Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 43

Elena


The door swings open, and there stands the man who has raised me. The man who used to kiss my bruises and cuts to make them feel better. The man who taught me patiently how to ride a bike, the man who held me for many nights while I cried my eyes out over the loss of my mother.

Did mom know what kind of gang he was a part of? Did she know what he may have done?

The man in front of me, wearing a robe, has wet messy dark hair, wide eyes, and a worried expression. Who is this man?

“Were you ever going to tell me?” I can feel the hurt surge from my own heart and anger steam out of my ears from the visions I have of my father. One vision is of him capturing a young girl into a dark van while she’s screaming, squirming, and kicking to escape his grasp.

His expression moves from worried to horrified. He knows I know. Good.

“He told you?” his voice breaks in a whisper. He sounds broken, ashamed. Does he think Mike told me? How would Mike know any of this?

“What? No!” I yell, holding up the article.

With wide eyes, he grabs the piece of paper then looks it over. His horrified gaze transforms into confusion then relief.

The man before me exhales, “Elena, what is this?” I know this tactic. One thing about my dad is that he is very good at switching things around – turning earth-shattering explosions into a tiny dust bomb. It’s not going to work this time.

“You were in a biker gang, dad. Admit it. Your tattoo matches this one right here.” I point at a guy with the same tattoo on his chest from the article. “You were an Outlaw; you did bad things, dad. You were a part of a group that kidnapped and murdered people! Not to mention, you helped make and sell meth! Who are you?” I don’t think I have ever shouted in this octave before.

I don’t love this man any less. I’m not trying to judge him, but this is all just too much to handle right now – after what almost happened to me...

“Hey, calm down,” his voice rises, but it’s still deep as he gives me a pointed look. It’s the ‘Dad Tone.’ “Sit down.” He gestures towards the bed. I sit at the corner as he sits in the middle.

Dad holds the paper loosely in his hands upon his lap. He lets out an exhalation and tells me, “Elena, I was a part of a club. They were called the Outlaws...” My eyes widen at the shock of him actually admitting it. My throat is tightening; my heart is loud. He’s going to come clean.

I don’t know if I can handle this. He says, “...But I got out of there before things really started to go downhill. Sweetheart, I never kidnapped anyone.” He breathes and drops his head when he speaks again. “I did, however, kill a few people – in self-defense. I never blatantly went out and murdered anybody.”

I turn to look at him as he reflects on his former self. “I have dealt drugs before; I’ve been in bar fights too,” he confesses as he looks me square in the eyes. “...But sweetie, I never did any of these things.” He holds up the article as his eyes peer into mine with candor.

My sights move to focus on my feet, dangling off the bed. Picking at my index fingernail, I’m speechless. I feel ashamed now, thinking that my dad could have been a monster at one point in his life. He reaches out to gently touch my arm.

I hear him say, “I never told you or brought it up because I wasn’t sure how you would handle it.” I turn to look at him again. My mouth gapes from almost feeling offended. “I see you’re actually taking it better than I thought you would,” he smiles.

Feeling suddenly awful for thinking such things of my father, I say, “Dad, I’m really sorry. I saw the article, and my mind went to the worst place imaginable.”

“Hey.” The words spill out with forgiveness. “It’s ok. I get it. Are we okay?”

A deep breath fills my lungs as I nod. “Yeah, we’re okay. Everyone has a past, right? Your past isn’t as bad as I thought it was.”

I know he has killed a couple of people in self-defense while being a cop - I’ve seen how torn up he was after the fact and saw how he wondered what he could have done to change the outcome. So, the knowledge of him taking lives in self-defense earlier in his life doesn’t faze me; I can easily forgive him for his past. After all, his past has made him become a better father; hasn’t it?

A moment goes by before he pries, “What brought on the Google search anyway?”

Our eyes connect again, and I notice that he seems very interested in what I might say. His eyes are filled with eagerness. Something within me is heading a warning not to confess about the black box a few feet away from me in his closet.

He has seen Mike’s jacket before, so I only sort of lie. “Mike has talked about the club that he’s in; he says that they ‘just like to get together and ride around.’ There’s a patch on his jacket that says ‘President,’ so I got curious and Googled ‘biker clubs.’” I point at the article in his hand. “This is what I found.”

He stares blankly at me for a moment. “Huh...I see.” A pause hangs in the distance between us before he says, “Well, have you Googled his club?” A sly grin approaches his thin lips.

Not feeling so sure of myself, I give him a pointed look. “No, not yet. I will, though.”

As he stands up from the bed and makes his way back to the bathroom, he speaks over his shoulder. “Well...when you do, let me know. I’m curious about what this Google has to say about them.”

With that, I leap from the bed and stomp back into my room to type ‘Devil’s Henchmen’ into the search engine. I nearly pound every letter with determination to find nothing but good things about them.

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