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Duke (The Henchmen MC #5)
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It meant war.
The relative peace we have known for years was gone in one violent act. Then, among the ever-present and increasingly bloody unknown threat, I met her.
But when passions ignite, complicating an already impossible situation, I am left to wonder if there is a way to overcome the dark and twisted secrets of my past that would allow me to have any kind of future with her.
I was just a normal girl. I swear. One moment, I was just living my usual boring life. The next, I found myself in the middle of some kind of underground war between an outlaw biker gang and some faceless enemy.
Trapped in a whole new world and in ever-increasing close proximity to the tall, strong, long blond-haired, deep blue-eyed biker named Duke, yeah, let’s just say things got even more interesting.
But Duke had secrets.
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You know how your grandmother always used to tell you that thing about always wearing nice underwear in case you were in an accident or something?
Yeah, I always kind of rolled my eyes at that old-timey logic.
But had I known that things were going to go the way they went that morning, well, I would have put on something that looked decent and not, say, the zebra-striped bra with purple piping and the totally not matching in any shape or form green and white leopard-print panties I had slipped into, being the first two things I grabbed out of my suitcase that I was still living out of.
Still, meaning only about a day and a half.
It would be a miracle really if I managed to unpack within the month.
I was just never the OCD type.
The apartment was, well, it was alright. On a somewhat small budget, it was all I could afford. And being that I bought it after only seeing it in flattering pictures on a website from several states away, well, it definitely could have been a lot worse than it was.
What it was was a fair seven-hundred square foot space with a kitchen/dining combo, a little nook of a living room with some nifty built-in bookshelves, a bedroom that could comfortably fit a full, but could maybe squeeze a queen if you needed the space. I was single and had no plans on changing that status so the full was fine by me. The bathroom was off the bedroom and was long, but narrow, with truly ugly wood-printed linoleum on the floor and an off-white shower, toilet, and sink cabinet. The mirror had aged cracks in the edges that I found a little endearing, giving the entire space a little bit of character. All the walls in the rest of the space were a fresh, eye-aching white. The floors in the living and bed space were cream carpeting that I was trying my best to ignore the stains in. The kitchen had more of the fake-wood linoleum.
Again, not bad.
And again, all I could afford.
Well, that’s not entirely true. There was some other apartment building in the area over by Fifth Street that looked like it was one strong gust away from blowing over. But after having seen prostitutes on the corner, yeah, I decided I would fork over the extra three-hundred a month for a place that wasn’t a literal stone’s throw away from a pimp.
You can never be too safe, as my grandmother would also say.
My grandmother was why I had uprooted my life in Florida and moved back to New Jersey. She had broken her hip at home and hadn’t been found for a day and a half when a neighbor dropped by, thinking it was weird that they hadn’t seen her. It was a wake-up call for me. My grandmother had been five feet of concrete, wild, stubborn, spry. I had literally never seen her sick or hurt in my life. It was almost easy to forget that she was getting older, that she was, despite what her personality said, fragile. And with my parents living in New York and too selfish to take her in, instead socking her away in some care center where she didn’t belong, I decided enough was enough; I had to do something. It would have been different if I thought she genuinely needed to be watched over, if her mind was failing her and it was for her own safety. But to put a loved one in a home just because they were old? Yeah, no. Not on my watch.
Especially given that I had spent every weekend from birth until eighteen at her house. She had had a bigger hand in raising me than my parents did in a way.
Hell, I felt guilty that I had to move away in the first place. But Jersey had proven too expensive for me right out of high school and my parents were no longer willing to give me a ‘free ride’ as they would call it. So they kicked me out. I might have moved in with my grandmother then, but well, I was eighteen and interested in independence. I didn’t want someone breathing down my neck if I came home underaged and buzzed or if I brought a man home with me.
So off to Florida I went, socking as much money away as I could to come up and visit my grandmother on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and her birthday. It wasn’t much, but it was all I could afford.
I didn’t have the most interesting of lives in Florida either. I had a decent apartment in a decent area where I worked nine-to-five in a hair salon then maybe went out every other Friday with coworkers who I called friends, but they were really just coworkers I occasionally shared a cocktail and bullshit with. I had no family down there, nothing to keep me rooted when I was very much needed elsewhere.