Authors: Kathryn Thomas
“Yes…and I killed him.”
I felt Cain stiffen under me. “You killed a brother?”
“I had to. I beat him to death myself.” Del looked down as if ashamed of his actions. Perhaps he was. “It was the only way. He stood there and took it for as long as he could. After he was dead, we burned his marks, cut off his fingers, pulled his teeth, and disfigured his face with a hammer. Anything that we thought would lead the cops back to us. Then we dumped the body where it would be found along with a note that said he was the one that had killed the cop.”
“Fuck…” Cain whispered.
“There was a war coming. The cops, they wouldn’t have stopped. We had to end it.”
“And the case my father was building?” I asked, the first time I had spoken since he asked my name.
“They had a statement, but no witness, no corroboration, and no hard evidence. It was all hearsay. I guess the DA decided not to pursue charges.”
“Del! Why didn’t you tell my any of this?” Thad asked. “You always said the Hounds never kept secrets!”
“Because your hands were clean and I wanted them to stay that way. I didn’t want our stain to remain with the club. I was getting old. My brothers were killing cops without my knowledge. I knew then it was time for a change. That is why I started grooming you for the chair.”
Thad looked at me. “I’m sorry, Alex. I didn’t know.”
Before I could answer Del took my hand. “I’m sorry, too. I didn’t know what happened to you or I would have tried to make it right. I couldn’t bring back your parents, but I avenged them in the best way that I could. It’s ironic that you, the daughter of the last man we killed, should join the Hellhounds. Can you find it in your heart to forgive an old man?”
I held my tongue, not telling him that I was responsible for so many deaths at the hands of the Hellhounds. That stain was on me. I leaned forward and pulled Del into a hug. “I can,” I whispered as I held him.
Alex returned to New Orleans the day after she spoke with Del Kozlowski. She and Cain had made up and spent the night in his apartment in the throes of passion. He had put her on a plane the next morning with a kiss and a promise to join her.
Four weeks later, he made good on the promise, arriving in his truck, his hog in the back, and a few of his possessions. Despite her grandparents’ objections, Alex insisted that Cain move in with her until he could find a place of his own. He began to search, but he wouldn’t tell her what he was looking for until one day, two months later, he presented her with a choice. Did she want to live in a restored house in the French Quarter or a new house on the beach in Gulfport, Mississippi?
Alex chose the house in Mississippi. Fourteen days later, they closed on the house. As they drove up to Cain’s new home, he pressed the button to open the garage. As the door rumbled up, Alex gasped at the new Ford Explorer Sport parked inside with a big red bow on it. He informed her that he was tired of squeezing into her car, and the used Civic she was driving had to go. Ale didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so she did both.
Over the next several months, they began to settle into their new lives. They kept her house, renting it to the Hellhounds so they would have a place to stay when they were in town. It saved them from having to sell the house, and was cheaper for the Hounds than paying for a motel each time. Alex didn’t return to work, choosing instead to enroll full-time in the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. After she was accepted, they rented a small apartment in Baton Rouge, near the campus, so that they could be together during the week while she was in class and avoid the two hour drive home.
Money was pouring into the Hounds coffers. Saved from a very embarrassing mistake, New Jersey had consolidated all their purchases through the Hounds, and because of it, the Hounds had picked up several other customers. Because of the increased business, they were accepting two or three shipments a week now, instead of the one or two a month before. The Hounds were becoming wealthy, very wealthy, and Cain was spending his portion of the proceeds liberally to make sure Alex was taken care of and was comfortable, but the rest he was socking away for the future. There were more important things than parties to think about now.
Inspired by Alex’s drive to improve herself, Cain signed up to take night classes at the University of Mississippi at Gulfport, the nearest college, working toward a degree in business. It would take far longer to get his degree than it would for Alex to complete veterinary school, but he didn’t mind. He had a job that was providing a comfortable living, and when Alex graduated he would have learned enough, he hoped, to help her open her own practice.
“Wave goodbye!” Alex called in her baby talk voice as she waved Feather’s tiny hand at the backs of the treating Hounds.
About once a week or so, a cadre of Hounds showed up to “see the puppy.” They were actually in New Orleans to pick up the latest shipment of guns, but they made it a point to stop in. After the rest of the Hellhounds found out that they
in fact, killed Alex’s family, the club quickly rallied around her in support. After all, the Hounds took care of their own.
Cain shut the door, and took Feather from Alex. “You’re such a good girl,” he said softly, making faces at his daughter. “I told Uncle Clyde that baby vomit is good for leather...yes I did. It makes it soft, doesn’t it?”
Feather was getting cranky from being handed around, and was fussing. “I’ll go put her down,” Alex said, reaching for her.
“I’ve got her,” Cain said, bouncing her in his arms as he carried her to her room. A couple of minutes later, he returned empty handed, but with a bulge in his back pocket that wasn’t there before. He could hear Feather snuffling and fussing about being put down for her nap, but three months in they were already experienced enough parents to know that she wasn’t long awake.
He found Alex in the kitchen, cleaning up and loading the dishwasher from lunch. He stepped up behind her and held her tight. She had lost almost all her baby weight and was looking even better than before. “I love you,” he whispered into her ear as he hugged her.
She turned in his arms. “I love you, too,” she whispered as their lips touched. To hear her say the words thrilled him as much now as when she first uttered them five months ago.
As they separated, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a small black box that had been hidden in Feather’s room for the past two days. He took a step back as he brought the box around between them and opened it.
“Cain, I —” Alex began when she saw the box.
“Alexandria Nicole Bernhardt, will you marry me?” he asked softly, pulling the ring from the box.
Alex was flabbergasted. Cain had been hinting about getting married, but she had been evasive, wanting to be sure. “Cain…”
“Say yes,” he whispered as he took her hand and slid the ring upon her finger. “I always get what I want…” he added as he gently brought his lips to hers.
She flowed into the kiss, her arms going around his neck.
Yes… he always seems to…
Hellhounds Motorcycle Club
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