6. Ready Or Not
At the sound of McKenna’s voice, I stopped what I was doing. After one final scan, I rolled out from beneath the car to find McKenna standing over me. “Yeah, what’s up?”
Shuffling from foot to foot, she glanced over her shoulder before turning to me.
“Uh,” she said, jabbing her thumb over her shoulder. “Your mom is here.”
What? Leaning back, I looked around her legs to find ma standing by the threshold of the garage, arms folded and looking pissed. I wasn’t surprised. For months I’d been avoiding her. It was only a matter of time before she’d hunt me down. I guess it was time to face the music.
I couldn’t decide what was worse: the fact that she knew the truth and had no plans to tell me or she cheated on the man who I believed was my father.
“Should I tell her you’re busy?” McKenna asked but I didn’t respond. Taking in the garage, it didn’t take long for her eyes to meet mine. She didn’t smile, didn’t wave. To anyone else, her face was unreadable but being raised by her, I knew it wasn’t the case. She was mad for nothing else but the fact that I was avoiding her. For most of the year, I was out of town, riding as a nomad in a desperate attempt to escape the bullshit that was in my hometown.
“No, thanks,” I said to McKenna, putting my tools away before rising to my feet. Grabbing a cloth, I cleaned my hands and walked towards her.
Stopping in front of her, I folded my arms and lifted my shoulders in a questioning manner. “What?”
Narrowing her eyes, they flashed with anger.
“I don’t know, Don, you tell me,” she said, closing whatever distance there was between us and glared at me. When I didn’t respond, she continued. “I feel like I’ve been chasing you for the past few months. To find you here, for once, is a miracle.”
Her Jamaican accent thickened with each word. The only time her accent made an appearance was when she was mad. Boiling mad to the point I’d have every reason to scared. For once in my life, I wasn’t scared she’d whoop my ass into next Sunday. I’d barely talked to her because I didn’t know how to act; I wanted to get my head straight and not get mad when I let her know the truth. Ready or not, maybe today would be the day.
“Not here,” I said, darting my eyes to the office door. Taking the hint, she nodded.
“McKenna,” I called, turning to her. Pointing at the car I was inspecting, she understood and went straight to work. I felt ma following behind as I walked to the office. Opening the door, I let her go in first. Angry or not, she’d drilled the gentleman in me sine birth and the habit never faded. Closing the door, I rounded my desk, pretending I had a shit ton to do.
“What do you want?”
“If you’re asking for Leilani, she’s coming next week. You’ll get to see her then,”
“If something is wrong with your car, my hands are tied. I can get one of the guys to have a look—”
“Don!” She yelled and I stilled, my fingers pausing on a pile of documents. Can’t avoid this now.
Slowly, I lifted my eyes to meet hers. Her arms fell to her side, almost in defeat and she watched me expectantly, waiting for an answer. Releasing the stack of papers, I straightened my spine and shrugged. “What do you want, ma?”
She held her response, watching me with narrowed eyes. “I want to know what’s up with you.”
My eyes dropped to my desk, playing around with the paper like I had something to do. “Nothing’s up.”
“Oh really?” she asked, not believing my words.
“So the unanswered texts, my calls they’ve just not being getting to you.”
“Like I said, I’ve been bus--”
“Cut the bullshit Don,” she snapped, her anger flaring. “Is it Marcus? Vanessa? Are you still grieving, please tell me what’s going on?”
“I don’t know, ma, you tell me,” I said, spinning the tables on her. “You came here looking for answers I can’t give you. So, is there something you want to tell me?”
Her anger melted into confusion. Shaking her head, she watched me with wary eyes. She tried to read me, probably trying to figure out what I was talking about, but she found nothing. She couldn’t. That let me know she wasn’t prepared.
Was she ever going to tell me?
“I don’t know what you mean,” she said. “I don’t know—”
My phone buzzed. Reaching into my back pocket, I pulled it out and checked the screen. It was a text from Muerte. Great, another fucking problem. We had an emergency church meeting and, of course, he was calling my ass checking I would flake last minute. Sighing, I walked around the desk and brushed past her.
“Then we have nothing to talk about,”
Reaching for the door, I walked out. I felt her on my heels and said some things I wasn’t trying to hear. I would’ve continued that way but something she said stopped me in my tracks.
“Don, wait, let’s talk about it!” she said, loud enough for others to hear. A couple of heads swung our way but they were quick to mind their own business.
I turned around to face her. “When?”
Searching her face, I nodded in agreement. “Alright, see you at seven.”
I watched her walked away, not turning around until she drove down the road. I did a quick check with my workers, making sure everything was set before I left the shop. Again, McKenna was in charge. She tried to give me excuses but I calmed whatever fear she had being in charge. Grabbing my cut, I walked out to my bike and soon, I was on the road.
I made to The Red Devils right on time. Switching the engine off, instinctively, I searched my surroundings, scanning for any type of danger before jogging toward the front door. Usually, we had our meetings on Friday. Friday late afternoon was when the bar closed and only private members—members of the club.
I opened the front door and was hit with the smell of cigarettes and stale whiskey; the smell was so familiar it was the closest thing to oxygen to me. Some of the guys sat around the table, some playing cards while others talked. Muerte wasn’t around and I knew the meeting hadn’t started. The guys glanced my way and lifted their chins in acknowledgment
I nodded and walked up to the bar, smiling at Honey as she handed over a bottle of beer.
“So what’s different?” She asked and I raised a questioning brow. “You haven’t been to one of these in months, I thought you’ve returned to your nomadic soul.”
Grinning, I shook my head. “I’ve been busy.”
“Hmm, that’s what they all say,” she said, pursing her lips dramatically while wiping down the counter. Before I could say anything, Crey appeared from one of the back rooms, his attention first on his wife before turning to me.
“Well, damn, look who showed up!” he exclaimed, glancing at his wristwatch. “And on time too.”
“Thanks,” I mumbled, unable to hide the sarcasm in my tone.
Smiling, his eyes shifted to his wife. He kissed the corner of her left eye before going for her lips. And things started to get awkward for me. I looked away but that didn’t mean I couldn’t hear the words they exchanged.
“It’s time for you to go,” he said. Honey knew the drill; no girls were allowed in Church meetings. Gathering her things, she moved out of the bar and walked toward the back door.
“Do I call a ride or?”
“No. We’ll go home together,”
The back door swung open and Muerte appeared at the threshold. He exchanged hellos with Honey before she disappeared behind his frame. When I stood from the stool, he noticed me.
Unsurprisingly, he scowled at me. “You didn’t answer my text.”
“I did,” I said, raising my arms in a ‘ta-da’ move. “I’m here aren’t I?”
“Alright, let’s get this meeting started,” Crey said and clapped his hands, sensing the tension already forming in the air. I was about to follow him to the table but then Muerte grabbed my arm.
“Wait,” he said with so much patience that I couldn’t muster in his presence. “Your mother called.”
“We’re handling it,”
“I said we’re handling it, alright?”
I shook him off and took the empty chair behind Goliath and Tennessee. Muerte took a seat opposite me and the meeting began.
“So, what’s the plan?” One of the guys, Buddy, asked while tapping his fingers on the table.
“We can’t keep living like this. It’s been near a damn year and I’m tired of it all.” Tennessee chimed in, grabbing a lighter for his cigarette. “How long is this gonna take?”
Folding my arms across my chest, I kept quiet, favouring to observe and hear everyone’s thoughts before putting mine on the table. Cigarettes were going around; Goliath offered me one and I took it without question. I took Tennessee’s lighter, lit up the cigarette and blew a puff of smoke.
“If we don’t want to die, we have to take our time with this,” Muerte said, leaning in his chair and scanned the faces around him. “Since y’all are eager to get things over with, do you have any ideas on what we can do?”
“One of us goes undercover,”
We all hummed in response, some in agreement while others in disagreement. I wasn’t sure. Not only was going undercover risky, how could we be sure they didn’t know who we were.
“Any one of you fuckers willing to do it?” I said, leaning forward and placing my forearms on the table, my hands clasped together as I scanned their faces. “And how is that gonna happen if they know our faces?”
“Not all of our faces,” Crey said, sighing deeply. “Come on, guys, don’t act like you don’t know. I look and sound like a gangbanger. Might as well be me.”
He wasn’t wrong. Crey’s entire upper body, excluding his face, was littered with tattoos and piercings. The amount of times he’d been stopped and searched was laughing. He was a tattoo artist. He worked for someone else before starting his own place. He joined the MC when the club started going legal with their assets. From what he told me about his life, he could’ve easily stumbled into the gang lifestyle but then Honey came into his life.
“You said it not us,” Muerte said. “That’s if you want to, you don’t have to do it. None of y’all do.”
“Have any other ideas for us, prez?” I spoke up and I swear I pissed him off. If his twitching eyebrow didn’t give it away, I didn’t know what would. Funnily enough, for once, I wasn’t trying to piss him off, I was asking a genuine question.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure,” Crey said, pretending like I hadn’t asked my question. “What about my kids and Honey? I’m supposed to be watching out for them,”
“I’ll take over,” Buddy said, shrugging as if he’d found the solution to all the problems in the world. “Don’t have anybody to look after other than myself. Don’t worry, man, she’ll be fine.”
“For all who agree, say aye,”
We all agreed except for Muerte and I wondered why. I wasn’t going to sit here and start another verbal war with him, across the table in front of the guys so I kept my mouth shut. Muerte banged the gavel, commanding us all into silence and to confirm the new plan.
“Anything else you want to bring to the table before we leave?”
Tennessee slapped my shoulder and said. “I propose Don settles back in Miami and whatever you guys are arguing about should be mute and void from this point forward.”
I glared at his profile and the motherfucker knew well not to look at me. Why the hell would he say that?
“No,” I said without any hesitation.
“Why?” Tennessee challenged.
“Because I said so,” I growled, straighten in my seat and unfolded my arms. “I’ve got a kid.”
“Bring her here. Face it, Don, with everything going down, it’s not safe being on the road your own. What if they follow you and run you over?”
Like how your dad went out. I could hear their words ringing in my ears, like I could read their thoughts.
“He’s right,” Muerte said, causing me to look at him. I took in his appearance, his facial features, the way his eyes, his jaw and his nose were shaped. For the longest time, I’ve been told I looked like Mateo but never considered looking like Muerte as well. It was ridiculous, considering they were identical twins and there was that weird technically that Mateo was my father and not my uncle. “You’re safer here. Your mom would be happy.”
Reluctantly, I replied through gritted teeth. “Fine, I’ll stay.”
The gavel sounded, signing my agreement not only to the club but to him.
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