1 | And Away She Goes
“I can’t believe I agreed to this.” She whispered under her breath as she stepped out of her car and headed to the front entrance. The party was in full swing. Music was blasting, people were laughing, and the liquor was flowing — just like every Friday night at The Gravehoard. Scowling at the overly friendly Subjects, she pressed on, weaving her way through the throngs of writhing bodies. They barely noticed, too far gone to care. Her nose wrinkled in disgust as she eyed them.
“And to think, a few years ago, I would have killed to be a part of this clique.”
It was the cold, hard truth. Five years ago she’d fallen for a man that checked all the right boxes, except for the last one. He was an outlaw — a savage. She knew that the nights he came home covered in blood weren’t from hunting animals. At first, she had ignored all the signs. All the late nights, whispering phone calls, and his Houdini disappearing acts. She hoped, no, prayed that it was another woman. Yet, the only thing that kept them at odds was his obsession with the Reaper’s Crown.
It tore them apart.
Now, she was winding through the filthy Clubhouse, searching every knick and cranny for his asshole of a best friend. Anxiety pulled at her as she dove deeper into the darkness, disgust rolling her stomach at the open sex acts. The Subjects… the women, no better than unpaid whores, who took part in the debauchery, stinking up the Clubhouse to high heaven, loved every minute of it.
Stuck between wanting to bed a Reaper, but wanting someone to call them their own. They wanted the tattoo on their bodies, a sigil, an insignia of ownership. They wanted the status that came with loving a Reaper. It was rare — far in between — yet not unheard of. Each one was happy to take the chance, fucking a Reaper, and making the mistake of falling in love. As if Reapers can love…
Motion to her right caught her eye, and Rosalyn froze in her tracks. There he was… the love of her life, Daxton Pine, leaning up against the wall with a beer clutched in his right hand. He was staring straight at her, eyeing her up with lust shining in his dark brown eyes. Dressed in dark jeans worn at the knees, a white t-shirt under his plaid button-up, and the Reapers’ black leather cut, he looked rugged and handsome.
His head tipped to the side as the bottle dropped to his thigh, and he raised an eyebrow before standing straight. Rosalyn fought back the panic, forcing her body to stay rooted to the spot while his frame swaggered easily through the crowd. Women clung to him, but he shook them off, not even sparing them a glance.
Finally, he stood before her. The man hadn’t changed a bit. Brunette hair touched his shoulders, curling at the edges, the same robust shade as his full beard. Broad-shouldered, muscled, and fully tatted, Daxton was nearly a foot and a half taller than her. The gentle giant was 6 years her senior, but they connected on a level that Rosalyn couldn’t even begin to explain.
“Did you get lost, Rosie?” Her heart stuttered at the sound of his voice. She blinked up at him, tracing the lines of his face desperately. His eyebrows dropped as he frowned, growing impatient at her silence. “Is everything alright?”
No! She wanted to scream. You and I split up and I can’t stop thinking and dreaming about you. I wish I could take back those words and start-up where we left off. I still want those things — kids, home, and a future. And the only way it’ll be right is with you.
But, Rosalyn didn’t say those words. Instead, she kept her promise. Mustering all her courage, Rosalyn squared her shoulders and lifted her head to stare him straight in the eye. She sucked in a calming breath, shakily releasing the air when the seducing scent of his cologne wafted towards her.
She’s counting on you, Rosie. She softly chanted in her head. The five words kept her grounded, kept her from thinking about things she shouldn’t. Things that she would undoubtedly let Daxton do to her, over and over, for the rest of the night. Why had she let Daxton go again? Why had she broken her own heart to get away from him?
“Everything is fine.” Rosie whimpered out, pressing her lips together. “I just need to speak with Kallen.”
Immediately his face darkened, rage clipping at the edge of his emotions. Rosie glanced down at his clenching fists, hoping that he didn’t shatter the beer bottle still caught in his hand. She softened her face and reached up to cup his cheek.
“It’s not like that. I just.. have some business with him.”
“He’s in church.”
Rosie frowned at the sentence, “but you aren’t?”
“No service right now.”
“Thank you.” She turned to make her way over to the imposing double doors.
“Rosie…” Her body stopped, but she didn’t turn around. “When it was good… it was great, right?”
Pain shot through her. She didn’t want to think about the good times, reminisce. Those thoughts always left her half-broken and half-crazed, wishing everything was different. It felt good to know that he was still searching for the same thing she was — a way back.
Turning her head, Rosie lifted her chin so he could see the painful smile etched across her lips. His eyes dropped to it, slowly becoming distantly forlorn. He swallowed harshly, waiting for her answer.
“It was better than great.”
Rosalyn didn’t stick around to hear his reply. Her body propelled her to the open doors to the church where Kallen Ansel was standing with his back facing the door. A beer was in his hand and a cigarette hung between his lush lips, but he wasn’t drinking from it and his shoulders were tensed as he spoke to another member.
He swung around as soon as Rosie’s wedges passed the threshold. His head tipped to the side as he watched her quietly, but he motioned for the other man to leave the room. The doors shut behind her, immediately drowning the raucous crowd outside.
Rosie shook her head and widened her eyes, attempting to look innocent. It was all part of the plan. This had to work. There was no other way.
“I need to speak with you about something.” She whispered under her breath, crossing her arms when the air conditioning cut on. “It’s important and… and private.”
“Not interested, Rosie. You know I’d never do that to my brother.”
Sucking her teeth in annoyance, Rosie rolled her eyes. Motherfucker always thinking like a horny teenager. It made her feel all the better for the story she was about to deliver.
“I’m not interested in you either, Kallen.” Icy and detached, she quickly shot him down. “It’s about those idiots at the mill.”
He had the decency to look contrite as his cheeks reddened. Kallen’s hand traveled through the disheveled strands of his blonde hair, knocking it down to curl across his forehead. Slowly he sat, pushing his beer away.
“I heard they’ve started up the drug trade again. Apparently, a few of the drivers are hauling dope for an extra payout, country cops are on the payroll. There are whispers confessing Myron is coming down in a few days, trying to get others on the bandwagon.”
“Where did you hear that?” He gritted out, leaning forward. “There’s no way that’s true. No one is stupid enough to challenge us here.”
Rosie crossed her arms and straightened. “I guess the Reapers aren’t what you boast.”
“Careful, little girl. Your cunt ain’t protected anymore. Without Dax’s claim, you’re just another subject readying to catch a cock.”
“Fuck you, Kal!” Rosie seethed, “I come by to help you out and you have the nerve to insult me? I’m out of here.” Using her fake anger, she powered her way towards the side door. Shit! It had worked!
Sneaking her hand up, Rosie checked her watch. The time was well past midnight, and Aaliyah should be a few hours away. Her legs shook in anticipation, and a smile threatened to break across her face when she stepped into the dark night.
The door to her car closed and with the flick of her wrist, her Camaro roared to life. Her hands moved to the door, fumbling to let the windows power down while she headed for the front gates. Her car stopped at the street, and she glanced to check for traffic when she heard Kallen’s angry voice echo clearly through the parking lot.
“What the fuck do you mean she’s gone?”