Point of Return

By: Stacey Lynn

Point of Return, The Nordic Lords

I hated hospitals. I hated the smells, and the desperation of the workers, and the people who sat in the waiting rooms. I hated waiting for death to overtake the people trapped behind the curtains, or enclosed in the rooms with only a window opening to a brick wall where the bright fluorescent lights were brighter than any emotion carried by anyone roaming the halls.

I knew where I was before I could find the strength to open my eyes.

A warm, strong hand clamped down firmly on my shoulder. I squeezed my already closed eyes tighter.

I knew who it was. I could smell him, the familiar burn in my nose of his smoke and cologne. This time, he was here for me.

I pressed my teeth together and turned my head away from him.

This time, I didn’t want him here.

A flash of red flew into my mind and I saw a man slump to the ground, a red stain blooming on his chest before he ever hit the pavement. I cringed and bit my lip to keep from crying out his name.

It was my fault he died.

It was my fault both of them died.

I felt the physical pull of darkness surround me and I gasped out one loud breath before it consumed me, pulling me back to sleep.

Five weeks earlier

Climbing out of my eight-year-old black Nissan, I blew out a long, shaky breath and ignored the glances from the people I passed on the street. In a town of only twenty thousand people, and coming from an infamous family like mine, I was used to their shifty-eyed looks. As if they expected me to whip out my pink Beretta and start firing shots at anyone who looked at me the wrong way. I had tried for years to change people’s perceptions of me but had finally given up.

As I pushed open the door to Penny’s Bar and Boarding House, the thought hit me that if anyone knew the secret I was literally carrying with me, no one would be surprised.

I eyed the surprisingly respectable looking establishment. I hadn’t stepped foot into this bar since I was too young to be drinking. Only a few years, yet it felt like a lifetime ago at the same time. There were a handful of scantily, yet classily dressed women sprinkled around the bar area. Some lounged on blood red leather couches, probably waiting for clients. Others sat together at the bar-height round tables, enjoying a drink with the other escorts.

I had to admit that the place and the girls were classier than I, as a young teenager, remembered them being when I had visited with my dad for business. At one point, The Nordic Lords Motorcycle Club had helped fund the bar. They had gotten out of the sleazy escort business right around the time my former best friend, Faith, jumped in with both feet.

At least that was how it felt to me. We hadn’t spoken since.

Now, she was the only one who could help me.

“I’m looking for Faith,” I told the bartender, and currently the only male in the bar. He took me in with one eyebrow raised, as if he were examining me. For what, I didn’t know. Perhaps they didn’t get many female customers. Regardless, I resisted the urge to cower under the tall man’s dark and broody stare while he silently perused my body. His large frame was encased in his Black Death MC leather cut, and I wondered for a brief second if he knew who I was and if he’d kick me out.

Finally, apparently satisfied I had answered his unasked question appropriately, he nodded as if I were in here every day. Like this was a normal lunch with my best friend. We were best friends who had the same September birthday, born two years apart to the day.

Two club princesses born on the same date. Our fathers’ club had partied for a week straight after my birth, at least that’s the story I had always heard growing up once Faith and I became inseparable. I was pretty sure the story had been embellished over the years like men under the heavy and constant influence of drugs, booze, and sex tended to do.

I watched the quiet man stroll to the back and took a seat at the bar, all while fighting the instinct to run my hands over my stomach, or wring my hands together nervously, but I failed. One hand slowly rubbed back and forth over my stomach. I propped my other elbow on the bar and dropped my head into my hand.

I could only assume his silence meant Faith was in the back, hopefully not with a client.

“Well, well, well.” I jerked my head up and stared at the sarcastic singsong voice only Faith could make sound pleasant and evil at the same time. She was as stunning as she always had been. Jet black hair that looked too shiny to be real, exotic almond shaped eyes and a body, that I knew from local gossip, helped make her one of the most sought after escorts in our sin-filled town of Jasper Bay. “I’d never have expected a visit from you.”