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The Fall of V (The Henchmen MC #13)
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Navesink Bank’s biggest b!tch finally gets what is coming to her.
They knew she was going to strike back for taking down her empire, for imprisoning her for years.
* This can not be read as a standalone.
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Have you ever made a mistake, and knew the second it was happening how badly you had messed up?
This was what happened that day.
That day when my rebellious streak finally caught up with me.
I guess I had gotten away with too much over the years, had been let off too lightly because there was some ingrained parental fear of being called a hypocrite.
And make no mistake, that was exactly what I would have said, too. Even when Dad got his serious-face on, even when he crossed his arms, and slitted his eyes, and his voice did that growling thing.
I could practically hear the silent conversation between him and my mother – those two always being able to say with looks more than I could with words… and I had a lot of words.
See, this is why no one should have been telling old war stories around the kids.
She meant that figuratively, of course. She meant the stories about how his own old man let him drink beer with his “friends” when he was nothing more than thirteen, how he’d never been scolded for fighting, for being caught with girls, for cursing, for being, well, a horrible kid.
Keep in mind, when Dad said his father’s “friends,” he meant his father’s men. He meant his father’s brothers. He meant the fellow bikers.
Surely they knew I knew that by now.
Even Fallon was getting an idea. And, in my humble opinion, he wasn’t the brightest of kids. I mean, he watched other kids play Minecraft on Youtube all day instead of playing it himself. That’d be like me watching people my age on Youtube reading books.
But, yeah, he occasionally would get this keen look at times, watching our parents and their friends with a quiet sort of intensity that was actually very much like Dad.
He was finally catching onto something that I had known since I was hardly more than seven.
Namely, Daddy was a criminal.
Daddy and all of his friends were criminals.
And, by extension, so was Mom. And Aunt Lo and Aunt Janie. Even the ones who didn’t spend all their time at some military survivalist camp were too. If not by profession, then by association. Even the seemingly normal ones like Aunt Penny, and the charmingly out of place Rey who Uncle Reeve had finally found a little happiness with.
In case this wasn’t clear, too, not a single one of these people were my actual aunts or uncles. Except, technically, Aunt Lo. Through marriage to my Uncle Cash who I was trying to get up the nerve to tell that he was getting a little old for his haircut.
They were all my father’s men and their wives. Though, to be fair, they certainly all acted like one giant family.
For outlaw bikers.
It was easy for them to fool me when I was little and easily distracted, when Daddy could take me on his bike, and make me forget all about asking what the giant vault in the basement was for.
I clearly remembered sometime in maybe third grade when we had been working on percentages at school, and I came home to Dad in his leather cut – worn and soft from decades of wearing that exact same one – and had asked him what he was one-percent of, running my finger over that badge on his chest.
He’d looked taken aback for a moment before he declared he was one percent devil, then snarled and grabbed at me, making me run and screech.
I had no idea that there was some truth in his words at the time.
They were raising me in the wrong age if they didn’t want me to look into things when I was curious about them.
Like a one-percent badge.
That meant he was a one-percent biker.
Meaning that ninety-nine percent of all biker clubs were a simple brotherhood, men bonding over their love of bikes.
But one-percent were outlaws.
That was what they were.
Good men, by any definition of the word.
But bad guys.
Everything started to make sense after that computer search when I was ten.
The tension that seemed to come out of nowhere, the nights Mom and Dad were sitting at the table until the wee hours of the morning, hands cradling cups of coffee, tension creasing their foreheads, jaws clenched tight, the dozens of times Dad would get called out of the house at all hours, not coming home for days on end, leaving Mom to clean compulsively, force false joy to keep us from picking up on the tension.
And, well, the seemingly random trips up to Hailstorm for supposed campouts and vacations, little lies we all bought into for more years than we probably should have. Myself included.
I remembered long days in those windowless rooms, trying to make the best of it, playing when I found the motivation, going stir crazy when I couldn’t.