“When is your uncle leaving?” I asked.
I would be pleased when he left because then Indy wouldn’t be scared anymore. But at the same time, she would stop coming into my room at night and I would miss putting my arm around her and listening to her breath soften as she fell asleep.
“Tomorrow. Mama said he joined the Army and won’t be back for a while.” She sighed. “I wish I could tell her . . .”
“Tell her what?”
“That I wish he won’t ever come back.”
I held her to me, just like I had done every other night that week. But then I did something I had never done before; I turned my head and pressed a kiss into her hair.
“If he comes back, I will protect you.”
She tilted her head to look at me. “Promise?”
I nodded and smiled. “I promise.”
I swung around at the sound of my name and saw my mom hurrying down the hospital corridor toward me.
“Baby!” Catching me off guard, she flung her arms tightly around me. “It’s so good to see you, my girl.”
“You, too, Mom.”
My mom was all of five-foot nothing, even in her six-inch-heeled boots. She held on tight, her arms secured around me as if she was holding on for dear life. It took me a moment to realize I was holding on just as tight. My grief started to rise to the surface in her familiar embrace, and I pulled away before the tears behind my eyes spilled down my cheeks. I didn’t realize how much I had missed her.
When Mom stood back, she noticed my bloodied blouse.
“You’re hurt? Oh my God, Indy, are you hurt?”
“Relax, Mom. I’m fine. It’s someone else’s blood.”
Despite my reassurance, she still looked alarmed. “What happened?”
Not wanting to recap the details of the last half an hour, I said, “I’ll fill you in later, okay.”
My eyes shifted to Veronica—Cade’s mom and the MCs legendary biker queen—who walked up behind my mom. They were best friends.
“Baby girl,” she greeted me, her smoky voice low and full of affection.
Veronica, known affectionately as Ronnie, was your quintessential biker goddess. Tall. Leggy. Tight jeans. Tight top showing just enough cleavage to tantalize.
She hugged me, and when our gazes met, her eyes softened and she gave me a gentle half-smile. “Its so good to see you, baby.” She brushed hair out of my eyes. “It’s been too long.”
Ronnie reminded me of Cher, circa 1988, strutting her sexy-stuff on a battleship while surrounded by a platoon of hot Navy guys. Same head of dark curls. Same hooded eyes. Same sassy attitude.
“Hey, how did you know I was here?” I asked.
Sadness swept over my mom’s face. “We were downstairs organizing your daddy’s funeral.”
The town’s funeral home was ironically attached to the hospital. It was kind of a creepy, multi-tasking thing.
“Cade called us,” Ronnie replied, her voice soothing and smoky compared to my mom’s soprano timbre. “He said Caveman had been in some kind of accident and that you were at the hospital with him and Michelle.”
“Cade called you?” My stomach twisted.
“He and Isaac are on their way in,” Ronnie said.
Anticipation flared in my chest.
“Are you sure you’re okay, baby?” Mom asked.
I hadn’t seen a mirror since I’d knelt in mud and cut open Caveman’s throat. I was pretty sure I was a bloodied, muddied mess.
“Yeah, Mom. I’m fine.” I touched her arm. “Are you okay?”
She smiled softly. “I will be, baby girl. I will be.”
The elevator pinged and we all looked in its direction. Hell, why did I have a sudden urge to run and brush my hair?
I held my breath, waiting for Cade to walk through the doors, but a mixture of relief and disappointment flooded my body when two men in Kings of Mayhem cuts appeared, and neither one of them were Cade.
“Well, well, well . . . if it isn’t little Indigo Parrish,” the taller of the two men greeted me. It was Cade’s cousin, Isaac. Tall and broad, he looked like a big, blond Viking, strong and commanding. Two sleeves of tattoos colored his arms.
Grinning, he pulled me into a bear hug, slightly lifting me off the ground with his strength.
“Hell, girl! You look like you’ve been to war,” he exclaimed, dropping me to my feet and taking a good look at me.
I looked down at my bloodied white shirt and mud-covered tailored pants. Both were Marc Jacobs. Both were ruined. “Don’t worry, I’ll be sending your buddy Caveman the dry cleaning bill.”
“How is he?” Asked the guy with Isaac. I had been so distracted by the mix of relief and disappointment tearing through me that I had barely recognized Caleb Calley— Cade’s younger brother. When I’d left Destiny twelve years earlier, he’d been a weedy fifteen-year-old with pimples and patchy facial hair. Now he was all grown up and handsome. And massive. Just like all the Calley boys. He had the same dark hair and blue eyes as his older brothers, and like his cousin, he had two sleeves of tattoos. I remember my mom mentioning he’d done a stint in prison, but I couldn’t remember why.