Chapter 47 – Break The Mirror
I do not own SOA, Dark Country, or anything youtube related. I claim original plot and characters. I give no one permission to use them.
“Just imagine if you had done this about twenty-five years ago.” Marianne bitterly teased as she helped Pepper get Ethan into bed.
Pepper didn’t remark knowing he had that one coming. But he did the math in his head as he took Ethan’s boots off.
“He was what? Five?”
Marianne gave a simple nod, and Pepper looked to be in thought. He observed as Marianne lifted her son’s head and placed a pillow behind his head.
“Been awhile since I’ve done this myself.” Marianne sadly murmured.
“I can imagine.”
“So, you want to explain?” Marianne said after taking her jacket off and sitting at the hotel table.
“Why our son was drunk?”
“Let’s just say it was our first time alone.”
Marianne tilted her head on this.
“I think he was testing me.”
“Yeah, I mean come on, Marianne. He took a known-alcoholic to a bar.” Pepper thought back to his and Ethan’s earlier conversation and sighed.
“Maybe he was,” Marianne said with a shrug.
“I’m guessing you passed?”
“If this is what you would call passing.”
“Well, did you drink?”
“Then you passed!” Marianne exclaimed with a warm smile.
“You haven’t changed a bit.” Pepper complimented.
“Well, thank you. I’d say the same but…” She teased, and Pepper had a good laugh at this.
“Same ole Marianne.”
“You know it. Never held back with you before. Why should I now?”
“Hm, now that’s one hell of a white lie there.”
“If you’re talking about our son…”
Pepper cocked a brow as the room grew tense all of a sudden.
“You know why I didn’t tell you.”
“Oh, I have a pretty good guess. But humor me anyway.”
“We made our intentions clear, that night. It wouldn’t have been right.”
“Wouldn’t have been right?” Pepper damn near hissed.
Marianne sighed then shifted about uncomfortably in her chair.
“So, let me get this straight. It wouldn’t have been right to tell me about the child you were expecting when you first found out. So, you waited until you had him and until I was married and starting a family?! What part for this do you think is right, or good timing even?!”
Marianne closed her eyes in memory.
“Ethan needed a kidney.”
“We had him on a waiting list.”
“Me and my mother. It wasn’t my plan to tell you about Ethan. But your reaction was all I needed. You didn’t ask anything about him. But you wrote me a check and damn near shoved me out the door!”
“So, you were there to ask for a kidney?!”
Pepper thought back to that very day and recoiled. He remembered how shocked he was to see her standing at his front door and with that desperate look in her eyes. He already knew, and all he could focus on was getting rid of her before his wife showed up.
“Well, more like to see if you were a good candidate. But my mother called during that visit, and we found out she was a perfect match.”
“And that’s why you left without argument.” He uttered in memory.
He thought it a little too easy… ridding of her the way he had. But he hadn’t anything to do with it after all. Marianne was in a hurry to get back to her son so they could start the surgery.
“So, that’s why you hauled ass,” Pepper uttered in memory.
“Oh, believe me, I had other reasons. You weren’t exactly inviting. Your only concern was Teagan and how she’d be home any minute. You were sweating bullets and couldn’t wait to get me out the door.”
“So, how did Ethan find out about me?” Pepper curiously asked.
“He found the checks.”
“You mean the ones you never cashed? I put money into a private account just for you and Ethan and you never even touched it. Hell, the money is still there. I considered that money long gone and thought it was. I never even thought to check on it. I opened a private box just for those statements. But I never read them, didn’t want to. I rid of them before I got home. I didn’t see the point in looking at them. I didn’t know about the money until recently!”
“I kept all the checks, but yes. I never cashed them. I wanted to prove I didn’t need you or your money.”
Pepper recoiled as Marianne got a little teary-eyed.
“You made me feel like complete trash, Alastar!”
“You should take the money.”
“I don’t want it!”
“GODDAMN IT MARIANNE TAKE IT! Hell, if nothing else, give it to Ethan. He doesn’t have to know it came from me. You can say it was something you put back.”
Pepper shrugged, and Marianne shook her head.
“Why did you send the money in the first place? I mean I never asked you for it. I never even gave you my address. You could’ve been done! So what was the point?!”
“Marianne, I don’t know what to tell you. I felt it was my duty. Despite the awkward situation I wanted to help. So, I sent them, just in case. If I had known about the kidney…”
“Don’t even go there. Don’t you even think about lying to my face! You know you would’ve denied him that kidney! There wasn’t a chance in hell you’d have offered something like that. Not with the risk of Teagan finding out. You know… That’s the one thing I didn’t get. Why wouldn’t you tell her about us?! If Teagan was as great as you claimed, then don’t you think she would’ve understood? It wasn’t like we did anything wrong. Don’t you think she would’ve wanted that boy in your life?”
“Marianne, we’re Catholic…”
“I don’t give a damn what you are… Aren’t Christians supposed to be forgiving?!”
Pepper pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.
“It’s not that simple.”
“Sure it is. It’s as simple as you want to make it. All you had to do was explain the situation and let her know that there wasn’t a chance in hell of us getting back together, that all you wanted was to be in your son’s life. What was so hard about that, huh?!”
“She would’ve divorced my sorry ass and moved on with someone else.”
“Then she must not have been as great as you thought!”
“You shut your mouth when it comes to my wife.”
“I’ve kept my mouth shut long enough. It’s time you know what I’m thinking and have been for years. You see I let it all go. I took it for what it was. But the day you broke my son’s heart… That was the day I realized just how much I HATED you. I wanted to gun your ass down. How could you look at that sweet boy, a boy that saved up every dime he had just to meet his father… How could you look him in the eyes and say those dreadful things? How could you turn your back to him and be done? Me?! Sure that’s understandable! But your own flesh and blood? And to refer to yourself as a sperm donor? Screw you, Alastar Lawless. SCREW YOU!”
Pepper winced as Marianne covered her face and started to cry.
“You will never know what you did to that poor boy. You never will.”
“Nothing I say will fix it. All I can do is make it up to him.”
“And how are you going to do that? Build a time machine?”
“I wish,” Pepper uttered.
“Honestly, if you could do that he wouldn’t even exist.” Marianne bitterly muttered.
“Marianne, if I could go back nothing about that night would’ve changed. There was just something about it. I knew what I wanted even if it were just for the one night.”
“But it was just the one night. Alastar, we’re talking about someone’s life, someone’s childhood…”
“I can’t give him all that. But I can give him what I have to offer now.”
“And that is?”
“Whatever he needs. Whether it be a friend or a shoulder…”
“But not a father.”
“Marianne, Ethan doesn’t see me as a father, and I’m not about to insult him by making that proposal. He’d shoot my ass dead, and I wouldn’t blame him. Hell, as of now I’m on all three of my kids hit list.”
“Can’t imagine why.” Marianne sarcastically put.
Pepper shook his head in thought.
“Hell, you sure you haven’t met my daughters?”
“Not yet. Why?”
“You remind me of one of them.”
“You’ll know when you meet her.”
Chibs placed the washcloth into the tub and wet it. He used the warm cloth to wash his wife’s breasts and tummy. The Scot cleared his throat as he found himself somewhat aroused. He couldn’t help it. It wasn’t so much about her nudity. There was something about touching her that drove the man insane. He’d this heavy connection each and every time. It was that way the first time they touched, and that feeling hadn’t faded. If anything, it was even stronger than before. This had the man leaning in and breathing her in.
“When ye gonna wake up Ali darlin’?” He whispered as he rinsed the cloth out and started on her legs.
The Scot shook his head once he got to her feet. Aislinn was very ticklish when it came to her feet and seeing her just lay there like a log had the Scot on edge. Chibs switched to a clean washcloth and attended to Aislinn’s private areas. He’d saved those for last. He took extra precaution around her catheter. Chibs never thought he’d be in this situation. He thought back to when he first met Aislinn and when he had his fingers in her during that exam. There was nothing sexual about it. In fact, Chibs had never been so nervous. He’d never examined a woman like that before, at least not to that degree. Aislinn being a rape victim only added to the uncomfortable circumstances. He hated every second. It was around that time however he realized there was something there. Chibs had never felt so angry and protective when it came to a woman. How could someone be so cruel and heartless? Then again, Chibs was certain Jimmy was the spawn of the devil himself and born without a soul. How else would you explain Jimmy’s fascination with rape?!
Chibs emptied the water once he finished with Aislinn’s bed bath. He got his wife into a fresh gown and put clean sheets on the bed. The Scot checked her monitors over then nodded amongst himself.
“Yer all set, pet.”
The Scot struggled against that image yet again as he dried the counter off. This hit quite often as of late – Bobby giving his dead and naked fiancée CPR. That would forever haunt him. Chibs just knew that was it. His girl was gone, and he’d never see her again. He wanted to die, right alongside of her. He tried so hard to get to her, but his body wouldn’t allow it. Chibs had never felt so powerless, and he hated himself for it. The Scot had vowed to keep her safe, to be there. If she was going to die, it should be in HIS arms, not Bobby Munson’s. That alone triggered a bit of an anxiety attack. The man held a hand over his heart as he glanced Aislinn’s direction.
“I never thought I’d say this shite ta any woman, but I can’t live without ye. I need ye, Ali. Ye can’t ever leave me.”
The Scot let out a miserable laugh after he admitted this.
“Yer somethin’ else, ye know that?! Ye just had ta come along and change EVERYTHIN’!” Chibs uttered in a bitter and angry tone.
But he was the furthest thing from bitter or angry. The Scot was scared. There was a time he lived and breathed the club. His very existence was built around the MC. Marriage was the furthest thing from Chibs’s mind, yet here he was… Chibs had forged his old lady’s signature just to get that damn piece of paper proving she was his. To top it all off – they were expecting now. Chibs would’ve laughed in anyone’s face if they had told him he’d remarry and would be expecting one day. He’d plans of dying alone.
Pepper looked to the time and shook his head realizing a good four hours had passed. He and Marianne were sitting at the table and had been quiet since their heated argument. Both had been surprised that Ethan slept through all that. Then again, Ethan was shit-faced.
“Why don’t you take the other bed? I’ll get us some ice and something to drink.” Pepper offered.
“Marianne, take the other bed.” Pepper further insisted.
“I’m good.” She reiterated.
Pepper cocked a brow when Marianne opened her purse and tossed something his direction.
“Ethan?” He questioned while flipping through the wallet-sized photo album.
Marianne nodded. Pepper found himself a little choked up as she had baby pictures, on up to his school years — the latest being of him, Tracy, and their son.
“Who’s this?” Pepper questioned.
“Our grandson – Liam Lawless.”
“Grandson…” Pepper muttered, but thought back to his and Ethan’s conversation at the bar.
Ethan had mentioned his son and how he was ripped out of his arms.
“Liam died not long ago. My drug-addicted daughter-in-law got him killed in a car crash. That was the woman you shot today.”
Pepper’s jaw hit the floor, and Marianne nodded.
“Ethan’s had a rough life,” Marianne whispered then regarded her son in thought.
“More like cursed. He’s been like that ever since he started kindergarten.”
“Sounds familiar,” Pepper uttered with his daughters in mind.
Maybe it wasn’t Ethan as much as it was the Lawless name in general. Pepper, however, found himself backtracking to what Marianne said earlier.
“Liam Lawless? You mean Hart.” He corrected, and Marianne smiled.
“No, with mine and Steven’s blessing Ethan had his name changed to Lawless years ago.”
Pepper was blown away by this reveal.
“And before you go and give yourself a big head over it… That hadn’t anything to do with you. Ethan did that so he could feel some sort of connection with his sisters. He talked about them all the time. He had such wonderful stories. Ethan loves those girls so much.”
Pepper narrowed his eyes in question, and Marianne laughed.
“He didn’t tell you, did he?”
“Tell me what?”
Marianne told Pepper all about Ethan’s visits to Ireland and how he went behind his father’s back. This led to the story about Ethan and Tracy’s marriage and when Liam came into the picture. They were in mid-conversation when they heard Ethan’s cellphone rang. Both ignored it knowing Ethan needed his sleep. But it rang and rang until Pepper finally gave in and answered it.
“This is Pepper.” Alastar awkwardly answered.
“Where’s Ethan?” Bobby questioned.
“Well, wake his ass up. Boss is calling for all hands on deck.” Bobby gave Pepper the address on where Ethan needed to be then hung up.
Pepper sighed then shook his son awake. That in itself was no easy task. Ethan bitched up a storm then rolled over.
“What the fuck do you want?!” Ethan hissed, and Marianne covered her mouth in laughter.
“He’s not a morning person.”
“Clearly,” Pepper muttered.
“That Bobby feller called,” Pepper repeated what all Bobby said, and Ethan groaned as he sat up in the bed.
“Sounded important, made it clear that you needed to get your ass over there, now.”
Ethan didn’t comment as he came to his feet and headed to the bathroom. His mother and father glanced upon one another as they could hear him taking a piss. The prospect washed his hands then exited the bathroom.
“What?!” He questioned as they were staring at him.
“Nothing.” His mother softly put, and Ethan sighed.
“Can I trust you two? You know… not to kill one another or make me another sibling.” Ethan witted.
“ETHAN!” His mother scolded, and Ethan chuckled as he pecked her on the cheek.
“I’ll be back. But seriously don’t kill each other. I’d say otherwise you in your case…” Ethan said with a hinting nod his mother’s direction then made a gesture his father’s way.
“But my sisters need him to testify in court.”
“That’s your only reason?” Pepper challenged with a smirk.
Ethan grabbed his father’s keys then glanced his direction.
“I don’t think you want me to answer that right now. I’m taking your truck. I don’t know when I’ll be back.” Ethan said and was about to leave when he turned towards his mother.
“Who told you where to find me?”
“Well, he wasn’t sure exactly… But he had a pretty good guess.”
This had not only Ethan but Pepper’s attention.
“It was that nice Scottish man from the hospital. I tried the Teller-Telford shop, but one of the employees said to speak with him first and told me where he was.”
“You mean Filip?” Ethan questioned in surprise.
“I believe they called him Chibs.”
“Mom, was there a woman sharing the room with him?”
“No, I don’t believe so. He seemed a little iffy on telling me where you were. It wasn’t until I showed him a few pictures of you and identification proving I was your mother that he even told me. Poor man seemed out of it, but he had a hunch on where I should go first, he named off a few other places just in case.”
Ethan didn’t comment and stepped on out of the room.
“Well, just when you think things couldn’t get any more awkward,” Marianne muttered, and Pepper sighed.
“How bout that ice?”
The boys pulled up to the house and saw their president taking care of not only his wife but Happy Lowman. Each of them shared the same look of relief and took turns hugging Happy. Bobby and Tig took over in Happy’s aid and teamed up in getting him into the back of Jax’s truck. Jax and Kip helped Riona to her feet.
“What happened?” Kip questioned.
“Clay happened,” Jax replied with a sneer.
The others heard this as well, and Jax gave a simple nod.
“You mean that son of a bitch lived?!” Bobby snapped, and Tig recoiled as he looked to the necklace, he’d taken off the dead crow.
Tig was going to tell them about the incident when another vehicle pulled up to the house.
“Goddammit, Dinah.” The Son bitched under his breath then took off that direction.
He opened her door before she even had a chance.
“I told you not to come.” Tig harshly whispered, and Dinah shrugged before stepping out of the car.
“What’s she doing here?!” Bobby disbelievingly questioned.
Ting cringed once he saw the look of disproval on his president’s face.
“Oh chill, all of you.” Dinah showed them that she was carrying but left her badge at home.
“I’m an ally today.”
“Today?!” Jax mockingly challenged considering he already thought of her as an ally.
“That’s right. Today.” She said but took over in caring for Riona’s wound.
This had Jax slightly annoyed as he was in the process of cleaning her up.
“Damn. Someone got you, good, sweetheart.” Dinah whispered.
“I’ll be right back.” She uttered as she left the young woman with her husband.
Tig watched as Dinah gathered a first aid kit from the back of her car.
“What are you doing?” He hissed knowing the guys weren’t too happy with him at the moment.
“Taking care of your president’s old lady.” She replied and rushed on back.
Tig shook his head as Dinah cleaned the blood off Riona’s head and face and got her taken care of.
“You dizzy, nauseous?”
“Wee bit of both,” Riona admitted and Dinah nodded.
“No sleeping then.”
Bobby had Happy’s head propped up and was helping the man get some water down. Happy starting choking however as the back of his throat was dry and covered in blisters. This had the man coughing so hard tears were streaming down his face.
“Easy…” Bobby whispered while patting Happy’s back.
Bobby sighed then looked to their president in thought. They’d never seen Happy this bad before. The man could barely hold his head up.
“These two need a hospital.” The sheriff said.
“I’ll be alright,” Riona insisted.
“Um no, you won’t.” Dinah showed Jax just how deep the gash was, and the president recoiled.
“Jesus baby.” He whispered with that heart drop feeling.
It was hard to tell just how bad it was with the amount of blood there was earlier. Jax wasn’t sure how much more he could take. First, it was the bullet graze and now this.
“Hospital, both of you,” Dinah ordered.
The sheriff took notice of the discouraged looks on the Sons’ faces, however.
“I take it you’re all caught up in something?”
Jax nodded in response but was fussing over his wife. Dinah couldn’t help but notice how shaken up Jax was. She could see the guilt written all over his face. Dinah admired that side of Jax. He was very loving when it came to his wife and son. He didn’t care what anyone thought. This side of him certainly showed as he kissed his wife and kept apologizing. He wouldn’t listen when Riona told him it wasn’t his fault.
“I’ll take them.” Dinah surprisingly offered.
This took Jax and Riona by surprise.
“And what will you tell the hospital?” Jax questioned.
“I’ll come up with something along the way,” Dinah uttered as she helped Riona into the passenger seat of her car.
Jax and Bobby loaded Happy into the back. Jax shook his head when Happy passed out yet again.
“They really fucked him up,” Bobby whispered, and Jax shut Happy’s door in thought.
The president made his way to the passenger side and kissed his wife.
“I’m sorry, baby.” He whispered knowing he couldn’t join her.
He had to find Clay and ASAP before he hurt or killed someone else.
“Aye now, I’ll be just fine love,” Riona reassured.
“You better be.” He uttered with a broken heart.
“I love you.” The president added while caressing her cheek.
“I love you too Jackson. Please be careful.” She said then leaned into the palm of his hand.
“I will. I promise.” Jax lovingly vowed.
The sheriff raised her brows however as Jax lifted his wife’s hoodie and grabbed the gun he’d given her.
“I won’t even ask,” Dinah muttered under her breath.
“Probably for the best,” Jax admitted but with a playful wink his wife’s direction.
Jax shut the door but with this troublesome look in his eyes. That made six members of the SAMCRO family now. Four that would be in the hospital and two were dead, all because of Clay Morrow.
“Um, Jax…” Kip called, and Jax gestured for him to hold on while he waved his wife and the sheriff off.
“What?” He asked once they were out of sight.
“You’re gonna wanna see this,” Kip said, and Bobby shook his head in protest.
“You sure about that?” Bobby sneered, and Kip sighed.
Jax snatched the iPad out of Kip’s hold and replayed what Kip and Bobby had already seen. Jax saw not only the parts with Happy’s torture, but when they soldered the area with his missing finger. But he saw where Clay snuck up on his wife and hit her with the blunt end of his gun. Jax didn’t so much as blink as he witnessed Clay’s rape attempt as well. The president nodded amongst himself once he caught the “sneak peek” Clay pulled. Bobby and Kip could hear the grinding of Jax’s teeth when Clay told his wife he’d fuck her dry. Jax was so focused on his wife during that moment, he didn’t see what Bobby Munson saw. Bobby had already seen this, so his focus was on Happy Lowman. Bobby swore Happy’s reaction was more torturous than what Clay was doing to Riona. Happy truly was beside himself and doing whatever he could to get to Riona.
“Do whatever it takes to find this son of a bitch, ALIVE,” Jax ordered, and the Sons nodded in agreement.
“What is it?” Jax questioned once he saw the offbeat look on Tig’s face.
Tig told everyone about the incident (aside from the sheriff’s presence) from this morning then showed them the necklace. Jax knew what that necklace used to mean to Tig and could see the pain in his eyes.
“Guess that means everyone’s received their crow,” Jax uttered but with concern for Tig Trager.
Tig always struggled when it came to Clay Morrow. There was a time Tig would’ve died for him. But being Clay’s sidekick had its immoral sides, and it got to be too much even for Tig Trager. Clay had given Tig that necklace when Tig lost his daughter – Dawn. Some old rivals of SAMCRO got ahold of her and burned her to death. This was during JT’s reign at the gavel. Tig hadn’t mentioned his daughter or that day since. Tig was very private when it came to his personal life. There were few that even knew about Tig’s daughters or his past. Those few being – Jax, Chibs, Bobby, Opie, Clay, Piney, and Happy. No one else had a clue, not even the Lawless sisters.
“And the girls their doves.” Bobby reminded, and Jax winced as Abel’s baby crow came to mind as well.
“Yeah, well it’s time for Clay to receive his visit from Mr. Mayhem.”
“Alright, so here’s the deal,” Dinah said as she was headed for the emergency room.
The sheriff gave Riona the cover story. This way she and Happy could keep up with it after the sheriff told the staff. The sheriff was going to make it sound as if Riona was jumped and Happy Lowman came to the rescue. Happy got the worst part of it when they were ganged up on. These, of course, would be “masked men” that took off after the beatdown. Riona nodded and made a mental note knowing she’d have to repeat all this to Happy once he came to. This way their stories would match.
“Make it sound as if it took a while for anyone to find you. That will explain Happy Lowman’s dehydration.”
Riona nodded in thought.
“I hadn’t the chance to tell your husband yet. But that other MC covered your husband’s tracks. So, there shouldn’t be any reason for concern. If the feds do any sniffing around it’ll be around Oakland and their MC. But they won’t find anything, like usual. They never do. I suppose the Mayans and SAMCRO have that in common. They sure clean up good. Not sure how they do it. But people go missing and nothing. We can suspect all we want, but we don’t have shit unless there’s actual proof.”
Riona let out a sigh of relief but didn’t dare comment. She knew better.
“She pulled through you know…”
Riona craned her head the sheriff’s direction.
“Now, she isn’t awake yet. But your sister made it through the surgery.”
Riona closed her eyes, and a single tear made its escape.
“Let’s get that noggin’ of yours stitched up, and you can go see her.”
“Thank you.” Riona sincerely put, and the sheriff sent her a warm smile.
“So, where’s that brave boy of yours?”
“Good. Something tells me you and your husband are in waaay over your head. Try keeping those heads above water if you get my drift.”
Pepper filled the bucket up then shut the door to the ice machine.
“You think you can sleep with my wife?” A voice bellowed from behind, and before Pepper could even comprehend what was happening, his face was slammed up against the machine.
Someone had him by the scruff of his neck, and their body was planted up against his.
“NO ONE TOUCHES MY WIFE, NO ONE!” The mysterious man growled, and Pepper used the ice machine to jar his entire body back against his attacker.
Pepper was quick to turn around and socked the man in the face but froze directly after. He recognized the man right away. He was in Marianne’s pictures.
“HEY!” Pepper shouted when the man slugged him one in return.
“I HAVEN’T TOUCHED YOUR FUCKING WIFE. WELL, NOT TODAY. I’M ETHAN’S FATHER!” Pepper shouted in defense.
This had the man before him staggering back, and Pepper gave a mere nod.
“You must be Steven. Marianne’s in the hotel. We’re waiting on Ethan.”
“Oh, shit…” The man muttered under his breath and Pepper used the back of his hand to wipe his face off.
Pepper chuckled once he saw the blood on his hand.
“Can’t go anywhere without someone breaking my fucking nose!” Pepper bitched.
“I’d apologize, but Marianne’s told me all about you.”
“Yeah well, I’m sure there’s a club too if you want to join. It’s getting pretty packed though.” Pepper muttered, and Steven followed him to the hotel.
Marianne sprang to her feet the moment they entered the room.
“STEVEN?!” She shrieked in complete surprise.
Her husband smiled in response. Pepper felt like the third wheel as the two embraced one another and ended up in a heated kiss. Pepper cleared his throat in reminder that he was still there and with nowhere else to go since Ethan took his truck. Marianne seemed somewhat embarrassed and removed her husband’s hands from her ass.
“What are you doing here?! You’re supposed to be in the hospital!” Marianne reprimanded.
Pepper placed the bucket down then shut the door behind him. He took a seat and was quiet as the two talked.
“I had to make sure you were okay, Mari (pronounced Mary).” Her husband affectionally put.
Marianne shook her head as if to scold her husband.
“How are you even standing?!” She fussed while untucking her husband’s shirt.
Pepper raised his brows when she lifted it and checked his wounds over. Pepper counted at least four stab wounds.
“Stop. I’m fine, Mari.” Steven said and went to tuck his shirt back in.
“You left without them releasing you, didn’t you?!”
Steven sent the woman a shameful expression, and her entire face lit up in fury.
“I TOLD YOU NOT TO DO THAT!”
Steven sighed as his wife bitched him out and was in tears over his health and the danger he put himself in. They were in mid-argument when Marianne got a good look at Pepper and Steven’s faces.
“Wait… did you two get into a fight?!”
This had Pepper and Steven regarding one another now. Steven had this pleading look in his eyes, one only another man would understand.
“It was a misunderstanding. We’re good.” Pepper uttered with a dismissive shrug.
“Misunderstanding?!” She questioned in disbelief.
“Where’s Ethan?” Steven asked figuring it was best to change the subject.
He appreciated what Pepper had done but loathed the very air that man breathed. Steven thought of Ethan like his own and was just as heartbroken by what Pepper had done to him. But the last thing he wanted was Marianne getting all up in arms because he thought she was fucking around. Steven hadn’t accused his wife of cheating before. But what was he supposed to think when he saw his wife’s car at a hotel and a man exiting the room she was supposedly in?! Steven realized just how ludicrous he was acting. But he couldn’t help it. He’d come to this town in hopes of finding his wife before she got herself into trouble. He was passing by when he saw her car. Her husband jumped to conclusions when he saw a man exit the room his wife was parked in front of.
Marianne told Steven where Ethan was and all about Tracy. Steven didn’t seem phased by any of this. It’s like he saw it coming.
“Our family’s first murder!” Her husband playfully yet miserably put.
His wife let out a nervous giggle.
“Actually, I fired the gun and fed her to the pigs. So, technically that makes two for my side. Yours is lacking.” Pepper teased and this had Marianne and Steven regarding Pepper in absolute shock.
“Right… Why don’t I start from the beginning?” Pepper offered and while gesturing for them to have a seat.
“Happy?” Riona whispered while peeking into the room they had him in.
Happy lifted his eyes as he was kicked back on an examination table. Riona giggled at the sight of Happy in a hospital gown. Something about it seemed “unHappy”. Happy didn’t seem very impressed with her sudden laughter. Riona shut the door behind her. They had him on an IV drip and were monitoring his heart rate and blood pressure.
“How ya feelin’?”
“Like I was in the ring with Muhammad Ali.” He said and sat up.
“Ya look it!” Riona teased, and Happy smiled.
“Shouldn’t you be resting?”
“Actually, they want me up and walkin’. I have a wee bit of a concussion. They don’t want me fallin’ asleep.”
Happy nodded but was quick to turn away.
“Happy?” Riona called.
The Son broke down catching Riona off guard. The young woman made her way over and reached for his hand. Happy once again threw her for a loop when he hugged her, like his life depended on it. Riona kept quiet knowing this wasn’t something Happy Lowman ever did. She figured silence was best; he’d talk when he was ready. You don’t push a man like Happy. A solid ten minutes went by. There were no words. None were needed.
Riona jumped when her cellphone sounded. Happy lifted his head off her shoulder, and she sent him an apologetic glance. The young woman excused herself then took a few steps back before answering the phone.
“Riona baby, tell me you’re with Happy?” The way her husband said this had her on edge.
“Aye, I’m in his room now.”
“Good. Don’t leave his side, not for a second.”
“Is someone comin’ for us?”
“That’s always a possibility. But that’s not why I called.”
Riona listened as Jax told her about the footage with Otto Delaney and how Clay used that to torture Happy. Happy kept quiet but could hear everything his president was saying. Riona covered her mouth and her eyes locked with Happy’s. The Son turned away yet again and with balled up hands.
“I mean it. Don’t leave his side.” Jax reiterated.
“Aye,” Riona said before hanging up.
Happy let out a miserable laugh then shot up in the bed.
“What are ya doin’?!” Riona rebuked as she had to stop Happy from ripping his IV out.
“DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT!” Happy shouted, and Riona’s jaw dropped.
Happy pried her hand away then ripped that IV out. Blood spurted all over the place. Happy grabbed a hospital sheet and wrapped it around his arm. He held some pressure over the area and headed for the door, only to have Riona block his path.
“I DON’T NEED A BABYSITTER!” Happy hissed, but Riona stood her ground.
“No, but you need your family, and I am your family!” Riona sternly put.
“Ya wanna leave?! You’ll have to go through me!”
Happy tilted his head looking somewhat amused.
“You’re going to stop me?”
“Damn right…” She said while getting on her tippy toes, so she appeared to be taller.
Happy took notice, and this had the Son dying of laughter.
“You’re right. You got me.” Happy wittily put then lay back down.
Riona sighed and sat beside him.
“They shaved part of your head!” Happy taunted once he saw the little bald square where her stitches were.
Riona elbowed the shit out of him, and Happy let out a painful grunt.
“We could shave it all off then you’d look just like me, only paler!”
“Aye, you’re a riot!”
“You’re late.” Jax hollered when Ethan pulled up to the house.
“Yeah, well something came up.” The prospect uttered after exiting his father’s truck.
“No excuses. I called for all-hands-on-deck, over half an hour ago! We needed you THEN!”
Ethan let out a miserable laugh as Jax, and the rest of the Sons were giving him shameful looks.
“Look, man, I had some shit to take care of, alright? I got here as soon as I could.”
‘What other shit?! The president challenged.
“Family shit.” Ethan softly uttered, and Jax narrowed his eyes in question.
“Aislinn okay?” Jax asked with concern.
“Wasn’t her. My ex…” Ethan whispered.
Jax raised his brows and offered Ethan a smoke in apology.
“Oh?!” Jax probed and gestured for the others to get back to work.
“Yeah, but I’m here now. So, let’s get to it.” Ethan said before taking a drag.
If it were only Jax, Ethan would’ve told him. But the prospect didn’t want the entire MC knowing his business. Prospect or not, that was his business, and he didn’t know these guys well enough to risk oversharing. Jax gave Ethan the scoop as to what all had taken place and went as far as to show him the footage of not only Happy and Otto’s torture, but the attack and rape attempt on his sister. Ethan shared the same murderous look Jax had when he first watched it.
“Trust me. I know…” Jax whispered, and Ethan shook his head.
“We gotta find this son of a bitch. So, we could use those investigative skills of yours, Tex.”
“I’ll see what I find,” Ethan muttered then went on to search the entire house as well as the storage unit the Crowkillers kept Happy in.
“Tig,” Jax called then waved him over.
“Don’t care how… just get him to talk.” Jax made clear and with a gesture Kozik’s direction.
Tig smiled then popped his knuckles.
“My pleasure,” Tig replied.
Kozik regarded Jax with pleading eyes. He couldn’t say anything because his mouth was taped shut. Tig grabbed Kozik then dragged him towards the storage unit.
“What is it?” Happy asked as he went to knock on Chibs and Aislinn’s door, only to have Riona stop him.
“Not quite ready for that.” Riona softly admitted, and Happy tilted his head in question.
“For what exactly?” He asked in confusion.
“Seein’ her so…” Riona trailed off, and Happy nodded in understanding.
“Not the image I want, ya know!”
“Image?” Happy rather scoffed.
“If she doesn’t wake…”
“She will.” Happy reassured thinking this side of Riona was rather odd.
She was usually more optimistic. Riona had taken it upon herself to keep Happy covered as he was in his gown still and they were dragging that IV bag of his around. Happy took notice and peered back once he saw where her hands were.
“You grabbin’ my ass?” He teased, and Riona blushed in response.
“Hap…” She harshly scolded.
“I can leave ya exposed if ya like!” She threatened.
“You think I give a damn?! I have a nice ass! Let everyone see it!!”
Riona laughed so hard she snorted, but that laughter faded when she looked to the door again. Happy took Riona by the hand and led her into a corner.
“What difference does it really make?”
“How do ya mean?”
“Your last memory of your sister. Say she was to die today? Why does it matter?”
“It just does.” Riona sadly murmured, and Happy let out a frustrated sigh.
“Look, it doesn’t matter if her head is missing when you go in there. She’s still your sister. That last image will be forever burned into your mind. You won’t get over it, but you’ll get through it. We’re human; it’s what we do.” Happy rather hinted and Riona recoiled as his father came to mind.
“I’m so sorry Happy.” Riona sincerely put.
“Riona, that’s not why I’m telling you this. What I’m trying to say is it doesn’t matter because there is more, and it will come to you wants the pain starts to fade. It’ll never go away, but it will get easier. You’ll remember what matters and that’s what you hold on to. So, suck it up and let’s go.”
“Such a way with words.” Riona hissed.
What he said was surprisingly moving, up until the end. Happy chuckled in response.
“Why did ya leave?”
Happy glanced back as they were at the door again.
“That day… Why did you leave?”
“Because you were pissing me off!”
Riona’s mouth flew open and Happy shrugged.
“I was being a dick, alright?!” Happy quickly put as he could see those gears of hers turning and knew she’d blame herself.
“I don’t understand. What did I do?!”
“Doesn’t matter.” Happy said and went to knock once again.
Happy let out an irritated growl when she stopped him.
“But it does. If I said somethin’ wrong… Don’t you think I should know?!”
“You really are thick-headed!” Happy snapped in response.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?!”
“If you don’t get why I walked out that day then you truly are…”
Happy refrained from finishing that sentence knowing that would lead to a fight.
“Are you sayin’ I’m the reason Clay got to ya?!”
“FOR FUCK’S SAKE. LISTEN UP, WILL YA?!” Happy barked and Riona curled her lip in response.
The two were in the middle of a stare down and didn’t see the door open.
“I AM!” Riona hissed in response.
“NAH, YOU AND YOUR SISTER NEVER LISTEN. THAT’S SOMETHING YOU TWO HAVE IN COMMON. FUCKING STUBBORN LITTLE BIT…” Happy stopped himself once again then made a fist.
“Aye, I get it.” Riona bitterly put and was about to turn her head when Happy cupped her chin.
“You’re so fucking blind. Look, you might not have been the old man’s favorite, but that “favorite” daughter wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. You grew up way before your time. I get that you feel like her childhood was ripped away and all that shit. But don’t you ever think about yourself?! I mean doesn’t it piss you the FUCK off?!”
Riona tilted her head in question.
“Come on, Riona. You can’t tell me it doesn’t piss you off… Having an old man that ignores you and when you were the one putting food on the table and raising HIS FUCKING KID!” Riona recoiled as he shouted this last part.
“So, your sister makes everyone laugh and smile. She lights up a fucking room, right?! But you haven’t a fucking clue when it comes to you. You’re too focused on her. Think about yourself for once and realize people give a shit about you too. ANNND despite what others have taught you…” Happy leaned into her ear on this part.
“You’re more than a nice pair of legs, big fucking tits, and a bouncy ass. You can get that shit anywhere!” Happy cleared his throat once he realized how deep he was getting. The Son blamed the morphine he was on. Fucking morphine… Happy miserably thought. He was saying shit he shouldn’t be saying, but the man couldn’t help himself. Happy was quick to come up with something to divert off what all this really meant.
“If that’s all Jax was focused on, he’d fuck whatever bitch he wanted. Face it, Riona. That ring…” Happy tapped her wedding ring and his eyes locked with hers.
“Don’t mean shit, never did and never will. You’re the only one Jax would do that shit for.”
Riona blushed as they heard someone clear their throat. They turned their heads and saw Chibs Telford standing at the door. His attention was on Happy Lowman… Happy had this deer caught in headlights appearance. Chibs didn’t utter a word. He hugged Happy then kissed him on the cheek. Happy hugged his VP in return. “Good ta see ye.” The VP whispered then stepped aside allowing the two in. Tried as he might, the Scot couldn’t take his eyes off Happy. He’d never heard the man go on a spiel like that before. This had the VP in a state of shock. It wasn’t just about what he heard, but he was thankful to see Happy alive and well. Happy ignored this and sat in a corner by himself. Riona grabbed a chair and sat beside her sister.
Chibs kept his voice down as he got the two updated on Aislinn’s progress. In return, they got Chibs up to date when it came to Happy and where they found him. This had the VP shaking his head in thought. Aislinn was right; they should’ve shot Clay Morrow dead that night. How in the hell did he survive that storm and in freezing temperatures, nevertheless?!
“Lemme see.” Chibs hinted as to Happy’s missing finger.
Happy held his hand up, and Chibs made his way over.
“Damn…” He muttered under his breath.
“And he’s still out there?”
Happy gave a mere nod, and Chibs sighed.
“He won’t be for long.” Chibs made clear.
“I want a piece of him.” Happy severely put, and the VP smiled.
“I figured you would, so did Jackie.”
“He needs to die, like tonight.”
Chibs locked eyes with the Son and shook his head in disagreement.
“Yer not ready fur all that. We gotta get ye back in shape first.”
“No one tells me what I’m ready for.” Happy argued.
“Aye, well I do and so does Jackie. This isn’t somethin’ we vote on either.”
Happy gritted his teeth, and Riona let out a gasp. Happy had Chibs by the cut and was in his face.
“Tonight.” Happy reiterated.
Riona started to intervene, and Chibs threw up a hand stopping her.
“As yer VP, I deny ye that request. Ye got a problem with it then ye can call Jackie and see what he has to say. Eat, drink, sleep then we’ll talk about this again.”
“HAPPY!” Riona scolded when he slugged Chibs across the face.
Chibs yet again stopped her from intervening; In fact, the Scot acted as if he saw this coming. The VP eyed the Son down then gestured for him to come at him again.
“Ye wanna go?! Then let’s go, boy!” Chibs challenged.
Happy started towards his VP but refrained once he saw the look on Riona’s face. She’d this protective hold on her sister and was in tears. Happy recoiled once he realized what he’d done. The VP hugged the Son once again and leaned into his ear as he did.
“We’ll get him and when we do… it’ll take days.” Chibs vowed as to Clay’s torture.
The Scot planted his hands along Happy’s cheeks then looked him in the eyes.
“I’ll make certain he experiences what he did… Only it won’t end there. He will beg for Mr. Mayhem, but he won’t meet him, not until we’re ready.”
Riona flinched once she gathered the meaning behind that. Chibs kissed Happy’s forehead then had him sit back down.
“I want a part in that,” Riona said while looking at her sister.
This had Chibs and Happy’s attention.
“Part in what, darlin’?” Chibs questioned.
Chibs went to argue this only to hear Happy laughing. The two glanced his direction, and Happy nodded Riona’s.
“You get first dibs.” Happy promised taking Chibs by surprise.
Riona gave a simple nod, and Happy smiled.
“Hap…” Chibs warned as he could picture the look of disapproval on Jax’s face.
Happy ignored this however and flipped through a nearby magazine.
“What do ya expect me ta do?!” Riona bitterly questioned.
“Ya let my sister at Jimmy!” Riona reminded.
“Riona… I…” Chibs started to say but was interrupted by the heated Irish woman.
“He tried to kill you and my sister!” Riona pointed a finger Happy’s direction.
“And he would’ve killed him, just like he killed Juice and Piney! This is just as much MY war!”
“She can handle it, trust me. Let her at him. She’ll fuck him up, real good.” Happy murmured with a dismissive shrug and continued in his page flipping.
“I’ll talk ta Jackie,” Chibs promised, and Riona sent Chibs a respectful nod.
“The man knows his wife. I’m sure he’s already saved her a spot.” Happy reassured.
“Imma get some Dr Pepper. Would either of ya like anythin’?” Riona uttered and looked to be on the verge of tears.
“I’m good darlin’.”
“I’m enjoying my morphine.” Happy drowsily put, and Riona giggled.
“I bet.” She said before exiting the room.
Chibs cleared his throat once it was just the two of them.
“Does she know?” The VP whispered.
“I think we both know where I’m goin’ with this… Don’t make me spell it out. It’s a simple yes or no.”
Happy sent his VP a look of utter hell but shook his head no.
“Good, ye best keep it that way. Jackie finds out and…”
“There’s nothing to talk about here.” Happy warned.
“There better not be. Nothin’ can save ye. Nothin’. So, ye best do yer admirin’ from afar. Don’t ye let Jackie boy catch on…”
“Like I said there’s nothing to talk about.” Happy said through gritted teeth.
“Alright then,” Chibs muttered then let it go from there.
“You sure?” Jax questioned once Ethan finished with his search.
“Yeah man, sorry. There’s nothing here. Nothing telling us where he ran off to.”
This had Jax whistling Tig’s direction. Tig’s hands were covered in blood and Kozik was lying in a puddle of it.
“Anything?” Jax questioned, and Tig sighed.
“Nope. But he did say it was Brad Montana that ratted us out to the Fed. He doesn’t know where Clay is.”
“Alright. Finish it.” Jax ordered, and Kozik pleaded for his life.
“Like music to my years,” Tig said, and Ethan nodded Jax’s direction.
“What’s that all about?”
“Tig and Kozik go back, way back. Used to be friends, until Kozik killed his dog.”
“He killed his dog?!”
“Yep. They were neighbors. Kozik got drunk one night and shot Tig’s, German Shepard. Said it wouldn’t stop barking.”
“And Tig didn’t kill him that night because…?”
Jax raised his brows on this.
“I’m guessing you’re a dog lover?”
“That’s right. You’re the idiot that gave my son a fucking pup.”
“Every kid needs a dog.”
Ethan chuckled then shook his head in thought.
“Whatever you say, man. I take it you never had a dog.”
“You’ll see. You’ll understand Tig soon enough.” Ethan uttered, and Jax shrugged as they watched Tig give Kozik that final blow.
Jax tilted his head as that movie Aislinn loved so much came to mind.
“People and their fucking dogs.” The president muttered under his breath.
Ethan couldn’t help but chuckle as he overheard this.
“Just you wait… You’ll be eating those words, asshole.” Ethan whispered amongst himself.
“Where you off to?” Bobby called as Jax headed towards his truck.
“To find my mother. She’s gotta know something.” Jax replied.
The president adjusted his leather gloves then hopped inside.
“Good luck with that!” Bobby sarcastically hollered.
“Stay put, all of you. I’ll be in touch.” Jax hollered before hitting the road.
“Come here often?” Riona heard and she turned to see Brodie standing behind her.
He was leaning against the wall with his arms folded about his chest.
“You’re nothin’ but a big ole flirt,” Riona uttered with a grin.
“Ye know it!”
“Ya look like you’re about to drop. Why you out here anyhow?”
“I can only take my cousin’s ugly mug for so long.”
“You’re terrible! Chibs is a very handsome man. I’ll have you know!”
Brodie had a good laugh at this.
“What is it with ye lasses and that pity love?”
“Pity love?!” Riona hissed, and Brodie cocked a brow on this.
“That’s right. Ye pity the poor bastard, all ye lasses do. Those scars have gotten him more pussy than any mate I’ve ever known!”
“Ya really are somethin’ else. Those scars haven’t anythin’ to do with Chibs’s ability to get some.”
“Aye, he’s a lovely and attractive man. You’re just angry because he won my sister over and you never could.”
“Aye now, I speak the truth, and ya know it, and shame on ya for talkin’ that way about family. That man loves ya and despite your arseways ways as my sister would put it… You love him too!”
“Aye well, I don’t wanna suck his wee dainty Dublin’!”
“Did ya really use the capital of Ireland as a reference to your cousin’s penis?!” Riona taunted with a wide grin, and Brodie smirked once he caught on.
“Yer right… that’s givin’ the bastard way too much credit!”
“Ya need sleep, Brodie. We both do.”
“That an invitation?”
“Not even in your wildest dreams.”
Brodie let out a disappointed sigh.
“You’re like my brother, Brodie!” Riona scolded.
“And yer like my sister… Ye know, if we grew up in Arkansas this would be considered normal. They would be like… ‘Brodie son, go and get you some of that while she’s ripe’!”
Riona wanted to be mad but ended up dying of laughter. She wouldn’t admit it, but she needed that laugh. Things had been awfully tense, and she worried about her sister and Jax. Her husband had so much on his shoulders. She hated being in this hospital when he needed her. Riona understood that SAMCRO was her husband’s responsibility, but she was his wife now, his old lady even. That made the club and her husband just as much her responsibility, and nothing would convince her otherwise. She had to take care of her family.
“Ya really need Jaysus, Brodie.”
Brodie smiled then stole a sip off her Dr Pepper.
“Ye know I’m just fuckin’ with ye.” He said but in an apologetic manner.
“I’m tired.” The Scot admitted and while looking to the floor.
Riona nodded in thought.
“Why don’t we go to the house and shower? We can catch some z’s after.” Riona offered, and Brodie gathered this shit-eating grin.
Happy hadn’t been released from the hospital and wouldn’t for a couple of days, at least. But Riona figured it would be okay to leave if she had Brodie with her.
“Hell, guess we don’t need Arkansas after all.” He smarted, and Riona punched him in the chest.
“Knock that shite off!”
“Hey, now ye set yourself up on that one!” Brodie further taunted.
“Em, I’ll meet ya outside. I’ll let Chibs and the others know we’re headed out for a wee bit. One of the prospects can keep watch if the others aren’t stayin’.”
“Not sure what their plan is. I know their case ran cold… whatever that means.” Brodie uttered.
“It means they couldn’t find the one responsible for all this.” Riona clarified.
Marianne and Steven were at a loss for words by the time Pepper finished his story about Nicholas – Riona’s unfaithful and abusive husband. This made a first. Pepper never talked about that night before, not even with Aislinn. That was a what’s done is done ordeal between the two, and they couldn’t risk Riona overhearing them. It was an unspoken rule between the two. Pepper hadn’t realized just how much that night weighed on him, not until now. Before Marianne or Steven even had the chance to point it out, Pepper caught on and grew ill.
“I let my baby kill a man.” Pepper eerily put then came to his feet.
This had Steven and Marianne exchanging glances.
“Why would I do that?” Pepper rhetorically questioned.
“Why would I let Aislinn do that?” The man repeated and was beside himself as he leaned against the wall.
“Alastar?” Marianne called with concern.
“She was a child! I ripped her innocence away.”
“You couldn’t do it. So, you had her do it instead. You knew she would. If this is the sister Ethan told me about, you knew she’d do anything for her sister.” Marianne softly put, and Pepper craned his neck that direction.
“They’d do anything for each other.” Pepper heartbrokenly corrected, and Marianne smiled.
“I suppose this is the sister you mentioned?” Marianne hinted as to when he said she reminded him of one of her daughters.
Pepper gave a simple nod.
“Sounds like she turned out okay.”
“That would be Riona’s doing, not mine. I failed all my children.”
“That you did,” Marianne said, and her husband cocked a brow on this.
“He knows I don’t sugar coat these things.” She said.
“You sure don’t.” Her husband replied with a warm smile.
“Aislinn doesn’t either,” Pepper admitted.
“Like her already.”
Pepper cleared his throat then wiped his face with the back of his hand. That familiar pang hit, and it was all he could think about now. The man licked his parched lips. Pepper grabbed his jacket then headed for the door.
“Where are you going?” Marianne curiously questioned.
“To clear my head.”
“Alastar… don’t.” She whispered knowing damn well what that meant.
“Riona and Ethan were right. This is all I know. I’m no good to those kids and never will be. They can’t even stand to look at me. Who can blame them?! I did this; all of this.”
“Well, aren’t we having a pity party!” Marianne bitterly scoffed.
“You don’t know anything!” Pepper barked in protest.
“You’re kidding, right?” Marianne snapped then blocked Pepper’s attempt to leave.
“Mari…” Her husband called as the situation made him uneasy.
“You’re not doing this! Not again! You’re not hurting those babies! I mean it, Alastar. If you walk out of this hotel and go on another drunken bender, I’ll kill you myself!”
Pepper laughed like this was all one big joke. Marianne hauled off and slapped him across the face.
“MARI!” Steven shouted and was quick to grab ahold of her.
He yanked her back then placed her behind him protectively.
“I don’t hit women.” Pepper uttered but recoiled in memory.
He hit Aislinn, right across the face, and hard. This was over a broken TV, and she was only a teenager at the time. Pepper lowered his head in shame.
“Not a chance I’m willing to take. Look, I don’t know you from Jack. But I’ve heard all the stories, and I think you’re a worthless son of a bitch and you deserve whatever karma you’ve got coming. But Mari is right; you can’t do this, not again. You walk out that door; you best take a lap or whatever it takes. Drinking won’t solve shit, never does. It only makes things worse!”
Pepper rolled his eyes then left the room.
“Dammit, Alastar!” Marianne said and started after him only to have her husband stop her.
“This is on him. If he hasn’t learned his lesson by now, he never will. Let Alastar decide what path he’s going to take. It’s out of our hands.”
“But…” Marianne whimpered in defeat.
“I know, peaches. Trust me; I know what this will do. But it’s his choice to make, not ours. All we can do is be there for the aftermath. Those kids will need us.”
Marianne started to cry, and Steven pulled her into his arms.
“Don’t lose faith just yet. Let’s see what happens.” Steven encouragingly whispered then kissed the top of her head.
Pepper walked to the nearest liquor store and grabbed his usual brand of whiskey. His hands trembled when he handed it to the cashier. The cashier cut him an odd glance but rang it up. Pepper watched as the man stuffed the bottle into a bag. He handed it over afterward.
“Have a nice day.” The young man said, and Pepper nodded in response.
Pepper exited the store then headed into a nearby alleyway. Tears streamed down the man’s face when he opened that bottle and took a good whiff. His children came to mind, and the man let out a miserable laugh.
“Whom I kiddin’?” The man uttered in defeat.
Pepper closed his eyes and brought the bottle towards his lips. Someone snatched the bottle from his hold, however, and Pepper’s eyes shot open. His eyes locked with the homeless woman standing before him. He watched as she poured the contents out onto the asphalt. She handed the empty bottle back.
“It’s time.” He heard her say.
Pepper watched in disbelief as she strolled off with her shopping cart. The man started to call out to her, but a crow landed in the puddle and dipped his beak into the whiskey. He took off in flight directly after but landed not too far away. Something about that had Pepper heading that direction. The crow screeched out then flapped his wings about in an excitable manner. This had the man tilting his head in wonder. Pepper bent down then lifted the blanket the crow had landed on. The crow let out another high pitch screech and flew away.
“Jesus fucking Christ!” Pepper shouted once he saw what was under the blanket.
The crow had landed on a body. Not just anybody but that of a corpse. The belated homeless man had a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a pack of smokes in the other. Pepper glanced the direction in which the homeless woman went, but she was long gone.
Jax parked a few blocks away, grabbed his duffle bag, then hopped on out of the truck. He wanted to catch his mother off guard. This was the only way. He’d have to sneak in through the backyard and use the window he personally unlocked during his last visit. He did this figuring he’d have to break in at some point. If he just up and knocked on the front door, there was a good chance Gemma would sneak out of the house and hit the road. Gemma had been avoiding Jax like the plague. That was a strange feeling considering Gemma was usually up in his and everyone else’s business. But Jax hadn’t seen or heard from his mother since her kidnapping attempt on Abel.
Jax climbed over the fence then crouched down as he headed for the window. The president peeked inside and nodded amongst himself as the coast was clear. That window led into the kitchen. Jax climbed on in and landed in the kitchen sink. Jax was extra cautious as he leaped down and hid behind the couch. The president picked up on a voice in one of the backrooms. This had him creeping around the living room, and towards the room, the voice was coming from. The bedroom door was cracked open. So, Jax stole a peek and listened in on the conversation.
“I was certain Jax would recognize it. I’m surprised Gemma didn’t.”
Jax tilted his head as this came from Tara Knowles. She was standing beside the bed and talking to someone, but Jax couldn’t make out who it was.
“Why do you think I had the date’s blurred?”
Jax raised his brows as he recognized that voice all too well.
“Well, it worked. He didn’t even question it.”
“That’s a man for you. Doesn’t recognize his own baby when he sees it.”
“I can’t believe he’s going to be five!”
“Right? Doesn’t seem like it was that long ago.”
“You’re lucky. Jax wouldn’t let me near him after I had him.”
“I’m getting him back Wendy.”
“Yeah well, I said that very thing when he was with you.”
“Jax doesn’t know a good thing when he has it, never did. He just needs that little reminder that’s all.”
“We’ve been together off and on since high school. Jax used to tell everyone I was his high school sweetheart. Trust me. That doesn’t go away overnight. Jax and I have way more history than you and this new bitch put together.”
Jax could picture the wounded look on Wendy’s face. Tara must’ve seen it too as there was a bit of a pause.
“I didn’t mean for that to come out as ugly as it sounded. What I mean is… That isn’t something you simply throw away and forget. There’s a reason he keeps me at arm’s length and gets so defensive when he sees me. He’s scared because he knows those old feelings are still there. I just need to bring them into light, so he remembers.”
“Op tells me that she’s really nice.”
“She’s illegal Wendy. Jax doesn’t need that shit and let’s face it; he’s only with her for that phony accent and fake tits.”
Jax reared back on this. There was nothing phony about his wife’s accent, or her breasts for that matter. Tara lacked in that department, always had. But that never bothered Jax; he loved women of all shapes and sizes. But he had loved Tara for who she was, up until she went completely psycho and left his “sorry” ass. Jax shook his head in thought. How could someone fall this far off the deep end? Tara was this whole other person, and he felt like he was listening to a stranger. It broke his heart, but it was what it was.
“I don’t know… I think she’s kind of pretty, to be honest. Her sister too.”
When the fuck did Wendy meet the Lawless sisters?! Jax thought amongst himself. He didn’t let that bitch anywhere near the clubhouse! He had her banished the day she OD’d and nearly killed Abel. He hadn’t let up on that banishment either. She could live in Charming, but she wasn’t allowed around anything SAMCRO related.
“They’re complete trash! They’re using those boys, and you know it!”
“I wasn’t defending them.” Wendy sadly murmured.
“Are you sure Gemma can go through with this?”
Through with what?! Jax questioned in that mind of his.
“Trust me… Gemma will do anything to keep from losing another grandchild.”
“But what are you going to do once she realizes you aren’t really pregnant?”
“I’m way ahead of you.”
“I have an appointment this weekend.”
“Okay…” Wendy uttered in waiting.
“Artificial insemination!” Tara excitably put.
“Tara! That’s crazy! Not to mention the timing will be way off. By a couple months or so, at least! They’re going to know something’s up!”
“I got this, alright?”
“And just how are you going to make them believe it’s Jax’s?!”
This had the president’s fullest attention. He crept up a little closer in hopes of seeing Wendy’s face during this conversation.
“His wife has an upcoming appointment in that same office. My doctor is going to convince her to…”
Jax grew ill as he listened to Tara’s disturbing plans. Only she had it all mixed up. Aislinn and Riona were seeing the same doctor, and Tara must’ve misunderstood and thought it was Riona having trouble conceiving when it was Aislinn. Tara had plans of using this doctor to convince Riona that Jax needed to offer a sperm sample. Tara would use this sample to fertilize her own eggs. Therefore, making her pregnancy with Jax’s baby come true. Jax couldn’t fathom what he was hearing. The president had enough of this particular conversation and rose to his feet. Jax opened the door, and it creaked as he did. The girls snapped a look his direction and with that deer caught in headlights presence.
“What?! Not happy to see “daddy?” Jax sneered.
“Jax! I can explain!” Tara defended in a state of shock.
“Oh, I don’t need an explanation darlin’. I heard enough. You aborted one of my children but want another one. Got it! Now, where’s my mother and what did you mean by go through with this?”
“ENOUGH!” Jax shouted as the two went back and forth.
Both were out to cover their own asses and weren’t answering any of his questions. Jax regarded both women in thought and shook his head. A miserable laugh followed this.
“Alright, time to do this my way.” He uttered.
Wendy and Tara exchanged nervous glances as the president had them at gunpoint now. They watched as the man gathered a couple of chairs and set them down, side by side.
“SIT! BOTH OF YOU!” The president ordered, and the girls started to cry.
This had the president gritting his teeth in response.
“No. You don’t get to cry. Neither of you get to cry. So, suck it up and SIT THE FUCK DOWN!”
The girls stumbled towards the chairs and did as Jax requested.
“What are you going to do?” Tara alarmingly questioned as he grabbed some duct tape and zip ties from his duffle bag.
“I told you… I’m doing this my way.”
“Jax, you don’t have to do that!” Tara pleaded.
“We’ll talk, alright?” She desperately added.
“Nah, we tried that, remember?” The man muttered as he bound Wendy to the chair.
Tara shot out of hers and ran for it. Jax chased her down and snatched her by the hair. He dragged her back into the room then shoved her back into the chair. This was followed by a pistol-whip to the face.
“TRY THAT SHIT AGAIN AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!”
“Jax… No women and children.” Wendy softly reminded as to SAMCRO’s rules, and Jax lifted his eyes that direction.
“I don’t see any women or children here. All I see are two deranged bitches.”
“Jax, baby, please. You know you don’t want to do this! YOU LOVE ME!”
“Love?! What the fuck do you know about love, Tara? Huh?!” Jax challenged with a low growl.
“You walked out, remember? You don’t get to talk to me about love, you crazy bitch. I know love. All you know is betrayal, manipulation, and lies. You go out your way to sabotage others, and you call that love. Sounds like you’ve been getting pointers from my mother.”
Jax nodded amongst himself once he finished with Tara’s zip ties.
“I can’t believe you two. You go from being mortal enemies to working together?! Seriously, what in the FUCK is going on around here?! First my mother and Tara. Now you and Tara? Is there a club I don’t know about? Did you two form one of your own – The bitches in Mr. Mayhem’s life?!” Jax slapped a hand over his mayhem patch as he said this.
Tara and Wendy recoiled behind the meaning, and Jax sent them this crazed smile.
“That’s right lil darlings. You’re not dealing with Jackson Teller. Nah, you’re dealing with the motherfucking reaper himself, and he’s soooo fucking done!”
Jax paced the room then let out a rather sinister laugh. The man came to a halt and tilted his head as he regarded the two women before him.
“You…” Jax uttered as he pointed Tara’s direction.
“You got some nerve darlin’. That shit you pulled when Susie called — then sending my wife those pictures. You should’ve seen this coming. But no, you go and add this whole fake pregnancy bit to the mix and get my mother and Wendy involved! Are you fucking mental? Just what in the FUUUUCK is wrong with you, Tara?!”
“You what?” The man sneered, and the girls could hear his jaw pop as he ground his teeth together.
“I warned you. Did I not?!”
Tara recoiled as Jax marched on over. He grabbed a fistful of his ex-wife’s hair then held his gun to her chin.
“DIDN’T I?!” The president shouted, and Tara flinched.
“ANSWER THE GODDAMN QUESTION, TARA! DID I, OR DID I NOT WARN YOU TO STAY AWAY FROM MY FUCKING WIFE?!”
“Yes.” She cried, and Jax gave a simple nod.
“And she warned you, and her sister warned you, and my VP warned you…” Jax let out another demented laugh.
“Oh, Tara… You of all people knew better. You’ve seen me at my worst. I killed a fucking fed, and I fucked you in the same goddamn room as his motherfucking corpse. Yet, here you are… You welcomed this very moment, with open arms. You did that when you became the stalker I killed.”
Jax curled his lip in disgust as Tara acted offended by his words.
“You knew what you were doing. You were recreating that day. You wanted to hurt my wife the way I hurt you; the way Joshua Kohn hurt you. You did this to a woman you didn’t even know! You became the monster you were running from, and now I know you made all that other shit up…”
Tara reared back on this and Jax nodded.
“The abusive man in your life, the miscarriage… You wanted sympathy and knew that was the ONLY way my mother would fall for it. So, who beat you up, Tara? Hm?! You beat yourself up?”
Jax raised his brows once he saw the exchange between Wendy and Tara.
“This just gets better and better. You had Wendy Case do it?!”
Wendy and Tara recoiled, and Jax chuckled.
“Jesus Christ, I really dodged a bullet with you two. FUCK!”
“Jax, please. I only did what I had to do! You weren’t listening!”
Jax ignored Tara’s plea and locked eyes with Wendy.
“So, what’s in it for you?”
Wendy lowered her head. Jax, however, thought back to when Opie mentioned Wendy Case and how she was the one manufacturing and selling the meth. Another growl escaped the president as it was all coming together now. That’s how Wendy knew about the girls. The man was fixated on Wendy as he spoke.
“You were the driver.” Jax contemplated as he connected the dots.
“Driver?” Wendy questioned in misperception.
“That night… The night the Aryans put a hit out on Ethan Lawless. You were driving the car. You and Clay were also responsible for getting Opie Winston on drugs!”
Wendy cringed, and Jax nodded.
“Oh, Wendy. You’ve been a very naughty girl. You played behind the scenes this entire time and I never even thought to come check up on you. You knew I wouldn’t. You knew I couldn’t STAND to be in the same room as you! So, you took advantage and played me like a fiddle.” Jax reared back realizing he’d picked up on some of his wife’s sayings.
Jax regarded Tara next.
“So, you got to my mother, and you got to Wendy. But Clay Morrow… he got to ALL of you. Each and every one of you fell for it. You became his puppets. I’m right. Aren’t I?!”
They didn’t answer, but they didn’t need to. Jax could see it in their eyes. He hadn’t any doubt that Juice was somehow blackmailed into all this as well.
“Clay made you a deal… Didn’t he, Tara? He fed you the lines. He knew what my mother wanted to ear. Clay knew she’d want that grandbaby and he knew you wanted me. Clay made you believe that I’d come crawling back to you if you did everything he said. But how does Wendy fit into this scenario? Besides, the need for a sonogram picture. There’s gotta be more behind this. Why would you and Wendy team up, on anything, alongside of my mother?!”
Neither were willing to answer that. The president tucked his gun into his jeans. The girls let out simultaneous gasps when he took their chairs and dragged them into the kitchen. They watched in horror as Jax pulled the stove out from the wall and ripped the gas line. He grabbed some metal forks and spoons from a drawer then stuffed them into the microwave. Jax set the timer for five minutes then glanced their direction once again.
“Time’s a factor…”
The girls screamed out in terror.
“YOU KNOW I HAVE NO PROBLEM GOING DOWN WITH YOU BITCHES! SO, GET TO TALKING OR I’LL LIGHT IT ALL UP!”
The girls spilled everything out in a panic. The president said nothing as he looked to the time on the microwave. He breathed the gas in and could hear the metal reacting to the microwave as it heated. Jax sent the girls one last nod.
“Time’s up, ladies! Save a spot for Clay. He’ll be joining you shortly.” The SAMCRO president stated as he climbed on out the window. He ignored their cries for mercy and screams of torment. The president bolted on over the fence and ran towards the truck knowing his mother was on the hunt.
“All done!” Riona said as she stepped out in a white robe and wet hair.
Brodie wiggled his brows as he was kicked back on her and Jax’s bed.
“Don’t even think about it!” Riona scolded, and Brodie sighed.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” He bitterly grumbled.
“Good!” Riona scoffed, and Brodie chuckled as he grabbed a towel and headed for the shower.
“Ye got a stereo system in the bathroom?!” Brodie hollered, and Riona giggled amongst herself.
Jax had that put in not too long ago. He did that for his wife knowing how much she liked to sing.
“May I?” He asked.
“Why not!” She called in return then laughed when Brodie turned the stereo on and started singing along to Smash Mouth’s All-Star.
“Really, Brodie?” She hollered and heard him laugh in the middle of singing.
“Crazy is what ya are,” Riona whispered amongst herself.
The young woman headed into the kitchen then grabbed a bottle of milk from the fridge. Abel came to mind as she squeezed some chocolate syrup into her glass. Riona stirred it then downed it in one go. She set the glass down afterward and decided to do the dishes before taking a much-needed nap. That and she wanted to make Brodie scream like a girl when she used all the hot water up. The young woman smiled amongst herself as she put that stopper in and filled the sink.
Riona heard the Scot holler out a slew of profanities, and she giggled. She started to say something in response but found herself submerged in water. The young woman wrapped her hands around the counter and was in attempts to lift her head out of the sink, but someone forced it back down.
“THINK YOU CAN WALTZ ON IN AND TAKE MY FAMILY FROM ME?!” Riona heard as she managed to gain a couple breaths.
Riona reached for the knife block she kept by the sink. She could hear the muffle of the woman yelling while she was under water. Riona wrapped her hand around one of the knives and was quick to act. She threw her head back afterward then used the counter to hurl her body towards the other woman. A grunt was heard as whoever it was hit the stove behind them. Riona pivoted around then locked eyes with her attacker.
“YOU?! YOU TRIED TO KILL ME?!” Riona shouted in a state of outright shock.
Gemma recoiled but had her hand against her waist where Riona had stabbed her.
“WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU?!” Riona howled once again.
“EVERYTHING!” Gemma yelled then grabbed a glass pitcher off another counter.
She charged right for Riona and took that pitcher to her face. Gemma kicked the knife out of Riona’s hand, and it landed on the floor. Riona shoved Gemma back, and the two dropped down and ended up in a scuffle over that knife. Gemma beat Riona to the punch and held it over her throat.
“KILL ME, AND I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL HAUNT YOU. EVERY TIME YOU LOOK AT ABEL OR JACKSON, YOU WILL SEE ME! EVERY TIME YOU BLINK, I’LL BE RIGHT THERE GEMMA!” Riona warned as she was doing everything within her power to hold that knife back.
“I’m okay with that, as long as you’re out of the picture,” Gemma said then lifted that knife into the air.
Riona closed her eyes as Gemma went for the kill. Only that kill never came.
Everything grew unnervingly quiet, and Riona felt the sudden absence of Gemma’s body. The young woman opened her eyes and saw her husband standing before her. He had his mother in a death grip and was prying the knife out of her hold. Once he had the knife, he sent it flying across the room. The president slammed his mother up against the fridge and was staring her down.
“My wife… YOU WERE GOING TO KILL MY WIFE?!” Jax rumbled and trembled in fury.
“You’re my mother. MY MOTHER!” Jax shouted, and Gemma winced.
Brodie entered the kitchen without a stitch of clothes on.
“What’s goin’ on?” He questioned.
Brodie hadn’t picked up on any of this, not until he stepped out of the shower. His singing, the music, and the shower masked the two women fighting. Jax, however, kept his eyes on his mother.
“Family business.” Jax made clear.
Brodie didn’t budge as his main concern was Riona. This incredible sense of guilt hit. Brodie knew if it weren’t for Jax showing up when he did, they’d be looking at Riona’s dead body.
“You know what I have to do.” Jax harshly whispered, and his mother gave a tearful nod.
Jax looked to his wife.
“You alright?” He asked with his emotions getting the best of him.
Riona nodded but could see the agony written all over her husband’s face. This was killing him.
“I’m sorry, baby. You didn’t deserve this. Gemma hasn’t a clue what you’ve done for Abel and me. Not one fucking clue.” Jax cried.
“I’m sorry you’re with a fucked-up man and with a monster for a mother-in-law.”
Jax closed his eyes then put his forehead against his mother’s.
“I have something to show you first.” He softly put, and Gemma nodded as this was directed at her.
Jax looked to Brodie.
“Put some fucking clothes on and keep an eye on my wife. I won’t even ask why you’re naked in my fucking house.”
“Jackson…” Riona desperately called.
“I don’t want you to see this side of me. Don’t follow me, Riona. I mean it.”
Brodie was quick to grab ahold of Riona as Jax dragged his mother out of the house and into his truck. Riona cried out and started towards her husband only to have Brodie tighten his hold. It was a true struggle too as she fought him tooth and nail.
“Shhh…” Brodie said in attempts to soothe her.
“This will kill him!” Riona sobbed, and Brodie sighed as he was at a loss.
“If he won’t let me be there…”
“Filip…” Brodie uttered before she could even finish that sentence.
Riona nodded, and Brodie sighed once again.
“Well, this will be one hell of a challenge.” He said as Filip had made himself perfectly clear.
The VP wasn’t leaving his wife’s side, no matter what. He wanted to be there when she came to.
“Everythin’ alright?” Filip questioned as he could hear Riona crying in the background.
“Aye, look I’m gonna need ye ta pack it up and find that president of yers,” Brodie replied.
Brodie sighed. This made a first where his nerves were getting the best of him. Brodie knew when Filip put his foot down about something that was pretty much it. This was even more awkward considering Brodie hardly knew these other guys, yet he felt like a prospect all of a sudden. Being the bearer of bad news was no fun. He had half the mind to offer to go up there in Filip’s stead but knew that would lead to a massive argument. That was the last thing his cousin wanted, and Brodie knew it. He’d kill Brodie if Aislinn woke and his was the first face she saw. But someone needed to be there just in case. This had Brodie regarding Riona in thought. He knew Jax told her to stay put, but it was her or Ethan. Brodie would be damned if it was Pepper.
“Are ye gonna talk ta me or not?!” Filip impatiently snapped.
“Just give me a minute, will ye? I’m gettin’ the messages.”
Brodie covered the receiver then nodded Riona’s direction.
“Where do ye think he took her?”
“I haven’t the faintest!” Riona cried, and Brodie shook his head in frustration.
“Then ye best hope my cuz has an idea.”
Brodie uncovered the receiver.
“Alright, here’s the thing…” Brodie told his cousin about the attack and how Jax walked in on it and how everything went from there.
There was a solid minute of silence.
“Think you can find him?” Brodie awkwardly questioned.
He could picture his cousin staring his wife down and cursing under that breath of his.
“Aye, I’ll see what I can do,” Filip uttered, but Brodie could hear the resentment in his cousin’s voice.
“I’m sorry cuz. I’ll get Riona up there.” Brodie did his best to hint.
“Aye,” Filip said, but Brodie swore he could hear his cousin’s heart break in half over the phone.
Filip loved Jax with all his heart and would do anything for him. Brodie knew that much. But he also knew his cousin was torn between his wife and his VP at the moment.
Chibs hung up the phone then looked to his wife.
“I know I promised I’d be here and wouldn’t leave yer side, but somethin’s come up. Jackie needs me.” Chibs shook his head on the irony.
He had to pick between his wife and his VP. Only this wasn’t just any VP. If it were anyone else sitting at the gavel Chibs wouldn’t budge. But it was Jax and Chibs made JT a promise, he vowed to watch over Jax and Chibs wasn’t one to break his promises, not until now.
“Forgive me, pet. Happy’s gonna watch after ye for me.” Chibs uttered before pecking her on the lips and rushing on out the room.
Chibs knocked on Happy’s door but didn’t give the man time to respond. Happy snapped a look that direction as he was taking a piss and the bathroom door was wide open.
“Think ye can wrap that up?” Chibs impatiently put as he helped Happy with his IV.
“Do I have time to shake at least?”
Chibs rolled his eyes as Happy gave his penis a couple shakes. The Son rinsed his hands off, and the VP snagged him some paper towels.
“Hurry it up.” The Scot ordered, and Happy cocked a brow on this.
Chibs sighed in response.
“I need ye to watch after me girl. Jackie’s got himself inta some trouble, and I gotta hunt his arse down.”
“Nah, I don’t know when I’ll be back. Riona and Brodie sounded as if they were headed this way though.”
“I got you. Go on.”
Chibs lifted his eyes on this and Happy snatched the bag to his IV out of his VP’s hand.
“I can wheel this shit around easy. Go! I won’t leave her side.” Happy vowed.
Chibs gave a simple nod then hurried on out the door.
Happy entered the room then sat in the chair Chibs had been sitting in.
“You’re a real pain! You know that?!” The Son softly uttered but in a playful manner.
Happy thought back to that phone call at the clubhouse. He should’ve taken it more seriously but thought it a prankster pretending to be Clay. Though he never said who he was exactly. The familiar man sounded drunk and made a threat against SAMCRO and their families. Happy shrugged it off even if it pissed him off. But he should’ve treated that phone call like the true threat it was. Happy wanted to prove he could handle things on his own. So, he never told Jax about that call. Jax had too much on his plate as it was. Happy didn’t feel it necessary at the time. Happy made everyone leave the clubhouse that night but didn’t take the needed precautions following. That would be something he’d always regret.
“It was my job to keep you and Chibs safe. I should’ve…” Happy made a fist then closed his eyes in thought.
This had him thinking back to everything he ever said to or about Aislinn in general. The man pinched his eyes shut then let out a shameful sigh.
“I love you Aislinn, and I don’t just say that shit, alright? You piss me off more than anyone I’ve ever known! But I know a large part of that is because you make me worry. I don’t like that, never have. But the more I think about it… I think you piss me off because you remind me of myself. What you told me that night… I get you; I try so hard not to be my father. I hated that son of a bitch.” But as he said this, his voice cracked.
Happy thought back to what Clay had done to his father.
“Clay’s alive. It was him that called. I never told anyone. I didn’t want it to be true. He should’ve died in that ocean. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.” Happy said with tears in his eyes.
“But they…” Happy trailed off and shook his head.
“They hurt him; the way Jimmy hurt you. They raped him, Aislinn. They beat the ever living shit out of him then raped his ass! But all I saw was you. I saw your face while they fucked him to a bloody pulp! Old man killed himself when they finished. I think I’m only pissed because I was going to take you to Stockton, for a visit. I wanted to see his reaction to you. My father didn’t dance with anyone, not even my mother, and not that whore bitch of a stepmother either. I wanted to know what he saw in you. I know everyone thinks it had to do with Thomas. But I think there was more behind it. Guess we’ll never know.”
Happy opened his eyes then took Aislinn’s hand into his own.
“Tell ya what, you can bug the ever-livin’ shit out of me from here on out. I don’t care. Just wake the fuck up, alright? I kind of like havin’ you around. That and well… payback’s a bitch! That’s right. I saw the pictures. I can’t do anything about them if you’re fucking dead. And you best believe I’m plotting something, something good! A brush with Death won’t get you out of this one!” Happy wiped his face with the back of his hand.
“Come on. Wake up. Yell at me. Tell me how pissed you are that I nearly got Chibs killed in that fire! Tell me how much of a dick I am for not listening to you and Riona!” Happy growled this last part then gave her hand an encouraging squeeze.
“You know you want to. Let me fucking have it!”
“What’s with the puss (gloomy/pouty face)?”
Happy froze then lifted his eyes.