“You did what?” Daniel yells in Vik’s face.
It’s the day after and Vik and I decided to let Daniel know about our engagement. As per tradition in the life of the club, all this is done in front of everyone. We are in the bar and the Riders are watching us over hot mugs of coffee or beer with their eyes and ears open wide.
“Brother,” Vik doesn’t seem worried Daniel eyes him with murder intend, “I love Lysa and I want her to be my wife, my Valkyrie.”
“Like hell she is. Only to pick up your fucking corpse and take it to Valhalla. Cause I’ll kill you before I let you drag my daughter down your shithole.”
“Daniel...” I try but it’s as if I am not there.
“What the fuck does that mean?” Vik gets in Daniel’s face.
“It means that my girl is not going to marry a fucking whore that doesn’t know to keep it in his pants and have her heart broken.”
“I am not going to hurt her, Daniel. I fucking love her!” Vik is seething seriously.
This is getting out of hand but no one else is moving to dissipate the tension. If anything, they seem too interested in watching a good fight. I guess that leaves me.
“Daniel, Vik, please.”
“She is my daughter,” Daniel ignores me.
“She is my woman,” Vik strikes back.
“As if you’ll ever settle for one pussy, you asshole.”
“Daniel!” I make him face me finally. “This is my decision to make.”
“Lysa, I know what’s best for you. He is the pussy-whisperer...”
“Oh, my god. You did not just say that to me!” I am shocked.
“Well, he is right, you know,” Vik smirks.
“Shut up!” I lift my finger and Vik shakes his head. “Daniel, I want to be with Vik.”
“Of course you do, girl,” Daniel wraps me with a warm look. “But it’s the cock-frenzy...”
Daniel freezes on the spot and his face takes a shocked expression. And then it hits me. I called him “Dad”. For the first time, after everything, I called him “Dad”. And damn, it feels right. He is my father, my Dad and I love him. I do not know who Tyr is, but I am starting to believe in him ’cause he is giving me everything my heart desires. I look deep into Daniel’s eyes, the same big eyes I see in the mirror. We stare at each other and the whole room is silent.
“Lysa?” Daniel dares.
“Dad,” I choke down my tears.
He opens his arms and I fall in his embrace. And this time I hold him back. I throw my arms around his waist and bury my face in his chest. I feel whole, complete, like I was waiting for this so that everything would fall in place as it should be.
“Lysa, my baby girl,” Daniel kisses the top of my head. “I love you so much.”
“I know,” I look up at him. “I love you, too. And I love Vik, Dad,” I push away and find shelter in Vik’s arms. “I love him more than my life. Please, don’t make me choose between the two of you.”
Daniel shifts his look to Vik and I do the same. Vik is looking down at me with a proud smile on his face. He knew even before I did how much I needed this, how liberated I would feel. For a murdering warrior, I am way too sappy. One might think that finding out your father was the Earl of an MC and your boyfriend a certified, skilled killer would make me even tougher.
Wrong bet. I smile more, I cry more, I feel more. But in a way, I am fiercer than I’ve ever been. I have so much to lose, so much to fight for. I have torn people in the cage just to feel the rush. If anyone dares come after what is mine, they are in more trouble than they can possibly imagine. And scary as it might be, I wouldn’t change it.
“Vik,” my father demands. “Is it true? The way...the way you feel about Lysa?”
“It is, brother. Or should I say father? What’s the deal now? How do I call you?” Vik smiles in his usual style.
“You’ll call me Fucking-Watching-You,” Dad seethes through his teeth “And I’ll call you Alive-Till-I-Say-So.”
“Relax, man. No need for Indian names. Sorry, chief,” Vik winks at Ironhand. “We are on the same side, Daniel,” takes my father’s threat coolly. “I love Lysa. Nothing to worry about. She is the one for me.”
Dad weighs Vik for a few seconds then looks back at me. I nod and tighten my grip over Vik.
“OK, baby girl. I wish you happiness,” Dad says finally.
I go in his arms once more and I kiss his cheek before falling in Vik’s arms for a deep, passionate kiss.
“Cue to Another one bites the dust!” Tor comes up to us.
“I am not dead, brother.”
“You are as good as dead to me,” Tor hits Vik in the back and turns to me with a smile. “I don’t know if I hate you for making an honest man out of Vik or if I love you ’cause more pussy for me!”
“Don’t strain yourself, Tor. You’ll need a hip replacement in a few years,” I shake my head.
“Better that than marriage, Lysa,” he grabs me and leaves a kiss on my cheek.
“Fuck, bror. Keep your filthy hands off my woman!” Vik pulls me to him and wipes my cheek with his hand.
“A taste of your own fucking medicine,” Rage growls and stands before me. “You sure, Lysa?”
“I’m sure, Rage,” I can’t believe I am actually smiling at the Hellhound.
“If he pisses you off, I’ll cut off his balls and feed them to him,” he states and eyes Vik and Vik is not smiling. “I forgot,” Rage takes out a piece of paper and hands it to me “Got this done the night that idiot kept looking at the door for you to come. It was fun to watch him suffer.”
“Thanks, bror,” Vik shakes his head.
I smile at them both. We have fought against our feelings Vik and I. Freaking pointless. I take a look at the sketch Rage has handed me and my jaw drops. It’s a detailed, amazing sketch by Rage’s impeccable talent. It’s me, long-hair and all, in a Valkyrie armor, but I am not astride. I am soaring through the sky with two big, angelic wings on my back. It is simply breathtaking. I look up to Rage and his look is solemn. I nod and he lifts his chin before heading out. Behind him, Ironhand lifts his hand in a wave to me and smiles and I return the favor.
“Babe,” Bjorn comes up to us talking on the phone probably with Ava, “are you with Iris? Well, drop what you’re doing and come to the clubhouse,” Bjorn grabs Vik by the neck playfully. “You are not going to fucking believe it. Just come.”
“OH MY GOD!”
For a pregnant woman with a full belly up her mouth Ava sure can scream loudly. As Bjorn instructed, Ava and Iris came straight to the clubhouse and dragged me to one of the booths. It’s like a bad ass lunch, with all the Riders in to congratulate us. I glance over at Vik that is surrounded by his brothers and has the widest smile on his lips. As if he sensed my attention, he turns and his smile gets even wider as he winks to me. I want to take him back to our room and kiss that delicious face, lick that divine body and stay there till the end of time.
“Congratulations, Lysa,” Iris beams a big smile my way.
I return the favor with one quick look back to Vik.
“Earth calling Lysa,” Ava pokes me. “And to think that we have all witnessed your legendary fights with the guy right here in this bar.”
At the thought of how this all begun, I chuckle. This is all too much and yet I am still here and not even thinking of running away. I am engaged. I am a Valkyrie. I have a Dad. I have a friend that screams in my ear and one that smiles to me full of love. And another trying to figure out her life.
Right on cue, Magdalene comes out on the bar. She’s been staying with us since the fight. I insisted on it so she could recover her injuries and I had Stig set her up with a new identity. Even so, she stayed mostly down in her room, right next to the gym and locked herself in. She didn’t want to see anyone, not even me. The fight, Jack’s death, it all made it real for her. She needed time on her own, to gather her thoughts, to set a new path in her life.
But every time I went down there to see her, Runner was there. Sitting on the floor against the door, talking to her in the soft voice of his. I was glad Magdalene was not alone. She will never be alone. She has me.
“Magdalene!” I am so happy to see the woman that tried to kill me.
Upon hearing my excitement, Runner puts his beer down and takes a few steps her way. I have watched Runner and it was like a rerun of me and Vik. He hasn’t even talked to a woman, just sat sullenly at the bar and vanished down the corridor all the time. If this goes well...
“Hey,” Magdalene approaches.
She’s been working out in that room, I can tell. It’s OK, I’ve been doing the same most of my life, getting the stress out on the punch bag or doing push-ups.
“How have you been?” I smile widely at her.
She says nothing just bites her jaw down. If I had a thousand reasons to be a half-crazed girl fighting her way to her death, Magdalene has a thousand more. It won’t be easy but I get a glimpse of Salome’s strength under all that dark cloud.
“I am fine,” she lies and then her look falls on the ring on my finger. “Congratulations,” her smile turns more genuine. “Vik was ready to die for you so I guess you got one of the good ones.”
I shake my head and turn to Vik but I don’t miss the way her eyes fall on Runner. The man is shaking with anticipation and agony, I can tell as much, but relaxes as soon as Magdalene’s blue eyes fall on him.
“Hi, I’m Ava,” the queen of the Riders is quick to read into things like that. “And this is Iris. Care to join us?”
My jaw drops and I study Ava with a surprised look. Magdalene was brought here as a prisoner, mine to kill or torture, an enemy of the club. Granted, I sort of pardoned her and the hug we shared after the fight was message enough but this open display of acceptance is more than I could hope for. Ava looks back at me with a look that says that she knows what Magdalene is for me, how badly I need to see her well and on her own two feet.
“Magdalene?” Runner makes his move.
Runner looks at her with longing, as if he was starving and food was offered to him. And Magda? Magda is blushing! Faintly under those sharp cheekbones and the stiff posture of her built body but she is blushing all right. Suddenly, the rest of the Valkyries, are feeling awkward and Ava takes one deep breath and retreats to our booth. Iris winks at me and follows her and I decide to do the same. I could be dancing flamenco and those two wouldn’t notice, though.
“OK, I fought Runner and I know he is fast but he has overdone it this time,” I whisper to the girls once I sit down.
“Well, she is fucking gorgeous,” Ava smirks.
I turn to them and they are still standing a few steps away from each other. But their bodies lean in, they are more decisive than their brains and they need to touch. Runner is talking but I can’t hear anything but that deep metal of his voice. He raises a hand and touches Magdalene’s arm. And he waits. Magda is the first to break the contact, says a few words and then walks up to me.
“Lysandra,” she calls me by my full name like Salome and Jack, “I just wanted to thank you. Stig has set me up with papers and I am fully recovered. I am leaving.”
I get up and stand before her. I still can’t believe how much she looks like Salome. All but that absence of a smile. Maybe one day...
“Where will you go?”
“You can stay here, Magdalene.”
She glances over her shoulder at the bar where Runner is sitting gulping his beer looking at her. He is hurt, the first time I’ve seen Vik’s joking partner so sullen and lost.
“I need to...” She strains to finish her sentence.
“I get it,” I nod. “But if you ever desire this, Magdalene, you are welcomed here. Anytime, for anything.”
“Lysandra,” there’s a lump in her throat, “I am so fucking sorry for all this. And tell your father...”
“It’s over,” I smile softly.
“I’ll be off then,” she returns with a smile formed by straining lips and lifts her chin to Ava and Iris.
“How are you...? Need a car?”
“I need to walk this off, Lysandra.”
She then turns and goes out the bar without a second glance to any of us. The moment she is out, Runner gets off his chair and goes outside. I follow him.
“Magda!” He calls and she stops without turning. “I’ll wait.”
My heart tightens upon hearing him say those simple words. Magdalene’s back stiffens and the cross on her back moves. It is a heavy cross she is carrying and she can’t get rid of it. All she can do is walk with it for a while and get used to its weight.
I leave Runner watching Magdalene’s back walk away and I go back in. Vik searches my eyes as he is being coerced to drink shots with Tor and Vince and I nod to reassure him. I am so filled with emotion, I fear I am going to burst. I have a family. I have a fucking future. I repeat all these things again and again and again waiting for the Cold Bitch to finally take over but she has simply left the building.
“So when’s the wedding?” Ava asks when I sit back with them.
“I...We haven’t talked about it. Not soon I suppose.”
“Oh, look at you, thinking you are engaged to a normal man. So cute,” Ava says in irony. “These boys are hard to catch but once they are hooked, they can’t wait till they have pissed all over us to make sure everyone knows we are taken. The tatt, the claim, the ring. The whole shebang.”
“Well, Vik knows better than to piss on me,” I frown.
“A. Some people are into it and don’t look at me like that, I am not. And B. He already has so hard I still smell it on you,” Ava chuckles.
“Ava, I know there is a little Russian-Scandinavian monster hopping on your urethra 24/7 but stop talking about piss.”
“Pissing aside,” Iris says, “she is 100% right.”
“What? I don’t see a ring on your finger, Iris. If Rage can pace himself, then I am sure Vik can.”
Iris coughs and wiggles her right hand. She has a new tattoo there, right around her wedding finger. Simple and elegant. It reads Rage.
“Is this...?” Ava asks.
“No ceremony, no nothing, Stig took care of papers. Just Rage and I at our favorite spot. No ring either.”
“Where the Hell did Rage tattoo this? The man has no real estate left.” I ask.
“Take a good look at his right hand next time. As for the rest...”
“Oh, no,” Ava flinches.
“What? Look,” Iris points at Rage that is sitting next to Runner.
There on his bare chest, I see it. Amongst those terrifying tattoos, there is one little, blue iris flower, the only splash of color on his marked body. A delicate iris flower right where his heart is.
“Oh god!” I grip Iris’s hand. “That is so sweet and romantic!”
“Phew! For a moment there I got scared. I figured that the only free real estate Rage had was on his dick.”
“Ava, you have developed a fixation on penises and their functions,” I offer.
“Developed? You mean as in it wasn’t there to begin with?”
I throw my head back and I laugh with all my heart. Half of me is scared that something or someone will come at any moment and snatch it all away from me. But deep down I don’t care. I will crush without mercy anything trying to take all that is mine. This is why I’ve been training all my life. Not to die in a freaking cage but to defend all that I hold dear. I will fight on.
“Princess?” Vik comes to our table with a wide smile on his face. “Wanna go for a ride?”
“That’s an actual ride or...?” Ava smiles.
“Ava, love, I am a taken man now so I would appreciate you keeping any inappropriate comments and your deep desire for my body to yourself, please,” Vik says as he grabs me by the waist.
Ava narrows her eyes at him and Vik bows before leading me out. He hands me a helmet and gets on the bike. I take a good long look at him. This magnificent man, this fearless warrior, that childlike Rider is mine. His body, heart and soul he has given to me freely. And damn me if I haven’t done the same.
“Stop ogling me, Lysa, or I’ll bend you over the bike and fuck you publicly.”
“Second time you threaten to do this,” I give him a side smile.
“Well, princess, third time is a charm. I should know,” he pulls me down for a wet kiss. “Now, get on ’cause we are losing light. I want us to literally ride out into the sunset.”
And we do just that. My arms are around his waist, his hand over mine, my chin rests on his shoulder, my hips against his back. And we ride into the sunset, to the rest of our lives, to our future. Together.
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