Authors: Bijou Hunter
In the Wind
Copyright © 2015 Bijou Hunter
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
For more information about this series and author visit:
Illustrator: Miranda Koryluk
Freckles, Tigger, Pooh, and Roo for making me laugh
Mustang Sally for cracking her whip
Candy Girl Miranda for knowing me better than I know myself
Saucy Sarah, Passionate Patty, and Seductive Stacie for kicking ass
Naughty Nicole for her endless energy and Darling Daphne for her silliness
Temperamental diva Sawyer Johansson is drowning in grief from her father’s death. When she goes on the run, her MC President brother Cooper wants her returned home. Sawyer’s refusal leads him to send his enforcer Jace after her. The same man who broke her heart.
Table of Contents
Piece of My Heart
A great man's heart gave out, yet the world went on. How can anyone smile again when his smiles were gone forever? How will I laugh again when the funniest man I ever knew is dead? How will I love again when my pop made the world safe to trust?
Kirk Johansson was never sick a day in his life, yet he died. At his memorial, people said he never lost a fight, yet he's still dead. They claimed the world will never be the same, yet they just went on fucking living as if he never existed.
I hated them for finding their smiles. I hated them for even wanting to cope. I hated them for moving on. How could we ever accept the great Kirk Johansson was gone? How dare they forget my pop?
My brothers and sister have families, so they're strong for their children's sake. Cooper and Tucker work hard to keep the club steady without Pop. I know in my head how my siblings have responsibilities, but I resent excuses for moving past their grief.
Even Mom decides she needs to get away from the memories waiting for her in our house. I adore my mom. She's perfection, but her decision to take a cruise a month after Pop's death feels all wrong. Why should she want to forget when remembering is what keeps him alive?
Unwilling to move on, I refuse to join her on the cruise. I don't need to be strong. I only want to keep Pop alive, but the people in Ellsberg won't help me. Crowding me with their positive thinking, I feel their needs forcing me to hide my grief. Screw them and their well-meaning words.
My days and nights blur together. I finish my sophomore year of studies, giving me nothing to distract from my grief. When Mom flies out to meet her cruise, I join my siblings to say goodbye. They return home to their wives and husbands and an army of kids between them all. I return to a house haunted with memories of what I've lost.
Sleep is like a quickie lover, leaving me unsatisfied. I doze more than rest most nights. When I dream, I see Pop. When I'm awake, I feel him everywhere.
On Tuesday, I sit on the couch where I've been for over a day. I only move to use the bathroom and microwave food. My brothers visited earlier, but I ignored them. I hate seeing Pop in their handsome, living faces. My older sister leaves a message when I don't answer the phone.
She's worried about me. Do I want to have dinner with her and hubby Nick and the boys? She'll even let me pick the restaurant.
Instead of going out, I eat half of the casserole our housekeeper made yesterday. Kim is a good woman who's worked for my family for years. She always braids her hair and smells like Pine-Sol even after she gets out of the shower. I know she misses my pop. She's a good woman in every way, but I hate when she tells me Kirk wouldn't want me to sit alone so much. As if he'd be happier for me to enjoy life when he no longer can.
Holding the remote Pop held so many times, I feel him in the room with me. I remember how weeks ago he sat with me just as I now sit alone. Pop knew I was lost since Jace left me. My heart broken, I craved my Mom and Pop. Now they're both gone, and I'm alone in this big house missing them both.
I never stop to think when packing my bag. Scratching out a note for Kim, I grab the keys to my red SUV and leave behind the life reeking of sorrow.
Where am I going? I ask myself every hour on the first day of the drive. The answer escapes me every time until I'm in Tennessee.
I spot a sign of two identical chicks showing off their bright white teeth. Suddenly, the answer is clear.
My phone doesn't have their number stored, and they aren't listed. Without warning, I show up at the front gate of their huge Texas property.
We haven't spoken in years. They used to be my Facebook friends until they deleted their profiles to prevent the government from stalking them. I remember rolling my eyes years ago. The rich redheaded twins were always so damn crazy, yet now they represent a new chance.
Answering the intercom at the front gate, the twins' brother Zane will only grant me access if I answer a question.
"Who was the killer in
Friday the 13th
?" he asks through the intercom.
"What's his face's mom," I answer.
The gates opening, I drive down a long road to a hotel-sized lodge-style house. The driveway filled with SUVs, trucks, and Harleys makes me feel at home.
"Hands up," a voice says as I exit my SUV.
Doing as I'm told, I remember the twins' love affair with guns. They appear on the front porch, and I see they've graduated from BB guns to automatic weapons.
"What do you want?" one of the twins asked.
"My pop died and I'm sad. Oh, and people at home are pissing me off."
The twins step off the porch, shouldering their weapons. The twin to the right smiles first, and I'm pretty sure she's Colbie. The less smiley one is Bodie. They join me at the SUV, staring at the world through identical eyes.
"Mi casa es su casa," Bodie says, sliding her arm through mine.
Doing the same with my other arm, Colbie grins. "We have beer and steaks. Come inside and let us feed you. You can tell us about your dad, and we'll nod reassuringly. We're great at faking sympathy."
Still crazy after all these years, the twins welcome me into their home in Last Dollar, Texas. I have everything I need now
. Friends, food, and fun.
Ellsberg can become simply a painful memory, and no way am I ever going back.
I've lived a charmed life. Healthy, loved, never went hungry, always had a warm place to sleep, my childhood was perfect. Except for the night I watched my family slaughtered by a motorcycle club my father had abandoned.
Refusing to let him go, his former friends soaked the house in blood as an example to anyone else thinking of quitting. They snuffed out Dad faster than they intended. Heroic in his last moments, he lunged for his old president. He bled out quickly. Much faster than Mom and Grandma. Or my baby brother crying in his crib to the sounds of our mom's screams.
Lucky even while trapped in hell, I hid under the bed before scrambling to a closet and finally out the window. I was fast, and they were sloppy.
My charmed life left me fucked up. Survivor's guilt is what my therapist called the flawed thinking I suffer from even to this day. Hell, I rarely trust anyone. I don't even like most people. I almost never feel safe.
No one can tell I'm fucked up by looking at me. I've learned how to hide in plain sight. I smile, laugh, and make eye contact as if everyone is my friend. The world is a perfect place, and I'm a perfect guy. People like me, but they don't trust me even without knowing why. Deep inside, in the part of a person's psyche, in their gut instinct if you will, they sense I'm full of shit. They keep their distance, and I don't blame them.
Blessed every day except that one bloody night, I'm adopted into a good family given to me by another motorcycle club called the Reapers. Years later, I join the same club. These people are my friends, my brothers, my family, yet no one knows me. The one person I thought could see past my lies is gone now.
Nearly a year ago, I hurt someone who loved me more than anyone else. I can't explain even to myself why I left Sawyer. The why doesn't matter anymore.
What I did can't be undone.
My longtime hometown Ellsberg feels different these days. Quieter, lonelier even. I know logically how the small college town empties out in late springs and summers. However, my heart tells me the quiet is Ellsberg in mourning over Kirk Johansson's passing.
The man remained an enigma to me. He scared me when I was a kid. Something powerful radiated off Kirk even when sitting on a lounge chair and reading off a Kindle. I respected him but kept my distance. In his presence, I always felt like a loser. Even worse, I felt a poser. In his eyes, I was a nothing kid hiding behind the kind of tough guy mask Kirk was born wearing.
A tribute to the man's virility was the shock everyone felt when he died at the ripe age of 85. The saying "taken too soon" wasn't something people normally said about senior citizens. Kirk was a different kind of man. With him gone, Ellsberg will never be the same.
Thinking about Kirk, I pull my black Harley into the parking lot of Cooper Johansson's office. The engine on my bike runs rough, making me think I need to check it later. My brother-in-law Dylan works construction and has a way with cars. I figure I'll ask him to check. First, I need to chat with the boss.
Kirk's oldest boy was already president when I got it in my head to join the Reapers. He blew me off for years and refused to explain why. My adopted dad is in the Reapers, as is Dylan. Almost every man I respect is in the club. Needing to be like them, I kept asking Cooper for a shot. Sometimes, I wonder if he only gave in at his little sister Sawyer's instance. The girl had a way of getting what she wanted.
Cooper's dark eyes look up from his phone when I enter the office. His secretary is an older woman Cooper claims used to baby-sit him. Her gruff manner scares off most people, but I've caught her babying the boss more than once.
"Mister Johansson will see you," Joyce says even with Cooper stands a foot from her.
I follow Cooper down a hallway to his office. As I shut the door, he sits behind the desk. With his dark brown eyes focused on me, I feel like a kid. He does that shit to me every damn time.
Even though Cooper looks like Kirk while Sawyer looks like their mom Jodi, I see enough of a resemblance to make my stomach hurt. This man owns my soul, but his sister owns my damn heart.
"Sawyer is in the wind," he says, crossing his arms.
Hearing her name erases the dark eyes in front of me. I only see Sawyer's bright blue ones. I hear her raspy laugh. We haven't spoken since Kirk's funeral where she thanked me for coming. She thanked everyone for coming. I wasn't special. Not since I told her we were over.
"What does that mean?" I ask, shaking off my memories of Sawyer.
"Sawyer called last night to tell me she's in Texas. Says she can't live here anymore. I need someone to go get her."
When I don't offer immediately to go, Cooper crosses his arms tighter so the muscles flex angrily. I imitate him with the arms. My other brother-in-law Rafael is a retired assassin. He's told me a hundred times that the crossed arms move is a mistake. Not only does it imply aggression when I should want to keep my opponent guessing, the gesture also leaves my hands too far away from my weapons. Even knowing his speech by heart, I can't keep myself from imitating the men around me.
My silence goes on for a long time before Cooper speaks up in a tight voice. "You were friends, and I need you to go. I can't leave town. No one else in the club can talk to her. Bailey offered to go. With them both so emotional from Pop's death, they'll likely kill each other. I need it to be you."
Cooper is right about his sister Bailey not being a good choice. He's wrong about me going though.
"Sawyer and I aren't friends anymore," I say, avoiding the details.
"Look, Jace, I need to be here. I can't send anyone else. None of Sawyer's college friends can do it. Not with the McLaughlin family involved. I need someone I can trust to watch out for Sawyer, so she doesn't go off the deep end. The last thing I need is her joining a cult or marrying a hippy."
Shrugging, Cooper adjusts in his chair. "Who knows? She's feeling lost, and I don't want her finding herself in a stupid or crazy way. I want her back here where she's safe. I can't protect her when she's in another state. I'm not sure the McLaughlins will protect her. I called the dad JJ McLaughlin, and he assured me he'd make sure she was taken care of. Hell, I couldn't even tell if he was threatening me. That's why I need you there."
Sawyer won't want to see me. Cooper must know this fact since his sister isn't the "suffer in silence" type. His plan is flawed as fuck, yet I'm aware he's not asking me to go. He's my president, so I can't say no.
"What if she refuses to return?" I ask rather than mentioning what I'm really thinking.
"I don't care if you bribe her, con her, or tie her up. Just get her back here. My mom is on a cruise, trying to deal with being on her own. If she finds out Sawyer's on the run, Mom will come back before she's ready. I expect you to do whatever you need to do to make sure Sawyer gets her ass back to Ellsberg."
The last month wears heavy on Cooper. His dark eyes are more tired than angry. He loves his little sister and wants her safe. Mostly, Cooper needs quiet for his family, club, and town.
Taking the Texas information, I promise him I'll be on the road once I get my Harley checked. We agree not to warn Sawyer, who might run again if she knows I'm coming. No doubt me showing up unannounced will piss her off, but also throw her off her game. If I plan to outmaneuver Sawyer Johansson, cheating is a must.