“Fuck,” I rumble, tilting my head back. The first time I saw June, I had been walking out of the auto supply store where I worked when she had been walking in. I was off for the day, but when she tilted her head back toward me with her lips parted, whispering, “Thank you,” as I held open the door for her, I knew I needed to talk to her, so I followed her back inside.

She didn’t talk much. She told me what she was looking for, and I showed her where she could find it. Her cheeks were an adorable shade of pink by the time she checked out, and then got even darker when I asked her for her number as I walked her to her car. I knew the second I met her there was something different about her, something I couldn’t put my finger on, but I knew she was going to become important to me.

She wasn’t important—she was fucking vital, the best thing that ever happened to me. But then I had to let her go so my fucked up didn’t ruin her.

Getting in my truck, I start it up and stare at her house, knowing there is no way anyone will fuck with her, not while I’m out here or JJ is inside. No one would be stupid enough to court the kind of repercussions they would receive from Brew if they fucked with his old lady. And I would kill someone without blinking if they got too close to June.

She was fucked up. Sage’s words have played in my head over and over today. When I was with June, we talked about our future a lot and made a million fucking plans. She knew I owed at least four years to the marines. I signed up for the service before we met. I didn’t have the money for school and the marines gave me the opportunity to get an education and make some money while doing it.

June was on my orders, and after boot camp, we were scheduled to go to Germany. She wanted to see the world, and I was happy to have the ability to give her that. She knew we would be there for two years but also understood two years wasn’t long and that when the time was up, we could move back stateside or find somewhere else to explore. She was excited to be with me, to start a life, and to see the world.

I just didn’t bank on me being one of the top shooters in my class. I had never held a gun in my life and knew jack-shit about shooting. But the moment they placed that piece of metal in my hands, it became an extension of me. I was good—so fucking good that they sent me to Afghanistan on the first tour out after boot camp. Seeing what I saw, living through what I lived through, I knew I couldn’t touch June again. She deserved more, she deserved everything, and I would never be worthy of her.

Hearing a bike pull up behind me, I look in my rearview mirror then smile when I see Harlen swing himself off his Harley.

“Heard you were over here,” he mutters, hefting himself up into the passenger seat of my truck and slamming the door.

“Sweet of you to come keep me company.” I grin, and his eyes narrow.

“We’re gonna look at the bike I told you about this morning. Owner’s part of Brew’s crew.” He lifts his chin toward Brew’s house. “He’s meeting us here.”

“Thanks for looking out.”

“You don’t have the right equipment, and you’re too big to ride bitch when your piece of shit bike breaks down.” He grins, and I feel my lips twitch then look in the rearview mirror when the roar of the pipes hits the block. I watch as a Harley Fat Boy cruises down the street past my truck, and pulls into Brew’s driveway.

Getting out of the truck, we walk across the yard, stopping next to the bike as the owner gets off.

“Shock,” Harlen greets the guy with a handshake then dips his chin to me. “This is Evan.”

“What’s up, man?” Shock rumbles as we shake hands, and he steps away from the bike and crosses his arms over his T-shirt-covered chest. “This is her. I hate parting with her, but I’m upgrading,” he says as I walk around the bike. The matte black paintjob sliced between with liquid black is seamless. The chrome all looks new and well maintained. “It’s a ’94, but it has a 127ci Ultima engine and six-speed transmission, with less than five hundred miles on it. The engine also has a polished Mikuni carburetor and a Dyna 2000 ignition system. She’s the shit wet dreams are made of.”

“You’d say that, since that bike got you more gnash than you know what to do with,” Brew says, walking toward us down the driveway. Shock doesn’t reply verbally, but his smile broadens and he smacks Brew’s shoulder when he’s close and then looks at me.

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