—”

Gamble smiled. “Nope. It’s cool, man. Even if he keeps us up all night, it’ll be fine.”

“How are they gonna feed him?” Block asked.

I opened the door to the fridge and took out three baggies of breast milk. “I’ve been pumping extra milk the past few days, and since the pediatrician suggested we supplement with formula – which is in the diaper bag ready to mix, it will be okay, Rob.”

“They don’t have a crib,” he said.

Vickie took the diaper bag from Block. “I picked up your portable crib thingy yesterday.”

I put the breast milk in a special compartment of the diaper bag.

Block came closer to me and lowered his voice. “He’s ten-weeks old, babe.”

I grinned. “Ten weeks and five days, my man. He’s two and a half months old.”

His blue eyes widened. “Which is why he should stay here.”

My head tilted. “He won’t even be gone for twenty-four hours, honey.”

“Not to interrupt here, but just to point out, we’re less than twenty minutes away from you guys. If there’s a problem, we can call and bring him back,” Vickie said.

I stroked the stubble on Block’s cheek. “A whole night of uninterrupted sleep, baby. Happy birthday!”

His lips twisted with skepticism. “This doesn’t feel like a birthday surprise.”

I smiled. “Because it isn’t. This is just part of it.”

***  ***  ***

After Gamble and Victoria left, Block cornered me and guided me to the sofa. “Are you the reason Peyton insisted on getting Joey and Michelle today?”

I shook my head. “No. That was a fortunate coincidence… or the universe answering my requests. I don’t know. Mercury just came out of retrograde, it’s hard to know what the hell makes the good stuff happen right after that.”

He turned his head, likely to hide his eye roll. “All right, so when do I get this surprise?”

I shook my head, slid out from under him and sauntered to the kitchen. “When I’m good and ready, biker man.”

Actually, I’d give it to him when Joules, Tiny, Brute, and Cynic were good and ready.

“Where are you going, woman? I’m making dinner.”

I stopped at the kitchen island. “I’m getting some water. Do you want a beer?”

“No. I’m stretching out, but you can feel free to join me, babe.”

I looked over my shoulder to see he had his hands behind his head and his feet on the arm of the sofa, ankles crossed. His eyes were closed. Checking my phone, I saw a text from Sandy.

En route. Joules says six-fifteen.

If that was right, I had ten minutes to get things rolling.

The moment I quietly closed the cooler, Block asked, “What are you doing with that?”

“Cleaning it out,” I lied.

“Then why did I see you put two sodas and a bottle of wine in there?”

I stiffened, but forced myself to play it cool. If he only saw me put the bottle of wine in the cooler, everything would be fine.

I grinned at him. “Let a girl have some secrets, my man. Your patience will be rewarded.”

At the sound of papers rustling, I glanced back to the living room. Block had opened the file Vickie left behind.

“Don’t mess with that, honey.”

His eyes were glued to the file.

“Block, I’m—”

His eyes met mine, fury simmering behind his irises. “Did Vickie tell you this shit?”

I shook my head. “No. Not really. I don’t want to know. She made it clear that Dad didn’t abandon me. Honestly, it’s a relief just to know he didn’t up and leave me with Mom. If I want to know more, I can read that. But, I’m thinking I don’t want to.”

Block nodded. “You’d be right.”

My phone chimed.

“Is that Vickie?” he asked.

I laughed. “I doubt it. Good gracious, are you that worried about Michael?”

With my phone in hand, I saw the text saying things were ready.

“Let’s go outside.”

“No. Come let me give you some love, woman. You deserve it.”

I widened my eyes. “I will… outside.”

He groaned, but joined me on the patio. “It’s too cold to go swimming, Heidz. And I’m likely to fall asleep in the hot tub.”

“We’re going down to the dock, babe.”

He shook his head. “Brute told us it’s not sturdy after that storm—”

“It’s fixed.”

His brows drew together. “No. I’m helping Brute fix it after the new year when Roman and Cynic can help out.”

The roar of a Harley starting filled the air and I tipped my head back to hide my irritation. Everyone had agreed that they’d drive trucks so Block wouldn’t know what was up. My hunch was that Sandy insisted on riding the trike with Joules.

Block turned toward the front. “Who’s here? Can’t be Gamble, and why did that Harley just start up?”

“Come. With. Me. Block. Before you ruin your surprise.”

“Well, you’re not walking on that dock before—”

“That was a lie, man. Nothing was ever wrong with the dock. Now, follow me. Geez.”

I hurried down the path toward the river. The sound of Block’s footsteps behind me were the only indication he was following.

“What the hell? How long have you been planning this? And what is it? I don’t get our new boat until the end of January. No damned reason to walk out to the river.”

I grinned. That’s what he thought.

The day after we ‘bought’ a new boat, the salesperson accidentally called me with the good news that the boat would arrive in mid-December. He was all set to call Block afterward since he’d dialed the wrong number, but I instantly knew it would be a great birthday surprise. I explained, and he pointed out hauling the boat to our home by myself would be tricky.

Enter Brute and Cynic. Since I’d approached them both at the clubhouse, Tiny and Joules overheard things and horned in on the plan in their own way.

I’d arranged for the four of them to come over a few weeks back and Brute told my man that we had a problem with the dock. They’d been drinking—a lot—which was the only reason Block took Brute at his word.

Cynic had a boat trailer, but no truck. He used Brute’s truck to haul the new boat, launch it in the river and dock it here.

“What the fuck— Is that a red fuckin’ bow on my boat? Who fuckin’ did that?” Block asked when we came to the end of the dock.

I turned my back on the boat to face him, shaking with silent laughter. “If I had to guess, Sandy did.”


My mouth opened to answer, but Tiny spoke from behind us. “Sandy was gung-fucking-ho to put a big ass bow on a gift like this! Went on and on about holiday car commercials because people don’t just give someone a car or a boat for Christmas. Hell, if things had gone differently, this wouldn’t be the surprise it’s supposed to be anyway! So quit bitchin’ man and thank your wife for an excellent birthday surprise.”

Block put his arm around my shoulders as we watched Tiny get off the Sea Ray cabin cruiser. “Why were you on my boat, Tiny?”

Tiny smirked. “Aren’t you listening? It’s a surprise.” He pointed a finger at me. “And you’re all set, lady.”

He trudged up the dock and Block moved so he faced me. “What the fuck’s goin’ on, Heidi?”

I grinned. “You got your boat early… happy birthday, love! Now, let’s check this baby out!”

“This baby has a name, Heidz. It’s the Heidi-Heidi-Hi.”

I stepped onto the boat. “Thought we agreed that was a bad idea.”

“You did,” he muttered and turned to walk toward the stern.

“Baby, seriously. I have surprises, plural. You need to cooperate.”

He stopped and crossed his arms. “Yeah, and I wouldn’t put it past you to get a different name put on my boat.”

I tilted my head. “I thought what’s yours is mine… since we’re married and all that.”


“What? If that’s true, then it’s our boat.” I said, then I lowered my voice to a dramatic whisper. “Which means we should agree on the name.”

He uncrossed his arms and joined me on the boat. “All right, darlin’. Surprise me.”

Ten minutes later, we were setting up dinner in the boat’s cockpit. Tiny had left a tray of warm pulled pork on the wet bar, and a couple trays of side dishes for our dinner.

“Why didn’t you make dinner, Heidz? And what can I do to help?”

I glanced at him over my shoulder as I fixed our plates. “It would’ve been awkward to get you down here while carrying trays of food, my man.” He nodded. “And you can help by pouring some wine. The bottle’s in the cooler, as you already know.”

The moment I heard the zipper on the cooler, I turned to watch him.

He reached for the bottle, then pulled his hand back. “The fu…” His eyes met mine, then went back to the cooler. He turned the bottle, but didn’t bring it out. Earlier, I had hidden a pregnancy test inside the cooler and taped it to the wine bottle. My worries that Block had seen me do that had been for naught.

I pressed my lips together.

He stared at me. “Is this for real?”

I nodded. “Happy birthday, baby. You’re gonna be a daddy… again.”

He pulled me close, then bent me over his arm to kiss me. I opened my mouth and reveled in his passionate kiss. It was just like the one we had in my parking lot at the beginning of the best Labor Day weekend of my life.

He broke the kiss and we straightened. “I love you so fuckin’ much, Heidz.”

“I love you too, Rob.”

“How long have you known? Hell, how did you know? You haven’t had a cycle because of breastfeeding.”

My head tilted with a small smile. “Or, I haven’t had a cycle because I’m pregnant. Either way, I took the test last week. I started feeling nauseous and didn’t know why.”

“But you had this planned out for so long.”

I nodded. “Yeah. Being pregnant wasn’t part of the original plan. Getting pregnant tonight was. See, I was going to name the boat Babymaker, but lucky for you, I’m already with child and had to scrap that idea.”

His eyes closed for a moment. “Thank fuck. No boat should be called The Babymaker.”

I grinned. “Maybe not, but after we eat and watch the sun set, we are going to spend the rest of the night christening the boat, babe.”

His eyes flared and he guided me toward the lower cabin. “Got a fuckin’ microwave on board. I’m making love to my woman who’s carrying my baby, then we’re eating.”

“But we’ll miss the sun set.”

“Like you care about that. You care more about the planets and stars than the fuckin’ sun setting anyway.”

 I grinned. “Yes, but we owe it to ourselves and your mom to watch the sunset from your new boat, The Queenager.”

He laughed. “You are crazy, woman! There are more sunsets in front of us, now let’s break in the lower cabin.”

I gave him a peck. “Well, it is your birthday, babe.”

He shook his head. “No, that’s tomorrow. But, you give damned good surprises, Heidi Merino. Thank you, baby.”

“You’re welcome, hubby.”

***   ***   ***


The next evening, Block cornered Vickie during the blow-out party the brothers threw for his forty-fourth birthday. “I know you love my woman, but—”

She held a finger up. “If this is about the police reports, I don’t want to hear it. She has closure, even if she doesn’t know what the report says. Whether her mother will ever tell her bubkis about it is up for grabs.”

His head cocked. “Her mother?”

Vickie took a deep breath. “I called Wanda three different times about it. Though, I suppose the first doesn’t count since she was drunk. But, she doesn’t have the courage to tell Heidi or Blaine that their father was murdered when he stopped to help a couple on the side of the road.”

He closed his eyes and shook his head. The words ‘why not’ were on the tip of his tongue, but nothing Wanda Majors did made a lick of sense.

He opened his eyes. “What about Blaine? You give him the same folder?”

Her head tilted. “His is being delivered via FedEx on Monday.”

His eyes widened. “That’s Christmas Eve! Are you gonna warn him?”

Her lips twisted and her facial expression said he should know better. “I’ve taken precautions, Block. He won’t be entirely blindsided, and I’m calling him tomorrow to be certain he knows to read the letter I enclosed before opening the envelope with the file.”

He ran a hand over his head. “Do I need to call Wanda? Because I read the file. Heidi isn’t interested right now, and I like that she doesn’t want to know. If there’s a chance Wanda’s gonna call and bring all this shit up in a drunken stupor—”

Vickie shook her head. “I doubt it, but then again, drunks are unpredictable. However, she’s blocked my number so if you really want answers, you’ll have to call her yourself.”

“Thought she loved you?”

Her brow arched for a moment. “Yeah. But, not enough to forgive me for poking a festering wound. Honestly, my hope is that if he’s up to it, Blaine uses this as an angle to get her into a program.”

“Don’t hold your breath. She wouldn’t go when we told her that she had to be sober to see her grandbaby. Don’t see how Blaine’s gonna have better luck.”

Vickie nodded. “Right, but you never know. Either way, Heidi has closure, and Blaine will too.”

He grinned. “And you, too.”

She shook her head. “What?”

“Heidi told me how you’ve always wondered what happened to her dad. Now you know and it gives you closure, too.”

She smiled. “Right. And don’t worry, Mr. Overprotective, I’m never going to give Heidi a file like that again. I know you were going to warn me about that.”

He tipped his head. “Sort of. Half an hour ago, I locked that file in the club’s safe and she’s never gonna have to look at it. I love her too much to have her deal with something like that on her own. I’ll always cushion any blows that are coming her way.”

Her smile brightened. “In case I’ve never told you, I love how much you love her. You are so good for her.”

He smiled. “No, Vickie, she’s good for me.”

She gave him a quick hug. “Happy birthday.”

He nodded. His last two birthdays had been the best so far because of Heidi and he knew with her at his side, his birthdays would only get better.