Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Release Date: August 17, 2018
I made a mistake fifteen years ago, one that could have landed my ass in jail. Instead, I made a deal. I signed away the rights to a child I’d never see, and then I joined the Army, putting the Dixie Reapers and my life in Alabama firmly in my rearview. But now I’m back, and I can’t help but wonder what happened to my son or daughter. What I discover makes my blood run cold, and I vow to do anything in my power to save the daughter I’ve never met. I just didn’t count on rescuing two damsels, or that the second one would look at me with haunted eyes that would make me do something stupid. I’d vowed to never let another woman fuck me over. I just hope I don’t regret letting Kalani into my home and into my life. She has trouble written all over her.
I’ve been locked away my entire life. Hillview Asylum looks presentable enough on the outside, but I know firsthand about the horrors inside those walls. I’d always expected I’d die there, until he came. Not that he was coming for me. I’ve sheltered his daughter, Janessa, as much as possible, and in return I gained her trust and loyalty. I’d have never guessed those two things would save me. Or maybe they didn’t, because now I’m faced with a man who makes me want things I shouldn’t. His club suggested a marriage of convenience, to keep me out of Hillview, but I want more than just his name. I have no doubt this is going to end with my heart shattered at my feet, but he keeps the nightmares away. For the first time in my entire life, I feel safe. Protected. But now I want more… I want to be loved.
WARNING: Contains strong language, abuse, dark themes and elements, and explicit sexual content. There is no cheating, no cliffhanger, and a guaranteed HEA.
All Rights Reserved.
(c)2018, Harley Wylde
I stood outside the gates of the Dixie Reapers’ compound, my bag slung over my shoulder, and the weight of the world pressing down on me. I felt like the fucking prodigal son returning home, and maybe that’s exactly how it was. Fifteen years ago, I’d walked away from this club, from my life, and I’d joined the Army. I’d been on a downward spiral and knew something had to give if I’d wanted to survive. The Army was the best thing for me at the time.
My Dixie Reapers cut was clutched in my hand, and I knew it would magically open the gates in front of me. I hadn’t been able to put the damn thing on because of how much I’d bulked up while I was serving my country. There was a glow from a cigarette just inside the gates, and I knew a Prospect was there, watching and waiting. If I got any closer, he’d be on alert until he figured out if I was friend or foe. Just as it should be. Hell, that had been my job once upon a time.
At the clubhouse across the lot, I could see a line of bikes. I wondered if mine was still stored here, or if Torch had given up on me returning and sold the damn thing. I hadn’t exactly kept in touch over the years. At first, I’d reached out when I was able, even stopped by during my leave the first few years, but as more years passed, the calls became fewer and fewer, the visits non-existent, until I stopped communicating with the club all together. And now here I stood, wondering if I would even be welcomed back by men I’d once considered family.
“You coming in or are you gonna stare all night?” the Prospect asked, tossing the cigarette away.
I approached the gate and held up my cut when I got there. His eyebrows lifted as he looked at the Dixie Reapers patch on the black leather, then his gaze took in my Army-issued duffle and the dog tags hanging around my neck. Something entered his eyes, like understanding, then he slid the gate open and let me inside.
“My name’s Johnny. Welcome home, soldier.”
I smiled a little. “Thanks. Torch inside?”
“Nah. He’s at home with his wife and kid. Same for the VP.”
Torch and Venom were married with kids? Hell, I’d never seen that one coming. It made me wonder what else had changed around here. I guess I hadn’t given it much thought, almost like my past had just stayed frozen in time while I’d been off being a soldier. My thoughts must have been showing on my face. The Prospect smirked and shook his head.
“If you can’t believe that, then you definitely won’t believe that Bull and Preacher have old ladies now too. And Ryker Storme claimed Flicker’s sister. Even though his daddy is the Pres of Hades Abyss, he’s stuck around so Laken can be near Flicker.”
“I don’t know what the fuck is in the water around here, but I think I’ll stick with beer. No way I’m letting some woman into my life like that,” I said, shifting the weight of my bag.
“Now that you’ve said that, you’ve just doomed yourself.” Johnny smiled. “I bet you’re leg-shackled before the end of the month.”
I snorted. Yeah, not fucking likely. With a salute, I headed toward the clubhouse. Better to get this shit out of the way. I had no idea who was inside, or if I’d know anyone in there at all. As far as I knew, all my old club was still active, but I had no doubt a lot of new faces had joined over the last fifteen years. The kid at the gate couldn’t have been more than twenty. The club needed some young blood. The rest of us were getting too fucking old.
I pushed open the door and stepped inside. A mug was slammed down on the bar top, and a moment later, I was engulfed in a hug from a man nearly twice my size.
“Jesus, Tank,” I wheezed. “Can’t fucking breathe, man.”
He slapped my back and pulled away, smiling broadly. “It’s fucking good to see you, Tex. Thought you’d never make it back.”
“Guess I got tired of following the rules.”
“Torch know you’re here?” he asked.
“Nope. Thought I’d surprise everyone.”
He motioned to the cut clutched in my hand. “Why aren’t you wearing that? You’re still one of us.”
“Doesn’t fit anymore.”
He took it from me and tossed it to the Prospect behind the bar. “See that a new one is ordered for Tex.” His gaze scanned over me again. “Better ask for an XXL. Fuck, man, you’re almost as big as me.”
“Yeah, right. No one’s as big as you, Tank.”
He grinned and slapped my back again, nearly knocking me off my feet. I didn’t know if I even still had a room here at the clubhouse, and I wasn’t sure how to go about asking. Yeah, these guys were considered my family, but I’d pretty much abandoned them fifteen years ago. It was a little presumptuous of me to just appear and expect everything to go back to normal. I’d hoped Torch would be around so we could talk.
“Why don’t we grab a beer and catch up?” Tank asked. “A lot of changes around here since you’ve been gone.”
“I heard Torch and Venom both have old ladies. And Bull? Shit. After what happened with his baby momma, I thought for sure he’d steer clear of relationships. That bitch was something else.”
Tank smirked. “It gets better. His new woman is younger than his daughter. Ridley gave him grief. And he now has a son, Foster. His kid is younger than his grandkids.”
“Shit, Ridley is married?” I asked.
“Uh, yeah. She’s with Venom.”
I spit out the swallow of beer I’d just taken. “Are you fucking kidding?”
He shook his head. “Bull wasn’t too happy about it at first, but he’s come around. Venom treats Ridley like a queen. They have two kids, both girls.”
“And Torch? The Prospect at the gate said he had a wife now.”
“Isabella. She’s like thirty years younger than him, but I’ve never seen two people meant for each other more than those two. They have a kid too.”
“Definitely not drinking the water around here,” I muttered as I swallowed more beer.
Tank chuckled. “Don’t blame you, man.”
“Got a lot of new members?” I asked.
“Since you left? Yeah. A lot of Prospects have come and gone over the years, but a few have patched in. Our newest is Coyote,” he said with a nod toward a table in the corner.
The guy looked to be near my age, and he wasn’t lacking for female attention. My dick didn’t even stir as I looked at the mostly naked club sluts draped over Coyote. It had been so fucking long since I’d been laid, I wasn’t sure my cock even worked right anymore. When I was younger, I’d had a different woman every night. After joining the Army, the women hadn’t been quite as plentiful, or more aptly put, my days hadn’t been quite as free. Over the years, I’d soured toward females, not trusting them. Getting my dick wet hadn’t been worth a possible STD or being trapped by some conniving bitch who got pregnant on purpose. So I’d abstained. Now I never even felt the urge anymore. I could probably walk onto the set of a porno and my dick wouldn’t so much as twitch.
Pathetic. That’s what I was. Thirty-five and my cock was fucking useless except to take a piss. Probably for the best. When it had been in good working order, I’d knocked up the girl I’d been seeing. Just hadn’t realized at the time that she was sixteen and had been using a fake ID. Had I known she wasn’t eighteen, I wouldn’t have fucking touched her. I’d miraculously gotten off without jail time and had entered the Army a few days later. I had no clue what happened to that girl or my kid. I’d thought of looking them up a few times over the years, but the girl’s parents had made me sign away my parental rights to my kid. Some days, I regretted doing that. Had she even kept the baby?
“What’s that look?” Tank asked.
“Taking a trip down memory lane. It wasn’t a happy memory.”
He nodded. “There’s someone you should meet. Come on.”
Tank stood and I followed him down the hallway, past all the rooms that seemed to be occupied. At the last door, he knocked and a redheaded guy opened the door. A bank of computers lined the wall as we stepped inside, and I wondered who the fuck this guy was, and just what he was into.
“Tex, this is Wire. He’s a fucking genius when it comes to computer shit.” Tank paused. “I know you’re thinking about that girl, about the kid you left behind. If you really want to know what’s up, Wire can find whatever you need.”
Wire grinned and held out a hand. “I’ve heard mention of you over the years. Good to put a face to the name.”
I shook his hand, then looked at the computers again. “You can really find anyone on there?”
He snorted. “Find them? I can give you every detail of their life if you’d like, down to what they bought on their last trip to the grocery store.”
“Before I left, I knocked up a girl named Sabrina Kilpatrick. Didn’t know at the time she was underage, and her parents made me sign away my rights to the baby. I’d like to know what happened to them, and if I have a son or daughter out there somewhere.”
Wire nodded. “How old was she, how long ago was this, and do you know her parents’ names?”
“She was sixteen, even though I thought she was eighteen, and it happened fifteen years ago. We’d used condoms, but one broke. Her dad was Phillip Kilpatrick.”
Wire’s eyebrows shot up. “The ex-Chief of Police?”
Wire whistled. “Man, some serious shit went down involving that man and his family. About seven years ago, Kilpatrick was killed, presumably during a drug bust gone wrong. Except it was discovered that he wasn’t busting them. He was the ring leader of one of the biggest drug rings in the state. Had connections in every department statewide. The wife committed suicide.”
My throat tightened. I’d left my kid with someone like that? “And the girl? Sabrina?”
“Dead,” Wire said. “But she died a while before all that shit happened. I don’t remember any mention of a kid, though. I’ll do some digging and see what I can find.”
I nodded and thanked him. Tank led me back out to the main part of the clubhouse. When I’d come back, I hadn’t had any intention of looking up Sabrina or trying to find my kid. But if the Kilpatricks were all dead, where was the baby Sabrina was carrying fifteen years ago?
“I’ll talk to Torch tomorrow about a place for you to stay. Tonight, you can crash in my guest room,” Tank said. “He turned the rooms in the clubhouse over to the Prospects, so all the patched members either have a duplex or a house inside the compound.”
“Thanks. Do you know what happened to my bike?”
He smiled. “Torch has it under lock and key. He’s kept up the maintenance on it, took it for a joyride every now and then to make sure it was in perfect working condition. I don’t think he ever doubted you’d eventually come home.”
At least one thing in my life was going right.
I followed Tank out of the clubhouse, and we walked down the road that twisted through the compound. About six houses down, he turned up a small walkway and entered a one-story blue house. He left the door open, and I made my way inside. I didn’t know what the hell my future looked like anymore, and I was too fucking tired to think much about it tonight.
But I did know one thing. If I had a kid out there, I wasn’t stopping until I had custody. My impeccable Army record had to be good for something. Maybe it could at least make sure my kid had a good life. I could only imagine the hell they’d lived through with the Kilpatricks.
Whatever it took, I’d make it right.