My stomach muscles clenched and pain flared out to my chest, squeezing my heart.

“So, that’s it? We’re done?” I asked incredulously.

Her dark eyes found mine. “Yeah. We’re done.”

INDY

Now

My father was buried with all the fanfare of an MC funeral. Kings of Mayhem charters from California, Nebraska, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and as far as North Dakota descended on the small town of Destiny. You could hear the rumble of Harleys for miles. Some of the townsfolk lined the streets. The Kings had a lot of friends in Destiny and there was a strong feeling of support for one of their fallen.

I drove to the church in my daddy’s restored Impala with my mom, Ronnie, and Anson. We followed the hearse that carried my daddy’s coffin. Bull, Cade, Isaac, and Caleb led the funeral procession, while the rest of the club and other charters followed behind us. It was an ostentatious display of club power. Rumbling Harleys. Somber-looking bikers. Charter flags proudly displaying the club’s insignia and the state from which they came.

When we arrived at the church, Cade pulled up beside us and parked his bike. He opened the door for my mom but barely looked in my direction, his jaw fixed and rigid. I knew he was hurting. I knew he was confused. And I felt bad. Because I had lied to him.

Anson wasn’t my fiancé. Or my boyfriend. Not anymore. Once upon a time we had talked about marriage. There was even a ring. But now we were just friends. His surprise arrival was the handbrake I needed to slow down what was happening between Cade and I. He was the shield I needed while I tried to work out my tangled emotions because things were racing out of control and I needed to catch a breath.

But now I felt guilty. I had hurt Cade and it was the last thing I wanted to do.

But we would both have to suck it up because today wasn’t about us. It was about saying farewell to my daddy and being there for my mom.

Inside, the church overflowed with mourners. Mainly bikers, but other family members and friends, and people from town, as well. I sat in the front row, my face rigid with unshed tears. I felt sick and had to keep swallowing mouthfuls of spit. The last time I’d sat in this church had been eighteen years ago when my brother had passed away.

Tears welled in my eyes when I thought of Bolt. And then my dad. And then Bolt and my dad playing baseball in our front yard. They had been close. Even so, I didn’t think Bolt would have ended up in the club. He had dreams of being so much more than a club member. He was a curious soul. He wanted to explore the world. He loved ancient history and archaeology. He would have travelled the world and his life would have been rich in knowledge and interesting experiences.

But he was gone now. Nothing but dust.

I wondered if he and our daddy were playing baseball up in heaven.

The thought brought on another wave of emotion. I glanced around me in an effort to keep my tears at bay. Unfortunately, I looked straight at Cade, who was already looking at me, and for the longest moment, neither of us could look away. His face was set, his strong jaw firm. He was fighting back emotion but doing a good job at concealing it.

I turned away and focused on Father Murphy in front of me. Anson slid his hand over mine, but I pulled my hand away and wiped a non-existent tear from my cheek.

My mom wept quietly throughout the service, then openly sobbed into a tissue as six pallbearers—including Cade—picked up my daddy’s coffin and carried it back outside the church to an awaiting hearse for his final journey to the cemetery.

Daddy’s coffin was lowered into the ground as the bright Destiny sun warmed our backs and a gentle breeze blew in from the south. Mom knelt by his grave and cried while I stared at my toes. I felt empty. I wanted to run back to Seattle, to my safe, comfortable life.

Ronnie touched my elbow. “Come on, honey. Let’s get your mama back to the clubhouse for your daddy’s farewell.”

In the back of the car, I curled into my mom like I used to as a kid, and she wrapped her arms around me. I felt her sigh and her breathing calmed. We didn’t talk, but the affection was comforting and warm. Anson sat in front with Ronnie, quietly taking in the landscape of Destiny as it rolled past.

“Are you okay, Mama?” I asked when the car pulled up at the clubhouse.

She smiled softly. Her tears had dried and she was composed. It was typical of my mom. She had done what she needed to do, allowed herself to feel the pain and emotion of her loss, but now she would square her shoulders and get on with things. She wouldn’t wallow in her heartache; she would take that first tentative step in moving forward. It’s what the women of the MC did.


Tags: Penny Dee Kings of Mayhem MC Romance
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