ESCAPING FREE (BOOK ONE)

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Chapter 21

DUSTY POV

As I stood outside the clubhouse smoking a cigarette, Careen talked my leg off on the phone. I hadn’t had the guts to talk to Evie myself so I had to get the details somehow.


“She came home today,” she began, “She looks like death. Poor girl. Axel wants her staying here at the clubhouse until further notice, so she’s staying in your old room.”


My heart clenched, and all I could think about was how I wished I could be there with her right now; holding her in my arms as I told her that I wasn’t mad anymore. I wasn’t upset that she hid the pregnancy from me, or that the baby was gone. I was just glad that she was still with us.


Pulling a drag from my cigarette, I blew the smoke out and stared at the barren land in front of me.


“Any other news you’ve heard?”


“Nope, but Smokey and Gearhead think they’re close to finding Jimmy’s whereabouts.”


I still hated hearing Gearhead’s name, making me pissed the fuck off. “If you hear anything else, let me know.”


“Of course. Have you had any headway up there?”


“No. These guys don’t know shit. Of course, I haven’t gone into detail as to why I’m looking for Jimmy, but they have an idea that something bad happened. Someone wrote in the papers about Evie’s accident on highway 12. The club here knows that Sally’s dead and Evie was shot.” I took a deep breath as I ran my hand over my face before I took another drag off my smoke. I still couldn’t believe this happened. “I’ll let you guys know when I know anything more.”


I hung up and finished my cigarette before I stomped it out on the sandy ground with my boot. Back into the clubhouse I go.


Charlie still sat at the bar where I had left him as he slid a fresh beer to me as I sat back down. He was puffing on his own cigarette, staring straight ahead.


“Axel just called me,” he stated with a melancholy tone. “Damn shame about Evie.” Then he turned to me with a sorrowful look on his face. “I’m real sorry about your kid, too.”


I wasn’t used to hearing people talk about my kid, like I had been a father already, but in all reality, I didn’t even know this baby existed until after it was dead. What kind of father would I have been? Not a good one. I guarantee it.


Instead of dwelling too much, I nodded at Charlie before I took a long pull from my beer. I looked over at Mandi who was behind the bar watching us. As soon as our eyes connected she walked over, looking somber. Fucking hell.


“Hey, Dusty, I’m real sorry to hear about Evie.” She looked down at her hands before she added, “And about your son. I had no idea, or I wouldn’t have… ya know.”


I knew what she was going to say. She never would have thrown herself at me and fucked me if she knew Evie was carrying my kid. That’s what was fucked up about the club life. Old lady or not, the men were free game until a baby was in the mix, then it was hands off. Totally fucked up.


“Thanks, Mandi,” I replied as flat as I could.


I lit up another cigarette and inhaled deep, letting it burn my throat and lungs. I had been smoking way too much in the last few days, but it was the only thing that kept my hands from shaking, or from wrapping around someone’s throat. I didn’t care who it was at this point, I just wanted to get this fucking anger out.


“Why don’t you take a few days and go see her?” Charlie offered.


I took another drag as I was the one to stare straight ahead now. I had no idea what I would say to her if I went home. Hell, I had no idea what she would do if she saw me. Would she be angry and push me away like she’s been doing? Because I wasn’t in the mindset to deal with that shit right now. No, I wasn’t going to go see her. Not now, and maybe not ever.


I couldn’t get the images of her and Jimmy out of my head. It’s all I could think about; all I could dream about. The look of pleasure on her face as she was the one who turned and threw herself on Jimmy, not the other way around. I didn’t understand it. Was I missing something?


How did they even know each other? And if they didn’t, I couldn’t see Evie being the type of woman to throw herself at a stranger. But then again, she had been acting really strange over the last few weeks, so who the hell knew who she really was anymore. I sure as hell didn’t know.


“I have business here,” I groaned.


“Business can wait. Go to your woman.”


I looked up at Mandi and saw that she looked a bit saddened by Charlie’s words. I was used to that reaction. I had been with Evie for as long as I could remember and all the women I’d ever been with were jealous of her. She always said that I was a ladies’ man, but I didn’t give two shits. Evie was the only woman that mattered to me at the end of the day. And that’s why I wasn’t going home, and that’s why I was going to stay away.


She deserved better than me and that’s what she’s been wanting anyway, right?


“She’s in good hands.” I stood up from the bar, stubbed out my cigarette in the ashtray, and brought my beer with him as I marched out the back door to my little trailer in the back.


EVIE POV

I was running faster than I ever thought my legs could move as the trees whipped by. It was cold and dark and I had no idea where I was or where I was running to. All I knew was that I was running from Jimmy. I had to get away before he caught me. I would never let him have me again. Never. Again.


He popped out from around a tree and grabbed me before he threw me to the ground, my face burned from the impact with the sandy ground.


I let out a blood curdling scream as his strong hands held me down, suffocating me.


“No! Let me go! Let me go!” I flipped and flopped until I was free from his grasp, but then I smelled something familiar and scrunched my nose.


“Evie!!”


My eyes popped wide open as my ragged breaths shook my shoulders and sweat dripped down my forehead. I looked into Danny’s eyes, then Careen’s, and finally Gearheads. I was back in Dusty’s bedroom at the compound, not in the woods.


“You’re okay, kid, you’re home and safe.” Danny’s rough voice tried to calm me, but I was still a shaking mess.


Sitting up, I pushed away from them as I held my knees to my chest. My bottom lip began to tremble before a sob tore free and then I cried like I had never cried before.


“Ah, shit, Evie.” Danny reached out to touch me but I jerked away from his reach, staring down at his hands with complete fear in my gaze. “Evie, it’s me, Danny.”


I looked between the three familiar faces staring at me. I knew who they were, but I was so freaked out that I couldn’t move. I was frozen. Every cell in my body was frightened. Traumatized.


Danny looked over his shoulder to Careen.


“Call him.”


Nodding, Careen stepped into the hallway and out of sight.


“Do you know where you are?” Danny asked me softly.


I vigorously nodded as tears streamed down my face, soaking the collar of my shirt.


Gearhead sat on the edge of the bed and reached out, touching my shin as I screamed bloody murder and kicked away from both of them.


“Get away from me!” I cried as I freaked out. My heart was pounding as my vision began to darken around the edges.

The dream still ran through my mind and I could still feel Jimmy’s hands on me, his breath against my skin, and his erection at my backside.


Careen stepped back into the room, slowly closing the door behind her as she looked at Danny.


“He’s on his way. He’s close by so it shouldn’t be long.” Then she stepped closer to me. “Hey, Sugar, it’s me… Careen.”


My head throbbed, only making my vision worse. The faces in the room kept morphing between Jimmy’s face and their own, and it was tripping me out. When she stepped forward, I heard a woman’s voice but only saw Jimmy’s face.


I let out a scream and pushed myself even harder against the headboard, trying to keep them away.


“What the fuck is wrong with her?” Gearhead jumped away from me as he gawked at the scene.


“She’s been through some traumatic shit, Gabe, but she’ll be okay.” Careen placed her hand on Danny’s shoulder. “Evie, babe, you’re okay.”


DUSTY POV

There was a lead on Jimmy’s whereabouts, and it brought me close to home. I had just pulled into the neighborhood of the guy I was to talk to when my phone rang.


“What?” I growled.


“Dusty!” Careen’s panicked voice greeted me as my chest tightened. Then I heard screams in the background and what sounded like Evie’s voice. “It’s Evie. Something’s wrong, Dusty. She started screaming and when we went into her, she wouldn’t let any of us near her. I don’t think she knows who we are. I don’t know what’s happening,” she sobbed.


“I’m on my way. I’ll be there in five minutes.”


Hanging up, I whipped the truck around and floored it back toward the clubhouse. I felt my hands shake on the wheel as my heart hammered in my chest. I have to get to her, I kept repeating over and over in my head.


Swerving in and out of traffic, I found myself back at the compound in record time. Three minutes flat to be exact. I didn’t bother shutting the truck off as I threw it into park and ran with everything I had to get inside; to get inside to her.


I headed down the hallway and rounded the corner to find Careen and Gearhead standing in the hallway. She was crying into Gearhead’s shoulder, making me fear the worst.


And then I heard her. Danny was talking to her softly, but she kept screaming at him to get away from her. It was as if she was drugged or something. I had never heard her like this. Not waiting any longer, I pushed open the door and stepped inside.


The sight of her squeezed my heart and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. She looked much skinnier than normal, all bruised and battered, and her beautiful face was all cut up and bruised.


But when I saw that she had her arms wrapped around her knees, and she was trying to get away from Danny, it broke my heart. Danny was family to her.


I didn’t say a word as I stepped further into the room, standing near the end of the bed as I held my breath, trying not to cry.


And then she looked up at me, recognition washing over her features. Her bottom lip trembled as she let out a gut wrenching sob.


“D-Dusty!” She cried as she finally released her knees and pushed away from the headboard.


I knelt on the bed, crawling over to her as she threw herself into me. Her arms tightly wrapped around my neck as she crawled into my lap. I sat back as Evie straddled my hips, holding on for dear life as she cried like I had never heard her cry before. It was breaking my fucking heart.


“Evie, babe, I’ve got you.”


I ran a hand over her hair while my other arm held her tightly around the waist. Her body was trembling in my embrace and I couldn’t help but let out a small sob as I buried my face into her neck. My amazingly strong woman had broken, and the mother fucker who did this to her would pay.

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