Sitting on some boxes in an old warehouse, Sunny Lane didn’t blink an eye as she watched her father slit the throat of Frankie Rodriguez. She had no remorse as he bled out across the cold concrete floor. No regret for wanting it to happen and no regret for wanting to watch it happen. The only glimmer in the green eyes of the small blonde was a flicker of hope. Hope that seeing this happen would stop the only feeling she did have, the stabbing pain inside her that mourned the loss of her only sister. So if watching this man die was going to ease that pain at all then she wasn’t going to shed a tear over it.
Charlie “Cold Blood” Lane had taken more lives than he could count and never thought twice about it. But this one was different, this was the first one he had done outside of club business. The only one his fifteen year old daughter had ever watched him take. Letting her witness this pleasurable act of violence wasn’t something he wanted to happen, but he knew she was too much like him. That her itch wouldn’t and couldn’t be scratched until she watched the life drain from the piece of shit who murdered their only reason for living. So he gave his daughter the only gift he could.
Three years later...
Sunny didn’t realize she was stuck in a trance until she heard the familiar sound of her uncle’s voice outside of her screenless bedroom window.
“Hey knucklehead,” her Uncle Scotty shouted as he placed his helmet on the eighteen inch handlebars of his beloved 1957 Harley Davidson Panhead.
“What’s happenin' Uncle Scotty?” She replied in a distant response.
She wondered how long she was dazing out again this time.
She set the picture of her sister back down on her nightstand and silently scolded herself for being weak. She hated losing a handle on her emotions and getting lost in the past.
She didn’t cry when it happened and she sure in the hell wasn’t going to do it now, so she stood up and gave herself a quick shake to get back in check.
Feeling back to reality, she stepped into the living room to greet her uncle, who was already in a discussion with some of the club guys on the couch. Besides her dad he was her favorite person in the world. He wasn’t her real uncle, but most people she called family weren’t blood related. He had been in her life from the moment she was born.
Standing on her tiptoes she reached up to give him a big hug, wrapping her tiny arms around his tree trunk of a neck. Her small frame was engulfed in his massive body that was adorned with leather and jeans that were older than she was.
He was the epitome of a biker. He had long dirty blonde hair he religiously wore in a ponytail and could be as mean as he looked, but Sunny only knew his loving and protective side. He was a vicious Vice President in the MC but he was more of a parent to her than her own mother was, even before she took off.
He never had any kids but he always treated her like she was his own. Helping Charlie raise her was as much of a priority to him as the club was, and hell, she didn’t even think she out ranked the club on her dad’s list. So needless to say, he meant a lot to her.
“So how was your ride back?” She asked, releasing her arms from his neck.
“Made good time. How were things around here?”
“Same shit, different day,” she replied rolling her eyes.
“Glad to see your all fucking cupcakes and rainbows as usual, missed ya kiddo,” he chuckled while tussling the top of her head before returning to his conversation with the guys.
She grunted and straightened it back out with her fingers as she walked away. Scotty was the only one who could treat her like a kid and get away with it.
She was eighteen for fuck's sake!
Mentally cursing Scotty, she headed towards the kitchen and her nerves went on high alert when she heard her dad's voice.
“So who’s ready to lose their money to my little girl again?”
Charlie shouted as he was bent over in the fridge grabbing a beer. A position he assumed many times a day.
Sunny stormed into the kitchen wearing her regular stone cold face.
“Dad, what the fuck?” She shouted in a whisper.
“C’mon honey, everyone already knows your winnin’ anyway,” he smiled and threw her a beer.
“Well, not the new prospects, and you know they like to bet big to show off, so keep your comments to yourself until after the game. Alright?”
As she said it, a slight smile invaded her beautiful face. It was one of Charlie’s favorite sights and one he rarely got to see. The six foot tall, bearded President could be brought to his knees by his little girl’s smile.
But despite that smile, he knew she was serious, so he gave her a mocking expression of zipping his lips as he walked out of the kitchen.
She smiled mockingly back at him while twisting off the cap of her beer. She leaned up against the sink and took a sip.
To her, winning was not a joke and poker was not a game. It was her way out.
Ever since she was a little girl her dad told her that it was important to always be able to take care of herself. Never to depend on anyone and that if you make your own money, you make your own rules.
Taught her that money brought power, power brought freedom and freedom was king!
So that got her attention early on and became her adopted guideline for growing up. Since she couldn’t handle routine ever since she can remember, she knew she would never go to college or work a nine to five job.
So she learned how to play cards at an early age.
The sight of money flying around every week at the club poker games was all the motivation she needed. So since the time she was eight years old, she would sit on her dad’s knee for every game. She learned how to read the cards and then she learned how to read the people.
The latter was a skill she found useful for all facets of her life before she was ten years old and by the time she was thirteen she was playing on her own with the guys every week.
Hearing what sounded to be the rest of the guys coming in the front door, she finished her beer and headed back into the smoke filled living room.
Soon the room was filled with the sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd and angry rants from the losing players. By midnight there was only three players left. Sunny, Scotty and one of the new prospects.
Eventually Scotty was taken out by a small straight, leaving her and the prospect to play heads up.
The next deal brought Sunny a pair of kings, her favorite hand. But she couldn’t read the other player to determine her next move so she checked the bet to him.
Without hesitation, he bet half his stack of chips.
She just kept staring at him, waiting for him to reveal his tell. She has never seen this before, she could always read the other players, yeah, some were harder than others, but she would always be able to eventually catch on to someone's tell.
Something they did that would give her an idea of what they were holding. An action that would reveal how they felt about their cards.
Scotty would always rub the back of his neck when he had a bad hand, her dad would always interlock his fingers over his cards when he was nervous, Throttle always bite at his bottom lip when he was desperate.
Everyone had something, but this new guy didn’t seem to have one. It was distracting her and was seriously starting to piss her off.
“I’m all in,” she said breaking her own train of thought.
“I call,” he declared with with a dead calm reply.
A small flutter of panic started to set in. This was the last hand and she knew a pair of Kings was not a strong hand to put this much money on. She was hoping it would call his bluff and he would fold, but no such luck.
Unreadable and distracting was a deadly combination to sit across from at a table full of cash.
As she considered her hand lost, he flipped over his hand and revealed a pair of nines. Nothing else. A pair of fucking nines. She didn’t believe it. He had no business even being in that hand and he pushed her all the way to the end with it. He had some fucking guts.
She admired that, but that was overshadowed with her irritation of his undecipherable card face.
As she cleaned up her winnings from the table she caught herself desperately trying to get a glimpse of him. His hard jawline and those eyes were fucking with her. Eyes that were so protected and hypnotizing it was driving her insane. They carried a promise and good or bad, it was kind of scaring the shit out of her.
There was only one set of eyes she wasn’t able to read before and they haunt her everyday of her life.
When she finally escaped to the solace of her bedroom she vowed to forget about his gorgeous blue eyes for awhile, but that self made resolution didn’t last long.
As she laid in bed that night, she expected to have a couple poker hands run through her mind before drifting off to a peaceful sleep, but instead all she could see when she closed her eyes, were his.
What the hell is wrong with you today? She huffed to herself as she sat up in bed.
First she was over emotional about her sister and then she let herself get distracted by this prospect she didn’t even know. Cursing herself, she got out of bed to go roll a joint so she could get some sleep.
Since she knew the house like the back of her hand, she made the trek to the kitchen in the dark but halfway down the hall she felt a large, rough hand on her waist.
The touch turned the blood in her veins to champagne.
“Sorry I was just headed to the bathroom,” whispered a southern coated accent.
Before responding, she flipped the light switch and there he was. The blue eyed distraction.
She couldn’t take her eyes off of him. He was standing there shirtless in his low hanging jeans, mesmerizing her for the second time tonight. This time with his masterpiece of a chest that was now blocking her way to the much needed relief of some rolled up smoke. His dark brown hair was tussled around his olive skin face, he was almost too beautiful to be so masculine.
Yeah, she was fucked.
“It’s cool,” she managed to choke out while drinking in every last bit of this beautiful creature.
As he made his way to the bathroom, she quickly grabbed her wooden box from the drawer beneath the phone in the kitchen. She swore she rolled that joint faster than ever before and just as she was about to head to the porch, he entered the kitchen.
Against her better judgement, she held up the joint, “You smoke?”
Oh, real smart dumbass! You are smoking to try to forget this dude and now you’re asking to smoke with you?! She mentally rolled her eyes to gain some damn sense, but before she could change her own mind, he declined. Thank fucking God!
“Thanks anyway Darlin’.” He remarked before heading back to the living room.
Fuck No Richie! He scolded himself. You came here for a purpose and it was not to get distracted. Especially not by her.