Authors: Ellie R Hunter
He looks uncomfortable and his hands grip the wheel a little too hard.
“I always believed you were together, I mean, as I got older I thought it was a bit strange you spent so much time at work and she never acted like she minded.”
“It’s complicated, twenty-five years of complicated,” he mumbles.
“I asked if you love her,” I say, not letting him get out of answering my question.
His mouth disappears into a tight line before he exhales loudly and turns to me.
“Yes,” he says, turning back to the road, “I love her, I always have done and always will.”
I can’t help but smile, in this fucked up world I’m now in. It’s nice to know at least my parents love each other, even if they have never lived together and lived separate lives only joining every few months.
Today my dad surprised me, not only did he push me to keep buying more and more new clothes, even when I thought I had got enough, he waited and actually sat in the salon while I had my hair done and nails painted. It’s been a while since I had polished finger nails and shiny hair. It looks completely revived. Knowing his lifestyle now I would never imagine him waiting patiently in a salon.
Back at the clubhouse I showered twice before I slipped into one of the new summer dresses and applied a touch of make-up. I didn’t want any of my old life tainting my new clothes. All the way down to meet my dad by the truck I couldn’t stop smiling, this is what I wanted, this is who I was and never should have strayed from. It pains me now to think what I did to myself. As long as I keep busy and not dwell on what I used to be, it’s easier to move on than I thought it would be. I can finally see what everyone else did and no wonder they didn’t like it, I was a colossal fuck up.
“Is that yours?” I ask, regarding the brand new truck my dad is leaning against when I walk out of the bar.
We didn’t drive into town in it and I’ve never seen it before now.
“Yeah, it will be yours when the time’s right and I can get back on my bike.”
He’s kidding right? This is going to be mine?
“Where did it come from?”
We haven’t been back long so he hasn’t had the time to go back into town.
“It was delivered about half an hour ago.”
It’s lovely and I can’t believe it’s going to mine one day. The drive is smooth all the way to Slade’s house and judging the amount of people already at here, I think we’re the last ones to arrive. It makes me feel the freak show. Once again, every set of eyes are on me as we walk through to the back yard, at least this time they are smiling and friendly instead of staring at the junkie.
The first thing I hear when we step outside is child’s laughter. I don’t know why I am but I’m shocked to see kids playing on a swingset at the bottom of the garden. I feel like a kid myself because I wonder why they are allowed grow up here and I wasn’t? They sound and look happy enough surrounded by this lifestyle. My mother kept me away because she didn’t like it, she never gave me the chance. I dash the thought away immediately, I can’t afford to be bitter.
“It’s nice to finally meet you properly,” I blink a few times to see the beautiful woman I saw kissing the tattooed guy, Sparky the other night standing in front of us.
“Hi,” I smile, not offering much back.
“I’m Bonnie and this little man is Jason Junior,” she beams, lifting a toddler up into her arms.
“I know who you are, come on, I’ll introduce you to the girls.”
I look to my dad and he nods his head, telling me it’s okay to go with her. She doesn’t give me a chance to take a look around and pulls me towards the back of the yard.
“Slade brought Kristen a new house so this is a low key house warming,” she carries on walking towards to a table near where the other kids are playing.
“Kyla, this is Alannah and here is Kristen,” she introduces us.
They both smile warmly and Alannah pulls out a chair next to her for me.
“It’s nice to see you out and about now, your dad looks happy about it too,” she says, looking over my shoulder.
I crane my neck to look for him and find him half smiling in our direction.
“It feels good to be out, I thought I was going to go crazy in that room if I was in there any longer,” I say, quickly shutting up.
They all probably agree with my dad’s idea to dry me out, judging what I was.
It turns out, after listening to them all talk for over an hour I couldn’t have been more wrong about the girls, they’re not the type to judge me. Their close friendships are a little intimidating but apparently, being Pope’s daughter gives me an in and especially when they say they actually like me and they think I’ll do well here.
“You know, I was as shocked as the next person around here when we heard Pope had a daughter but I wouldn’t have pictured you to be so pretty, not saying your dad is ugly or anything, he’s far from ugly even at his age. But, I would’ve guessed he could only produce giants,” Kristen laughs.
Shaking my head I laugh with her, she’s right, my dad is a big guy and my mom and he both say I take after her.
“I don’t think we’re the only ones who thinks you’re pretty,” Alannah offers, smiling at me.
“Who else?” I ask, hesitantly.
“Ricky hasn’t taken his eyes off of you since you got here,” she informs me.
Sitting on a chair with the other guys I see him staring and turning away quickly when he sees me looking.
“I hope Pope doesn’t catch him,” Bonnie says, giving her input.
“He’s not interested in me,” I tell them.
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Alannah coos.
I don’t bother to tell her how I know he isn’t interested because that would involve me telling them about the other night and being humiliated in front of him was bad enough.
“I’ll go talk to my dad and distract him from Ricky. It was nice to meet you all,” I smile, to get away from their gossiping.
He’s sitting with the others but he’s on the edge and doesn’t look like he’s a part of any conversation.
I sit on the chair next to his and pull my sleeves down a little.
“Have you noticed you’re the only guy here who has a daughter? Everyone else has sons,” I say, making up the conversation as I go.
“It would’ve been easier if I had a son, I could’ve beaten the crap out of you when your mom dragged you here.”
My eyes bulge out of my sockets and I forget how to breathe. Surely he doesn’t mean that?
“I’m joking,” he grunts.
I compose myself but I doubt he’s joking, he sounded deadly serious to me.
“I’m going to get a drink, do you want one?” I offer, standing up.
“Nah, I’m good.”
I wonder back into the house where I’ve seen people walking out with drinks and find the fridge fully stocked with all kinds of drinks.
I grab a bottle of water and press it to my forehead. Between the heat and my dad’s supposed joke, I need to cool down.
“I almost didn’t recognise you, you look so different.”
I jump around to the deep voice and see Ricky standing very close behind me.
I have nowhere to move, the fridge is behind me and it is in the corner, the only way to go is past Ricky and he doesn’t look like he’s going to move.
“Firecracker different?” I ask, hesitantly.
I’m internally pleading with him to say yes even though he turned me down the other night.
He smirks and says, “Most definitely.”
I bite my bottom lip to stop the huge grin that wants to spread across my face. Instead, I bite down hard and stare into his brilliant green eyes and wait for him to speak. At least that way I can’t embarrass myself around him again.
“Is that all you drink?” he asks, nodding to the bottled water in my hand.
“Pretty much, you can’t mess up drinking too much water,” I shrug.
“I suppose not, how you doing?”
“I’m doing good, look, I should apologise for the other night. I didn’t know what I was thinking, it won’t happen again.”
Although, I really do want to kiss him, to see how his lips feel on mine.
“How can you be so sure it won’t?” he asks, stepping closer to me.
I’m not sure at all but I’m not going to tell him that.
“Because I don’t like being knocked back and left humiliated,” I say instead.
“Why are sure I’d knock you back again?”
Oh God, I can’t keep up with him.
“So, you wouldn’t then?”
“No,” he breathes.
“And this is because I now look like I did in the photo my father showed you?” I hedge, I’d bet everything I have that is the reason.
“That’s how I know it won’t happen, Mr Superficial,” I mutter and push past him.
I’m nearly clear through the door when Kristen comes my way and pulls me back into the kitchen.
She seems very happy about something and I smile warily waiting for her to fill me in.
“Okay, so first, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever spoken to your dad and he freaking scares me,” she laughs.
“Yeah, I can understand why.”
“He said you want to stay in town, is that true?”
I nod and become a lot more interested in where this is going.
“I don’t know how much you know about me and what I do, but I own a shop in town and I really need someone to help me out. I’ll pay you well and it’s only three or four days a week so nothing too heavy.”
“I’ll do it,” I jump in, answering straight away.
She giggles and says, “You don’t know what it is yet.”
“I don’t care, it has to beat sitting around the clubhouse every day.”
Since my mom’s visit a few days ago, I have spent my days down in the bar or outside basking in the sunshine. The nights I would sit with my dad in the bar and watch everyone together. Although it was quite entertaining some of the time, most of the time it was long and mind-numbing.
She spends the next fifteen minutes explaining what I’ll have to do. She owns a pawn shop and my job will involve mainly taking tickets and retrieving the customer’s items for them. She said it doesn’t sound much but apparently it gets very busy.
“I can’t believe my dad agreed to this,” I smile.
Then it hits me, it doesn’t matter if I’m in her shop or at the clubhouse, wherever I am I will always be watched by them. Still, it will be a change of scenery for me.
“He seemed happy with the idea,” she tells me, turning around to Slade calling for her.
“I’ll call you tomorrow to arrange when you can start but as soon as possible is better.”
“Okay, and thank you,” I say, just before she runs off to her husband.
I stand in the doorway watching them together, Slade wraps his arms around her protectively and kisses into her neck. Her melting into him makes me jealous, if he’s this affectionate in public imagine how he treats her behind closed doors. Now, I’m really jealous. If I had still been with Dean I would never have a chance to find that amount of affection for myself. Junkies don’t care for one another unless they are a meal ticket to scoring another hit.
“They look good together, don’t they?” Ricky says, once again standing right behind me.
“Will you stop doing that?” I snap, spinning around to face him.
“Creeping up behind me, go creep somewhere else,” I tell him, moving away from him.
“Superficial and a creeper, I think there’s a superhero name in there somewhere,” he grins.
“More like a villain’s name,” I argue, unable to keep a straight face.
“Who do you prefer, Kyla, the hero or the villain?” he asks, seriously.
“I’ve never met a hero and the last villain I was with didn’t work out so great for me. What one are you?”
“Which ever one I need to be,” he replies, “Which one do you want me to be?” he smirks.
I step towards him and relief washes over me when he doesn’t back away this time. His eyes stay on mine with every step I take, I hold onto the front of his leather cut and pull him towards me as I lean into him.
Softly I press my lips to his cheek, my whole body pulses when my lips touch his skin and I fight myself to pull away.
Keeping my eyes on his backing away, I tell him honestly, “I want a hero.”
This time I make it through the door and like a coward with a crush, I sit with my dad. There’s no chance he’ll try to talk to me with Pope around.
“You okay, Ky? You look flushed,” my father says, ever the observant parent.
“I had a little panic over the job Kristen offered me, I’m fine now,” I lie.
“It will be good for you, not long term but temporarily it’s a good distraction.”
“I know, I’m looking forward to it,” I grin, reassuring him. “And thank you, for everything. I know I still have a lot to deal with but I’m happy I’m here with you,” I add.
“Little steps, one at a time, Ky,” he says, holding his hand on mine.
“I’d really like it if I can call you dad again, I’ve missed it.”