Authors: Madeline Sheehan
Tags: #romance, #motorcycle club, #criminal activity, #mature relationship, #madeline sheehan, #undeniable series, #dpg pyscho
The story of Dorothy, Jase, and Hawk
This book is for the old-school brothers and their old ladies, to the prospects and the patch whores; to the bros, their sport bikes, and their hoes. To all my fellow 47%ers out there, to the little red-haired boys with freckles sprinkled across their cheeks, women who wear their broken hearts on their sleeves, and old men with sad stories to tell. To the holes in our T-shirts, to beaten-up jeans and favorite bandannas, to the sound of laughter, the clinking of glasses, to spontaneous sex, to the smell of exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke. To love that kills and to love that heals, to the feel of cracked leather against your cheek, the sun on your back, and the wind in your hair, to the road beneath you, to the path you’ve traveled, and the ones you’ve yet to take . . .
To true freedom.
But most of all, this book is for my club. A club comprised of people who have held my hand when I needed the support, who have told me jokes when I wanted to cry, who have walked me through all the agonizing, heart-rending processes that come with putting a book together.
Danielle, this book is for you, for standing by me no matter what.
For Christina, because you keep me on my tippy-tippy toes. And in the very best way possible. And, you know, thank you for that thing. That incredible, amazing thing. Love you scissor sista.
who is so vain she probably thinks this book is for her, who probably thinks this book is for her, doesn’t she? Doesn’t she? Well, it IS. Enough said.
For Nicole, for drowning your sorrows alongside me
with dry humor and a whole lot of witty one-liners. Thanks, babe.
For Pam, for
always looking out for me.
For Claire, who no matter what life throws her way, finds a reason to smile.
You’re an inspiration.
For Gail M., who understands my brand of
For Gail H.
, who knows my characters almost as well as I do.
For Ellie, Virginia, Hillary, Heather
, Courtney, and Toski, because without you I’d never get anything done. Or is that
you I’d never get anything done? *wink*
For Emmy, Cindy,
Syreeta, and Karina, for being my go-to girls, for the unconditional support and unconditional friendship.
And for my husband, because without his love, my dreams would still
be . . . only dreams.
And for my children, because who would I be without them
’t ever want to know.
It was misery that washed her color away, leading her off her path and astray. So she wandered through her life, unknowing and unsure, until realizing her path had always been right there in front of her from the start. Hidden in the shadows of despair, she found her path, her color, within her beating and beautifully bright red heart.
’t always broken; we are all born pure. It is our journey that burdens us and leads us astray. Our mistakes that beat us down and cover us in guilt and shame, burying us a little more with each successive hardship. It is up to us to dig ourselves out, to come to terms with our faults, to embrace not only our imperfections but those of the ones we love, and to once again find the path we strayed from.
I had been a simple girl
. I grew up in a small town in Montana surrounded by down-to-earth, simple people with small, simple dreams. I loved my mom, my dad, and my big sister with all my heart. I loved books with happy endings and romantic movies, and couldn’t wait to fall in love.
Unlike my ambiti
ous older sister, I was a born romantic. I’d been in love with the idea of love for as long as I could remember, full of flighty, fluffy notions of what happiness truly was. And to me, happiness could only be found within the arms of a man . . . a man who loved me.
I wanted butterflies, holding hands, stolen kisses in the backseat of a car, late
-night phone calls, all of it. The anxiety, the desperation, that beautiful, agonizing ache called love. And so I romanticized everything.
I had no aspirations, no
big dreams. There was nothing I was working toward, no great goals or accomplishments. Instead of college, I dreamed of marriage; instead of a career, I yearned for children.
traditional white weddings and babies danced in my head. I wanted three babies—one boy, two girls—a nice house with a white picket fence, a cat, and a dog. By the time I was fourteen, I had it all planned out. The cut of my bridesmaids’ dresses, my wedding reception’s seating chart, the color of my living room curtains, the decor of my children’s bedrooms . . . no detail escaped my attention. I wanted to live the fairy tale, to become someone’s everything and anything, to be his princess.
I wanted my happily
There was only one problem.
Instead of finding my prince, I found a whole mess of trouble. At the age of fifteen, I’d found myself pregnant; by eighteen I was married to a man I didn’t love; and by the age of twenty, I was running around on my husband with a married man.
at the age of twenty-four, I gave my heart away to yet another man, a mistake that would once again drastically change the course of my life.
es, my choices, and my decisions—the ones I made and the ones I didn’t—all took me down a rocky road filled with regret, heartbreak, and pain. And eventually, they nearly killed me.
Would I change
things if I could? Would I turn back time and do things differently?
This isn’t just my story, the story of a broken woman who lost her way. It’s also the story of my children, the men I loved, and the friends who were more family to me than my own.
This is the story of us all
, all our fates intertwined. And for that reason alone, pain and death be damned, I wouldn’t change a thing.
It was a beautiful day. Montana was in full bloom, with nothing but green as far as the eye could see. The sun was shining, children were playing, and laughter was plentiful. All in all, it was just another typical summer barbecue at the Hell’s Horsemen motorcycle compound that, as usual, everyone was thoroughly enjoying.
That is, e
veryone except for me.
the sun was too bright, the children were a painful reminder that my own daughter wasn’t present, and the laughter was just too darn loud. I felt suffocated by it all, wishing I were anywhere else, wishing I
anyone else . . . anyone but me.
I glanced up at the
small group of friends encircling me: Kami, Mick and his wife, Adriana, and Eva, who was peering at me curiously. Those eyes of hers, too big and shockingly gray, seemed to see straight through me; no matter how desperately I tried to hide my feelings, she was always able to discern them. Although I supposed it came with her job.
Married to Deuce West,
the president of the Hell’s Horsemen, one of Eva’s unspoken duties was keeping us women in line, ensuring any emotional problems we might have didn’t interfere with the men and their business.
All the same, s
he was the closest thing I had to a best friend, even if I wasn’t hers.
Kami, her childhood friend and
the wife of another club member, held that precious title. I wasn’t jealous; I was just happy to be included in the inner circle. It hadn’t always been that way. Before Deuce had brought Eva home, life was very different inside the club for those of us who weren’t lucky enough to be married to one of the boys.
Women like me
—sometimes called side pieces, muffler bunnies, seat warmers—were essentially club whores. Even though I had a somewhat elevated position within the club as a den mother of sorts, and was paid to cook and clean, I still had been considered a second-class citizen, expendable and easily replaced.
Eva had changed all that. She
’d changed a lot about the way things worked, and during it all had become more like a sister to me than my own had ever been.
I’m fine,” I lied, trying to smile. “The little one is kicking, is all.”
Being eight months along in my pregnancy, it was easy to blame my moods on the baby
, but Eva was far from gullible. With her eyes full of pity, she nodded and turned away. I did the same, my gaze seeking out the reason I was here, standing amongst a club full of criminals and their families.
Already looking in my direction,
Jase’s smiling eyes met mine. When his gaze dropped to my swollen stomach, his smile turned to a rather devilish grin.
nearly seventeen years together, it was still painfully apparent how Jason “Jase” Brady, a married man with children, had been able to convince the dutiful wife and mother I’d once been to become his “club whore.” So much so that all I had to do was close my eyes and I could once again hear the bells jingling on the door, feel the wooden floor bend and creak below my feet, hear my own voice call out as it had on that day so many years before . . .
• • •
“Mornin’ Joey,” I had called out as I’d entered the neighborhood convenience store.
From behind the counter, Joe Weaver, a former classmate of mine,
had glanced up from his
magazine and flashed me a mouthful of crooked yellow teeth. “Mornin’, midget,” he’d said cheerfully. “You bring me any muffins today?”
Sorry,” I said over my shoulder as I headed for the medicine aisle. “Teg’s got the flu. Poor thing has been throwing up all night.”
Grabbing what I needed, I headed toward the counter and began pulling my money from my pocket.
“Pete home with her?” Joey asked.
I shook my head.
“He’s over the road again, this time for a month.”
Who’s he haulin’ for now?”
Not sure,” I said, shrugging.
My marriage wasn
’t a typical one. We were more like roommates than anything else, roommates who couldn’t be bothered with each other.
His job hauling freight cross
-country gave us the luxury of living apart from each other while still appeasing our parents’ wishes: to raise our daughter together.
But Pete usually didn
’t tell me what he was doing or where he was going unless it directly concerned me, and I didn’t care enough to ask.
He’s with a smaller company now,” I added. “Hauling paper, I think.”
While ringing up my purchases, Joey nodded distractedly.
“So, your folks got Teg?”
I snorted softly. The idea of my parents ever willingly helping me was laughable. On a good day they considered me an embarrassment
, but on most days, a failure they wanted nothing to do with.
She’s with Mary.”
At the mention of my older sister
’s name, Joey grimaced, and my lips twisted as I fought the urge to laugh. Mary was no one’s favorite person. Like most people in Miles City, she was religious and a right-wing conservative, but she took it to another level entirely, talking down to people who didn’t share her viewpoints, incessantly preaching to anyone who would listen, and even those who wouldn’t. Needless to say, she wasn’t Miss Popularity, but she was the only real estate agent in town and so, whether they liked it or not, people were forced to interact with her.
Poor kid,” Joey muttered, handing me my change. “Sick and forced to hang with Mary, Mary, quite contrary.”
You gave me the wrong change,” I said, handing him back my receipt. “You still owe me three dollars, look—”
’s doorbell jingled loudly, and I glanced over my shoulder half expecting to see Marty, the town drunk, stumble inside to beg for his morning freebies.
Instead, a young man dressed in military fatigues stepp
ed inside the small shop. Carrying a large green duffel bag, he paused upon entering and pulled his kepi off his head as he did a visual sweep of the store. When his gaze reached me, my breath caught in my throat.
He was gorgeous
. His eyes were a deep, brilliant shade of blue, his dirty-blond hair was cropped close to his head, and his features were hard and chiseled, tanned to a perfect golden hue. His figure tapered nicely from broad shoulders to trim hips. The man was absolutely gorgeous, and I was stunned.
Furthermore, I didn
’t recognize him, and this was Miles City, Montana, a small town where everyone knew everyone. As far as I knew, we didn’t have any new arrivals.
Bathroom?” He raised his eyebrows.
In answer, Joey pointed toward the back of the shop
, and we both watched as he shouldered his duffel bag and started through the store.
Stop droolin’, D.” Joey’s voice was pinched, as though he was trying not to laugh. “You’re lookin’ like a bug-eyed leprechaun. And it ain’t a good look for ya.”
My cheeks burning
, I shook my head. “I was just wondering who he was, is all.”
He’s one of Deuce’s. Transplant from the Wyoming Horsemen chapter, or so I heard. Name’s Jason Brady, and accordin’ to some of Deuce’s boys who work at the auto shop in town, he’s in the Marine reserves.”
Deuce, the president of our town
’s local motorcycle club, was one of the most frightening yet intriguing men I’d ever met. And I used the term “met” very loosely; I’d had very little contact with the leader of the Hell’s Horsemen, only minor encounters here and there around town. Deuce was a very private person, but as far as I knew, he was a decent enough man.
Unlike his father, Reaper, the former
club president, Deuce took take care of Miles City. He’d taken control of several failing businesses around town and brought them back from near bankruptcy, he constantly donated money to the public schools and library, and a few years back, when my parents’ neighbor had lost his wife to cancer and was about to lose his farm due to her exorbitant medical bills, it was Deuce who had picked up the tab.
Even so, there were rumors that Deuce was involved with business that danced around the law, but Deuce and his boys were good to us, so other than the rumors and the idle chitchat between the gossipmongers, usually no one gave it a second thought.
“Sell smokes here?”
Jason Brady emerged from the bathroom no longer looking like an American
hero. Dressed in leather boots, leather pants, a tight black T-shirt, and his leather Hell’s Horsemen cut, he now looked like one of Deuce’s boys. Except he was hands down the most clean-cut biker I’d ever seen. And he appeared to smell good too.
But that was pure assumption on my part. Or maybe wishful thinking. Because for some reason
, I really wanted to get close enough to give him a sniff.
Name’s Brady,” he said, smiling over my head in Joey’s direction. “Jase Brady.”
Joe Weaver.” Pointing at me, Joey said, “And this here’s little Dorothy Kelley Matthews, resident ginger midget.”
’s friendly gaze dropped down to where I stood and he looked me over, an embarrassingly slow and thorough perusal of all five foot nothing of me, from my head to my toes and back up again.
I felt my face heat. Not only were my holey jeans and plain tee covered in the remnants from a full morning of cleaning, but my hair was piled on top of my head in a messy bun
, and I was sweating from the midday heat.
Nice meetin’ you, baby,” he said, his lips curving. The tip of his tongue appeared and he very deliberately ran it across his full bottom lip.
Then it wasn
’t just my face overheating but my entire body. Feeling suddenly drugged and my thoughts muddled, I pressed my hand over my stomach and swallowed hard.
You . . . too,” I whispered.
You got a nickname, little Dorothy Kelley Matthews?” he asked. “’Cause that’s a fuckin’ mouthful right there.”
My breath shuddered from my lungs in small spurts of air. What was wrong with me? Why couldn
’t I speak? Or move?
’s lips split into a grin. “Not that I mind a mouthful of pretty girl . . .”
God. How did one respond to
From behind me, Joey let out a loud
and amused-sounding cough, startling me back to reality. Back to Jase and his knowing grin, fully aware of the effect he had on me.
Excuse me,” I muttered. Snatching my purchases off the counter, I hurried quickly toward the door and pushed blindly through it.
What was wrong with me? I
’d been flirting! And with a total stranger!
And worse, I was married. It might not be a love match between Pete and
me, and he might be on the road more than he was home, but we had a daughter together and he took care of us financially. I should respect that, and yet here I was acting like a teenager with a crush, entertaining thoughts that I had no business thinking. I shook my head in dismay and let out a large pent-up breath that did nothing to calm my rapidly beating heart.
Reaching my truck, I tossed my purchases inside the open window, and was about to open the door when I felt a touch on my left shoulder. Startled, I spun around and came face
-to-face with . . . Jason Brady.
You forgot your change,” he said.
When I tore my gaze
from his grin and looked down to his outstretched hand, I found three wrinkled dollar bills. But my focus wasn’t on my change, it was on the man standing in front of me. He was so close to me, too close, and watching me too intently for me to feel at all comfortable.
And yes, dammit. He did smell good.
An understated, yet softly spicy bouquet wafted off his skin, and along with it, the faint odor of sweat and the crisp scent of leather.
Swallowing hard and with a slightly trembling hand, I reached for my money and when I did, his free hand came down on top, his hands caging mine, his touch freezing me in place.
“You should stop by the club and see me sometime,” he said, his eyes lazy, his smile filled with less-than-honorable intent. A smile that had my stomach flip-flopping.
I cleared my throat
and managed to choke out, “I . . . I’m married.”
’s smile never wavered. “Baby, I ain’t tryin’ to marry you.”
Releasing me, he held up his left hand and wiggled his ring finger back and forth. His wedding band, a thin band of platinum
, glinted menacingly in the sunlight. “Got the battle scars to prove it too.”