Authors: Shyla Colt
This Book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, duplicated, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior written consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Copyright © 2016 by Shyla Colt
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.
Cover and Interior Formatting by:
EAL Editing Services for Hot Ink Press
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by
any means without written permission of the author.
Published by Hot Ink Press
An Imprint of Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly, LLC.
Novi, Michigan 48374
In this story, you’ll see me touch on what can be a hot button issue. I talk about mental illness. I represented the reality and the preconceived notions. It’s a subject I think we should all be able to speak on openly.
Ignorance is a gateway to fear and isolation. When we run from what frightens us, we give it power. The best thing we can do is educate ourselves as much as possible, so we can deal with the subject of our fear as rationally and responsibly as possible.
Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. I’m an advocate for those who fight this silent battle. If you or someone you know need immediate help because you’re in a crisis, there are places to go.
If you are in crisis, and need immediate support or intervention, call, or go the website of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals. If the situation is potentially life-threatening, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room.
To all the Colts helping me live my dreams. Thank you for embracing this series and me.
Stressed out: Twenty-One Pilots
Single Ladies: Beyoncé
Drunk in Love: Beyoncé
Lit: Own Worst Enemy
Don’t let me get me: Pink
She hates me: Puddle of Mud
Let Go: Frou Frou
You got the Love: Florence and the Machine
Hold Up : Beyoncé
Gasoline : Halsey
Pity Party: Melanie Martinez
Only girl in the World: Rihanna
Halsey: Hold me Down
My hands shake as I travel the familiar roads. I clutch the steering wheel tighter to stop the trembling. My knuckles stand out thinner than usual and pale. The last thing I want to do is be surrounded by members of The Kings of Chaos M.C. today. My wounds are too fresh. There’s a reason people don’t date friends of friends. If it doesn’t work out or ends badly, eventually the two of you are forced to face each other. Usually, before either party is ready.
These are things I learned in high school, so why did I date Skull?
I can produce no rational explanation for my recent choices. Everything about us was unexpected. The moment our lips met, I fell into a state of temporary insanity. The fire between us burned brighter than my caution and preconceived notions.
I don’t do bikers. After a lifetime of watching my best friend and daughter of an M.C. member grow up in this world, I know better. It’s a hard lifestyle to live, and few relationships can survive it. It takes a special woman to handle the secrets, danger, and the patriarchal society. Skull set me at ease in a way no man before him ever had. I couldn’t walk away from the repartee and bonding. I’m not young or naive. I’ve lusted after men and scratched enough itches to know the difference between physical attraction and whatever it was we had. I thought we had a real shot at a decent relationship.
Clearly, I was wrong.
Bitterness rises and sours in my mouth like lemonade in need of more sugar. I pull my car into Blue’s driveway and take a deep breath as I park. She and her husband, Shadow are grilling out today. After the messiness of the past couple of months, the celebration is desperately needed. Bombings, inner turmoil, and rule changes have shaken up the M.C. I haven’t seen her or my pseudo godson, Bolton, in weeks. It’s the only reason I agreed to come today. Regardless of what’s going on with Skull and me, these people are family.
Thoughts of Tritt Alexander Matthews, better known as Skull makes my chest ache. He’s a virus that got into my bloodstream and altered my behavior. Despite his philandering, I can’t seem to get the man out of my mind. I never thought of myself as the type of woman who would stand for disrespect. It’s disheartening to learn otherwise
. Why would he give up all that freedom for me? The first night we hooked up, he warned me he didn’t do commitment. I should’ve listened.
Instead, I let down my guard, slipped into like and landed in love with a man I shouldn’t have. My vision wavers. I suck in a deep breath and struggle to keep the tears in check. Talk about bad timing. A year ago, he would’ve been the perfect fuck buddy.
Of course, he had to show up after I was ready to settle down. I’m not getting any younger, and the pickings are slim. The charming, handsome, funny bastard slipped right through my barriers. I dash away the teardrops that escape and give myself a mental high-five for having the foresight to use waterproof mascara. I might be heartbroken, but I don’t have to look the part.
The sound of a bike coming behind me sets me into motion. I open the car door, step out, and smooth down my black romper. The cut out top hugs my C cups and leaves a sliver of skin bare between my breasts. I went shopping just for this occasion. I want him to realize all he’s lost.
I might’ve forgiven his transgression in time, if he had tried to make up for it. He did the exact opposite, shutting down and walking away. The sight of his cut as he left me hurt and embarrassed still lingers in my brain.
I’m not vindictive by nature. But this has me tied up in knots. I lopped off four inches of my burgundy hair, leaving me with a sleek bob that brushes my shoulders and a fringe of bangs. I’m put together on the outside. It’s the inside that’s a twisted mess. I glance over my shoulder and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s not Skull. I nod at Wrench and wait for him to pull his bike into the driveway beside me.
He kills the engine and lets out a low whistle. “Damn, Ruthie. It’s hot enough out here without you making me sweat with that outfit.”
I laugh at his cheesiness. “Charmer.”
He grins and offers his arm. “Come and make me look good by walking in with me.”
I slip my arm in his. The scent of worn leather and man engulfs me. It’s a familiar smell, but all wrong at the same time. Skull is crisp, fresh like the air coming off the ocean and wild like the earth after it rains. I step carefully in my black six-inch strap on heels with a bright floral pattern. The shoes make me feel powerful and add height to my five foot five stature. I hold my head high as we enter the crowded backyard. Greetings come our way. I wave.
I scan the crowd and lock eyes with Blue, who arches an eyebrow. The questions in her eyes makes me smirk. Friends since before high school, I can read her like a book. I shake my head slightly.
No, I’m not revenge dating.
I know better, a woman does not cause trouble between brothers.
I slip my arm free and pat Wrench’s arm. “Thanks for the escort. I’m going to join up with the girls.” I nod toward the group of women gathered on the opposite side of the yard.
“Any time, Lady,” Wrench says.
“Check out the sexy redhead.” Dixie Rose releases a low whistle.
“Shut up.” I soften the words with a smile as we hug.
“I recognize this outfit,” Blue says.
“What? I just bought this jumper.”
“Exactly,” Blue replies. “It’s the post break up ensemble and haircut. Both are amazing, by the way.”
“Thank you. There were two ways to handle this, by working out or binging on junk food. I’m about to hit my mid-thirties, and metabolism is not as kind as it once was, exercising won.”
Blue holds her arms out, and we hug. I linger in the comforting embrace of my oldest friend.
“How are you?” Dixie Rose asks.
“Not great. How could I be so damn blind? He never pretended to be something he wasn’t. I should’ve expected something like this from him. God, we were together for less than a year, and I use that term loosely, so why am I moping around like some teen with her first break up?”
“Time doesn’t have anything to do with the depth of feeling. Trust us,” Blue states.
I smile. “What you two found is rare. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.”
“Not necessarily, I think you’re writing it off too soon,” Dixie Rose adds. “You guys had a falling out and then the club got rocked hard. He couldn’t come to you if he wanted to.”
“No, but he didn’t have to go radio silence,” I retort not about to let him get away with bad behavior.
“True,” Dixie Rose agrees.
“Now that things are settled, are you willing to let him try to mend things?” Blue asks.
I see the picture of the girl giving him head in my mind.
Who saves that on their phone?
My face heats. I ball my fists.
He had said,
What? You’re mad over a little road head? How do you think we all take the edge off when we’re traveling?
The nonchalance in his words were a kick to the gut. But the time we spent before that, was damn near perfect. “I don’t know.”
“You might want to make some tough decisions, ‘cause he just walked in,” Dixie Rose announces.
My mouth dries out, and my heart races. I force myself not to look over my shoulder. “Is he coming this way?”
“Not yet, but he’s staring a hole through you right now,” Blue smirks.
“Good,” I reply ready to immerse myself in something else. “D’Rose, tell me how the wedding planning is going.”
“Good. We’re going to do something simple on the beach in a few months when the weather cools off. I meant to ask if you and Blue will be my matron of honor and maid of honor.”
We both let out squeals and hug her.
“Of course, I will!”
Dixie Rose laughs. “Thanks, girls. There’s no one else I’d want to be standing up there beside me.”
I’m glad I came. I wouldn’t miss this moment for the world.
“I brought some magazines,” Dixie Rose says with a shrug. “I have a concept in my head I want to execute. Echo is leaving all the details up to me, which is great, and not at the same time.”
“You have us here to make sure everything goes smoothly,” Blue reminds her.
I love the camaraderie. Blue is one of the most loyal people I know. She has shown me sisterhood was possible with someone not related by blood. I thank the fates that placed us together in middle school. “Well, let’s get out of this heat and let the boys and old ladies do their thing.” I can feel Skull’s gaze trained on my back as we walk inside. My stomach does somersaults. I kick myself.
I need to be done with him, not swooning over him.
“What colors are you thinking of?” I ask eager to help.
“My dress is a blush pink, and since it’s on the beach, I think the dresses are going to be a soft yellow. It’ll look beautiful on both of you, and it’ll go well with Echo’s gray tones.” She grabs a bridal magazine and opens a dog-eared page to the flowing yellow strapless gowns.
“These are beautiful,” Blue coos.
I nod my head in agreement.
“You guys like them?”
“Yes, I’d be happy to add that to my wardrobe,” I say. I’m fortunate to have friends who don’t try to place me in the most hideous creations known to fashion. I’ve been to enough weddings where the bridesmaids often got the short end of the stick.
“Good, one task down, a million more to go,” Dixie Rose quips playfully.
I love seeing her happy. After the hell she and Echo went through, dealing with his racist father and outdated bylaws of the club that prevented African Americans from joining, they deserved it.
“Is there a reason why you guys want this done so soon?” Blue asks glancing at her belly.
“Oh no, we’re nowhere near ready for babies. We thought it would help boost morale. Another plus, since we’re sticking close to home, the odds of him being called away are slim. I can’t remember how many times weddings and other big events were rescheduled because of runs.”
“So true.” Blue nods.
Their conversation drives home how foreign the world they live in is. Even as a close friend, I’m on the outside peering in. I have a closer view than most, but it’ll never be the same as living the life. Skull had never made things official or confided in me about anything serious.
Silly little girl, thinking you matter.
My stomach knots. Saliva gathers in my mouth. I place a hand on my angry belly and stand. “I’ll be right back.” I walk briskly to the bathroom, close the door, hit the fan and fall to my knees. I lift the lid in time to empty the content of my stomach. Tears stream down my face and my spirits plummet.
I flush the toilet and sit back on my heels.
I can outlast this longing for Skull. The want will fade over time. Losing my pride might break me. I’ve always been an independent woman who had no time for the bad behavior of others.
No one should be able to alter that. I get to my feet and walk over to the sink. Opening the cabinet, I grab the mouthwash and untwist the cap. I take a swig and swish it around in my mouth. The minty green liquid burns my mouth and steals away the disgusting taste lingering on my tongue.
These are the last tears I’ll shed over Skull. He’s dangerous.
Everyone has that person they can’t say no to. They’re like a drug, altering the way we act and think. I’ve met mine and found he doesn’t return the emotional attachment. So now, I walk on alone and heal.
I spit and avoid my reflection in the mirror for fear that I’ll recognize the lies in my eyes. I rinse my hands, clean up my mess, and return to the girls. “Have you thought about your bouquet?” I ask slipping back into the conversation.
“I have. I’m thinking of having it made of shells,” Dixie replies.
Wrapped up in the beautiful vision Dixie Rose is sharing, I find solace in the company of close friends, and hope. They waited years for their Mr. Right to return and show them how much they cared. The next man I’m with is going to prove his worth to me before I become invested.