Two years earlier
Christmas Day. All the hustle and bustle of purchasing gifts, planning menus, attending parties, wishing good cheer to everyone, always came to this. An anticlimactic disappointment that sank like stone in the pit of Kendall’s belly. Like everything else in her life, the holidays divided her feelings. Each year, she anticipated the season, just as much as she loathed it.
Her mother often discussed the old days when Christmas hadn’t become so commercialized. Marie always pinned the avariciousness of retailers on the declining importance to the actual reason for the season.
Kendall scoffed at the thought, sick to death of seeing that annoying little phrase plastered on church signs everywhere she turned. She filled the Stoli to the brim of her glass, drowning out her mother’s slurred disapproval. She’d been drowning out everything Marie had been muttering for the past couple hours now. Kendall just knew it was the same old sorry crap that added to her unsettled feelings.
Missing Kendall’s father when the man had been dead for over twenty years. Blaming herself for the dick-loving, pussy-eating slut Kendall’s sister, Ellen, had become. Reminding Kendall of all the blood on Marie’s and Kayla’s hands.
Kendall drained half her glass and glared at Marie. Or, more aptly, Dr. Marie Miller. Only, Dr. Miller had taken a Hypocritical Oath that she passed off as Hippocratic. Marie had been running scam since the death of Kendall’s, Kayla’s and Ellen’s father, but, in the last five years she’d outdone herself, somehow becoming a doctor when she’d barely finished high school because she’d been pregnant with Ellen.
She understood why Marie did what she did. They needed to survive and she meant to do it in style. Kendall couldn’t fault her entirely, since she’d fucked her way through medical school. College. Hell, high school. Who cared, anyway? There’d been so many other demons she’d had to fight and this latest, the one she assisted Kayla and their mother with by obtaining the drugs, would cling to Kendall for the rest of her life.
Fitting, when her mother and twin sister offered assisted-suicide to the terminally ill. Kendall drained her glass and laid it against her overheated forehead. How the hell had her mother gotten clients to do that anyway? Marie certainly hadn’t been able to advertise her services: Death for Dollars.
The thought turned Kendall’s stomach and she fought to remember how Marie had pulled Kayla into her murder-for-hire schemes. Marie sobbed, the words incoherent. Not that Kendall really cared. She was just waiting for Ellen, so she could give her sister her gift, and get to her latest Sugar Daddy. And Kayla? As irresponsible and reckless as she was, her twin could be doing anything right then.
Well, Kendall thought with a mental shrug, she was a Miller woman and Miller women had all sorts of shade. They’d never met anyone who could best them and who they couldn’t exploit in some form or fashion.
Footsteps pounded down the hallway. So lost in her thoughts, she hadn’t even heard the door opening. A moment later, Ellen appeared and trudged into the small dining room, a step up from the days they’d lived in a motel.
Kendall sniffed at her older sister’s appearance and turned her head. Unlike Kendall’s flaming red hair, Ellen’s strawberry blonde hair and smaller frame somehow softened her sister’s hardened features. Ellen had blue eyes—unlike Kendall’s and Kayla’s brown ones. Whore she might be, but average-sized for a woman, not Amazonian like Kendall and her twin. Kayla’s height and slenderness made her a candidate for the catwalk. Kendall just felt like an overgrown hog next to them and often wondered why she hadn’t had the skinny gene like her twin without going to the extreme measures she took.
Kayla’s slenderness was natural. Kendall’s was courtesy of destructive behavior.
“You eat yet, babe?” Ellen asked.
The sadness in her sister’s voice compelled Kendall to glance at her. She narrowed her eyes, shocked at how utterly defeated she appeared. Dark circles ringed her blue eyes. Eyes that always snapped with arrogance and belligerence were dull and filled with pain.
“Ellie?” Marie called.
Irritation surged through Kendall and she gritted her teeth not to stomp out to allow her mother her love fest with her favorite child.
“I’m here, Mama,” Ellen said quietly.
Marie stood and rushed to Ellen, enveloping her in an embrace she always withheld from Kendall. Instead of Ellen’s usual smirk, she tightened her arms around Marie’s neck and burst into tears.
Real worry and concern travelled along Kendall’s nerve endings and she bit her lip. Things must be really bad in Ellen’s life for her to be so broken up. Marie guided her to one of the dining room chairs and helped her into a seat. She clutched the edge of the table and swallowed.
Kendall sighed. “Mama, go wash your face off with cold water. It’ll help clear your head.” Unlikely after all the crying she’d done and alcohol she’d consumed. Kendall wasn’t even sure why they’d bothered with glasses. They both had fifths of Stoli at their place settings. “I’ll talk to Ellen until you freshen up.”
Marie wiped her nose on her gold, sparkly sleeve. “Are you sure?”
“Yes.” She wouldn’t elaborate. The days of Ellen and Kendall getting into physical fights had long passed. Feeling a special bond to Kayla, Kendall only tolerated both Marie and Ellen, but she was so much better than they were. She lived in an expensive apartment with fine furniture. Wore designer clothes. Drove a sports car. Was in her first year of residency.
Kendall scowled at the thought. “Go!” She hadn’t meant the word to come out so harsh, but she really didn’t want to be here. She wanted to be in her lover’s bed, rewarding him for gifting her with the diamond earrings she wore.
Marie scampered away and Kendall leaned back in her chair. She grabbed the Stoli and tipped the bottle back. “What’s the matter?”
Ellen lifted woeful eyes to her and palmed her tears away. Her mouth twisted in a bitter smile. “I was supposed to get married,” she croaked, hoarse with tears.
Wait. What? Ellen married? The idea was so ridiculous she almost burst out laughing. Instead, she lifted a brow. “Uh-huh.”
No biting remark. Just a sniffle. A sinking sensation fluttered in Kendall and she straightened in her seat. Ellen wasn’t kidding. She was getting married. No. She was supposed to get married. “What happened?”
Kendall wanted to know it all. Not only what had happened that turned the sure thing into…whatever Ellen was facing, but how she’d come on the verge of a wedding in the first place.
“Outlaw…he…we—“ Another sob.
The sound went through Kendall because not much upset her big sister. But she knew the name Outlaw. Ellen had mentioned him on and off for years. For the last nine months or so, Ellen had been the MC president’s old lady.
Ellen drew in a shuddering breath. “He’d proposed to me and we were gonna announce it at the spring social. And…and…this little bitch came and stole him from me.” She leaned her head on the table and cried so hard her body shook. “Boss Foy’s little blonde whore of a daughter. She took my man from me. He…he even threatened me. Forced me to take her shopping.”
“That bastard!” Yes, he was an outlaw biker, a man who lived and breathed death. And, yes, Ellen knew he went from woman-to-woman. But he’d promised to marry her sister, so Kendall held him responsible for Ellen’s current state.
“It isn’t him.” She sniffled and sobbed. “It’s her. Megan Foy,” she spat. “He thinks she’s so innocent when she’s fucking Rack and John-Boy.”
Kendall paused in the midst of bringing the bottle to her lips and frowned. “Haven’t you fucked Rack and John Boy?” She’d never met these men, but she’d heard enough about them to know where they stood in Ellen’s life. “And Val, Mortician, Digger, Snake, K-P, Boss—“
“How can you bring that up now, Kennie?”
God. Kennie. Ellen had actually called her Kennie, the nickname she’d had when their father was still alive. When they all had souls. Suddenly, Kendall felt like crying. For herself. For her sister. For another Christmas gone by with the emptiness inside of her.
She took a deep draught from the bottle and set it aside. “I-I’m sorry, Ellen,” she whispered. And, for the first time in a long time, she meant it.
“Outlaw didn’t hold none of that against me. Then she came. And she’s with him now, at his mother’s house. I was supposed to be there this year. He was going to introduce me to Pat. Patricia,” she clarified at Kendall’s confusion. “His mother. But he took Megan and invited Digger, Val, and Mortician.”
“Ellen,” Kendall crooned, wanting to offer her sister comfort. But gentleness had been lacking from their lives for so long, she felt rusty. Even sex was sex or fucking. Her one weakness was kissing. She loved a man’s mouth on her lips. It gave her a type of power, a veil of intimacy that she controlled. If her lover displeased her, she withheld her kisses, turned sex into base fucking. But her men knew her kisses meant they were in her favor and worked hard to stay that way.
“I love him so much, Kennie, and he loves me,” she wailed. “He told me so. He didn’t look at no other bitch until that little slut arrived.”
Kendall didn’t want to feel sympathy for her sister. Ellen had tormented her because of her height and size for years. She’d left Kendall with so little self-esteem that she’d learned to despise food. After the hell she’d put her body through, the laxatives and the forced vomiting—the abortion because she couldn’t imagine a baby ruining her already gross body—she’d just given in. She still didn’t tolerate food too well—still sometimes snuck away and forced it up when she’d eaten to much rich food. She had her sister to thank for that. And, yet, they were sisters. They were Millers and no one bested Millers.
“Is there any way to get rid of her?”
The thought seemed to brighten Ellen’s face. Then, it fell again. “She throws a tantrum if he leaves her side for ten minutes. I couldn’t get close enough to her to do her anything.”
She sounded like an easy mark. Kendall swallowed more Stoli and contemplated Ellen. “She sounds like a coward.”
“She jumps at her own fucking shadow. I swear on Daddy’s grave, she’d betray her own mother to keep herself safe. And my man just can’t see that. He can’t see if worse comes to worse, she’d sacrifice his life for her own. All of our lives.”
Unable to remain seated across from Ellen a moment longer, Kendall jumped to her feet and rushed around to her sister. She kneeled and pulled Ellen into her embrace, stroking her hair. It was coarse and frizzy, and Kendall decided she’d take her sister for a day at the spa in a couple weeks.
She heard her mother’s footsteps and didn’t need the stress of Marie’s comments about Kendall’s and Ellen’s relationship. Not that she’d helped her daughters get along.
“I want revenge, Kennie.”
“And you’ll get it. I promise. Call me tonight.” She rattled off her telephone number just as their mother staggered back into the room.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW