ESCAPING FREE (BOOK ONE)

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Chapter 22

EVIE POV

When I woke, I felt arms around my torso and a strong body behind me as panic began to set in again.


“No. No!” I tried to squirm free before I screamed again.


“Hey, ssh.”


My head whipped around as I looked into Dusty’s aqua blue eyes, my nerves immediately settling down. But then my bottom lip began to tremble again as I felt his strong arms wrap around me even tighter.


“Hey, don’t cry. I’m here now. I’m not leaving you ever again.”


I trembled as I held my sobs back. “I’m. So. Sorry,” I choked out.


“Ssh.” He kissed the back of my head and squeezed my tighter to his chest. “Just rest. There isn’t anything to be sorry about.”


That was a lie. I had so many things to be sorry about, and as everything swam through my mind, I finally let a sob break free.


“Babe, it’s okay,” Dusty whispered into my hair.


I shook my head. “But it’s not…”


“No, I guess you’re right.” His voice was low and sounded hurt, but he never released his hold on me in the slightest.


“You must hate me,” I sobbed. I felt incredibly guilty and ashamed over what I had done.


“I’m hurt like hell, Evie, but I could never hate you.”


I rolled in his arms before he looked down at me, his features revealing that he was being truthful. He really didn’t hate me?


“I don’t know what came over me.” I looked down, too afraid to look into his eyes. “I know you saw the footage…” He didn’t say anything as his body went tense and his jaw clenched. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what else to say…”


“There isn’t anything to say. It happened.”


When I looked back up at him, he was no longer looking down at me and my chest tightened. He was terribly hurt and clearly trying to hide it. I did that.


“I need to be honest with you about something,” I whispered.


His eyes shot back down to mine. “Do I want to hear this?”


“Probably not, but I need to explain myself.” When he didn’t reply, I continued. “When we were fifteen, do you remember when the club had a funeral for a woman we had never heard of before?” He nodded. “Well, that was Charlotte Dunken.”


“Jimmy’s mom,” Dusty stated as recognition swept across his face.


Nodding, I continued with what I needed him to hear. “Well, he was here with Charlie for a few days and you were off with the guys learning the ropes, and well…” I took a deep breath, “Jimmy and I became really close.”


His jaw tightened again. “You slept with him, didn’t you?”


I nodded as Dusty released his hold on me and rolled to his back, running a hand over his face as he let out an exasperated breath.


“Fuck, Evie.”


“I know. I know I messed up, but you were being such an asshole to me at the time and you were off doing whatever it was you were doing, and whomever you were doing. I let myself be charmed by him. We became very clo…”


“Yeah, I get it,” he cut me off. “You two became close. Fuck.” He stared up at the ceiling as I tried to read his expression. “Did you love him?”


I flinched at his question. “Of course not.”


Dusty pulled his arm out from beneath me and sat up, draping a leg over the side of the bed. I sat up too, wanting so badly to reach out and touch him, but unsure if he even wanted to be touched at the moment. I was afraid it would set him off and he’d fly off the handle. I needed him to stay right now. I couldn’t be alone, so I said nothing.


“I don’t even know what to say right now.” Dusty finally broke the silence, keeping his back to me.


“Say anything. Hell, say everything. We’ve kept our emotions to ourselves for too long. I think we owe it to ourselves to finally talk. Really let it go.” I was feeling stronger now, wanting to get things off my chest.


But when I looked at Dusty, I saw that his jaw was set in a hard line and he kept his lips sealed. He wasn’t going to get deep with me, was he?


“Come on, let me have it.” I wanted to be yelled at. I wanted to be scolded. Hell, I wanted to yell at and scold him, too! Damn it, I wanted to fix this! I wanted to move on from this before I finally broke for good.


Then Dusty turned to me, still not saying a single thing as he turned and left the room, slamming the door behind him. I sat back down on the bed, cradling my face in my hands as I let my sobs take over. I just wanted a normal damn life with a normal guy! I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry.


But right now, I wanted to give up.


DUSTY POV

I took a drag of my cigarette as I leaned against the wall out front, staring off into the distance. I was shocked about what Evie had just told me. I had the perfect opportunity to let her have it, really fucking have it, but damn it, I chickened out again and walked away like a little bitch.


I could have ended everything right then and there and moved on, but I knew it wasn’t going to be that easy. Nothing ever was with Evie.


After I stomped my cigarette out, Smokey and Gearhead pulled up on their bikes. They casually walked up to me, lighting their own smokes.


“Careen called. How is Evie doing?”


I glared at Gearhead. “Why the fuck do you care?”


He puffed up his chest while Smokey stood between us.


“I was just fucking asking. No need to get your panties in a wad.”


“Nothing with Evie concerns you anymore, do you hear me?” I growled as I pushed off from the wall, squared my shoulders, and prepared for another fight.


“Dude, relax,” Smokey hissed as he pushed at our chests. “He cares about her, Dusty. Forget about what happened between the two of them and remember that we’re all a family here.”


I spit on the ground at Gearhead’s feet. “He’s no family of mine.”


Gearhead shoved Smokey out of the way and tackled me into the brick wall. I felt a jarring pain in my back from the contact, but I was quick to wrap my arms around him. I spun him into the brick wall for payback as he groaned out.


Cocking my head back, I headbutted Gearhead in the nose as a loud pop echoed around us. He brought his fist back and connected with my jaw next.


“Son of a bitch!”


I lunged at Gearhead again, slamming him back into the brick wall before I connected my fists with his ribs. While he pounded his fists into my back, he brought his knee up and slammed into my gut. I released him with a grunt and stepped back.


Smokey jumped in between us again and put his hands out. We were both out of breath, waiting for the other to make the next lunge, but neither of us moved.


“You can’t beat everyone up who thinks your old lady is hot, or you’ll be in a fight with every man in her presence,” Gearhead said between heavy breaths as he keeled over and blew the blood out of his nose.


“Then so be it,” I barked.


Evie was mine, and I didn’t like the fact that other men wanted her. I knew first hand how big of pigs men really were.


“Dude, it meant nothing!” Gearhead shouted. “It was just a drunken fuck, nothing more! Hell, we didn’t even finish because she stopped us. She said she felt too guilty cheating on you. Even after you’ve been a bastard to her, she still looks out for you!” He blew out another stream of blood from his nose before he glared at me. “I don’t see what she sees in you, but clearly it’s a lot more than I do because that girl in there fucking loves you. Nobody else, just you!” Then he turned and screamed, “Fuck!”


His words didn’t go unheard. Even through my blinding rage at the moment, I heard his words loud and clear. They didn’t even finish. She stopped. She felt guilty. She loved him. Fuck, what is wrong with me?! I kicked a rock across the lot before I stormed back into the clubhouse, the door slamming behind me.


“Careen, beer me!”


Careen looked alarmed as I stepped up to the bar. I was pretty sure I had a bloody lip and busted cheek because Gearhead popped me a good one right in the fucking mouth. The taste of blood filled my mouth and I wanted to wash it away.


Tipping the beer back, I looked down the hallway toward the bedrooms and couldn’t help but think about Evie lying back there right now. She was going to be the death of me.

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