Tail (Portland Street Kings Book 3)

By: Evie Harper

THE PORTLAND STREET KINGS


TAIL


Book Three




DEDICATION





To all the readers who have fallen in love with the Portland Street Kings. I appreciate each and every message you send me. Thank you for loving the Kings as much as I do.






Prologue





Della

Archer nips at my shirt and then at my shorts, hoping to find more apple slices. I smile at his determination. “Nothing left, bud. You cleaned me out.” Leaning on the gate, I place both hands on Archer's nose and give him a kiss before I head to the house. Abi promised to show me how to make a pork tenderloin sandwich, Iowa style, tonight.

Jared and Abigail hold a permanent and special place in my heart. They’re the grandparents I never had. They’ve been a soft place for me to land over the last few weeks. Abi has this beautiful grace about her, even when she’s smacking my elbows off the table at dinner time, while Jared takes no bullshit. You speak the truth always, or he’ll pull you up no matter who's around and call you out. Yet he has the softest eyes and the warmest hugs.

I often wonder if this is what all parents are like: strict yet so welcoming there’s no other place you’d rather be.

Walking out of the barn, I spot Dom across the way trying to fix the seed planter. His determination and hard work to help Jared and Abi get their farm back in working order has earned my respect. And reminded me of the man he was before my heart broke in two. No matter how high or thick I built my walls, he kept crashing through them until all that was left were my fears. With my protection gone, my anger leaped to stand in its place; I cut Dom deep, got nasty and hurt him as much as he hurt me. And then there was nowhere else to run, nowhere else to hide. I was stuck out in the open and my heart was exposed. I was forced to remember the love I’d pushed so far down I’d almost forgotten it was there at all.

When Dom and I arrived, I'd been scared, afraid to show I cared at all. I didn’t want to be a fool again, but Abigail and Jared showed me what I’d be missing if I didn’t at least try to reach out to Dom, to speak my fears, and lay my doubts and scars bare before him. There were a lot, and I couldn’t make any promises for what our future might be like. The things I’ve been through have shaped who I am and will shape who I’m yet to become.

Fear and anger are my defensive mechanisms. I expect tragedy now. It's only a matter of time, and it’s why leaving tomorrow is so important. The Harris farm is everything I ever dreamed of as a child. Every grain of love that’s cemented in every brick and piece of dirt that fills this beautiful place is what I envisioned. The echoes of a once whole and happy family with carefree children who’d race through this barn and field, laughter filling the air is what it embodies. If I close my eyes, I can hear the giggles, see the smiles and even pretend I was one of them. It’s inevitable, though, that I must open my eyes and realize it's a dream that can’t ever come true. So tomorrow, Dom and I will leave and return home to my fucked-up life. And this farm, Abigail, and Jared will always be my happy place. Somewhere I can go in my mind when times get tough and hopefully one day I can bring my family here, and they can feel the same sense of peace and love I’ve felt.

Dom looks up at that second, and I give him a small grin. He winks at me before going back to fixing the machine.

Walking to the house, I squint to see if I can spot Abi through the kitchen window, but I freeze when a gunshot sounds, and it’s quickly followed by a scream from Abi. No!

Quickly twisting my head to find Dom, I see him dropping his tools and running, but he’s not going toward the house; he’s coming straight at me.

My knees bend, and I pump my arms out and race to the house.

I won’t abandon them.

“Della.” I hear Dom growling quietly behind me. I sense his heat at my back as he closes in on me. I want to scream how much I hate him for what he’s trying to do, but I can’t focus on anything other than keeping my shaking legs steady as I run.

Sensing something whip past my back, I know it’s Dom reaching out for me. I attempt to go right, but he captures me, his arm going firmly around my waist. A hand slams over my mouth, and Dom rushes us backward to the barn and inside. Struggling, he pushes me against the wall and pins me there before releasing his hand from my mouth.

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