Saturday, October 15, 2016

Chapter 18 - Misunderstood - Original Plot


            The day after the funeral, Johnnie left early and didn’t return that night. They’d returned yesterday and he hadn’t spoken to her during the entire, long drive home. She’d already moved her things to his room and they’d had sex every night. Except last night.
            Since he’d asked her to stay, he made sure she ate breakfast and dinner because he wasn’t around for lunch. It allowed her to skip the meal and swallow laxatives to get the food out of her that he insisted she eat.
            Kendall couldn’t quite remember the impetus, but since she’d awakened in his bed after he’d had sex with her while she was stupid drink, her old compunction to get rid of her food was slowly returning. She was fighting it as best she could, reminding herself that she had no one who’d pay the exorbitant amount of money it would take to help her. She knew she had an illness, self-inflicted, but still a sickness. She knew she did it because it was the one, sure thing she could control. She did it because her body was the one thing that kept men in her life, fawning over her, and she wanted the attention. As long as she had control of her body and her weight, she knew how to control her men.
            A part of her wanted to stop her slow slide back into her dangerous compunction. But, like a mending addict of any type, she’d always been in recovery. She wished she could show Johnnie that side of her, just to see what he’d do. Stand by her and offer her help? Or would he turn his back on her?
            While she was deep in thought, considering all this, a banging started on the front door. Stewing in disgust over Johnnie’s absence, Kendall stomped to it and threw it open.
            And promptly had a gun shoved in her face.
            Still on overload after the funeral, Johnnie turned down the private access road that led to his house. Although Christopher confided to him it was against his better judgment, he was going to put off his overseas trip until Monday. He said he just couldn’t leave Megan in the state she was in. None of them mentioned Kendall, which was fine with Johnnie. Megan had gotten her life saved and if Christopher never brought her up, that was fine with Johnnie. Now, he had to decide what he wanted from her. She was safe and he’d asked her to stay with him.
            But, judging by Christopher’s reaction to seeing her at the funeral, she wouldn’t be welcomed at the clubhouse any time soon. Christopher made sure Johnnie knew to keep Kendall away from Megan in his absence. During church this morning, Christopher had officially turned over responsibility of the club to Johnnie until Christopher’s return. If he was buried, then it was his wish that Johnnie remain club president.
            The thought that his cousin might be killed was too much to even consider, so Johnnie shoved it away, praying Christopher had the wits to outsmart the man demanding his blood.
            Halting his Navigator in his driveway, Johnnie frowned at the old black car already sitting there. Not only that, his front door was wide open. His cellphone began ringing just as a loud explosion rocked the ground beneath his feet. For a moment, he thought an earthquake was going on. Then, he heard another explosion and another and realized, bombs were going off. Dust and debris were floating on the wind, his cellphone was ringing like crazy—Christopher’s ring and his front door was still open. His house was still standing.
            Ignoring the phone and grabbing his .38, he sprinted out of the SUV and headed for his front door.
            “Where the fuck is he?” he heard when he stepped inside.
            “I-I don’t know,” Kendall cried, her voice trembling.
            Johnnie stepped into the living room in time to see an overgrown asshole backhand Kendall and knock her to the ground. Without hesitation, he opened fire, emptying his gun into the man’s head, watching in satisfaction as his head was blown to bits.
            “I’m right here, motherfucker,” he snarled, deciding to answer the dead ass’ question and kicking his body on his way to a screaming Kendall.
            “You…you killed him!” she cried. 
            “Get up, Kendall. We have to get the fuck out of here. There are others. They just blew up my cousin’s house.” That was the only explanation Johnnie could think of for those explosions. That meant the others would be coming here. When Kendall didn’t comply, just continued to accuse him of killing the man, Johnnie cursed and hurried to his bedroom. He reloaded his .38, stuck his blade in his suit pocket and pulled his G20C from under his pillow.
            Heavy footsteps told him their company had arrived and he ran out of his bedroom, shooting a bastard in the process of raising his arm to do away with him. He skidded to a halt when he saw another man dragging Kendall to her feet, a knife to her throat. Gripping his own blade—he was going to gut this bastard—he opened fire, smiling when the man dropped like a stone.
            “Behind you!” Kendall screamed, as white as a ghost.
            Not thinking, just acting, Johnnie spun, simultaneously firing his gun and throwing his blade. The knife hit the other man’s neck, the bullet blowing away his face.
            “I didn’t believe you! I didn’t! I thought you were lying.”
            Having no clue what she was talking about, Johnnie pulled his knife from the dead man’s neck, wiped the blade on his black suit pants, and released a vicious curse when he heard the pop, pop, pop of more gunfire outside. Crouching down, he got to the front door. Two assholes were shooting up his beloved Navigator. If that had been his Harley, he would’ve hogtied them before he killed them. Instead, he took aim, hit first one and then the other in the head, glad Big Joe had insisted they keep up their skills with target practice. It was a rule Christopher still followed.
            Counting to sixty, Johnnie realized he’d gotten them all. But he heard the sirens in the distance. He had to get out of there, get the guns out. To do that, he needed Kendall’s cooperation. She was still screaming like a banshee.
            Johnnie ran to her, grabbed her arms and shook her. “Shut the fuck up, Kendall,” he snarled, deciding to borrow a line from his cousin’s dictionary. “Hear the sirens? That’s cops and the fire department. We need to get out of here.”
            She was sobbing, but he couldn’t comfort her. He needed to get through to her. He sure as hell didn’t want to end up in jail in Long Beach. They’d call in the Feds.
            “Kendall, listen to me!” he yelled. “Get your goddamn phone and purse. Get my phone out of my shot-up Navigator and wait for me at the back of the house.”
            “No! No! No!”
            He used his last resort and slapped her across her cheek. Abruptly, she shut up and blinked, trembling. “Get your goddamn shit, Kendall. NOW! Get my goddamn phone and wait for me at the back of the house.”
            He shoved her, hoping she listened. The first engines were already arriving. He knew the fire would take precedence but he had dead bodies in his driveway. He needed to get the fuck. Not wasting time, he grabbed his cut and his saddlebags, already filled with his other guns and knives and headed for the garage where he kept his pride and joy. He didn’t have two helmets so he’d just have to let Kendall use his.
            Opening the garage door—the one designed for just this sort of thing—he rolled his bike out, relieved when he saw Kendall standing there. Her eyes widened when she saw his big bike. It dawned on Johnnie that she hadn’t believed his story. Who cared? He’d stake his life that she believed it now.
             “Get on,” he ordered. He snatched his phone from her shaking fingers. “Get on or I’m leaving you here.”
            She stared at him, trembling, not moving and sirens were too close for comfort. Like right the hell in his driveway. He pulled the choke and started his motorcycle, the sound of the sirens drowning out the pipes of his Harley.
            He revved his engine, spurring her to action. She rushed to him, sobbing, but climbed behind him. He handed her the helmet and sped away to use the escape route via the beach he and Christopher had planned. He reached the dunes and saw that, yes, it had been Christopher’s house blown to bits and pieces and roaring with fire, the crackling wood and hissing glass competing with the crashing waves.
            Then, it started. More explosions, wood and glass bursting into the air. Within moments, Johnnie’s house had been leveled.
            Stopping long enough to fill his gas tank and return Outlaw’s call, Johnnie made it back to Hortensia in record time. From the little he knew, the club was on lockdown, which meant all the members, far and wide, had to get to the clubhouse. If they had families, they had to bring them along.
            Stretch had been pulled from his bed for gate duty. His arm was in a sling and his face healing from cuts and bruises, but he oversaw everyone with brisk efficiency, directing the Probates on what to do, what to check for. Even Kendall, who was on Johnnie’s bike, was patted down. Brothers had to have the cuts on and, if their family members were not known, they were searched.
            Johnnie waited patiently while Stretch checked Kendall’s purse and pants pockets. When he ordered her to open her shirt, Johnnie drew the line.
            “Don’t,” he ordered Kendall. She was shell-shocked. He could see it in her dazed expression, blood still spattering her face, fingers trembling as she’d begun to unbutton her top.
            “Prez’s orders,” Stretch mumbled. “Everybody got to be searched thorough. And I figure he’d want every hole this bitch got search.”
            Kendall shuddered, her breasts heaving in agitation.
            “Get on my bike, Kendall.” Johnnie glared at Stretch. “Listen, asshole. If you want your other arm broken for touching my girl, go ahead and start your search.”
            Both Stretch and Kendall blinked. Johnnie hoped she kept her mouth shut because she certainly wasn’t his girl, but the only way to keep her safe right now was to claim her. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be allowed on the premises.
            Stretch clenched his jaw and stiffened, engaging Johnnie in a staring contest.
            ‘She do something and I’m pointing the finger at you,” Stretch warned.
            Not bothering to acknowledge Stretch’s threat, Johnnie sped to his parking space the moment Kendall climbed back on. When they walked into the clubhouse, Johnnie saw brothers he hadn’t seen in weeks. The sounds of fussy babies and general chatter peppered the air. He zoned in on where he usually sat with Outlaw and the other officers and found him there, Megs close to his side, his son in his lap. Mortician and Digger sat nearby and Johnnie wondered where Val and K-P were.
            “C’mon,” he said to Kendall, grabbing her hand and pulling her toward the others, his heart dropping when Megs’s gaze fell on Kendall and anger bloomed in her eyes. He wondered what he’d do if Megs ordered Kendall off the premises, knowing there was only one way to find out. With a sigh, he urged Kendall forward and braced himself for the unknown.
            Kendall’s legs felt too heavy for her body, all that had happened the past three hours dragging her down. She didn’t quite understand what was going on. Only knew she was at the Death Dwellers’ Clubhouse and it overflowed with a bunch of men, some women, and a smattering of young children. It looked as if there’d been a club baby boom with all of the kids seeming to be a year and under.
            She clutched Johnnie’s hand tighter as he pulled her further into the club, their movements slow going as he was greeted by everyone and questioned by some. She realized a lot of them wore black and she wondered why. So many questions were going through her head and when they finally halted at a table, she turned her head to question Johnnie.
            Instead, her gaze met a pair of angry blue eyes. Megan Caldwell. She looked small and young, too insignificant to have caused her sister such pain. Next to Outlaw and the boy who looked like he’d been manufactured in a lab to look so much like his father, Megan was pale, her blonde hair twisted up.
            The table had fallen silent and Kendall realized the men were all staring at Queen Megan. Waiting for…? Tossing her windblown hair over her shoulders, Kendall straightened to her full height. Johnnie released her hand and went to Megan, leaning down to kiss her cheek. He whispered something in her ear and she focused her gaze on him. Kendall read the accusation, saw Johnnie’s beseeching look, noticed the minute nod she gave him.
            She cleared her throat, her mouth downturned. “Hello, Kendall.”
            Kendall stayed silent. No one would hurt her as long as Johnnie was there to protect her. Besides, how did they know her silence wasn’t a show of respect?
            “I know you heard my fuckin’ wife speak to you, bitch,” Outlaw snarled, his look letting Kendall know she had to tread carefully.
            Johnnie stiffened and Kendall waited for him to rise to her defense. Instead, he threw a silent warning to her.
            The roar shocked the loud place into silence and Megan came to her feet, chewing her lip. Outlaw looked even more furious, if that were possible.
            “Is this motherfucker for real?” he grumbled, starting around Megan, who caught his arm.
            “Pig! Asshole! I hate you! I hate this place and I hate its president! It’s a travesty my son has you for a father and him for an uncle.”
            “You know what the travesty is, Zoann,” Megan snarled, “that you are related to Christopher and opened your legs to Val so he could give you your son.”
            Val stopped next to Megan and dropped a squirming, brown-haired woman next to her. Caught off-guard, she plopped to the floor.
            “You’re a moron,” Megan snapped to Val.
            Zoann jumped to her feet and turned to Megan, tears in her eyes. “He kidnapped me and my son. I don’t want to be here, Megan. Make him let us go.”
            Megan reached out to grab Zoann’s arms to calm the other woman. “No. You have to be here. We’re on lockdown and—“
            “We?” Zoann screeched. “What do you mean we? I’m not a part of this stinking club.”
            “You sure the fuck ain’t, Zoann,” Outlaw gritted. “I don’t even consider you part of my fuckin’ family, but you got Val’s son, which mean, he either took the kid without you—my preference—or he had to bring you here.”
            “Zoann,” Queen Megan interrupted, “this isn’t going to be easy on any of us, so please just cooperate. Both Christopher’s and Johnnie’s houses in Long Beach were blown up. At the moment, none of us are safe.”
            Zoann’s reaction was much the same as Kendall’s at first, a blank stare and a series of blinks. She recovered quick enough. Her brown eyes filled with bitterness. “You’re a fool, Megan. He killed your father. He had my mother—his mother—killed,” she spat on a sob, “and the only thing you do is defend him.” She indicated Megan’s belly, which was still rounded, though she no longer carried life inside her. “You’ve given him one child and you let him get you pregnant again. That’s what he’ll do. Keep you isolated and pregnant and always in fear for your life.”
            The silence alarmed Kendall. It had been silent ever since Val had burst in with Zoann, but this quiet was different, almost deathly. A couple things registered in Kendall’s brain. Megan seemed to be pushing her weight against Outlaw as if she were trying to stop him from going forward and tears were falling from her eyes.
            Mortician had gotten to his feet. He now held Outlaw’s son, who was happily pulling on one of the dreads in the man’s hair. Val now held a child, too, an adorable little boy with big brown eyes and dark, curly hair. He’d gone ashen, though. Some women who didn’t look particularly friendly flanked Megan, glaring at Zoann. One or two of them cast evil glances her way, too.
            Megan palmed away her tears. She swallowed and her lips trembled. Kendall saw Johnnie’s heart melting and that deep well of hatred she carried for the other woman returned. “Whether or not you stay on premises is completely up to Val.” She said something to two of the women near her, indicating her son and Val’s. They took the little boys and disappeared down the hallway Kendall had used the night of the bachelor party. “If I’m a fool, that’s my business. Despite everything, I’d like you to stay. Be safe.” She drew in a deep breath. “But, if you leave, you’re leaving without your son. I’m not going to allow you to put that innocent child in danger because you’re such a bitter witch.”
            Zoann gasped. “You wouldn’t…you couldn’t…you—“
            “I could and I would,” Megan interrupted. “No, excuse me, I can and I have.”
            “Meggie!” another female voice cried.
            “Fuck me, from a wicked bitch to a whiny bitch,” Outlaw managed. “Can this day get any fuckin’ worse?”
            Megan sighed and rubbed her temples. “That’s my mother.”
            “She still a whiny bitch, baby.”
            The woman threw her arms around her. Johnnie rolled his eyes and Mortician scowled. Outlaw just looked pained. Gray streaked the woman’s blonde hair and lines of fatigue creased her eyes. She didn’t look particularly old. She just looked tired, as if life had worn her out.
            “What’s going on, Meggie? Why did that biker get me? What happened? Haven’t you suffered enough? Why aren’t you at the house resting?”
            “Dinah, enough with the fuckin’ questions. You workin’ my last fuckin’ nerve.”
            Dinah pursed her lips. “Always so rude,” she complained.
            “Mama, we have a lot of people here and we’re going to need food. Can you help K-P out in the kitchen?”
            “Are you hungry now, baby?” Dinah asked and Megan nodded. Her mother lifted her chin, spun on her heel, and went in the direction of where Kendall assumed the kitchen was located. The women who’d been around Megan trooped behind her.
            “Thank fuck.” Outlaw kissed the top of Megan’s head. “She’s right, though. You need to rest.”
            “I will go to our room, I promise. Just as soon as you address everyone. They have to see that I support your decision.”
            “What decision is that that he’d need your support, Megs?”
            If it was the last thing Kendall ever did, she was going to have Johnnie stop referring to Queen Megan as ‘Megs’.
            “The Bobs,” she said with a little sniff. “They’re here, too.”
            “Wouldn’t have all this bullshit if we didn’t have a quarter of the brothers deciding it was safe to get old ladies,” the other Black guy grumbled.
            “Shut up, Digger. That isn’t my fault.”
            “Yeah, baby, I gotta say it is. Them fucks saw how happy you made me and decided now that the threat of Boss was gone, it was safe to get old ladies again.”
            “What, pray tell, is a Bob?” Zoann sneered.
            Hmmm. Kendall realized she wanted to know, too. She also realized how happy she was Johnnie hadn’t hustled her off to some little room. As much as she disliked Megan, it fascinated her how she had everyone under her thumb. Kendall wanted to watch her, look for weaknesses—and then use it against the sainted Mrs. Caldwell.
            Outlaw folded his arms and smiled. “A Bob, my holy little sister, is a bitch around for the sole purpose of sucking dick and giving up ass. Of course, you wouldn’t know ‘bout head bobbing on a dick, since you so fuckin’ perfect you wouldn’t think to put a dick in your mouth.”
            Megan shot daggers at Christopher and Johnnie burst out laughing, bending and saying something to both of them. Megan’s face turned beet red and Outlaw shook his head.
            “I swear one of these days, John Boy, you gonna be dickless. Keep that shit up.”
            “He’s joking about the Bobs, right, Megan?” Zoann asked, as outraged as Kendall felt, ignoring the insults Outlaw had thrown at her.
            “Unfortunately, no.”
            “And you’re okay with that?” Zoann went on, her mouth hanging open after she pushed the words out.
            Megan had such an expressive face until Kendall didn’t miss the expression that said you’re out of your mind if you believe that.
            She snorted. “There were two dozen of these women,” she huffed. “As of two hours ago, eighteen are still alive. Six of them were murdered and dumped over the fence. What am I supposed to do?”
            “You could stop giving a shit about everything and everybody,” Zoann snapped. “That would be a good start.”
            “And you could start giving a shit about some things and somebody,” Megan retorted.
            “Say what the hell you have to say, Christopher, so I can find somewhere to be alone,” Zoann demanded.
            “As if,” Val snorted. “You’re going where I’m going.”
            “You two settle that somewhere else,” Outlaw ordered.
            “Here’s K-P now,” Megan said, nudging Outlaw and pointing towards the entrance.
            “Who the fuck with him?” Mortician asked.
            The big, bald-headed man with a silver beard, who’d assisted Dinah at the funeral, walked up. Kendall noticed an exotic looking girl with jet black hair and eyes with a blend of greens and browns.
            “This my daughter,” K-P announced proudly. “Bailey.”
            Bailey smiled shyly and Kendall watched Mortician take every inch of her in. “She got a little coffee in her cream, huh?”
            K-P paused and removed the toothpick hanging from the corner of his mouth. “Say again.”
            Obviously, Megan knew because she covered her face with her hands and shook her head.
            Mortician cocked his head to the side. “You a Black chick?”
            Outlaw knocked him on the side of his head. “She a human chick, fuckhead, so shut the fuck up.”
            Bailey narrowed her eyes at Mortician. “My mother is Black. From what I can tell, so are you and you.” She nodded to Digger. “How ironic you two are the only assholes commenting on it.”
            Instead of apologizing, Mortician winked at her and Bailey blushed, lowering her long lashes.
            “You touch my daughter, you die,” K-P said casually.
            “K-P,” Megan said, “Mama is in the kitchen with some of the ladies. I didn’t send any of the Bobs in until Christopher makes his—“
            “Dinah’s here?” K-P asked, straightening up shoulders and adjusting his vest.
            Megan smirked at Outlaw, then nodded at K-P. “Yeah and I’m sure she’ll be really happy to have your help.”
            “Got it, babe,” he said. “Let me call them out, so Outlaw can explain everything. C’mon, Bailey.”
            Not taking her gaze from Mortician, Bailey followed her father while Mortician tracked her every move.
            “Can you wait until lockdown is over for this, Mortician?” Megan hissed. “Please?”
            “Don’t worry, Megan,” Outlaw murmured. “He value his dick too much to get pussy from Bailey and have K-P hack it off with his meat cleaver.”
            “Fuck, man,” Mortician complained. “You know how to ruin a dickstand.”
            Outlaw shrugged, unapologetic. He waited until everyone had gathered in the main room, including a group of girls that seemed to be shunned, divided from the women who held babies and clung to some of the bikers. My God, these men should change their names from the Death Dwellers to the Dick Dwellers. There had to be at least twenty babies, not including Val’s and Outlaw’s boys. What fertility drug were they drinking?
            Outlaw guided Megan to a seat in the center of the room, then took his place behind her. He motioned Dinah over and positioned her next to Megan. Johnnie stood to his left, angled behind Megan, close enough to protect her—with his life if necessary. Mortician stood to the right of Outlaw. Kendall wasn’t sure, but when he indicated Bailey stand next to the man and her father on the other side of her, she thought he made the move on purpose. Johnnie pulled Zoann next to him and she tightened her lips when Val took his place beside her. The man who’d met them at the gate stood next to Val while Digger flanked K-P. The two women who’d taken the boys scampered back out and sat Outlaw’s son in Megan’s lap and handed the other little boy to his mother, then they two headed for two bikers.
            Kendall imagined how perfect Ellen would’ve been for this type of situation. She’d been with Outlaw for years waiting for the time when they could settle into a life together. She wanted to puke watching Megan, young, small, pale, insignificant Megan have two beautiful men—this whole club—willing to jump to her every command.
            Now that the royalty was arranged, Kendall expected them to start the speech or whatever. Outlaw she’d listen to. Megan she intended to tune out. She was even more determined now to tumble the queen from the throne she’d stolen. She despised the way Johnnie joked with her and looked at her with barely disguised desire and called her Megs. If he wanted her, Kendall would see to it that he got her. She’d see to it that Outlaw found out that Queen Megan would sleep with another man. Then, Kendall would bind Johnnie to her, and make Megan know what betrayal felt like.
            Megan huffed out a breath. “Kendall?” she called, startling her out of her vengeful fantasies. “We’re waiting for you.”
            “Me?” Kendall echoed.
            “You’re Johnnie’s.” she explained. “You need to take your place beside him.”
            The others may jump to her tune, but Kendall sure as hell wouldn’t. She folded her arms and backed away. “I’m fine here. Thank you.”
            “Kendall,” Johnnie called, his eyes flashing like lightning. “Get over here. Now.
            She opened her mouth to tell him where to go.
            “Look, bitch,” Outlaw barked, “Johnnie said you his girl. Since we cousins, I’m openin’ my fuckin’ heart and lettin’ you take your place next to him cuz of the fuckin’ danger. But lemme set some ground rules, which, John Boy better get you to understand. When Megan tells you to do somethin’, you obey. Ain’t no ifs or buts about it. If you think I fuckin’ forgot what the fuck you did, you better think a-fuckin-gain. Now, I heard both my wife and my VP tell you to get your ass the fuck over here. You have three fuckin’ seconds to comply. If you fuckin’ don’t, you gettin’ the fuck off club property and ain’t ever settin’ foot in this motherfucker again. That means, bitch, you on your fuckin’ own. If a motherfucker come gunnin’ for your ass cuz you been fuckin’ John Boy, that’s fuckin’ on you. Three!” he spat out.
            By the time Kendall realized he was doing his three second countdown, Outlaw was opening his mouth to shout out the number one. Not hesitating, Kendall hurried to Johnnie’s side, squirming beneath Outlaw’s cold, green gaze tracking her run. Johnnie positioned her next to him and drew her closer to him, an arm around her waist.
            “Lemme start by sayin’ I know where the fuck the threat is comin’ from,” Outlaw began in even tones as if he hadn’t just threatened to turn her out. “Soon as I get through explainin’ shit, I’m leavin’ to go take care of shit.” He thrust a hand through his hair and Kendall saw Megan sit a little straighter, her shoulders tense. “I should be gone two weeks tops.”
            Two weeks?
            “That don’t mean you gonna be stuffed up in here for two weeks. I’m thinkin’ two, three days tops.”
            Megan tightened her hold around Outlaw’s son, nuzzled his hair. Although Outlaw seemed focused on the crowd, he placed a hand on Megan’s shoulder and squeezed, like he knew she was upset, even though he hadn’t been looking at her.
            “John Boy gonna be in charge in my absence. Ain’t nobody I trust more to look after my wife and son than my VP, my cousin. Ain’t nobody I trust more to look after my family—“ He swept his hand to encompass the assembled group. A group they’d included Kendall in— “Look after our MC, all you and each other than my brothers standin’ up here with me.” He swallowed. “Now, just because I’m gone don’t mean you stop listenin’ to my Megan. Rules still the same. If a motherfucker get outta line with her, consequences still gonna happen. She need somethin’, I expect her to get it come hell or high water. She tell you to jump ten feet in the fuckin’ air, I expect y’all to jump ten motherfuckin’ feet in the air.”
            Zoann snorted and Kendall believed she’d found a kindred spirit. Why was it they were the only two women who despised Queen Megan?
            “She asked me to let me address the old ladies here, so you bitches listen close.”
            Megan shifted in her seat and she kept quiet for a minute. Omigod, could it be Queen Megan was scared beneath the scrutiny of all these women? Women she was supposed to control as the president’s wife.
            After a minute, Megan drew in a deep breath and gazed up at Outlaw. He smiled at her and nodded.
            “Um, first, let me address the concerns about all the children. CJ, um, Little Man,” she corrected, indicating Outlaw’s son, “has a nursery here. At my request some of the boys added cribs and extra toys and all kinds of baby things that’s not important right now. I didn’t have a long time to plan this and since this is an MC and not a daycare, it was a nightmare getting everything in place.”
            Some of the women chuckled. “We trust you, babe. We know you got it done,” one of them called.
            “I appreciate the trust you ladies place in me. We have to keep everything running smoothly for our men.”
            “Yeah, babe!” a man hollered.
            “Hear, hear,” came a happy chorus.
            “Settle the fuck down and let her finish,” Outlaw ordered.
            “Unfortunately, there’s not much I’ll be able to do,” she continued. “I can’t even lift Little Man right now.” She gave a watery smile and cleared her throat. “So I’m gonna need cooperation. There’s going to be a lot of food to be prepared. Diaper changing—“
            “Dick sucking,” a heavy voice boomed.
            Without turning, Megan reached behind her and touched Outlaw, like magic exploded from her fingers and soothed the rage that had suddenly twisted his features.
            “The Bobs are here,” Megan said, and the women began grumbling. She patted Outlaw’s stomach, her other arm holding his son, who was leaning against her half-asleep, a pacifier in his mouth. “I understand how upsetting this is, ladies. But I had no choice but to allow them here.” Megan leveled a stare on the women who were all huddled together, ostracized because of what they were used for. “You single boys do whatever you want with them. No, I mean whatever they let you do to them. If the Bobs start any trouble with the boys who have their old ladies here, I’ll have them escorted off premises immediately. We will be living too closely to have added, and unnecessary, drama. Ladies, if you catch your men with the girls and have it in you to overlook any indiscretions—“ She cleared her throat. “If you can overlook if something happens and deal with it after this crisis is over, I’d be forever grateful. It could be a matter of life and death. I can’t make the ladies mingle with each other, including the Bobs, but I don’t intend to shun anyone. Let’s be the family I know we are. Get over this major crisis together, then deal with everything else afterwards. So, um, er, Bobs, I’m gonna need some names from you. Or I can call you Mary Bob, Jane Bob…whatever.” She pointed to a several of the old ladies and addressed them by name as she fired off instructions, putting one in charge of having breakfast prepared and asking her to assemble her crew. Another she charged with heading a group to keep the clubhouse clean. The third one needed to captain a laundry crew. “Zoann, you’re a nurse, so I’d like you to get a group together to look after the babies. Bailey, if you could help Mortician out at the bar.”
            “Yeah, sure, Meggie,” the girl mumbled.
            “Mom, if you can help K-P with dinner, I think you’d fit perfectly.”
            Outlaw lifted a brow and him and Johnnie exchanged a look. Mortician shook his head.
            “You a trip, Meggie, girl,” Digger laughed.
            “Would you morons behave?” she demanded, sniffing.
            “What are they talking about, Meggie?” Dinah called.
            Megan pursed her lips, looking as if she had reached the end of her rope with her mother. Figured. Everyone had to cater to her, but she couldn’t even have the patience for her mother.
            “Don’t worry about,” Megan said. “K-P has it covered.”
            Johnnie and Outlaw guffawed while the others chuckled. Even Zoann smiled.
            “You can’t win with them,” she called. “You might as well stop because you’re just digging yourself into a deeper hole.”
            “That about it, baby?” Outlaw asked, leaning over her and taking his son from her.
            She thought for a moment, then glanced at Johnnie and sighed. “Kendall,” she said glumly, “would you mind overseeing lunch?”
            Yes, she minded very much, especially since Queen Megan only did it for Johnnie’s approval, not because she really wanted to include her. But she could play her game, use every little situation as her pawns, until she cornered and checkmated Megan.
            She smiled tightly. “Of course, Megan,” she purred. “It’ll be my pleasure.”
            Not long after, Outlaw handed his son to Dinah, scooped Megan up in his arms and disappeared with her. Everyone dispersed, leaving Kendall to fend for herself. The other women were recruiting the ladies they wanted on their teams and taking care of their babies. The men were branching off into groups, gathering at the bar, sitting at the tables, preparing to shoot pool and throw darts. Mortician was leaning down, whispering something to Bailey, who seemed as appalled as she was intrigued.
            For some reason, Kendall wanted to burst into tears. These people were more of a family than her blood relatives had ever been. With her, her mother and her sister, they’d each looked out for themselves, until near the end of Ellen’s life.
            Outlaw and Johnnie reappeared together, both of them gorgeous, one blond and silver eyed who looked like an angel but killed with cold precision, the other one black-haired and green-eyed, who had sin written in every line of his beautiful face and body. Kendall headed for them, a smile on her face, surprised when she realized Outlaw was just a little taller than Johnnie.
Her arrival didn’t halt Outlaw’s flow of words.
            “Look after her, John Boy. I had to tell her what was going on and she’s worried about me. She don’t need that shit—“
            “She loves you.”
            “Just pull yourself away from her sometimes to keep Megan company and cheer her up.”
            “Listen, John Boy, this ain’t for easy for me to ask you, but I fuckin’ trust Megan and you got a bitch of your own now, so I don’t have to worry about you tryin’ to get Megan in your bed. Because I got fuckin’ eyes and I know you tryin’ like fuck to keep your dick outta my girl. And Megan still so fuckin’ naïve…” He drew in a breath. “You can seduce any other bitch I fucked and I don’t give a fuck. You want Megan’s pussy. And, somewhere, deep down, I know she wanna try your dick.”
            “Would you shut the fuck up?” Johnnie snarled, nodding to Kendall.
            “That’s why this bitch here. I listened to Megan and pulled back on slittin’ her fuckin’ throat but I ain’t a benevolent motherfucker and I saw how Megan got when this bitch walked in. But you asked her to greet this bitch and she did, knowin’ I needed to see that. But, John Boy, I didn’t say nothin’ cuz I figure you have your bitch to stick your dick in while I’m gone and you’ll keep it out of Megan.”
            “What kind of a lunatic are you, Christopher?” Johnnie asked. “Megs wouldn’t ever betray you. That’s why you’re leaving her in my care. It doesn’t matter how naïve she is or if she’s even attracted to me, you have her complete and utter loyalty and, frankly, I thought you two were at a point in your marriage where you were passed all this bullshit.”
            “I fucked up, John Boy,” he said quietly. “I knew I needed to get the fuck, but I put Megan before the club. Now, motherfuckers pissed, thinkin’ we fucked over them. I would do it all again. Ain’t nothin’ I love more than Megan, but everythin’ in my life goes to shit. Just when I got somebody to love me, I might be gettin’ buried.”
            Johnnie grabbed his cousin’s shoulders. “Keep it together, Christopher. For Megan.”
            “Easy for you to fuckin’ say. If I was in the same position, what the fuck you think I’d do? Shoot fuckin’ first and ask questions later.”
            Outlaw looked over Johnnie’s shoulder. Megan stood framed in the doorway, staring in their direction, her eyes shining with love. She made her way to them. When she reached Outlaw, she stood on her tiptoes and kissed his lips.
            “Come back to me,” she whispered.
            “I will, Megan,” he returned, lifting her off her feet and hugging her. They stood like that and that image seared Kendall’s brain.
            Then, Outlaw set her down, turned on his heel, and left without another backward glance.


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