The highway is oddly empty on my way to the town where I grew up. It takes a glance in the side mirror of my Fat Boy for me to speed up. I grin at the roar of the engine and salute the dude in an old truck I've just left behind.
Pops will give me shit for riding so fast, but he ain't a Saint himself. I can always tell him I was hungry. It won't be a lie— I haven't eaten since morning. Right on cue, my stomach grumbles, and I try to focus on the rolling acres of corn farms and the stormy gray sky instead.
If I'm lucky, I'll have time to catch forty before going to the Temple. It's just a clearing in the woods on the edge of the town, but when Mac gave it the nickname years back, it stuck.
I smile again, thinking about my childhood friend. The dude has no idea I'm back — nobody does. I want to see the look of surprise on those fuckers' faces when I crash their little meeting.
One mile to go. The familiar scenery makes my stomach tighten. I visited Pops as often as I could, but it wasn't the same.
Mom is already there, in her apartment. I wonder if she's gonna have dinner with us. She and Pops are cool. I'm lucky. There was no trash talking and no drama. They decided to take a break from each other, and I wanted a break from my hometown.
Had I known I would miss it and the guys so much, I would've stayed and let Mom move across the country on her own. She was happy teaching there, and I hoped she would get fed up with that hellhole and want to move back.
Fat Boy rolls into my neighborhood, and I can't wait to get off it and stretch my legs. My ass is numb. No matter how many times I've ridden, I can't get used to the seat. Mac would say I'm a pussy. I can't wait to hug the living shit outta that fucker.
Now, I can finally see our house farther down the street. Pops is nowhere to be seen; he must be working in the garage. We will have to talk about that too, but right now, I can't wait to get off the bike, which I do barely two minutes later.
I unclip my helmet as soon as my feet are on the ground and rake my fingers through my unkempt dark hair. I might need to have it cut, but girls like pulling at it, and I love that shit way too much to deny myself the pleasure.
Rotating my shoulders, I make my way to the porch and climb the wooden steps. "Pops!" I yell, banging my fist on the front door.
It opens barely a second later, and my giant of an old man smacks me upside the head before wrapping me in his arms and slapping my back. "Welcome home, Son."
"It's good to be back." I grin, giving Pops a once-over. He's just as strong and tall, just as inked as he used to be, and his eyes twinkle in the same way. My dad is in his forties, young enough to do whatever the hell he wants. Jimmy and I lucked out in the parents' department. Not all my friends can say the same.
Pops studies me as if he wants to make sure I haven't changed and then nods toward Fat Boy. "Bring your stuff into the house. I guess you're hungry."
"Hungry as fuck," I complain and earn myself another smack from Axel O'Brien.
"I'm the only one who cusses in this house, got it? You, little fuckers, never learn."
"You just did." I wink at Pops.
"Called me little fucker."
"Cause that's who you are. Put the bike in the garage and haul your ass to the kitchen. I'm starving too."
"Has her book club meeting. She'll stop by tomorrow. You'd better not be hungover."
"No promises." I shrug and make my way out of the house. It takes me next to nothing to grab my overstuffed bag and leave Fat Boy in the garage. Then, I go back in and trudge up the stairs to my old bedroom.
Pops hasn't touched it. I still have posters of my favorite bands on the wall. I will add one more — the one of Jimmy, my big brother, the superstar. Chuckling to myself, I make my way in and drop the bag onto the carpet. I will have to take care of my stuff later. If my dad is hungry, his patience is nonexistent.
Quickly, I take off my leathers and toss them onto the bed before I unzip the bag and fish out a clean pair of jeans and a plain black tee.
I'm about to get dressed when I register movement in one of the windows of the house next to ours. It'd been vacant for years. The owners couldn't find anyone who'd rent it. Mac used to say the shit was haunted. I thought it needed too many repairs.
As I shove my arms in the sleeves of the shirt, I'm taking a mental note to ask Pops about our new neighbors. It'd better be a hot chick. I could have lots of fun with that.