Chapter 37 – In The Air Tonight
I do not own SOA, youtube, Halestorm, In This Moment, or Motley Crue. I claim all original characters and give no one permission to use them.
“When daddy going to be back?” Abel asked as he was coloring a page out of his coloring book.
“Another week or so?”
Abel sighed then went back to coloring.
“He’ll be here before ya know it, love.”
“I know.” The boy sadly murmured.
“What is it, Abel?”
“I no want daddy to miss my birthday.”
Riona lifted her eyes on this.
“Abel love, he’s going to be here for your birthday,” Riona vowed.
Riona drew back a hesitant breath on this. She looked to the calendar on her desk. His birthday was a little over two weeks away and just before she and Jax were leaving for Hawaii.
“Aye, he’ll be here.” She said but prayed to God she wasn’t lying. That would devastate Abel, and she didn’t wish to be on the receiving end of that disappointment.
“Okay, cause it no be fun without him.”
“It wouldn’t be, now would it?”
“Em, and what kind of birthday would you like this year?”
“What kind?” Abel asked in confusion.
Riona stopped typing, removed her glasses then glanced the boy’s direction.
“Aye. Would you like dragons, dinosaurs…”
Riona reared back on this and Abel smiled.
“I wants to have a zombie party, mommy! Then me and daddy can kills them all! It’ll be so much fun! Can I please?!”
“I’m sure I can figure somethin’ out.”
“Really?!” Abel excitably squealed.
“Aye,” Riona said with the prospects in mind.
“This will be my most favorite birthday ever!”
Riona opened a yellow envelope as it was on her desk. It had the Teller-Telford address, but her name was written on the envelope.
Now you know… He’ll never change. Not even for you. That was written on a piece of paper.
Riona looked to the contents within and nodded amongst herself. She was doing her best to keep her emotions in check.
“Mommy?” Abel called with concern.
“Why don’t ya go and see what Aunt Linny and Uncle Ethan are up to? I think they’re havin’ breakfast in the clubhouse.”
“Why’s you sad, mommy?”
“I’m not feelin’ very well. That’s all.”
“Is you getting sick?”
“I believe so.”
“Does you need to go home and go to bed?”
“I’ll be fine, love. Just one of those things.”
“Okays.” Abel crawled out of the chair he was sitting in and headed for the door.
His tiny hand was around the handle when Riona called out to him.
“I love ya.”
“I love you too mommy,” Abel said before exiting the office.
Riona looked to the contents of the envelope again and threw her and Jax’s framed wedding photo across the room. She came to her feet then looked to the broken glass along the floor.
“Dammit Jackson! Why would you do this? Ya promised!” She said before bursting into uncontrollable tears and cleaning up her mess.
Earlier in Reno:
“Hmm…” Jax hummed then drew the warm body beside him in closer.
The young woman moaned, and Jax’s eyes flew open. The pretty blonde smiled then snuggled up even closer. Jax flew out of the bed, and Susie giggled.
“What’s with you?!” She asked while patting the empty space beside her and Jax combed his fingers through his hair.
“Oh hell no.” He muttered in such a way.
“GET DRESSED!” Jax ordered.
The president clenched his teeth together then snatched Susie’s clothes up off the floor. He marched on over and stuffed them into her arms.
“I don’t remember inviting you into my bed, much less my room.” Jax made clear.
“You seemed pretty down. Thought you could use the company. You were asleep so…”
“So you broke into my room, took off your clothes, and crawled into bed with me?!”
“Actually, all I had to say was I forgot my key. Maid let me in once I told her I was your wife.”
Jax was beyond livid. He was about to let this woman really have it when his cellphone sounded. He sent Susie a look of warning as he picked his phone up and saw the message. Jax reared back and with that pitfall feeling.
“What did you do?!” Jax questioned in a panic.
There was a text message from Tara Knowles, and it was a picture of him and Susie in bed together. This had Jax thinking back to when the fed took pictures of him and Susie and sent them to Tara. But this was before he and Tara were even official. She lost her shit, and that’s how Jax knew about Tara harboring feelings for him still.
So much for changing your ways… Can’t wait to see what the old lady has to say! Tara had sent with the picture.
Jax was quick to call Tara.
“Don’t you fucking do it!” He yelled the moment she answered.
“Well, hello to you too Jax. How are you this fine morning?”
“Goddammit, Tara. I mean it. Don’t you even think about it!’
“Is that a threat?! Not very smart Jax. You know… this brings back sooo many memories. Look at it this way… You get to play the field again. You never were one to settle down. I’m doing you and the new bitch in your life a favor.”
“Tara… don’t.” Tara hung up and Jax zoomed in on the picture Susie had taken of them.
His eyes were closed, but they were naked, and Susie was kissing him. Jax felt nauseous as the picture was very misleading. It actually looked as if they were having sex.
“That ought to put the bitch in her place!” Susie said with a smile.
Jax lifted his eyes on this.
“Divorcing you and all… You deserve better, and now she’ll know that you’ve moved on. Look, I know you’re mad, but I did this for you!”
Jax knew she must’ve used his fingerprint while he slept to get into his phone. There was no other way unless she had the password.
“Fuck my life and fuck you. You stupid fucking WHORE!”
Susie whimpered out as Jax grabbed ahold of her and shoved her onto the bed. The president wrapped his hands around her throat and looked her dead in the eyes.
“Jax.” She called behind a gasp, and the president gritted his teeth and squeezed even harder.
Susie hit at his chest and back and was doing her best to fight him off. Jax, however, didn’t budge.
“JACKIE!!!” Chibs hollered after entering the room.
He was in the room next door when he heard the shouting. Jax’s hotel door was unlocked as Susie hadn’t locked up behind her last night. Chibs snatched his president off the young woman then sent him flying against the table.
“GET AHOLD OF YERSELF BOY!”
Jax shook his head, and his entire body was flushed over. He was trembling with fury. Chibs started to ask what was going on when Jax’s phone rang. Jax closed his eyes and answered.
“Havin’ a wee bit of fun?” He heard in that chilling Irish air.
“No. No, I’m not. Is Tara there?”
“Tara?! What’s this hafta do with Tara?! Did she slip and fall on ya too?!”
Jax knew that meant that Tara had done the very thing her stalker ex-did. Joshua Kohn (aka the fed and stalker ex) had sent the pictures to Tara anonymously. And that’s what Tara had done in this situation as well. Tara had gone out her way to recreate the whole scenario.
“Jesus baby… I didn’t do this. I didn’t! I…”
Chibs let out a low growl once he realized what was going on. The Scot seized the blonde by the hair then got right in her face.
“Ye best get on that phone and explain yerself. The lass’s name is Riona. She’s Jax’s wife! They have a kid tagether. Ye fix this or so help me GOD I’ll choke ye ta death meself!”
The VP snatched the phone out of his president’s hand then handed it over. The Scot eyed her down the entire time. Susie caught her breath and was in literal sobs as she told Riona the truth behind what she’d done. Just as soon as she finished, Chibs dragged her into the bathroom.
“Get dressed then hit the fuckin’ road ye manky (dirty) gash!” He said before slamming the door shut.
Chibs reentered the room to hear Jax apologizing over and over. Chibs recoiled knowing this made a first for Jax. Jax never cared about being caught before, but he sure as hell did this time. The man was a mess. The Scot placed a soothing hand along his shoulder. Susie exited the bathroom fully dressed, and Chibs took it upon himself to escort her out. He made certain she got in that car of hers and hit the road.
“How’d it go?” Chibs questioned when Jax stepped out in a pair of jeans and a cigarette in his mouth.
“She was apologizing to me! Can you believe that shit?! Fucking Riona. I swear. I don’t fucking deserve her ass.”
“I know the feeling…” Chibs uttered with Aislinn in mind.
“But yer wrong.”
Jax’s eyes locked with Chibs’s and the VP gave a mere nod.
“The old Jax would’ve gone through with it. Act first, apologize later… That seemed ta be your mentality when it came ta matters like this. I guess yer all grown up now!”
“Shut up,” Jax said but with a chuckle and Chibs smiled.
“It’s a good thing, Jackie. Ye’ll see.”
“I don’t know what I would’ve done… Having Riona think that of me…” Jax shook his head and finished his cigarette.
“Question…” Chibs uttered as he lit up a smoke.
“What went through yer mind when ye ran around on Tara?”
“That’s just it… nothing. Like I knew I should feel something, right?”
Chibs nodded in agreement.
“But I didn’t. Shit, the only reason I was faithful during our marriage was because of Riona. How jacked up is that shit?! I didn’t even do it for my wife but someone I’d only known for a few hours.” Jax let out a miserable laugh as he thought back to all those years ago.
“Life’s crazy like that,” Chibs said.
“Ain’t that the fucking truth?!”
‘What ye went through… just now. That’s how I felt when Ali thought I was fuckin’ around. I just knew it was over. These Irish lassies don’t play around.”
“I know. Is it strange that I like that?”
“Nah, there’s a sense of comfort, aye?”
“Makes it all the more real Jackie. Don’t lose that.”
“Needless to say I’ll be paying Tara a little visit.” Jax made clear.
Chibs chuckled in thought.
“I figured… just be careful with that.”
“I will. But this is something I can’t ignore.”
“Agreed. Ye gotta put the doc in her place.”
“That’s just it… I already did. All I can do now is scare the ever living shit out of her and get her to see I mean business.”
“Not a wise game she’s playin’. Has she forgotten that people go missin’ when they fuck with SAMCRO?”
“Tara always was more book smart than anything. I don’t think she’s ever grasped what it means to be an old lady or part of the MC period.”
“Aye, maybe she’s in need of a rude reminder.”
“It’s that, or meet Mr. Mayhem.” Jax uttered taking the Scot by surprise.
“Ye really think ye could do that?”
“At this point?”
Chibs nodded with curiosity.
“Yeah. I think I could, and that scares the shit out of me.”
Chibs understood Jax more than anyone at this very moment. It took all will NOT to kill Fiona after what she did to Aislinn. The Scot thought it ironic… all the similarities of what he and Jax were facing. They always seemed to mirror one another.
“Ya alright love?” Aislinn questioned when she entered the office.
Riona was caught off guard as she hadn’t heard her sister enter the room. She was quick to dry her tears and cleared her throat as she went to put the pictures away. One of the pictures, however, had fallen onto the floor and Aislinn picked it up. Her mouth flew open, and she snatched the others out of her sister’s hold.
“THAT SLIMY BAS…”
“It’s not what it looks like.” Riona was quick to defend.
“NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE?!” Aislinn snapped as she showed Riona one of the pictures.
“Aye, we already hashed it all out.”
“Hashed it out?! What’s there to hash out?!”
“Linny, he was set up. Look at the pictures again, and you’ll see. It took me a moment myself, but I caught it after we talked on the phone.”
Aislinn went through the pictures once again. Only this time she paid more attention.
“Was he asleep?” She said once it hit her.
“Ohhhh, I bet that gash has it comin’ and then some!”
“That mouth of yours!”
“Aye now, just callin’ it the way I see it!”
Aislinn handed the pictures back, and Riona put them back in the envelope.
“Ya gotta burn those love,” Aislinn said, and Riona nodded in agreement.
Aislinn reached over then took her sister’s hand into her own.
“I know the feelin’. I’m sorry. That’s rotten.”
“Oh, it gets better.”
“Does it?” Aislinn curiously questioned.
“Aye, seems like Tara Knowles was behind this.”
“Nah, Jax let me know she was the culprit.”
“Wait… Are ya sayin’ she set all this up and took the pictures?”
Riona explained the situation and how Tara played a part in it.
“Jaysus. What’s with Jax and the certified loonies?!”
“I’m sure he’s askin’ himself that very thing right now. The lad was an absolute mess!”
“I can imagine.”
“Could’ve been worse…” Riona admitted with her sister and Chibs in mind.
That was one of the worst breakups she’d ever witnessed. It broke her heart when Riona thought the Scot and her sister were through.
“Why don’t I take care of these?” Aislinn offered.
“Are ya sure?”
“Aye, I was gonna have myself a smoke anyhow. Ya don’t need these lyin’ around, and ya don’t want the wee one gettin’ ahold of em.”
Riona recoiled in thought.
“No prob. I’m headed to work afterward.”
“How’s that goin’ by the way?”
“Great actually. I love it!”
“That’s wonderful Linny.”
“I do hope you’ll join me one day.”
“Linny love, that’s your stage now.”
“And we both know I wouldn’t have gotten this far without you. I want you there. Alright? When the timin’ is right… Just show up. I would never consider ya stealin’ my thunder. So knock that off. You’re my sister and my best friend.”
“I thought Brodie was your best friend!” Riona teasingly mocked, and Aislinn laughed.
“Don’t be a dick Riona. Just show up even if it’s for the one night.”
“Did ya just call me a dick?!” Riona scoffed in disbelief.
“Ya’ve been in the states too long!”
“More like hangin’ out with the boys too much,” Aislinn said with a shrug then exited the office with the pictures.
“Hello there Scotty,” Aislinn said as she answered her phone.
She had the pictures of Susie and Jax in a barrel and was pouring lighter fluid over them.
“Hey, there darlin’.”
“Are ya needin’ bail money and an alibi?”
“Not yet… gettin’ close.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“How is she?”
“Aye. Abel wasn’t exposed ta any of that was he?”
“Nah, and I’m riddin’ of all that mess as we speak.”
“Please tell me ye mean the pictures and not the actual doc.”
“Aye, the pictures. That’s not to say the doc won’t be gettin’ a wee visit.”
“Ali, ye need ta let Jackie deal with that.”
“Now, why does he get to have all the fun?”
“I’m serious Ali. This is something he needs ta deal with. I don’t want ye involved. The best thing ye could do at this very moment is be there for yer sister.”
“Tara’s gonna keep this up if we don’t address this soon.”
“Jackie knows that, and he’s handlin’ it. I need ye ta promise me ye’ll stay out of this.”
“She’s my sister.”
“I get that and trust me when I say no one respects and admires the love ye have for her more than I do. But I need ye ta hear me out on this. If ye go against my wishes that could cause Riona and Jax more harm than good. So keep that anger of yers in check and do as I ask.”
“Ya know how I am about followin’ orders,” Aislinn said but in a teasing manner.
“Aye, but this isn’t somethin’ ye can ignore. I mean it, Ali. Now promise me ye’ll stay out of it!”
There was a moment of silence, and Chibs sighed.
“Ali…” he said in warning.
“Fine. I’ll be a good girl and listen.”
“I still get my punishment, right?” She seductively teased.
Chibs chuckled on the other end.
“Ye know it. I’ll make that arse of yers rosy red darlin’.”
“Now we’re talkin’.”
“Fuck…” Chibs murmured.
“Yer makin’ me hard as hell.”
“Ali…” Chibs uttered in misery.
Aislinn giggled then set the pictures ablaze.
“I love ya, Scotty.”
“Love ye too, pet. Behave. I’ll be home before ye know it.”
Aislinn was about to hang up when she heard Chibs sigh, and he called to her once again.
“Ye still there Ali?”
“Ye should know that someone dug Kip’s grandmother up and burned her house down.”
“Aye, he’s pretty broken up about it. Kid held onta that shite for two days. Not a one of us knew!”
“Oh, Kip…” Aislinn whispered with a heavy heart.
“I should call him.” She added.
“He could really use that,” Chibs admitted.
“Aye. Thanks for lettin’ me know.”
“Take care of yerself darlin’.”
“You too.” She said before hanging up.
Chibs glanced over as Kip’s cellphone rang. The VP nodded amongst himself already knowing. The five of them were eating breakfast at the hotel. Kip chewed and swallowed the bacon in his mouth before answering.
Kip softly chuckled but lifted his eyes Chibs’s direction. The Scot acted as if his attention was on something else and Kip cleared his throat.
“Hey, sweetness. What are you up to?”
“Burnin’ shite. It’s a great way to pass the time ya know!”
“Sounds like it.”
“How’s the first big mission goin’?”
“I’m sure you’re doin’ just fine.”
“Doesn’t feel like it,” Kip admitted.
“Aye now. There’s a lot goin’ on, and you’re not the only one strugglin’. Besides, I heard what happened, and I gotta say… It takes a lot of balls to go through with somethin’ of that caliber. Anyone else would’ve phoned it in. I know that’s why ya didn’t tell anyone. Ya didn’t wanna be left out, and Jax would’ve been more concerned about your well-bein’. Ya need the distraction. I know because I’ve been there. I won’t talk your ear off. But just know I’m here if ya need anythin’. No matter the time of day or night. I’m just a phone call away. I might not have the greatest advice. But I’m a good listener. So if ya feel the need to go a wee bit mad and yell, cry what have ya. I’m here.”
Kip pinched his eyes shut as he was getting a little emotional. Aislinn hadn’t a clue how much that phone call meant to him.
“Thank you, Aislinn. You’re the best.”
“Not really but I try.”
“No. Trust me. You are. I was an asshole when we first met, and you know it. I don’t deserve anything you just said.”
“Ya just shut that gob of yours now. Ya weren’t an asshole, Kip. Ya just had too much influence when it came to a certain crow. And we both know where I’m goin’ with that. It happens… to the best of us. So don’t let it get ya down. You’re a good man. Trust me. If ya weren’t, ya would’ve let that influence take ya over, and nothin’ would’ve stopped ya.”
“I’m not sure what to say.”
“Ya don’t hafta say anythin’. Take care, love. I’ll see ya when ya get back.”
Chibs wasn’t the only one to take notice of Kip’s better spirits after that phone call. But no one said a word on it knowing that’s what he needed. The Sons would do whatever it took to get him through this.
“I thought we could dress the prospects up like zombies and the Sons could be the hunters. Let Abel lead them around like he’s their president! Let his father be the VP for once!” Riona said, and Ethan smiled.
“He’d get a kick out of that!”
“Oh, I know a place that sells laser tag shit! We should look into that.”
“That would be brilliant!”
Riona showed her brother some of the cake designs she had to choose from and the decorations.
“Hell, I could make those decorations myself!” Ethan said as to the gory stuff and the fake blood.
“Yep. No sense in wasting your money. Just give me copies of what you want, and I’ll make them myself.”
“Alright,” Riona said and handed the ones she wanted over.
“Can’t make the cake though,” Ethan admitted, and Riona laughed.
“I didn’t figure. I couldn’t even make somethin’ like that!” She uttered as to all the detail behind it.
“We’ll find a place,” Ethan said with a shrug.
“So what are you going to get him?” Ethan curiously questioned.
“I haven’t the faintest yet. I’ll think of somethin’ though.”
“You could always get him that new gaming system Happy has.”
“I could get him a couple games to go with it. Maybe an extra controller too.” Ethan suggested.
“Oh, Mary…” Riona said as she was looking at a few games online.
“They have a Spider-Man game!”
“Now that would be perfect!”
“Guess we know what to get him now.”
Riona and Ethan glanced towards the office door as their sister was poking her head inside.
“Happy’s waitin’ on us.” She said, and Ethan looked to the time.
“Oh shit.” He said and grabbed his keys off Riona’s desk.
He pecked her on the cheek on the way out, and Aislinn waved goodbye. Riona gave a little wave in return then went back to jotting down ideas for Abel’s birthday.
“So now what?” Bobby asked once they finished breakfast.
This had each of the Sons looking to their president in question as well. Jax leaned back then flicked his ashes into a nearby ashtray.
“Guess we find another way to spread the word.” He murmured with a shrug.
“How?” Bobby asked once again, and Jax let out a miserable laugh.
“Fuck if I know,” Jax admitted.
This was a rarity for Jax. He normally had a plan for everything. But he didn’t count on Indian Hills wanting to go through with that fucking cartel, and that’s what hurt him. He’d hoped that Jury had seen the light by now and realized that deal he made with Clay was a huge mistake. But Jax’s hopes were too high. They left the Indian Hills clubhouse not long after that meeting. They’d spent the last couple days in a hotel hoping Indian Hills would change their mind. If nothing else… for word to spread through the Mayans at least. Jax thought back to his deal with the sheriff and shook his head. He only had a few more days to seal this, or it would be a no go. This trip would be for nothing and Ethan would remain on Weston’s radar.
Jax was just about to suggest they head on out and go along with the plan anyhow, without Indian Hill’s cooperation. He only hoped the Mayans could get the job done and send them where they were needed. Of course, none of that would matter if Weston got ahold of Jury first. They’d be more concerned with the cartel than hunting SAMCRO down. The president’s phone rang, however, and to his great surprise, it was Jury. He wanted the boys to stop by before they headed out. This gave Jax a little hope but not much. He knew his luck, and this was probably Jury trying for their blessing yet again, but he’d never get it. Jax wasn’t kidding about stripping them of their patches. If Indian Hills went through with that deal… They’d go back to being The Devil’s Tribe. Jax wouldn’t allow Thomas or JT’s legacy to be pissed on like that. They put their lives on the line for a reason. This had Jax thinking back to SAMBEL and how they took that money. He kept in mind to check back and make certain they weren’t in a full on cartel with the Italians. Jax trusted Keith at his word and hoped this wasn’t going to be a constant with SAMCRO keeping all these charters in line. They were the mother charter, and there was respect to be paid. Jax wouldn’t stand for anyone’s bullshit. No matter where they were. If they wore the patch… they knew what was expected out of them and what would always be expected.
Jax hung up after Jury’s invitation and looked to the boys.
“Jury wants us to drop by before we head out.”
Chibs gathered that same hopeful expression, but he too felt it a curse to say anything on it. The boys headed out in silence.
Jury was first to greet the Sons as he was standing outside the Indian Hills clubhouse with the rest of Indian Hills. There was an awkward moment between the MC’s as SAMCRO climbed off their bikes and they stared one another down. Jury waved Jax over then gestured for him to take a walk with him. The others stayed behind, but SAMCRO kept an eye on their president.
“We’ll do it.” Jury said after a solid minute passed.
Jax stopped in his tracks then looked to Jury. The Indian Hills president drew back a hesitant breath.
“You’re right. We made a vow, and it’s our duty to keep that vow. I’m sorry we put you and your boys in this position and waited so long to get back to you.”
“You sure about that?” Jax questioned as he had to be sure they weren’t being played.
“Yes. Now I won’t lie. We could really use that cartel, Gaines especially. But that’s not SAMCRO’s problem. It’s ours. We were given these patches on our word that we would help lead the Sons the right direction. I remember all the hell you boys went through during your cartel days and how hard your father fought in order to get you boys out. I also remember when you boys lost Tommy.” Jury’s voice grew softer and softer as he spoke.
“We had a moment of weakness, but it passed.” The Indian Hills president admitted.
“I hope so.”
“It is. I give you my word, and I’ll prove that by sending the Aryans your way. Words I never thought I’d fucking say.”
“That makes two of us,” Jax admitted but glanced towards the rest of Indian Hills again.
He couldn’t help but notice the pissed off expression on Gaine’s face.
“Is that going to be an issue?” Jax hinted with a nod the VP’s direction.
“He’s going through some shit Jax. But he’s onboard.”
“He better be. I can’t have anything going haywire.”
“Alright. Then we’ll head on out and let you boys work on spreading the word.”
“Ya best head out soon…”
“Word is they arrived in Mayan territory just a couple hours ago.”
Jury gave a simple nod.
“I have a few of my prospects spread about, keeping an eye on things.”
Jury retrieved his cellphone from his cut then showed Jax a picture of Weston and another Aryan. Jax let out a breath of relief. He was relieved to see the plan following through, and this also meant Weston was nowhere near the Lawless family or his son.
“I hope you got Alvarez’s permission,” Jax warned, and Jury nodded.
“Handled that myself. He was expecting us.”
Jury held his hand out, and Jax went to shake it, only to have Jury pull him in for a hug instead.
“I won’t shit on your family’s graves, and I won’t let anyone else.”
Jax nodded then hugged him in return.
“I love you, kid. You boys be safe.”
“Now go before something happens, and you boys spoil the surprise.”
The two MC’s said their goodbyes then parted ways.
The following day:
Aislinn was on her third song of the night and singing Straight Through the Heart by Halestorm when a group of people started booing. This had Ethan, Leia, and AC’s attention as they were working the bar. Aislinn kept playing but lifted her eyes that particular table’s direction.
“Cobwebs is right!” One of the guys hollered then raised his beer towards another buddy of his.
They laughed then clank their beer bottles together.
“We’ll help you dust those out, babe!” The other one shouted.
Ethan gritted his teeth as this particular group had been causing trouble throughout most of the night. They could hear them talking shit about his sister’s performance, looks, and whatever else came to mind. But they decided to amp things up a bit and was full-on heckling her now. Ethan counted at least a dozen people. Seven of them were men, and the rest were women. The others joined in, and they too were spouting off some very nasty comments. They even went as far as to make fun of her breasts size and were calling her a beanpole, things of that nature. Aislinn nevertheless finished the song as other patrons of the bar were yelling at the hecklers and trying to get them to shut up. The group went back to booing, and it was so loud no one could hear the song Aislinn was playing.
“How bout hearing someone that can actually play now?!” One of them hollered, and Aislinn gave a simple nod.
“Would ya like to give it a go?”
“You or the mic?” The man taunted, and Aislinn rolled her eyes.
“Would ya like to give it a go?” One of the women mocked while poking fun at Aislinn’s accent and the entire table died of laughter.
“Dude, shut up! If you don’t like the music, leave! It’s that simple!” One of AC’s regulars hollered in defense.
“Nah, I think this bitch here needs to leave and let us all drink in peace. I’ve had enough screaming for one night.”
Leia and AC locked eyes as Ethan marched on up to the stage. He grabbed the mic then pointed that specific table’s direction.
“Enough! One more outburst and you’re all out of here!”
“We’re paying customers. You can’t make us leave.”
Ethan pointed towards the sign above the bar. It read “WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO ANYONE” in bold red letters.
“And what? Skip out on the tab we’ve got going?” The man smarted and a few of the group high-fived him.
Ethan was doing his best to talk the table down. He hadn’t realized his sister had stepped off stage. She was putting her guitar up, and a few fans were letting out groans of disappointment and arguing with the hecklers. No one, including that of Aislinn, took notice of the man approaching her. He was part of that unruly group. Aislinn let out a bit of a yelp as this man smacked her on the ass. Aislinn stopped what she was doing and pivoted around.
“Oh, you’re in trouble now,” Leia whispered as she caught the tail end of this.
AC narrowed his eyes in question and was glancing that direction as well now.
“Well, shit…,” AC said after Aislinn decked the man across the face.
“WHAT THE…” The man shouted.
“Touch me again, and I’ll shove my beer bottle up your fuckin’ arse!” She snapped in response.
This had everyone’s attention now, including that of Happy who had kept to himself most of the night. Sam was serving a table across the way, and she too was looking on with widened eyes.
“Don’t tell me you don’t wanna be touched. Outfit like that… You’re asking for attention, and I’m giving it to ya!”
Leia reared back on the man’s words. Aislinn was in a midriff top and skin-tight jeans, nothing overly revealing. And even if that were the case… that didn’t give the man permission. This had Leia boiling. She was headed that way when the man forced his lips onto Aislinn’s. Aislinn went to pry herself free, only to have his hold grow even tighter.
“HEY DIPSHIT!” Leia hollered and threw an empty vodka bottle his direction.
“Nooo…” Ethan whispered in such a way.
Sam and AC picked up on this as they were headed that way as well now. Ethan leaped off the stage then took off like a bat out of hell. Leia’s jaw dropped as she hadn’t a clue Ethan had made his way over. Ethan snatched his sister out of the man’s hold then hugged her but with this protective embrace.
“GET OUT!” Ethan yelled and was staring the man down.
The man laughed like it was one big joke.
“Get a grip he was having a little fun!” One of the guys hollered in defense and the entire table joined in.
“Not here, you’re not.” Ethan made clear as he shoved the man away from his sister then rushed her into the ladies room.
Sam raised her brows as Ethan shut then locked the door behind him. AC and Happy dragged the unruly customer out of the bar. Happy gave the man a swift knee to the crotch and another man attacked Happy from behind. This led to a full-on bar fight. Piper Shay fans, AC, and Leia were fighting this particular table off and doing their best to get them out the door. Sam backed herself into a corner and watched as the fiasco played out.
Ethan grimaced as his sister’s hands were balled up and she was leaning over one of the sinks. He gave her a few minutes before saying anything.
“I’m sorry. I should’ve been paying more attention.”
“It’s not your job Ethan. These things happen. There’s nothin’ we can do to prevent it.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t work here.”
Aislinn snapped her brother a look of utter hell, and Ethan sighed.
“You’ve been through so much… This way of life… It isn’t for the faint of heart.”
“Faint of heart?! You do remember who you’re talkin’ to right?! This is nothin’ new to me. Riona and I have dealt with our share of rale Bulgarians. I can handle it.”
Ethan hadn’t a clue what to say. He knew for a fact they’d never been booed off stage before.
Aislinn rinsed her mouth out then gagged.
“Slimy bastard’s a dipper…” She hinted, and Ethan curled his lip in disgust.
“Gross,” Ethan said, and Aislinn gave a tearful laugh.
“…hey…” Ethan said and ran a soothing hand along her back.
“I should know better than to let it get to me.” She said with a red face.
“Aislinn, you have every reason… We both know that.”
Ethan regarded his sister’s reflection in thought.
“Want me to call Filip?”
“No! He’s got enough on his plate. Please. It was nothin’. Alright? I’m overreactin’.”
“Hardly and he’d want to know…” Ethan trailed off as her cellphone rang.
“Speak of the devil,” Aislinn said in disbelief.
“Ali,” Chibs called before she could even answer.
“Ye alright love?”
She could hear him sigh on the other end.
“Happy told me…”
Aislinn flinched like she’d been hit.
“Ya didn’t need to check up on me. I’m alright. I promise.”
“Of course I’m goin’ ta check up on ye! Why wouldn’t I?!”
“Scotty…” Aislinn rather groaned.
“Ali darlin’, ye can talk ta me. Ye know that. Ye don’t hafta act as if ye gotta hold it all in. I know ye gotta be pissed! That’s why I called. So ye can unload some fuckin’ steam and not go on a murderin’ rampage!”
Aislinn laughed at the Scot’s playful tone. Ethan kissed his sister’s forehead then left her to it.
“Ya took my heat, remember?!”
“Aye, well we both know what ye Irish lassies are capable of. Ye don’t need weapons. We both know that!”
The Scot kept the tone of the conversation playful but to the point. He knew that’s what she needed most at this very moment. He wanted her laughing and smiling before he hung up the phone. If it weren’t for Happy beating him to it, Chibs would’ve hunted the bastard down and given him a good ole fashion Scottish beat down. But Happy made it clear he had it handled. He only called because Jax and Chibs made him promise to check in with things such as this. It was to be expected with this line of work and Chibs knew that. Still, that didn’t stop those murderous thoughts of his. Like that of Ethan, the Scot wanted to lock Aislinn away, someplace safe. But he couldn’t do that. And it would crush her if he even mentioned giving up her dreams and looking for something else. This was the boost she needed in order to get where she wanted to be. So Chibs wanted to show that she had his full support even if that meant he himself had to play a little guard duty and knock some heads together. But even with all these thoughts in mind. He never thought he’d see the day where Aislinn Lawless was booed off stage. In what universe did that shit happen?! He knew there had to be more behind this, but hadn’t time to question it.
“Look pet; I hafta go. But ye best call me if anythin’ else comes up. I mean it. If I don’t answer right away leave a message and I’ll get back ta ye as soon as I can.”
“Aye.” She said before he hung up.
“Mommy, look he following me again!” The boy squealed as one of the puppies seemed rather smitten by Abel.
He followed Abel wherever he went. Riona laughed then scooped the puppy up as Abel was trying to go to the bathroom. The puppy cried when Abel shut the door.
“Awe now, he’ll be out in a jiffy!” Riona said, and the puppy whimpered but licked Riona’s nose.
“I think we may have our wee Mayhem,” Riona said while looking the puppy over.
Just as soon as Abel opened the door, the puppy squirmed out of her hold. Abel giggled as the puppy was begging for attention. He picked the puppy up then carried him into the living room where Juice and Rat were. Juice rolled his eyes when the puppy growled at him. For whatever reason, this particular puppy couldn’t stand Juice and didn’t like him anywhere near Abel. Riona laughed at the Son’s reaction.
“Fucking dog is racist,” Juice whispered.
“Racist?!” Riona scoffed with a snort.
“Hates Puerto Ricans.” The Son added.
“Can dogs even see color?!”
“This one sure as hell can!”
“Maybe it’s the ink on your head!” She teased, and Juice grumbled under his breath.
“Never met a dog that hated me before.” Juice pouted.
“Maybe ya smell funny to him or somethin’.”
“Nah, he’s just a little prick.”
Abel overheard this and looked that direction.
“No, say that. It no nice.” The boy scolded then held the dog protectively.
“Sorry lil man.” Juice apologized, and Abel gave a mere nod.
“Jesus. That was Jax right there.” Juice whispered once Abel was preoccupied with something else.
“Right?! He’s more like his father every day.”
“He’s going to be a scary son of a bitch when he’s older.”
This had Riona dying of laughter.
“I’m serious!” The Son said, and the puppy growled his direction.
Juice sighed then took another sip off his beer.
“You’re kidding!” Bobby scoffed after Chibs revealed what took place at AC’s tonight.
Chibs sighed then lit up as the boys ordered their drinks.
“Our girl was booed off stage…?!” Bobby reiterated making sure he heard right.
“Nah. No way brother. Not Aislinn Lawless!”
Tig and Kip nodded in full agreement.
“I think there’s more behind it.”
“Um yeah… cause you gotta be a goddamn idiot to barrack that girl!” Bobby scoffed in disbelief.
“Of all the things…” Bobby muttered under his breath.
“Aye, just a long night for her.”
“I can imagine. You know that made a first!”
Chibs nodded in agreement then leaned back in thought. Jax returned from the bathroom, and Bobby told him what Chibs had said about Aislinn’s night.
“No shit?!” Jax said in complete surprise.
“Exactly,” Bobby uttered, and Jax seemed just as baffled as they were.
Chibs cleared his throat and decided to change the subject. It was driving him crazy not being there, and he needed to get his mind off Aislinn for a moment.
“So what was Jury’s deal?” The VP asked, and Jax revealed what all was said between the two of them.
This had each of the Sons shaking their heads.
“Wonder what Gaines has got himself into,” Bobby uttered in thought.
“That’s what I was wondering. Must be something pretty deep.” Jax said, and Bobby nodded in agreement.
“I think it’s his niece.” Tig randomly put, and this had everyone looking his direction.
“I overheard him talking about his sister’s kid. Something about some hospital bills and how his sister had to quit her job so she could look after her daughter.”
“That’s right… Kid’s got cancer or something.” Bobby recalled, and Jax recoiled.
“Insurance is giving them hell from my understanding,” Tig added.
“Yeah, I heard something about that too,” Bobby said.
“I hadn’t a clue,” Jax said with this guilt-ridden expression.
“It’s a rotten ordeal, but that doesn’t excuse their actions. If they needed help, they should’ve come ta us instead of makin’ deals behind our backs.” The VP made clear.
“I agree. Still, maybe there’s something we can do to help.” Jax said.
“Like what?” Kip questioned.
“Not sure yet. But there’s gotta be something we can do.”
“There’s a Catholic church back in Charmin’ that holds donations for shite like that,” Chibs said as he was a member of the church.
“But would they help someone that isn’t a resident of Charming?” Jax sincerely questioned.
“I haven’t a clue. I’ll look inta it when we get back. I gotta talk ta them about the weddin’ anyhow.”
This had not only Jax but Tig, Bobby, and Kip regarding Chibs in shock.
“Wait… Are you two having a church wedding?!” Jax questioned, and Chibs nodded.
“Aye, is there a problem with that?”
Jax couldn’t help but laugh. Chibs raised his brows on this.
“No. Just wasn’t expecting that. That’s all. Hell, you might wanna revoke some of those invitations. There’s bound to be angels in distress!” Jax teased, and Chibs chuckled.
“Why a church wedding?” Bobby curiously questioned.
“Lass is Catholic, and she’s never been married. I’ll be damned if I give her less than she deserves.”
“So no cuts?” Jax inquired.
“No cuts.” The Scot made clear.
Jax frowned and Bobby died of laughter.
“You can’t get married without your cut!” Bobby scoffed.
“Why not? She’s marryin’ ME!” Chibs made clear.
“Nah, we’re a packaged deal brother!” Bobby taunted, and Chibs sighed.
“Ye know what I mean. The club is part of our everyday lives. Least I could do is give her one day where it isn’t. Ali already knows she’s marryin’ inta the club. I don’t see the need in makin’ that a reminder. Let me give her this one fuckin’ day. No cuts. Just me and my girl. Can ye give me that?”
This had Bobby and the others looking to one another.
“You know we can,” Jax said with a firm nod.
“No cuts. But you have to say it…” Jax hinted with a smirk, and Chibs chuckled.
“Aye, I’ll have it in the vows!”
“Then I don’t see a problem.”
Bobby let out a disappointed sigh but nodded in understanding.
“Never been in an actual church before,” Tig said with a shrug.
“You and Happy are the ones I’m worried most about!” Jax said, and Tig smiled.
“We better bring some fire extinguishers… Happy’s sure to go up in flames!” Tig said, and the others laughed.
“You should’ve beat his sorry ass!” AC scolded, and Ethan reared back as they were cleaning up after the bar fight. Leia was with the sheriff and filling out a police report.
“Trust me. I wanted to.” Ethan whispered in response.
“Then why didn’t you?! If that had been Leia, I would’ve…” AC trailed off as the sheriff approached them and let them know they were leaving.
The group causing all the trouble was banned from the premises. AC was to call the sheriff if they even walked past his and Ethan’s bar again. AC waited until she and the deputies left.
“You’re a fucking pussy. You know that?!”
“Watch it, AC. You’re crossing a line. You haven’t a fucking clue, man. I did what was best for the situation and my sister! She needed me, and I couldn’t be there for her if I was bashing some asshole’s brains in!”
AC shook his head indifference. Leia, however, narrowed her eyes and observed Ethan’s mannerisms more closely.
“Something happened to her… Didn’t it?” She whispered.
Sam was at the bar, dumping a dustpan filled with broken glass into the trash. She and AC listened in on the conversation.
“Aislinn’s a human trafficking victim… Both my sisters are.” Ethan solemnly put.
“But don’t you say shit about it. I mean it. That goes for all of you. You’re in the need to know because Aislinn works here and that’s the only reason I’m telling you. Don’t treat her any different, just watch her back. Alright?!”
Leia got a little teary-eyed but nodded in complete understanding. AC, however, had this struck stupid appearance.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Sam said.
Ethan gave a simple nod then got back to work.
“That explains it…” Sam whispered once Ethan was busy with a few customers.
“Explains what?” Leia probed.
“Why she’s so… you know…”
“No, actually I don’t,” Leia uttered.
“Temperamental? I mean come on the guy smacked her ass and she acted as if…”
“Okay, I’m going to stop you right there. She didn’t do anything I wouldn’t. That man had no right. This isn’t a gentleman’s club and even if it were they’d have to have consent first.”
“It was a smack on the ass, Leia. We deal with those things all the time. If she can’t handle that then how is she going to work here?!”
AC shook his head in disbelief.
“And women like you are the reason we men get away with it,” AC said taking his sister by surprise.
“Excuse me?!” Sam scoffed.
“When you act like it’s the norm… You’re telling us it’s okay. Trust me… I’ve been that asshole. I would know.” AC said then walked off as he went to gather more beer from the back.
“Better?” Ethan questioned once his sister exited the ladies room.
She sent her brother a warm smile and nodded.
“Figured.” He rather hinted as to her needing Filip Telford at that very moment.
“I think we both know. If ya hadn’t done what ya did. I would’ve hurt that man.” She flashed Ethan the knife she kept hidden. She had it in a holster along her lower waist. Ethan recoiled but nodded in understanding. He would’ve never known if she hadn’t shown him. The holster itself hung just below her belt line and the midriff she wore only added to the effect. The man was certain she’d pass a pat down with no problem.
Ethan knew his sister wasn’t one to bullshit around. She would’ve used that knife if he hadn’t defused the situation.
“Ya must think I’m cracked.”
He heard her mutter.
“Not even. Trust me. You’re perfectly normal, considering…”
“That’s right… considering.” Ethan replied with a playful grin.
“Look, buddy, you gonna order anything or not?” They heard Leia questioned as to the bum-looking man sitting off to the corner of the bar.
He’d been there since they first opened and hadn’t budged. The man hadn’t said a word to anyone. Ethan and Aislinn shrugged on this and got back to work.
“No offense but we don’t particularly care for loiterers.”
The man snapped Leia a look of hell but came to his feet. He handed the young woman a present then made a gesture Aislinn’s direction.
“Give her this when she’s done.” He said then disappeared through the chaotic crowd.
Aislinn was apologizing to a few customers, and Leia decided it might be best to wait. So she took the gift into the back for now.
“You sure you won’t play anymore tonight?” One of the men asked.
He waved his wife over and introduced her.
“She’s a fan.” The man said, and Aislinn smiled.
“We both are.” His wife made clear, and the man chuckled.
Aislinn drew back a hesitant breath then looked to the others that had stayed behind as well. She looked to the time and saw they had a couple of hours until closing. The man’s wife went on to apologize for how tonight went, and they mentioned how she didn’t deserve that on multiple occasions.
“Alright…” Aislinn uttered, and the couple regarded her with optimism.
The man’s wife squealed then hugged her.
“Easy babe! You’re going to scare her off!” He playfully scolded, and Aislinn laughed.
“It’s our wedding night.” The man explained, and Aislinn’s jaw dropped.
“Yeah… We came here in hopes of seeing you.”
“Then I should be the one apologizin’. Some weddin’ night, huh?!”
The couple laughed.
“At least it’s a night we’ll never forget!” The woman said, and Aislinn laughed.
“True. And what are your names again?”
“I’m Garrett, and this is my wife, Sophia.”
“It’s lovely to meet you both,” Aislinn said before grabbing her guitar and making her way back on stage.
AC and the others looked on in surprise.
“I can’t believe she’s up there again. After all that humiliation…” Sam whispered, and Ethan smiled.
“That’s my sister. Nothing keeps her down.” He said with pride.
“So when are you going to take me on a real date?” Sam asked as Aislinn got the stage ready.
“How bout sometime next weekend,” Ethan suggested hoping the hit would be off him by then.
“Why not this one?”
“My sisters and I have plans.”
“Yeah. Happy and I are taking them to that festival.”
“That sounds fun.”
“Yeah…” Ethan murmured.
He could tell she was disappointed, but hadn’t much choice. It wasn’t like he could invite her along. They had tickets, and there was no way he could get her some in time. That and he weren’t sure how his sisters would feel about his new girlfriend tagging along. Then there was the whole bodyguard ordeal. Talk about awkward. There was just no way he could pull off an actual date, not until the Sons had his name cleared.
“Hey, I’ll take you someplace nice,” The prospect promised.
“You better!” She teased.
They turned their attention towards the stage however as Aislinn tested the mic.
“Thought I was done, didn’t you?” She teased, and a few whistled out.
Aislinn laughed but nodded Garrett and Sophia’s direction.
“You have them to thank. They talked me into it. By the way, congratulations are in order. This is their wedding night! So feel free to send a few drinks their way!”
The couple hollered out in celebration and Aislinn gave a mere nod.
“This is for you guys.” She said before adjusting her guitar strap.
The room went nuts as Aislinn played Black Wedding by In This Moment.
She went from that to Motley Crue’s Without You.
She played throughout most the night until it was half an hour before closing. The couple thanked her profusely then graciously tipped her. AC locked up behind them as they were the last patrons of the night. Aislinn sat beside her brother as AC finished closing up for the night.
“What’s this?” She asked as Leia sat across from them and slid the beautifully wrapped gift over.
“Oh, that’s pretty!” Sam remarked as she was putting the chairs up on the tables.
“Isn’t it? Must be a fan.” Leia said with a shrug.
Happy was sipping on a beer and looked over as Aislinn unwrapped the gift.
“Okay…” She uttered as it was a shoebox.
Aislinn lifted the lid but was quick to jump back.
“AISLINN?!” Ethan called in alarm as his sister was gagging and nearly fell in attempts to get away from the box.
Happy shot to his feet then made his way over. AC was first to see it and recoiled.
“WHO GAVE YOU THIS?!” Ethan demanded, and Leia was at a loss for words as she looked to the maggot covered turtle dove. It’s neck was clearly broken. The smell filled the bar and AC started to raise the windows and was turning the ceiling fans on.
Happy grabbed the box with the dove then headed into the alleyway with it. Ethan led his sister to the sink where she threw up.
“Jesus,” Ethan whispered while he and Leia ran soothing hands along her back.
Leia did her best to describe the man, but Ethan didn’t know anyone by that description.
Happy took pictures of the wrapping paper and the box. He sent the pictures to Chibs and Jax then headed back inside. The Son asked AC about his surveillance cameras. It was during this however he received a phone call from Juice back at the house.
“What’s up?” Happy asked as he and AC were going through tonight’s footage.
“We’ve got a bit of a situation here…”
“What kind of situation?” Happy questioned as he paused and zoomed in on the man Leia pointed out.
The man had long hair, a beard and wore a hoodie that kept most of his face covered. Happy shook his head in frustration as he couldn’t make anything out. He took pictures of the footage anyhow and sent everything to Jax and Chibs.
“I just need you to get over here…”
“Alright, on my way.”
Happy looked to AC before he left.
“Hold on to these.” He said with a gesture towards the videos.
AC nodded in understanding.
“We gotta go.” Happy said with a nod Ethan and Aislinn’s direction.
“Sorry.” Happy uttered as Aislinn could barely stand.
He and Ethan escorted her to the van. Happy opened the door, and the smell hit all over again.
“Did you put the dove in here?!” Ethan asked as he and Aislinn covered their noses.
Happy didn’t comment and was doing his best to trace the smell. The Son reared back as there was a dead crow in the driver’s seat. Like that of the dove, it’s neck was snapped and it too was covered in maggots. Happy took pictures of that as well then used his knife to flick it out of the seat. The Son covered his mouth and nose with the sleeve of his shirt then bitched under his breath as he used his knife to scoop out the rest of the maggots. Happy dumped them out as well, but there was no ridding of that smell. Happy was extra cautious as he checked the entire van over. He observed the area around them as well but saw nothing out of the ordinary.
“What the fuck…” The Son uttered under his breath.
He climbed on in but glanced into the rearview mirror. He and Ethan locked eyes as the prospect was consoling his sister. Happy reached into his cut as his phone sounded.
“WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!” He heard, the moment he put the phone to his ear.
“That’s what I’d like to know.” Happy replied.
“First Riona and Juice. Now you and Aislinn?!” Jax spat, and Happy cleared his throat on this.
“Riona?” Happy questioned in wonder.
“What the fuck is going on?!” Jax demanded.
Aislinn answered her phone as Happy was talking to Jax.
“I’m alright.” She replied as to the alarm in Chibs’s voice.
“What’s goin’ on?”
“We haven’t a clue!”
Aislinn told Chibs everything she knew, but like that of Happy, she hadn’t much to go on. She was on the phone still when Happy pulled up to the house. Ethan helped her down, but Aislinn grew eerily quiet as Juice, Rat, and Riona were standing outside Happy’s house. This had Ethan and Happy looking to one another in question. They headed over to see what all the fuss was about.
“What is it, Ali? Talk ta me!” Chibs desperately called.
“They’re birds… another dove and a crow. But the dove is in the crow’s mouth.” Aislinn murmured and felt her knees starting to give.
She thought back to the dream she had and how the crows fell from the sky. But there weren’t any doves, not that she remembered.
“In the crow’s mouth?” Chibs reiterated making certain he heard that right.
“Aye. I think the crow is eatin’ the dove.” Aislinn gravely whispered while trying to keep from passing out.
“Scotty, I think everyone’s gettin’ a bird.”
“How do ye mean, love?”
“I think everyone gets a bird before we start to perish. I think Riona and I are the doves.”
“What are ye talkin’ about Ali?!”
“Talk to Jax… He’ll tell you.”
“And why can’t you?”
“He made me promise. I’m sorry Scotty. But I know he’ll tell ya if he ask. But ya gotta do so in private. Ya can’t let anyone know about this.” She whispered.
Aislinn thought back to the baby crow however and snapped her sister a look.
“Where’s the wee one?” She asked, and Riona gestured towards the house.
Riona headed inside for her own peace of mind after seeing the apprehension on her sister’s face.
“Abel?!” She called as he wasn’t in bed.
Riona checked the bathroom and a few of the other rooms. She called him a couple more times but nothing. Panic set in as she took notice of the back door. It was wide open, and she could make out Abel with his flashlight. He was calling one of the puppies that ran outside the house. Riona darted out the back then chased after him as he chased after the dog.
“ABEL!” She hollered, and the boy came to a halt.
Abel peered back and aimed his flashlight at his mother.
“My puppy run away.” Abel cried, and Riona nodded as she made her way.
“I told you to stay inside. Didn’t I, love?!”
“I know but he run, and I no know what to do!”
Riona froze as she caught a shadow just a few feet away. It made the hair on her arms prickle. The shadow moved, and the puppy let out a yelp. Riona’s heart sank as whoever it was had the puppy by the throat and lifted into the air.
“That my puppy!” Abel cried, and Riona held the boy back.
“I’ll take care of it. I need ya to head on back.” His mother said.
“But mommy!” He cried then tugged at the sleeve of her shirt.
Riona’s heart was going ninety-to-nothing as she watched the puppy squirm about in the shadowed figure’s arms. She was doing her best to make out who it was but couldn’t. It was too dark, and she feared for her son’s safety.
“Go!” Riona ordered.
“MOMMY! HE HURTING HIM!” Abel sobbed and started towards the puppy.
Riona clenched her teeth together and snatched the boy up off the ground. She set him down then aimed her son towards the house.
“GET IN THE BLOODY HOUSE, ABEL!” Riona reprimanded, and Abel regarded his mother in absolute shock.
The boy covered his face then took off crying. Riona recoiled but hadn’t a choice. The man was a threat and behind whatever this was. She could hear her son bawling and calling for his aunt as he ran back inside.
“Who are you?”
The man didn’t respond, and Riona narrowed her eyes as he was petting the puppy. The puppy let out another whimper as he wriggled about.
“Give me the dog.”
The cryptic man taunted Riona by waving the puppy right in front of her face. Riona plucked it out of the man’s arms and got a protective hold as she backed away. She could hear the others off to the distance as they asked of her whereabouts. Just as she was to take off, the man leaped out and grabbed ahold of her. She dropped the puppy, and it growled at the man. Riona let out a frightful gasp as she was slammed up against a tree. The man took a knife out from his jacket and Riona screamed as he took that knife to her abdomen over and over. It wasn’t until he forced her head down and made a twisting motion that she realized it was just the handle. The blade itself wasn’t out. The young woman jumped when the man exposed the blade. She thickly swallowed as the man took the tip and gave her a little nick on the cheek. He licked the blood off the knife then placed something around her neck. The man took off directly after.
“Riona?” She heard Happy call from a distance.
“I’m here!” She replied but was a trembling mess.
She ran her hands along her stomach where the man pretended to stab her. It felt so real. Riona leaned against the tree and was doing whatever she could to collect herself. She could hear Happy talking to her, and he was looking right at her. But she couldn’t make out a word he said. Her vision had tunneled, and everything sounded like she was under water. Happy lifted her blouse just enough to expose her abdomen. The Son let out a breath of relief as he’d seen what had taken place. He had fired a couple shots at the time, but Riona had gone into shock and didn’t hear them. The two locked eyes and Riona clung to the Son like her life depended on it. Happy gave a simple nod and looked around the area.
“HAP?!” Jax shouted.
Happy had the president on speaker but with the phone in his pocket. The Son cleared his throat and kept a strong hold on Riona as he answered.
“WHAT THE FUCK’S GOING ON?!” Jax demanded.
“Someone needs to die, like tonight.” Happy uttered.
“What are you talking about? Is someone there?! Did something happen to my wife?!”
“They were… I’ll call you back boss.” Happy said, and Jax went to argue this, but the Son hung up.
He carried Riona into the house then laid her down on his bed. The Son was quick to grab as many blankets as he could find. He piled them up on top of her. He was in the midst of this when he caught wind of the necklace around her neck. It was a snake eating itself. Happy was discreet in removing it. He pocketed it with the intention of showing it to Jax.
“What happened?!” Aislinn called in alarm, and Happy glanced over as she was standing in the doorway.
“Keep an eye on her. I gotta call Jax.” Happy said without explanation.
“Riona?” Aislinn softly called as she approached the bed.
Riona didn’t so much as blink. She was just lying there, staring at the ceiling.
“Riona love… What happened?” Aislinn said while taking her sister’s hand into her own.
“Is he okay?” Riona quietly murmured.
Aislinn lifted her eyes.
“The wee lad’s just fine. Ethan’s keeping him distracted.”
Riona nodded then wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
“I thought I was dead.”
“I heard the gunshots…” Aislinn said, and Riona closed her eyes on this.
“Take your time… I’m right here.” Aislinn said as her sister was pretty shaken up.
It took her a few minutes, but she finally got it out. Aislinn came to a stand then paced the area afterward.
“We gotta talk, Riona.” Aislinn made certain the door was shut before making her way back.
Riona listened as her sister told her about the dream she had and how Abel had something similar.
“Crazy right?” Aislinn said afterward, and Riona just sat there.
“Say somethin’, please? Don’t make me think I’m losin’ it over here.”
“Ya should listen to whatever they told you,” Riona said taking her sister by surprise.
“They reached out to you for a reason. Don’t ignore it.”
“Aye, but how are we goin’ to help those lads?”
“Haven’t a clue. But I’m sure it’ll come to us when the timin’ is right.” Riona uttered.
“Hope so. Cause I haven’t the fuckin’ faintest at this very moment. Those doves weren’t in the dream.”
Riona nodded and looked to be in thought.
“So we’re the doves…”
“Maybe we’re the last to fall?” Riona said as she sat up in the bed.
“Like I said… I haven’t the faintest. But ya can’t tell anyone about the dream Riona. Jax made me promise. He wants to find out who the fake crow is and he can’t do that if word gets out that we’re onto somethin’ fishy.”
“Our crazy lives…” Riona scoffed, and Aislinn gave a nervous laugh.
Riona grew somewhat emotional all over again, and Aislinn joined her on the bed. She wrapped her arms around her and Riona cried into her shoulder.
“Ya should’ve seen the wee one’s face when that bastard had his dog, and then I go and treat him the way I did. His wee heart…”
“He’ll be fine, Riona. Abel’s goin’ to realize it was in his best interest and the pup is fine. Ya didn’t do anythin’ wrong. Ya were bein’ a ma! And you’re the best one there is. I would know!”
Riona flinched a couple of times as she moved about.
“Are ya hurtin’?”
“A wee bit.”
Riona lowered the blankets then showed her sister where she was struck with the knife handle.
“YOU’RE COVERED IN WELTS!” Aislinn exclaimed as Riona’s abdomen was swelling and bruising all over.
“I’ll get ya some ice!”
“I’m alright,” Riona said then lowered her shirt back down.
“Nah, ya need those tended to!”
“Linny, I’m alright.” Riona reiterated.
They turned as there was a knock at the door. Aislinn answered the door and nodded as it was Happy.
“It’s the boss.” He said while handing Riona the phone.
“I’ll check on you in a bit,” Aislinn said as she and Happy gave Riona some privacy.
“I don’t even know what to say.” Jax expressed with that guilt-ridden tone.
“Jackson… Ya couldn’t have seen this comin’.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m a state away Riona, and you need me!”
“Aye now, I’m just fine. Don’t ya go and do that to yourself. I need ya focused, and so do your boys.”
“Riona…” Jax uttered in defeat.
“Tell me you got something, anything to pinpoint who this son of a bitch is!”
“It was too dark.”
“Riona babe, give me something. Anything! Whatever comes to mind. Whether it be a tattoo, scar… Hell, his scent even. I don’t give a fuck. Just tell me whatever you can.”
Riona did her best to describe the man, but it was pretty much what he’d seen in the pictures Happy had sent of the footage back at AC’s. The only thing she had to add was that he smelled like cigars and booze. She couldn’t make out anything other than that.
“I’m not much help. I’m sorry.”
“No. You’re doing great baby.”
Jax cleared his throat.
“So here’s the thing. I want you, Aislinn, Ethan, and Abel to pack your bags. You’re leaving tonight. Abel will be staying at Neeta’s with Juice and Rat. You three will be leaving early for the festival. This will give you ladies a jump start on that shopping or what have you.”
“That’s right. You’ve been marked, and it isn’t safe now.”
“Jaysus Jackson, all we do is run and hide!”
Jax sighed on the other end.
“Riona, tonight could’ve ended on a whole other note. One I can’t even bring myself to think about. I can’t be there. I have to finish what I started before I can even think about coming home. Try to think of it as a vacation alright? This is something you and your sister need and you know it. No one’s going to look for you at a festival filled to the fucking brim with people. That’s what makes it so perfect. You’re not hiding… at least not in the way you’re thinking. You’ll be right in the open, and no one would ever suspect that. It’s just for a few days. Just long enough to give us some time. I’d like to be on the road back before you even think about heading home. Alright?”
“Linny and I have work…”
“And I’m your boss! So I’ll give you those days off with pay!”
“This isn’t negotiable, Riona. I’m sorry, but I’m using the patch on this one. You’re my wife, but you’re also SAMCRO, and I’m telling you to pack it up and get the fuck out of dodge! TONIGHT!”
Riona sighed then looked at the time. It was three thirty-eight in the morning.
“It’s gonna be a long night.”
“It sure is. So you better get to packing.”
“I really hate you right now.”
“I know. But you’ll forgive me and love me in the morning.”
“Try forty-eight hours!” She scoffed, and Jax chuckled.
“I’ll take it. I’d rather you think me a dick than to lose you. So I’ll take the dick card tonight and make it up to you later darlin’. Now I gotta go, but I want you to call me if you think of anything else or if something else comes up.”
“You too,” Riona uttered before hanging up.
“What is it, lil dude?”
“Mommy be so mad at me.”
“And why do you think that?”
“Cause she gets very mad and yells at me. I no mean to make her mad!” Abel said while snuggling his puppy.
“Abel, I don’t think she was mad.”
“But she was!” The boy argued.
Ethan thought back to his son and how they had those moments as well.
“Being a parent isn’t the easiest thing.”
Abel lifted his head on this and Ethan sent him a little wink.
“The entire world is on our shoulders Abel. And when I say that… I mean our children. You are our worlds, and we will do anything to keep you safe. Even if that means we have to make you a little upset in order to do so. If Liam wasn’t listening to me and I knew he was in danger… I would’ve yelled at him too. It’s best to act then apologize in that type of situation. Your mother wasn’t mad, and she wasn’t meaning to hurt your feelings. You two were in a bad situation, and she was doing whatever she could to get you out of it, safe and sound.”
“So like when daddy yells at me?”
“So, my mommy yells like daddy sometimes?”
“Oh yeah. I’m sure this won’t be the last time either.”
Abel frowned in thought.
“She loves you kid, and I know that’s what was going through her head tonight. She would’ve done ANYTHING to keep you safe. So when she hurts your feelings like that… just keep in mind that you should probably listen because there’s a reason behind it.”
“Mommy no want me to get hurt.”
“Daddy no want me to get hurt either.”
“See?! You got it!”
“Does you yell at Liam too?”
Ethan raised his brows on this. He was somewhat impressed that Abel remembered his son’s name.
“Oh yeah. But like you with your mother… Liam knew I was doing my best to raise him right and keep him safe. But there were times where he did make me mad.”
“Oh yeah… There were times he would get a little too hyper, wouldn’t pick up his toys, or he’d wake me up while I was trying to get a little sleep before work…”
“Yeah, my daddy gets mad at those things too.”
“See?! It happens! That’s just human nature. I bet there are times your mommy and daddy make you mad too!”
“Yeah cause they no lets me do what I want sometimes! Or I wants to play my game, and daddy says I have to pick up my toys first. Mommy makes me wash my hands before I can eat too! If I don’t she says no dessert!”
Ethan had a good laugh at this.
“She makes you wash your hands?!” Ethan mocked in horror and Abel giggled.
“She say they gross and has germs!”
Ethan smiled as the puppy had fallen asleep in Abel’s arms.
“Does Liam die because he no listen to you?” The boy innocently questioned, and Ethan fought the urge to flinch.
“No. Liam died because his mother didn’t listen to me.”
“So she no listen and Liam gets in danger?”
“If she listen, Liam no get hurt, and he no die.”
“Does you get really mad at her?”
“Oh yeah… and I still am to this day.” Ethan admitted, and Abel nodded.
“She no take care of him, and it makes you sad. I no want my mommy sad like you is.”
Ethan forced a smile as he was getting a little choked up.
“I don’t either.”
“So I listen to mommy and daddy…”
“There you go. You’re a smart kid. Smartest one I know!”
“I has to hit the jacks,” Abel whispered, and Ethan chuckled as that’s what his sisters always said.
Abel handed the puppy over then hurried into the bathroom.
“Think of a name for him yet?” Ethan hollered.
“No. I wants my daddy to name him.”
“Ah, I see.”
Ethan glanced at the door as there was a knock.
“Yeah?” He called, and Aislinn entered the room.
“Where’s the wee one?”
Ethan pointed towards the bathroom and Aislinn nodded as she joined him on the bed.
“Interesting night…” Ethan muttered, and Aislinn half laughed.
“Ya could say that.”
“Jax has given everyone specific orders…”
“Aye, we gotta pack it up and hit the road tonight.”
“Tonight?!” Ethan questioned while looking to the time.
“Says it isn’t safe,” Aislinn added and Ethan nodded in understanding.
Abel stepped out of the bathroom and Aislinn waved the boy over.
“Ya hold on to this and don’t let go.” She said while handing the dragon over.
“But Thomas is yours!”
“Aye, but I need ya to look after him for me. Can ya do that? Keep him close at all times. I can’t take him ta work and your ma and I share a bed, so there’s no room for him.” She forced a smile then roughed the boy’s hair up a bit.
“Okay. I will take care of Thomas for you. I can gives him back before you go home.” Abel said.
“Shared custody! How about that?”
“What that mean?”
“It means we take turns and share Thomas equally.”
“Okays, we do that.”
“Alright but you have to watch him alllll this week!”
“I does that. I takes good care of him for you.”
“Good deal. Now I know you’re tired, but we gotta pack it up. Your father wants you to stay with Neeta and Juice for a couple days.”
“Because we have to go out of town and the place we’re goin’ isn’t kid-friendly.”
“It for grownups?”
“Aye. But we’ll bring ya somethin’ when we get back!”
“Like a present?”
“Okays,” Abel said, and Aislinn helped the boy pack everything up.
“You gonna help me pack too?” Ethan smarted, and Aislinn laughed once she realized what she was doing. She was throwing her brother’s clothes in with Abel’s.
“Nah, it’s cool. Might as well pack it all together. Would save on room.”
“Ya can separate them at the sitters. Why don’t ya go and help Riona?” Aislinn suggested as Ethan hadn’t a clue about Riona’s little encounter.
He heard the gunshots but thought it was Happy being extra precautious and using that as a scare tactic. Ethan narrowed his eyes wondering what was up. He didn’t question it however knowing he couldn’t with the boy right there. So he did as requested and went on to help Riona.
Ethan entered the room and overheard Happy telling Riona about Aislinn’s terrible night.
“Booed off stage?! My sister?! NEVER!”
“Exactly. She was killing it Riona, like she always does. Something’s off about all this. Talk about ugly. We had to get the sheriff’s department up there, and they had to run them out of there!” Ethan said as he chimed in on the conversation.
“Oh, Linny… I can’t even imagine!” Riona said with a hand over her heart.
“Who would do such a dreadful thing?! Do you think all of this is connected?!” She hinted, and Ethan shook his head in doubt.
“What about that Darren guy?” Happy randomly put as he zipped up one of his leather duffle bags.
“Who?!” Riona asked, and Ethan regarded Happy in thought.
“Think he might’ve hired someone to sabotage her night?” Happy added.
“That’s some fucked up shit man…” Ethan said, and Happy nodded.
“It is… But if he’s losing business… And he’s already propositioned her once.”
“Propositioned?” Riona asked.
Ethan told her what happened that night and everything that was said between the two.
“Ya mean he had the nerve to use me in order to threaten her?!”
Ethan and Happy nodded, and Riona sneered at this.
“Ah, that weasel. I’ll pop his head right off!” She said but an idea came to her, and Riona couldn’t help but smile.
“Oh shit…” Ethan said, and Happy reared back in wonder.
“I know that look. That can’t be good!” Ethan declared, and Happy laughed.
“Aye, I should give the wee bastard what he wants and go to work for him!”
“Just hear me out…”
Ethan and Happy listened to Riona’s makeshift plan, and looked on in absolute marvel.
“That’s brutal. I love it!” Happy was first to say, and Ethan chuckled.
“I gotta agree!”
“Alright, I’ll have to have Juice and a couple prospects lookin’ after things while I’m in there but with a good disguise. They can’t raise any suspicion.”
“Just have them dress like queer-ass douchebags, and they’ll fit right in.” Happy said, and Ethan laughed.
“That’s no lie.” The prospect muttered.
“I’m sure we can find a couple Backstreet Boys shirts and some Berkeley ball caps,” Ethan said.
“Oh, talk about the blackmail I’d have!” Riona exclaimed.
“Right?! You’d own Juice and those prospects!”
Happy shook his head in thought.
“Glad I’m looking after this one and not you. Fuck that shit!” Happy said, and Riona died of laughter.
“You sure about this?” Leia questioned, and her brother nodded.
“He won’t stop if we don’t do something. He’s going to run her off!”
“I doubt that,” Leia said and AC sighed.
“Look, just stay put and…”
Leia stopped her brother as he went to exit the car.
“Leia…” AC scolded.
“Do my eyes deceive me or is that…”
AC narrowed his eyes and glanced the direction in which his sister was looking.
“Samantha?!” He muttered.
“NO WAY!” They chorused as Sam and Darren (the owner of Corky’s sports bar) were in a heated kiss.