I left my dad’s office feeling a bit more relieved than I ever thought I would feel. I finally understood what Dusty had gone through all those years ago, and why he had become the man he was today. I remembered him being a normal teenager, laughing with me under the sun, running through the fields hand-in-hand, and even making love under the stars. But after that run with my dad, he had changed. He became dark, distant, and a total hard-ass, and it finally all made sense now.
I headed toward the bar, seeing that everyone had calmed down enough and were drinking beers, but I didn’t see Dusty in sight. Walking up to the bar, I tapped my fingers lightly against the wood top until Careen walked over.
“What’s up, darlin’? Can I get you a beer?”
Shaking my head, I asked, “Where’s Dusty?”
“Went to his room to shower up, I think.” She shrugged as she reached under the bar and brought up another bottle of whiskey.
Nodding, I headed back to the bedrooms and straight into Dusty’s. The room was quiet and empty when I walked in, but my attention was brought to the bathroom before I slowly walked to the door.
I stood in the doorway watching Dusty leaned over the sink, washing the blood from his face without a shirt on. My breath caught in my throat as I stood there and watched him, getting all hot and bothered even now. He was a glorious man to look at.
He must have felt my presence because he stopped washing his face and turned to stare right into my gaze. There weren’t any emotions on his face as he stood there frozen.
I moved further into the bathroom as he stood straight and turned toward me. My gaze swept over his muscular chest and ink before I looked back up into his eyes.
No words were spoken as I stepped right up to him, chest to chest, before I pulled him down for a kiss. And it wasn’t just any kiss. No, this kiss was filled with desperation and need. I needed him now more than I ever had. I wanted to forgive him right this very moment for everything he had ever done. He was only fifteen when he murdered someone for the first time. My heart ached for him.
The kiss deepened as he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me tightly to his chest. I moaned into his mouth as his hands roamed down and cupped my ass. I instantly felt his erection on my thigh, making me moan again.
“I forgive you,” I whispered against his lips before I plunged my tongue back into his mouth.
He groaned, pushing me against the wall as his hands traveled up the back of my thighs and tugged at my shirt. I was impatient and wanted him to touch me right now. I needed to feel him like I needed my next breath.
Once my shirt was removed, his kisses went from my lips to my jaw and down to my neck where he stopped to nibble a bit. Then his lips brushed over my collarbones and finally on the top of my breasts.
But when I opened my eyes, I saw us in the mirror and looked at myself. What was I doing? I may have forgiven him, but if I allowed this to continue, I’d be right back in Dusty’s web and I would be stuck here forever. It was going to be hard enough to let him go when I leave, and if I gave myself to him now, it would be impossible.
“Dusty,” I sighed, pushing at his chest.
He groaned against my skin, sending goosebumps all over me. My mind was clearly reacting completely different from my mind.
“Wait,” I added.
He trailed hot kisses back up my neck before he leaned back and looked down at me, his eyes filled with pure dark hunger.
“We can’t do this.” I bit my bottom lip and moved out of his embrace, grabbing my shirt from the bathroom floor.
“Wait a second. You’re not serious, are you?” He was out of breath, staring at me as he ran a hand through his hair. “You can’t give me a raging boner and then stop.”
I shook my head. “I’m so sorry. I got… I got caught up again.” I headed into the bathroom, but he was right behind me.
“Evie!” He boomed; his voice deep and angry.
“Dusty, I can’t do this to you… to me.”
“Do what? You’re not making any sense. We both clearly want each other, so why are you fighting this? It’s you and me, babe.”
I bit my bottom lip to keep it from trembling. “We both know that if we do this, there’s no turning back.”“I don’t want to turn back. I want to move forward.” He stepped closer to me as I held my hand up. “What do you want from me, Evie?”
I thought about it for a long moment. What I wanted was never going to happen. I was angry at him for cheating on me, for being who he was, yet I no longer blamed him for any of it. How could I tell him that I was leaving and that’s why we couldn’t move forward? If I knew he would come with me, even getting out of the club, I would ravish him right here and right now. But I knew he would never turn his back on my dad or this club. It was something I had come to realize weeks ago and knew if I didn’t get out now, alone, I never would.
I knew what I was doing that day when I sent off my demo to an agent. I knew it was a possible escape, but I didn’t know it would hurt this much to think about leaving; something I had wanted for as long as I could remember.
“I don’t want anything, Dusty. I shouldn’t have led you on again. I’m sorry.”
I turned to leave, finding Smokey standing in the hallway with his hand up as if he were just about to knock.
“Oh good, you’re decent. Got some mail for you.” He handed me a yellow envelope and walked away.
I didn’t wait to open it as I tore at the glued down flap until I could pull the contents out. There were two sheets in here as I read the first one. Thursday. 11:47 PM. And that’s all it said as I looked at the next thing. My eyes widened as I stared at the photo, feeling like someone had punched me in the gut. I was going to throw up.
It was a photo of Dusty.
A photo of Dusty fucking Missy Wilson. The night of my mother’s funeral. The night when I thought me and Dusty might be okay. The night I slept alone and woke to find Dusty nowhere to be found. Slept at Axel’s, my ass.
Lies. There were always lies.
I couldn’t help but stare at the photo. No matter how much I wanted to look away, I couldn’t. This simple photo was all I needed to see for me to know that my decision to leave was the right one.
“What is it?” Dusty asked behind me, making me jump.
My blood boiled at the sound of his voice. I spun on my heels and threw the photo at him.
“Why don’t you tell me?”
Dusty looked confused before he bent down and grabbed the photo from the floor. When he looked at it, the color drained from his face as he let out a breath and looked up at me.
“How could you?!” I screamed, trying to stop myself from completely freaking out. “I tried to fix things with you that night, but you pushed me away. You’re always saying that I’m the one pushing you away? Well, that…” I pointed at the photo, “is the reason we are done for good.”
I spun and ran from the hall, Dusty hot on my trail.
When he grabbed my arm, I spun around and slapped him hard across the face. His grip on my arm immediately released me.
“You son of a bitch.” I was livid. “I hate you!!”
The defeated look Dusty gave me didn’t melt my cold heart at all. I glared at him as I slowly turned back toward the bar and away from Dusty Parker.
As I sat at the bar, I felt like the biggest piece of shit in the world. I nursed my whiskey as I stared straight ahead, playing the events from that night over and over in my head.
Who would have taken a photo of them? Who would send it to Evie? There was only one person to point the finger at: Jimmy Dunken.
I knew that Jimmy was trying to break us, trying to break the club, but the longer I thought about it the more I realized it wasn’t Jimmy who was breaking them. It was me. I was the one who fucked up. Again. I was the one who hurt Evie for the last time. I knew in my heart that Evie wasn’t coming back after this one.
I had lost her.
Just as I admitted this to myself, the bar door flung open and Evie walked in. She didn’t look in my direction once as she marched behind the bar and opened the cash register. When she was beyond angry and Danny wasn’t available for a tattoo session, she busied her mind with the club’s accounting.
We all whipped our heads toward Gearhead who was looking out one of the front windows before the sounds of rapid gun fire exploded around us.
Screams from Careen and Evie erupted as I jumped up and hit the floor. The clubhouse was being mangled by bullets, sounding like a fucking war zone.
“Dusty!” Careen screamed. “It’s Evie!!”
My heart dropped as my blood ran cold. I crawled as fast as I could, bullets whizzing by and slamming into the back wall before I got behind the bar.
Evie was curled up in a ball, covering her ears as she rocked back and forth, shaking her head and screaming. I knew what was happening was terrifying, but this was worse for her. She was remembering the day she was shot, the day Sally was killed, and the day that changed Evie forever.
“Evie.” I pulled her into my arms, trying to soothe her, but she was still too freaked out.
The gun fire started to slow down, but bullets still ripped through the clubhouse.
And then it stopped as an eerie silence filled the room.
“Everyone okay?!” Smokey yelled from his hiding spot.
The guys started mumbling their replies, but Evie was still freaking out.
“Evie! Evie, you’re okay! It’s over.”
I felt her entire body stiffen as she shook. I had never been in this situation with anyone before, so I had no idea what to say.
“Evie, honey, you’re okay.” Careen reached over and rubbed her arm. It worked because Evie slowly came to, her screams silent.
She looked up at me as her brows furrowed, pushing at my chest.
“Get the fuck off of me,” she spat, sliding away from me toward Careen.
That very moment ripped my fucking heart out. She no longer needed me, nor wanted me. No matter how pissed off she was, I knew she would always come to me for comfort and protection. But she didn’t need me anymore.
I sat there completely stunned, only being pulled out of my gaze when I heard Gearhead cursing up a storm. Smokey was cursing back as he tried to stop Gearhead, but he shoved Smokey and kicked open the front doors.
“Dusty! You gotta stop him, man!”
I glared at Smokey’s exiting form, trying to catch my bearings.
“Dusty! He’s going after them! He’s going to get himself killed!” Smokey was screaming, but I wasn’t all there yet.
That finally broke my daze as I stood up and walked over to the front door, just in time to see Gearhead rip out of the parking lot on his bike like a bat out of hell.