Revenge is like hatred. At some point, both destroyed the carriers rather than the targets. Hatred poisoned thoughts and dried up hearts until nothing but a shell remained. The quest for revenge swept everyone into a vicious vortex and destroyed each life involved.
As it happened in Kendall’s case. She’d wanted to make amends for all the years she’d spent hating herself and her life. Most of all, she wanted to make amends to her sister, posthumously, wanted Ellen to accept her once and for all. Too late, she realized, she’d sought out revenge against Megan because she’d always craved acceptance from her sister and approval from her mother.
Now, her life was over. She’d ruined her relationship with Johnnie, the only man she’d ever had real feelings for. And, chances were high, she’d destroyed Megan’s and Outlaw’s marriage. Having no place to go, she was hiding out in the cave Johnnie had taken her to to surprise her. That seemed like a lifetime ago. Had it really only been six days?
It surprised her no one had come searching here for her. Before her phone had died, she’d gotten some very ominous texts from Outlaw. Nothing from Johnnie, though. Not a word. He was well and truly down with her. He’d slept with his Megs and, by Kendall’s own doing, drove the two of them together.
She wrapped the blanket tighter around her and sniffled, tears rolling down her cheeks. Not only did she fear for her life, but she couldn’t face them. For once, she was truly ashamed of herself and all the havoc she’d caused. And for what?
She laughed through her tears, not even having the energy to feel bitter. Or hate. Not anymore. She felt nothing. For Ellen or herself or her mother. They’d all gotten what they deserved.
Movement caught her attention and she wrapped her arms around her legs, trembling. Whatever it was, she hoped it went straight and not veer in her direction. She picked up more sound, now recognizing them as footsteps, growing closer with each breath she took. A moment later, a flashlight beamed in her face and she blinked, whoever holding the light swallowed by the darkness.
A shiver went through her a Johnnie’s cold, implacable tone. He didn’t wait for her to respond. He reached her and dragged her to her feet, shoving her forward.
“Please.” Her voice trembled. “I can explain.”
“You could. If I gave a fuck about hearing what you have to say. I don’t. Now, walk.”
A gun cocked. “Go, Kendall. Now,” he gritted. “Before I lose it and do something I’ll regret for the rest of my life.”
Kendall bit down on her lip, but a sob escaped her. “Wh-where am I g-going?”
“You’re smart,” he sneered. “You fucking figure it out.”
Another sob she couldn’t hold back. He was bringing her to the clubhouse. To Outlaw. And she knew nothing she’d say would discourage him from following through with those plans.
Unlike the hustle and bustle of the clubhouse when Kendall ran away, the place was relatively quiet. Lockdown was over and only the brothers who lived on the premises, along with the officers, were there.
Not once had she turned and looked at Johnnie. She couldn’t bear to see the barrel of the gun staring at her. Nor could she stand to confirm his icy hatred that rolled off him in like steam rising from a hot spring. But, when she reached the board room, she looked at his face for the first time and gasped. He was a mass of healing cuts and bruises and his eyes…My God, his eyes…held not a shred of warmth. He almost looked as if he hated her.
“Wh-what h-happened to you?” she squeaked.
“You the smart bitch who got him with Megan,” Outlaw snarled. “You got what you wanted, bitch. Congratulations. He fucked my wife.”
Her stomach sank and more tears rushed to her eyes, her lips trembling.
“Too late for tears, you fuckin’ manipulatin’ cunt. Time to pay up.”
She looked at each of their unyielding faces. Outlaw’s arm remained in a sling, but that didn’t remove the danger as he so casually laid a 9mm in front of him. Kendall felt faint and grabbed a chair to hold herself up. She blinked, swallowed the bile rising in her belly. And prayed, for the first time in a long time, she really prayed. For her life. For forgiveness. For a chance to do things over.
She swayed and no one moved toward her. Not even Johnnie. They didn’t blink or offer her a chair…or anything. She gripped the chair tighter and squeezed her eyes shut, unable to stop her trembling.
Then, she felt hands gripping her shoulders. Firm but not brutal. They guided her to a seat. She glanced up to see Johnnie near her, his warmth enveloping her. She gave him a tentative smile. He glowered at her.
Outlaw cleared his throat and she automatically turned her attention to him. He stood, walked to where Ellen’s picture hung and snatched it from the wall. Val produced a bowl while Mortician held the photo. Outlaw flicked a lighter and brought the bright blue flame to the edge of the picture. As the fire consumed her sister’s image, Outlaw never took his eyes from Kendall. His anger and hatred transfixed her, leaving her unable to gaze away.
When nothing but ashes remained, Digger doused the fire with water, then everything fell silent again. Long, tense moments passed until a knock came on the door.
Outlaw leaned back in his chair, his eyes still locked with hers. “Enter,” he barked.
The door opened and Kendall thought she’d choke from the additional tension rising in the room. Even before Megan walked into her line of vision, Kendall knew it was her just from Outlaw’s and everyone else’s reactions.
He crooked his finger and she came to Outlaw, stopping at his side. She looked absolutely miserable and heartbroken. All along Kendall’s goal had been to bring this woman low. Now that she had, she felt no joy or vindication. She felt vile and unworthy.
“Megan, I’m so sorry—“ she began.
Outlaw was on her so fast, she barely had time to move. He grabbed her by the throat. “Don’t you ever, ever fuckin’ talk to my wife. Don’t ever look at her,” he snarled, shaking her like she was a little rag doll. He shoved her back so hard she fell to her knees. Unable to bear the humiliation, she covered her face and sobbed into her hands.
“Shut the fuck up,” he snarled and she screamed when he picked up a chair and smashed it against a wall. “You’ve fucked with my family, my brothers, and my club. But you have some kinda fuckin’ guardian angel.” He yanked her to her feet and his eyes were blazing. He loathed her. “I wanna fuckin’ bury you, but you get to live another fuckin’ day.” Jerking her by the arm, he thrust her toward Megan. “Thank her.” Before she could, he shoved her to Johnnie, who didn’t touch her. Just allowed her another indignant fall to her knees. “And thank him. For your fuckin’ worthless, piece-of-shit life, he’s turnin’ in his patch and he’s gettin’ wrote off as my fuckin’ cousin. Ain’t nothin’ these fucks could say would change my mind. I was gonna fuckin’ strangle you with my bare hands. You made Megan think I was dead when you knew the fuck I wasn’t, You left her out there. Set her the fuck up to die or to have John Peter find her. Make no mistake. I fuckin’ detest you. I preferred him fuckin’ her to lettin’ her fuckin’ die from the cold, but, bitch, this entire thing is your fuckin’ fault. When known of these fucks could talk me outta what I intended for you, Megan suggested Johnnie turn in his patch in exchange for your worthless life. As fuckin’ pissed as I am he couldn’t keep his dick outta my wife and as much as I wanted to fuckin’ kill him, I wasn’t thinkin’ his patch for your life. But I thought it was a fuckin’ good idea. You the cunt who caused the shit, so he had to me a choice. Us or you. He fuckin’ chose you.”
Kendall wanted to get to her feet, say something, do something, but she was afraid to move, so she stayed where she was, prostrate at Johnnie’s feet. Outlaw jerked her to her feet and returned her to her chair.
Megan stood, pale and tense, tears running down her cheeks. “May I go now, Christopher?”
Kendall looked at her, saw how very young and vulnerable she looked. Her blonde hair gleamed golden and her jewel-toned blue eyes held nothing but sadness.
She and Christopher stared at one another for long moments. The other men shifted.
Kendall kept her gaze trained on Megan, willing her to look at her. She’d allow her to speak. She was fair enough that she would listen. She cared about Johnnie enough that she’d allowed her husband to give his cousin the option of the club or Kendall’s life. He’d chosen her life but he hated her now. Kendall knew this club meant everything to him. And yet…yet, he was willing to give it up so she could live.
After all the destruction she’d caused, he was sacrificing his family and his club for her.
Whatever else he intended to do, Outlaw hesitated, instead holding out his hand to Johnnie. Johnnie drew in a deep breath, the pain in his eyes cutting through Kendall. He shrugged out of his cut. Outlaw snatched it from him, ripped off his patches, then threw the leather onto the ground, purposely stepping on it. With a last evil glare to Kendall, he walked to Megan, grabbed her hand, and led her out of the room.
“We gotta escort you off the property, John Boy,” Val said quietly.
“You have ten minutes to get your shit,” Mortician added.
Johnnie nodded. He stared at Kendall. “See you around, gorgeous,” he said and sauntered out of the room, leaving her more alone than she ever been in her entire life.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW