Beard Up(4)By: Lani Lynn Vale
“You’ll go to the Rejects. Stone will take care of you.”
And that was how I’d become a member of a motorcycle club for the second time in my life—only, this time, as a Ghost.
“I didn’t get that promise,” I hesitated at the entrance.
He looked over at me.
“No, you didn’t,” he agreed. “But that won’t stop you from getting the fuck out of here…now, will it?”
I walked away, knowing that he’d do everything he could to take care of my family, even if he had to put his own life on the line to do it.
I need a good fucking from something other than life.
-Ghost’s secret thoughts
One month later
I stopped under the shade of a magnolia tree, paused, and stared at my old life.
I did this once a month, and each time, I made myself sick with wanting. Once a month, I would stop by on my way home from the monthly meetings to discuss their health and happiness, and once a month I would torture myself by stopping by to see what I’d left behind.
But it was the only way. The only way to protect her from a life that she wasn’t meant to live in. Protect her from my father and mother who would like nothing else but to ruin it and everything in it—including my wife and child.
I watched as she broke. Watched as she railed. Watched as she dropped to the floor in the middle of our kitchen—a kitchen we had danced and sang in once upon a time—and broke down completely.
I bent forward and threw up the entire contents of my stomach.
This would be the last time I’d see her this close. The last time I’d do this to myself.
But I was lying. Both to myself and to her.
The only difference was that she didn’t know it.
The cat, the bane of my existence, and the one thing that my wife held at night as she cried herself to sleep, hissed at me from the tree.
Then I walked away, and only looked back twice.
This vicious cycle would continue, year after year, for five more years. Five years of seeing, but not touching.
Until, one day when I arrived after that monthly meeting to find a man in my house. A man standing next to my wife, pinning her against the counter, and everything changed.
Six years ago
“I need a med check, please,” I told the charge nurse. “Will you…”
I looked up, startled to see Loki and Silas standing there, both of them staring at me with various shades of sorrow shadowing their features.
“Oh, no,” I moaned. “Did he get hurt again?”
Tunnel was always getting hurt. It never failed, he’d hurt himself at least every three months. It was getting on that time again, and I just hoped it wasn’t worse than it was the last time—the last time he needed thirteen stitches on his forearm from a suspect pulling a knife on him.
Silas’ face shut down, but it was Loki’s expression that was making me feel terrified. Very, very scared. Chills broke out all over my body, and the meds that were in my hands fell to the white tiled floor.
I heard the glass shatter, saw the liquid spread out all over the floor, and I swallowed thickly.
Silas held his arms open, and my throat started to swell.
“Tell me,” my voice quivered, but my spine was straight and stiff.
I needed to hear the words. I needed him to tell me exactly what was going on, and I needed it now.
“I’m sorry, honey,” Silas said. “But he got really hurt this afternoon…he didn’t make it.”
I didn’t hear the rest. I was in midst of dying inside. Literally dying. If there was a way that one could feel their own death while still being alive, this was it. This was definitely it.
Silas’ hand touched my shoulder, but I pulled away.
Tunnel would never touch my shoulder again. He’d never give me soft kisses on my nose. He’d never give me a hug or rub his beard along the sensitive skin of my neck just because he could. He’d never wake me up on Saturday mornings—his only day off—by placing wet kisses on every inch of my face. He’d never tell me anything. Not ever again.
Because he was dead.
I closed my eyes, dropped to my knees, and I cried.