Shift (The Disciples' Daughters #2) (7 page)

I sat in my room at the clubhouse for a while, nursing a beer. I’d kicked…whatever her name was out before we’d even made it back here. The giggling and strong perfume might not have been deal breakers before, but after being near Ash again, I couldn’t take it. Ash didn’t do that annoying giggling thing. She laughed sometimes, but only when she actually thought something was funny. And her laugh was more of a chuckle than a giggle. It was quiet and deep and always went right to my cock. She didn’t bathe in perfume either. Didn’t even wear the shit. She had a vanilla soap she liked. You could barely smell it unless you got close in a way only I had the privilege to. When you were right up against her skin, she smelled like frosting.

She tasted even fucking better.

Shit, I was giving myself a fucking boner after I sent that easy piece home.

Ash had been back in town for five days, I had barely been around her, and she already owned my balls again.

Wonderful.

Fucking peachy.

I got to my feet. Sitting in a room, alone, thinking about her was not what I needed. I needed more fucking booze and to see if I couldn’t find another chick to scratch the itch once I was a little more chill.

Back in the yard, I saw the buffet of options for distraction had increased by a lot. Disciples’ parties stayed relatively calm during the day, particularly now that there were kids around again—family time, essentially. At night, that went out the window.

Family.

I’d gotten to be around Emmy again for the afternoon. Christ, that girl was something else. She had so much personality. With how shy Ash always was, it was surprising her daughter was just the opposite. Emmy loved attention. She loved to be around people. She made people want to be around her.

Fuck, she was cute.

The more time I spent with her, the more I watched her laugh and held her in my arms, the more that voice in my head shouted she was mine. She had to be. Down to my bones, I knew it was true. I didn’t care if it freaked Ash out; I was going to get the proof.

Okay, yeah, I needed to stop thinking about that shit, too.

While pulling a cold longneck from a drum of ice, I was confronted with every man’s least favorite thing: pissed off female.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve,” Cami snapped at me.

Yeah, I was not in the mood for that shit. I didn’t want some woman I was getting it regularly from being snippy with me, I certainly wasn’t taking it from some chick whose pussy was firmly off limits.

No fucking thank you.

“Yeah, I do,” I said back, walking away while using a key from my pocket to pop the cap off the bottle in my hand.

“How could you do that to her?” she said before I got more than a couple steps away.

I tried to swallow it down. Out of respect for my brothers—both her dad and her new husband—I tried to hold it in, but I was done.

“How could
I
do that to
her
?” I returned. “How could I get some fucking pussy even though she’s around? Guess what? I’d gladly have not gotten that from anyone but her for fucking years. She’s the one who took off. She’s the one who left me here. She’s the one who kept that fucking little girl away when she might be my goddamn daughter!”

“I know that,” Cami whispered.

“Then what the fuck did
I
do that was so fucked?”

She shook her head. “Did it have to be her? Of all the women in the world—hell, of all the women here tonight—did it have to be her?”

“What are you talkin’ about, Cam?”

A look of surprise passed over her face. “You don’t know. You didn’t remember her.”

I waited for a second for some more explanation before I warned, “Cami.”

“Did you get her name?”

Valid question. “Veronica? Valerie? Something with a V?”

Cami looked sad before she informed me, “Victoria.”

Victoria?

I turned it over in my head, trying to understand why that mattered.

Victoria…

“Tori,” Cami offered.

Tori.

Fuck.

“No.”

Cami nodded in a sad way that only confirmed what I was realizing.

My head whipped around, searching the yard for Ash.

“She left,” Cami informed me. “Right about the same moment you took the bitch inside.”

Fuck.

“She went home?”

“Yeah. Ace drove her. She wasn’t good to drive herself.”

I extended the open bottle her way with a jerk. “Take care of this?”

The moment her hand wrapped around the beer, I started to move around her. Good fucking thing I’d only had two beers all day. I’d been preoccupied with Emmy.

“Sketch,” Cami called.

I stopped, but I wasn’t giving her long. I needed to get out of there.

“I know you’re still pissed at her, but she’s hurting. Not just about Tori, about all of it. Go easy on her.”

Anyone else would have gotten a “fuck off” and nothing more. Cami grew up with us. She knew as well as I did how sensitive Ash was, how easily she shut herself in.

“She’s my girl, I won’t hurt her.”

Without giving her a chance to respond to that, I hightailed it the fuck out of there. I blew out of the clubhouse lot on my bike, the memories from years ago reminding me just how much I messed up.

Six months back, Gunner finally delivered on the promise he made me years ago. When I turned sixteen, if I kept my nose clean, he would move me out of the trailer with my fucked up parents to live with him. I kept up my end, and the day after my birthday, he kept his.

Getting away from the two alcoholics who made me was good enough, but it also meant I had to change schools. I finished my sophomore year by driving over to my old high school, but transferred the start of junior year. For the first time, Ash and I were going to school together.

I was fucking thrilled. Ash had been mine since we were kids, even if she didn’t realize it yet. She was a freshman now and two years ago, Indian told me she could date once she was in high school. I’d finally be able to make it real, and I could do it while walking the halls with her and keeping all the assholes after her at bay.

Only, it wasn’t going that way. We didn’t have classes together since we were in different grades. I’d managed to get the counselor to put me in the same lunch period as her, but within the first month, Ash never actually went to the damn cafeteria.

The first couple days, she said she had to change part of her schedule so she was going to her counselor, but wasn’t getting in because too many people were in there. It sucked, but I believed her. Then, it was meeting with a teacher about doing some independent study. Then, it was needing to be in the library. I told her I would go to the library with her, but she insisted she needed to work and I should hang out in the cafeteria and meet people. Yeah, because I’d rather meet people than be with her. God, she was so clueless sometimes.

That day, I finally put my foot down. While I walked her to English, her last class before lunch, I stopped her.

“Today, you’re coming to lunch and you’re sitting with me,” I told her.

If she thought I missed the way she bit her lip, she was crazy. I knew her. I could read her nerves like a neon sign. “I really need to do more work in the library.”

“Ash, school just started. How much work can you have?”

“I just have a little more,” she kept trying.

“Okay, we can go after school. Library’s open. We’ll stay until you’re done and then I’ll drive you home.” I was going to corner her if I had to. I didn’t know whether she was just uncomfortable around that many people because she was so shy or it was something more, but she needed to start talking.

“My dad doesn’t know I’ll be staying.”

“I’ll call him after school to let him know while you head to the library.”

I watched her realize she wasn’t getting out of it. Then, in a resigned tone that prickled me, she said, “Okay.”

I reached up to stroke her soft cheek, wishing I could kiss her like I wanted to.

Soon.

When the bell rang at the end of the period, I booked it over to her locker. I wasn’t about to let her sneak off once I finally got her to agree to come to lunch. When she looked my way from stashing her morning books, it was clear she knew what I was doing. Like I cared. Ash knew me as well as I knew her. I wasn’t trying to be sneaky. I threw two of my books into her locker even as she rolled her eyes.

She shut her locker and without hesitation, I grabbed her hand and led us to the cafeteria. I felt Ash look my way when I held onto her hand through the halls. It wasn’t new for me to be touching her in whatever way I could, but I’d never had much of an opportunity at school. Eyes moved our way and I loved the attention. Ash was mine, even if she didn’t know it yet. I wanted that to be clear to everyone.

When we made it into the lunchroom and through the line of shit food, I got a sense of unease at the way Ash inched into me. I carried a tray with our food on it and she seemed to be trying to disappear into my side. I led her through the room, hoping she’d adjust on her own. Ash hid herself a lot. She always had. I preferred to see if she would come out of her shell without me pushing the issue, and sometimes it worked, but not always. She was who she was. Her shyness was a part of her.

I sat us at the end of the table I’d been at for the last couple weeks. Some of the guys I met in auto shop the first few days were there. A couple of the guys were jocks, so it was kind of a hub of activity.

I got chin lifts and a couple greetings. I returned them, and said, “Guys, this is my girl, Ash.”

The guys sent welcomes her way and she offered a shy smile. I smirked at her. She had no idea how appealing that smile was. They were all going to want her, but they were shit out of luck.

We were eating and I was actually getting Ash to talk to me even though there were plenty of people she didn’t know nearby. She was telling me about a paper she had to write for English when a catty voice piped in next to us.

“Well, isn’t this a surprise. Ashlynn with a table full of guys. You’re right at home, aren’t you?”

I looked up at the bitch in question. Thin in a desperate way, dressed like the club girls who hung around the Disciples, makeup like she was going out to party. I knew her. Tori. The guys had talked about her and pointed her out once. She was pretty popular for certain oral skills.

Ash didn’t say anything. Her shoulders curled in until she nearly hunched over the food she was no longer eating. I could feel my blood pressure rising. I didn’t know what the fuck Tori was trying to imply. Fact was, Ash had always been around guys more than chicks. That was part of growing up with the club. That didn’t change facts, though. Those facts being that Ash was definitely still a virgin—she hadn’t even been kissed, for fuck’s sake—and anyone around her for more than a few minutes could guess it. Where a bitch like Tori, whose reputation was probably more than just rumors, thought she got off running her mouth like that, I didn’t know.

Tori’s eyes came to me. “Gabe, you might want to rethink that one,” she said, sending a sneer Ash’s way that had me clenching my jaw. “There’s way better for a guy like you.”

With that, Ash was out of her seat. Before I could even speak, she was nearly running from the room. I had a lot of shit I wanted to say to the bitch next to me, but she wasn’t my priority. Ash was.

Ash was always my priority.

I caught up to her just beyond the cafeteria, grabbing her arm to stop her.

“What the hell was that?” I demanded.

“Nothing.” She wouldn’t look at me.

“Fuck that, Ash. That was not nothing.”

Her face was set as she looked at my jaw. “I said it was nothing. Leave it alone.”

I cupped her cheek, drawing her blue eyes up to mine. “Don’t do that, Firefly. Talk to me.”

Her eyes darted away again before she said, “It’s not a big deal.”

That’s when it hit me. I’d been thinking maybe Tori was being a bitch because she had some illusion of getting with me and was trying to tear down Ash when she saw us together. That wasn’t it, though. Whatever was going on, it wasn’t new.

“How long?”

Ash didn’t cover the way her eyes flared in surprise. “What?”

“How long has this been going on? How long have you been keeping this to yourself?”

My body was starting to vibrate with fury. No one fucked with her. No one. She shook her head and tried to pull away from me, but I wrapped my arm around her waist and brought her closer.

“How. Long?” I demanded.

“Always!” she shot back at me, pushing away. “They’ve always done it. Since we were kids! It gets worse every year.”

My vision tunneled. I stormed back into the cafeteria. Ash was behind me, calling my name to stop me.

Fuck that.

I found Tori a table away from where we’d been and went right to her.

“Apologize.”

Her whole posse looked at me, fear flickering in some faces. Tori was too fucking stupid to feel the same. “What?”

“Apologize to Ash.”

Her eyes moved beyond me and she spoke to Ash, proving just how fucking dense she was. “So, are you fucking him, too? Is that why he’s standing up for you?” Her eyes came back to mine. “Guess what, new kid? You’re not the only one getting that service around here.”

I was going to fucking explode.

Ash cowered behind me in the same way she hid behind her dad the day we met. I hadn’t seen her actually hide that way in years.

I slammed both fists onto the table.

“You don’t fucking talk about her that way. You don’t say a goddamn thing to or about her ever again. You want to run your mouth? Maybe you should run it about your own shit. I might be new, but I know how many guys you sucked off at the football after-party last week. How about we start talking about how the whole offensive line got a chance?”

Turning from her, I looked up to the quiet room to find everyone looking my way. I pointed at Ash. “Any of you thinks to fuck with her, you answer to me, and you answer to the motherfuckin’ Savage Disciples. Got me?”

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