Chapter 57 – One Wicked Day
Disclaimer: I admit to pulling most of this court stuff and the whole seeking asylum bit out of my ass. I’ve spent hours upon hours researching it and am writing to the best of my ability. If I have written something down wrong, I do apologize in advance. I haven’t studied law or anything of that nature. My knowledge is based solely on research alone, and we all know how the internet can be. Also, I, of course, do not own John Wick, or anything youtube related.
“Ali love?” Chibs softly called as his wife was sitting at the foot of the bed.
“I don’t suppose there’s a way to skip today?” He heard her softly utter.
“Fraid not, pet.”
Aislinn nodded then came to her feet.
“Then I suppose it’s time I got ready.” She said like she was heading to a funeral.
The Scot shook his head as his wife headed for the shower. He wanted to wish her a happy birthday but didn’t think now was a good time. She just seemed too miserable. He hoped everything would go well in court. Riona and Aislinn already had their interviews with an asylum officer. The officer didn’t think there would be any issue but made it clear that would also depend on how today went. It had to be proven in court that the girls’ uncle was indeed a danger to them, and they had no choice but to leave Ireland. Jax, Ethan, Chibs, Happy, Keith (of SAMBEL), and Pepper had been working on that together. They wanted to make one hundred percent sure that wouldn’t be an issue. They walked the girls through everything they needed to know and what to say. That took some convincing, considering the girls are Catholic and they’d be swearing an oath on the bible. Neither of them liked that part but knew they hadn’t much choice, not if they wanted to stay in America.
Chibs couldn’t help but be uneasy at the thought of his wife giving birth before this US citizenship trial was settled. But he didn’t voice those concerns. Aislinn was under enough pressure when it came to these interviews. She and Riona found this whole ordeal very stressful and time-consuming but knew it’d be worth it in the end. Chibs forced himself out of bed then called Bobby. The VP reminded the sergeant what all needed to be done in the shop since he and Jax would be in court with the girls today.
“Riona, babe, relax,” Jax whispered as his wife was having a meltdown about one of her black heels missing.
Jax wasn’t used to seeing Riona like this. The smallest things were setting her off and had been ever since she woke up this morning.
“Aye?” She hollered as Abel was standing outside their bedroom door.
“Can I has pancakes today?”
Riona looked to the time then let out a sigh of sheer annoyance.
“No! I don’t have time for pancakes!”
Jax reared back on this. It was very rare for her to snap at Abel like that.
“Babe…” Jax whispered as he bent down and picked up her heel.
It was sticking out from underneath the bed. She started to snatch it out of his hand, and Jax held it out of reach. He raised his brows as he did this.
“You’re all kinds of worked up, darlin’. I really need you to fucking breathe.”
They could hear Abel apologizing to his mother. Riona recoiled when she heard him walking away in tears afterward.
“Shite…” Jax heard her whisper.
She started towards the door, only to have her husband stop her.
“He’ll be fine. But you’re not. You need to deal with this shit, Riona.”
Riona pinched the bridge of her nose.
“What can I do to help?” Jax sincerely offered.
Riona didn’t answer. She wasn’t sure how. Jax nodded in thought.
“Look, I’ll worry about breakfast. You just focus on getting ready. Alright?” He said while handing her heel over.
“I can’t do this, Jackson.” She said, giving the man that heart-sinking feeling.
Jax wished he could tell his wife she didn’t have to go through with it. But they hadn’t a choice.
“I remember it like it was yesterday…” She softly hinted as to her pervy uncle and Jax recoiled.
“C’mere.” He whispered, then pulled her into his arms.
“I’m gonna be right there, darlin’. Every step of the way.” He softly uttered then kissed her forehead.
“He’s not going anywhere near you or your sister.” He added while making his hold a little tighter.
It made Jax sick when he thought about everything these girls had been through. It also left him feeling somewhat ashamed of men in general. Take someone like Clay for starters. He knew what those girls had been through and still, he tried forcing himself on Riona. Then you had Brad Montana who was guilty of the same thing when it came to Aislinn. The SAMCRO president shook his head in thought. Jax believed men like that didn’t have a soul. How could they?! How could anyone have those kind of thoughts when it came to women and children?! Men were meant to be their protectors, not the ones doing the damage.
Jax dropped his hold then used his thumbs to wipe a few tears off his wife’s face.
“You got this. You hear me, baby?”
Riona gave a sad nod, and Jax forced a smile.
“You’re one of the strongest people I know. Don’t let that bastard fool you into thinking otherwise. You’re not that little girl anymore, Riona. You’re not a victim. I won’t let you be the victim. No. You’re the motherfuckin’ queen. You hear me?!”
Riona nodded once again, and her husband pulled her in for another hug.
“I love you. Now do what you gotta do. I’ll worry about Abel.”
“I have to talk to him first.”
“Riona babe, he’s fine. I’ll talk to him. Abel needs to understand that even you have bad days. It’s to be expected.”
“Stop.” He said then twirled her about so that she was facing the bathroom.
He slapped her on the ass then gave her a slight nudge in that direction.
“So, she no mad at me?” Abel questioned with a pouty lip.
“Not even a little. Like I said, even mommies have bad days. You just caught her at a bad time.”
“I no mean to.”
“I know you didn’t, little man. So, does she.” Jax said while placing Abel’s plate down on the table.
Jax had himself a cup of coffee and cigarette to go with that.
“You no gonna eat, daddy?
“Nah, maybe later.”
Jax was too concerned about his wife to even think about eating.
“Is today the day I stay with Kip and Happy in the garage?”
“They’s gonna work on cars all day.” Abel miserably groaned, and his father chuckled.
“Well, maybe you’ll learn something.”
“That boring, daddy!”
“Are you saying my job is boring?!” Jax playfully mocked and Abel giggled.
“Sometimes…” The boy admitted with a shrug.
“So, that’s a no to you becoming a mechanic one day.”
“I’s gonna play guitar like mommy and Aunt Linny. I gonna sing too!”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, but I gonna be a crow too, daddy.”
“So, a metalhead Crow?” His father teased, and Abel nodded with a huge grin.
“That be so savage!” Abel squealed like that of his Aunt Linny, and his father laughed.
“You’ll have to grow your hair out, son!”
“Yeah, it gonna have to be LONG!” Abel said in a serious tone.
Jax smiled into his cup and sipped at his coffee.
“Thanks, darlin’,” Chibs uttered after his wife fixed his tie.
Aislinn nodded, then started for the closet. Chibs adjusted the cuffs to his blazer then watched as she got dressed. Aislinn wore a black and white dress, with black stockings, and black heels. Her fingernails were painted black. Something about that seemed very fitting to Chibs. Aislinn pulled off the getting down to business part while keeping that rocker side.
“Ye look good.” Chibs complimented, and Aislinn lifted her eyes as she adjusted one of her heels.
“Aye, well I might kill myself in these heels. So, I hope I look good!” She teased, but Chibs could see the gloom on her face.
He hated that she had to go through this even more so on her birthday. What were the fucking odds? Chibs wished she would’ve postponed the date but understood why she didn’t. Aislinn put her foot down but started to fall, and the Scot was quick to react.
“I TOLD YA!” Aislinn said in alarm, and her husband chuckled.
“I’ll carry ye.”
“Into court?!” She taunted with a snort.
“Don’t bother me none, bonnie. I’ll carry ye wherever.”
Aislinn laughed as he had a hand planted along her ass. She wrapped her arms around his neck then leaned against his chest for a few minutes. The Scot kept quiet and ran a soothing hand along her back.
“I couldn’t do this without you.” She whispered, then lifted her head off his chest.
Chibs narrowed his eyes then caressed her cheek.
“Ali love, I’ll always be there for you. Always.” The Scot pledged.
“We’re gonna be good parents, right, Scotty?”
“The best we can be.” He responded, knowing where she was going with this.
Both had somewhat of a shady past when it came to their own parents. Neither wanted that for their children. They also agreed that no matter how bad things got, they’d stick it out. Divorce was not an option for either of them. They wouldn’t and couldn’t put their children through something like that. Chibs and Aislinn knew what it was like, growing up in a broken home. That’s what hurt the Scot so much when it came to Fiona. Chibs married Fiona, with the intention of keeping his vows, whereas Fiona never did. She was fucking Jimmy by that point. Hell, Chibs wouldn’t doubt if she fucked him on their wedding day.
“I don’t want our boys goin’ through what me and Riona did.”
“Ali, that would never happen. We’re gonna take care of our boys. They’ll have a lovin’ family and home.” He vowed once again.
Pepper and Ethan shot to their feet once they saw the girls enter the courthouse with their significant others. They, too, were dressed for court. They lawyer Jax hired on the girl’s behalf greeted everyone with a firm handshake.
Riona grabbed her sister’s hand and got a protective hold, the moment she spotted their uncle.
Aislinn didn’t seem to notice and regarded her sister with concern. Chibs did, however, and nudged Jax. The president glanced Camden Lawless’s direction and shook his head. The man looked as if he’d seen better days. Then again, Jax kept his promise. Camden’s torment continued and would until the day he died. Jax would see to it that he never saw the day of light again. That’s what today was about. They already had enough to persecute the man for his crimes, thanks to Dinah. Crimes that hadn’t anything to do with the girls. But today was about the girls and their claim for needing asylum.
The lawyer escorted Riona and her sister to their seats. Jax, Chibs, Ethan, and Pepper sat directly behind them and was keeping an eye out for anything suspicious. Jax, however, wasn’t too concerned about the uncle. The president had a handful of people working on the inside. Camden was to plead guilty to everything, no matter what was said. If he didn’t, Jax would see to it that he suffered, far more than he had already. There was no sympathy, not when it came to pedophiles. If Jax hadn’t needed the bastard alive, he would’ve had him tortured and shanked awhile back. But the girls were counting on this as the proof they needed.
Riona came to her feet at one point as she dropped a pen. It rolled onto the other side, where the uncle and his lawyer were. She picked up the pen then rose to find her uncle staring a hole in her sister. Riona held the black file she kept in her hand then shook her head.
Jax sighed once he realized what was going on.
“HEY!” Riona snapped, gathering everyone’s attention.
Everyone peered back, including that of Camden Lawless.
“Don’t ya even look at her!” Riona warned, and the uncle rolled his eyes.
Jax, however, tilted his head the uncle’s direction. Chibs refrained from laughing out loud. One look from Jax, and Camden looked as if he were about to shit himself. Chibs caught the little wink Jax sent before the uncle turned back around. The guards were keeping a close eye on Riona as she made her way back to her sister and their lawyer. Riona took her seat and Aislinn rested her head against her sister’s shoulder. That seemed to put Riona a little more at ease.
Jax nudged Chibs when the judge exited one of the rooms. The judge stepped onto the podium. He nodded towards the jury, took his seat, then put his reading glasses on.
Riona was first to let out a relieved gasp when the last juror announced Camden guilty. Aislinn clamped a hand over her mouth when another juror finished that off by announcing that Camden Lawless was guilty on all accounts. The girls were too focused on the jury to even hear the judge’s sentence. This of course would be added to the one Camden was previously given. The judge slammed his gavel down and with a firm nod the girls’ direction. They nodded back in respect, and the judge glanced their direction as he announced their uncle’s sentence once again. The man would be facing life with no parole or bail. In fact, security was hauling him away in cuffs.
“Welcome to the United States, ladies.” The judge uttered in a hinting manner before taking his exit.
That was his way of letting them know there wouldn’t be an issue with their claim. They could go on with the process for citizenship now. This had the girls hopping up and hugging one another. Jax gave his VP a simple nod as the sisters broke into sobs. This made the longest the boys were ever in court. They were there for a little over nine hours with a couple short recesses and lunch. One of those recesses had to do with Aislinn feeling faint and needing to hit the ladies’ room. The sisters did a wonderful job of defending themselves even when their uncle’s lawyer was questioning them. He tried getting them a few times, but they didn’t slip, not even once. They kept to the story Jax had gone over with everyone. Pepper, Ethan, Chibs, and Jax each sat at the witness stand at one point. Pepper, however, spent the most time up there. That was to be expected as this was his brother; they were defending themselves against.
Jax’s plan worked like magic. Camden would be doing hard time as they managed to tackle Galen’s human trafficking ring onto him. The IRA wasn’t mentioned, not even once, neither were Galen and Jimmy. No, Jax set everything up perfectly. Pepper said everything he needed to say in order to buy the jury. They made them believe that Camden was not only a crooked loan shark but leading a human trafficking ring. Abel was left out of the equation altogether. Pepper kept his story on how he lost a hand to his brother and owed him. But changed that to Camden, instead of the actual loan shark that was there that day. They had it to where Camden was the one demanding what was owed to him. When Pepper denied his brother of that request, Camden had his men kidnap the girls. They were in attempts to sell the girls in a human trafficking ring.
They pretty much told the truth from there. They made it sound as if Ethan had gotten ahold of Jax once he got word of his sisters’ abduction. Jax let the jury know that he and Riona had met before all this and remained good friends. The president told the jury that he and his VP packed everything up just as soon as they got word. They headed for Ireland, right out of prison, in hopes of helping Ethan and Pepper find the girls. They told the judge everything the girls had been through before they managed to escape on their own. Only once again, they pinned everything on Camden. The girls turned to their friends in SAMBEL for help. It was then the girls discovered that Jax and Chibs from SAMCRO were in town. Chibs admitted to bringing the girls over and how, but for their own protection. The VP hadn’t a choice if they wanted to sell this fabricated story. Jax let his VP handle this part, considering Chibs knew more about the Irish law. The Scot could sell this story better than anyone else in that room, and that he did.
Naturally, the judge frowned on how the Sons went about getting the girls across. Pepper, however, made it clear that his brother had friends in high places and that included the Irish government and the Garda Síochána. In fact, Nicholas worked for the Garda. The girls showed the jury their scars and told their “stories”. The judge and jury took sympathy on the girls and their situation. It was then the judge looked past how the Sons got the girls across. He even went as far as to mention how lucky they were – having SAMCRO’s protection. That if it wasn’t for the Sons, there’s no telling what would’ve become of them. He even apologized for the situation they were put in and wished them well in their new journey. The judge, however, hadn’t any issue in letting Pepper know what he truly thought of him. Pepper didn’t argue and agreed with the judge wholeheartedly.
Camden’s lawyer didn’t seem very pleased with his client as all he did was sit there. Camden didn’t comment on anything and let whatever happened happen. It was as if Camden Lawless wasn’t even there. That was the way Jackson Teller preferred it. The girls knew they’d have a couple more interviews with the actual asylum officer before anything was set in stone. But from the way the judge was acting, they hadn’t anything to worry about now.
The guards escorted everyone on out of the room. Everyone hugged it out afterward. There were no words as they went through security and gathered their personal belongings. They were halfway down the steps when Riona lost all composure. Jax reached out, only to have Pepper beat him to it. The man sent his son-in-law an apologetic glance as he hadn’t meant to take over like that. It was instinct. Jax gave a simple nod then signaled for everyone else to go on. Aislinn seemed hesitant, but Jax insisted. Ethan and Chibs accompanied his sister-in-law to the truck.
Pepper sat his older daughter down on the stairs but didn’t drop his hold.
“Shhhh…” he soothingly whispered.
“Is it really over?” She questioned.
“Yeah, it’s over.” Pepper softly vowed.
The man was taken by surprise when Riona hugged him.
“That was even harder than I thought it would be. I just knew Linny was goin’ to lose it. She was so brave.” Riona cried.
“So were you,” Pepper uttered.
“I was a mess!” Riona argued, and Jax shook his head in disagreement.
This had the president and his father-in-law exchanging glances.
“Do you mind giving us a moment? I’ll bring her to the clubhouse.” Pepper respectfully asked.
Jax made certain his wife was okay with that. Riona let him know it was fine and Jax hugged her before he left.
Chibs pulled up behind Ethan, and Aislinn regarded her husband in confusion. They were parked at her brother’s place, and she didn’t know why.
“Ethan wanted ta take ye out. I didn’t want ye on that bike though.”
“Take me out?”
“Aye, fur yer birthday…”
Aislinn looked to the time and sighed. It was a little after five-thirty.
“Maybe today isn’t such a good day for that.”
“Ali love, go to dinner. He’ll bring you by the clubhouse when you’re done.”
Aislinn wasn’t given much time to comment. The passenger door opened, and she sent her husband a pleading look. Chibs had no choice but to ignore it. The VP nodded the Son’s direction, knowing Ethan was going to have hell when it came to his sister. Ethan nodded as if to say he knew then shut the door.
Chibs was quick to haul ass. He knew he’d change his mind if he took another gander in his wife’s direction. She was miserable, and it was killing him. That and he was pretty sure she was going to be pissed with him, having dumped her off like that. He was sure to get hell for not being the one to take her out. Hell, he hadn’t even wished her a happy birthday yet. But the Scot had plans, and he’d be damned if they got ruined. This made one of the rare cases where it was best to act now and ask for forgiveness later. If Aislinn caught on to what her husband was up to, she’d put a stop to it. Chibs was determined to prove her birthday wasn’t a curse and something to celebrate.
“Come on,” Pepper said while helping his daughter up off the courtyard stairs.
“You can help me find your sister a gift.”
Riona uncovered her face then lifted her head.
“Does that mean you’re comin’?” She hinted as to her sister’s party.
Pepper drew back the deepest of breaths before answering that.
“I suppose so.”
Riona managed to give her father a tearful smile.
“That’s great. It’ll mean a lot to her.
“I sure hope you’re right about that. I won’t lie, Riona. I’m not one hundred percent feeling this.”
His daughter nodded in understanding.
“The last thing I want is to ruin her day. And it sounds like you and Chibs put a lot of thought into this.”
“Aye, but we’re trying to show Linny that’s all in the past. The best way of goin’ about that is to put our differences aside for once. It’s time to move on and rebuild. It’ll never be what we once had, but we can try for somethin’ better.”
“And I thought YOU of all people wanted NOTHING to do with me.”
“I won’t lie. A huge part of me doesn’t. Ya put me through a lot, Pepper. Linny and I grew up way before our time, and that isn’t somethin’ we can get back. I took ma’s place, but I never wanted to. But ya left me no choice. It was that or watch my baby sister starve to death. You weren’t about to do anythin’ about the bills or keepin’ food on the table. So, I had no choice. I had to take matters into my own hands. Am I bitter? Aye, damn straight I am! But do I have regrets? No. I will never regret takin’ care of Linny. I got the best parts of her. You missed out on so much of her life. So, many milestones!”
“And don’t even get me started on our brother and how ya did him. But as I said… I’m willin’ to put that behind us. But only if you’re willin’ to be a father for once. Show Linny what you can really be. Come to the party, sober. Get her a gift she’ll never forget, make amends for all the birthdays you missed. I promise that alone would mean the world to her.”
“And what about you?”
“What about me?” Riona questioned in confusion.
Pepper wrapped his arm around his daughter’s shoulder then led her to his truck. He opened the door but locked eyes with Riona as she took her seat.
“How do I make amends with you, Riona?” Pepper sincerely questioned.
“You make amends by gluin’ my sister’s heart back together. I don’t care how long it takes you to do it. Just do it.”
“Small steps. Start with her first.” She said, and Pepper sighed before shutting her door.
Pepper made his way around then got into the driver’s seat. He sat there for a moment and stared off into space.
“You’re my baby too, you know?” He softly uttered.
“Aye well, I think it’s safe to say Linny held a special place in your heart, she always did. She holds a special place in mine as well.”
“You always wanted your ma. You wanted nothing to do with me even as a baby. Hell, maybe you sensed something way before anyone else did. But you never wanted much to do with me.” Pepper admitted with a shrug.
“Your sister came along though and…”
“She never left your side.” Riona finished for him, and Pepper gave a sad nod.
“Your mother hated that; you know?” Pepper glanced Riona’s direction and managed to smile.
“She never understood it. She did everything she could think of to try and win your sister over, but nothing worked. She truly was a daddy’s girl. But it’s like I told your mother… You were always hers. Not a damn thing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean we love one another any less. I love you, Riona.”
Pepper ran his hand along the steering wheel then shook his head.
“You have no idea how proud I am of you. Most people would’ve bailed-in your situation. They would’ve walked out that door and said good riddance to the whole thing and gone on to live their lives the way they see fit. But not you, no. You went out there and did what I should’ve done. You picked up the slack when no one else would and not once did you ever hold it against your sister. You never showed any kind of resentment.”
“Because she never gave me reason to. It wasn’t her fault you gave up on us, and it wasn’t her fault that ma died. Linny went out of her way to help me whenever she could. Sure, she had a few rough patches here and there, but she was a troubled kid tryin’ to find her place in this crazy world.”
“And if you hadn’t been there for her… Lord knows how she would’ve turned out. We both know she susceptible to the things I am, we’ve seen it.”
“Actually no, she isn’t,” Riona argued with a prideful grin and Pepper narrowed his eyes in wonder.
“Let’s just say there were things even I didn’t know when it came to Linny. Linny’s stronger than all of us put together. There’s so much you don’t know…”
“Then tell me. Tell me all of it.” Pepper desperately put.
“There isn’t enough time…”
“Then you tell me while we shop.” Pepper insisted while starting the truck.
Aislinn followed her brother into the house, and Daisy greeted them at the door.
“Where’re the pups?” Aislinn questioned while petting Daisy.
“Well, Abel took one. Leia has one, Tig finally came by the other day and took one. The last one found a good home after putting an ad in the paper.
“Awe, poor ma!”
“Yeah, but she gets to see the others often. She visited Mayhem yesterday, and she’ll see Buffy tonight.”
“Yeah, Leia’s obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Ethan admitted with a sigh, and Aislinn giggled.
“Never seen it,” Aislinn said, and her brother came to a complete halt as he was headed for the kitchen.
“Nah, I’ve heard of it. Just never got around to watchin’ it.”
“Well shit, that goes on the bucket list!” He said while loosening his tie and grabbing a beer from the fridge.
He grabbed his sister a Dr. Pepper.
“I’m afraid to ask what Tig named his pup…”
Ethan chuckled on this.
“You’re takin’ the piss…”
“Nope, he legit named the fuckin’ dog Bobby.”
“Does Elvis know this?”
“Not sure yet.”
“Oh, I sure hope he doesn’t. I want to be there for when he finds out!”
“You and me both.”
“We’ll head out in a minute, just let me get out of this godforsaken suit. It’s itchy as hell.”
“At least you get to change!” She complained, and Ethan regarded his sister in thought.
“I’ll get ya something on the way.”
“Yeah, consider it part of your birthday gift. You can pick out a whole new outfit, shoes included!”
“You could just run me by the clubhouse!” Aislinn insisted.
“You’re the only woman I know that turns down the offer of new clothes!” He hollered as he shut his door and changed clothes.
Aislinn sat on the couch and pet Daisy while she waited.
Pepper shook his head then looked to be on the brink of tears when Riona got to the part about her sister experimenting with drugs. They were at the local mall and shopping for Aislinn’s birthday.
“That doesn’t even sound like her!” Pepper said.
“Trust me. I thought that same thing. And I suppose it really wasn’t. I mean, it isn’t everyday someone can turn their noses up at it. One time is normally all I takes…” Riona hinted with a frown.
Pepper nodded but stopped in his tracks.
“What?!” Riona questioned as he had this odd look about him.
“Because she didn’t want to become like me!” He said, and Riona looked to be in thought as well.
“I never saw it that way until now. Maybe seein’ her father like that made her realize that isn’t what she wanted after all.” Riona admitted, and Pepper smiled.
“I think we’re onto something. That certainly sounds like our Aislinn. Stubborn little cuss, always was.”
“Still is. That’s what keeps her alive, though. After everythin’, she’s been through. She has to be stubborn; we both do.”
Pepper took his daughter by the arm then led her towards a bench. He sat her down, then sat beside her.
“Riona, what my brother did…” Pepper trailed off then closed his eyes for a brief moment.
“If I had known… I would’ve killed him, that day. I hope you know that. He was a lot of things, but I never saw that out of him. I wouldn’t have let him near you.” Pepper said and was quick to wipe a tear off his face.
“Aye well, all that’s been put to an end.”
“That it has. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my regrets. I mean it. If I could go back in time…”
“Aye now, I’m gonna stop ya there just for argument’s sake. Sorry, but I’m not one for playin’ the if I could game. What’s done is done. I hate it, but we’re stronger for it. That and I will never regret takin’ my sister’s place. I’d do it again.”
“I know you would. You raised her right, Riona. Far better than I could’ve…”
“But it should’ve been you,” Riona said, and Pepper nodded in full agreement.
“That it should’ve.” He sadly murmured.
“That it should’ve.” He added while taking his daughter’s hand into his own and giving it a comforting squeeze.
Aislinn laughed when her brother pulled up to the Harley Davidson store.
“What?!” He questioned with a smirk.
“Ya know what. I told ya I could find somethin’ at the clubhouse!”
“I know you did. But this is a lot more fun. So, let’s go!”
Aislinn stepped out of the car then followed her brother into the store. Ethan asked the woman at the front if they had any maternity clothes. The cashier pointed towards a section in the far back but admitted to not having very many. Ethan frowned in thought but had his sister follow him. They managed to find her a shirt, some leggings, and a pair of boots. It took a lot of convincing, however, on Ethan’s part. Aislinn went on and on about the price. Still, her brother insisted and let her know it’d be his birthday gift to her. Aislinn about choked when the cashier rang everything up. It ran up to a little over two-hundred dollars.
“PUT IT BACK!” The young woman snapped in a panic.
The cashier regarded Aislinn with a wide-eyed expression but didn’t comment. Ethan chuckled then sent the woman an apologetic glance. He handed the cashier his debit card, and Aislinn pulled at his arm in attempts to stop him.
“I’m serious, Ethan.” Aislinn hissed.
Ethan didn’t utter a word on it. The cashier handed the bag over then wished them a good evening. She cut Aislinn a dirty look, however. Aislinn rolled her eyes in response. Ethan put his shades on, and Aislinn chased after him.
“Hm?!” He hummed with a grin but kept walking.
“That was too much!”
“No, it wasn’t.” He murmured before tossing the bag inside.
“You can change at the restaurant.” He said with a dismissive shrug.
“I’m paying!” She insisted, and Ethan sighed.
“Are you really going to do this?!”
“Aislinn, it’s YOUR birthday. For God’s sake, let me spoil you for one FUCKING day!”
Aislinn frowned. Ethan took her by the hand, then pulled her towards him.
“I missed all your birthdays. Let me make up for it.”
“Ya’ve nothin’ to make up for, and ya know it!”
“Yes, I do. I get that it wasn’t my doing… But still, I missed out, on a lot of things. I don’t want to miss out on this. So, get in the fucking truck and let me treat you for one damn day. Can you do that?!”
“FINE!” Aislinn barked but struggled in keeping that smile of hers at bay.
Ethan chuckled in response.
“You really are something…” He uttered as he opened the passenger door and gestured for her to climb on in.
“If I had a dime for every time…” She started to say, and Ethan shut the door before she could even finish that sentence.
“That’s perfect. Linny’s gonna love that!” Riona said as to the necklace her father had picked out.
“Aye. It’s definitely her. And honestly, she could use some luck.”
“There’s one more thing I want to get, but it’s going to take a little bit. Why don’t you go on and I’ll catch up with you later?” Pepper suggested.
“Aye, call me when you’re ready. I wanted to hit the bookstore anyhow. Try not to be too long. Chibs wants us to pick up the cakes.”
“You got it!” Pepper said while dashing off.
“Now that’s more, you…” Ethan said when his sister took a seat in her new clothes.
“How the boots feel?” He questioned while taking a gander at them.
“Nice and comfy. Much better than those heels!”
“I can imagine. Shirt’s certainly fitting too.” He said as her shirt had the Harley Davidson logo but read Little Rebel Factory.
“Aye, it’s perfect. Thank you.”
“And now you tell me, thanks!” Ethan mocked.
“Aye, but I still say it’s too much.”
“Aislinn, you remember how much we spent on Riona’s birthday, right?” He reminded, and Aislinn’s eyes grew as big as saucers.
They spent over two grand, almost three on Riona.
“You’re not spending that much on me!”
“Oh, yes, I am,” Ethan argued then took a sip off his beer.
“Sky’s the limit. Order whatever you want.”
“But you didn’t take Riona out to eat!”
“Actually, I did. Just not the day of.”
“Yep, so calm down and enjoy some time with me!”
“If I have to.” She teased once again, and Ethan laughed.
“Okay, I gotta admit that was really good,” Aislinn praised while rubbing her full stomach.
“Yeah, it was!” Her brother agreed then wiped his face with a napkin.
“You want dessert?”
“Ugh, I couldn’t possibly. Even the babies are full!”
Ethan laughed then waved their waitress over. He let her know they were ready for the check. Aislinn narrowed her eyes as her brother seemed to be in a hurry all of a sudden.
“Everythin’ alright, love?”
“Yeah, I just remembered I never signed that fucking work order AC handed me this morning. Sorry Aislinn, we gotta head to the bar before I drop you off. He’s gonna need that when the shipment comes in tomorrow morning.”
Ethan prayed his sister wouldn’t catch on to the fact that shipments didn’t come in on Sundays. She didn’t seem to think anything of it, however. She followed him out after he paid the tab.
“Emmm, Ethan…” Aislinn started to say when her brother missed their turn.
“Oh, The Tipsy Crow’s Nest isn’t there anymore.” Ethan nonchalantly put.
Aislinn reared back with this baffled expression.
“Not there?! How do ya mean it’s not there?!”
“You’ll see. They’ve been at this for a few weeks now.”
“Weeks?! Ethan what are ya goin’ on about?!”
“Like I said, you’ll see,” Ethan replied.
It wasn’t long before Ethan pulled into a new lot with a rather familiar building to go with it. The building had been repainted to look like grey bricks. There was a sculpture sticking out from one of the walls. It was a man on a motorcycle. The man reminded Aislinn of Jax’s father. She wondered if that was done on purpose.
Aislinn narrowed her eyes, wondering how she didn’t take notice of this before. Then again, she never came this way. AC and Ethan used the money Darren brought (by Jax’s orders) to remodel the old sports bar. They purchased not only the next couple lots but another building as well. They’d plans of tearing that one down and using that area to build onto the bar as time progressed. This marked the beginning of “Reaper Row” as the sign read in big blue neon letters THE TIPSY CROW’S NEST.
“Ethan…” She gasped once she saw the sign.
“When did ya…” She uttered in disbelief and Ethan chuckled.
“Trust me. This wasn’t easy to hide, not by any means. But I wanted to see your reaction.” Ethan knew his sister was going to have his ass when she found out the truth. But he had to lure her over here somehow.
Chibs and Ethan agreed that showing Aislinn the new bar shouldn’t raise too much suspicion.
“Why would ya hide it?! It’s your bar!”
“Technically, it’s AC and SAMCRO’s bar, meaning it’s pretty much yours too. But there’s a reason we kept it from you.”
“Oh?!” She asked with full-on curiosity.
“That’s right,” Ethan said, then signaled for his sister to step on out of the truck.
They headed for the building, but Ethan stopped at the door. He coughed then pulled a set of keys out from his cut. He jiggled the handle a bit, and Aislinn tilted her head on this.
“Ethan love, what are ya…” She started to say, only to have him swing the door wide open.
Aislinn’s jaw dropped when she saw a spotlight shining down on a box of Cracker Jacks and black roses. They were laying on the bar. Aside from the one spotlight, the bar was pitch black. Ethan chuckled as his sister made her way to the bar. The roses were laying against a small black coffin with a skull. From the looks of it, the roses came in the coffin but were propped up against it.
Aislinn looked to her brother as she picked up a necklace. It was lying on top of the roses. It was a crow, and it had a black rose in its mouth.
“What in the world…” She started to say but froze when it went dark.
The lights flickered, and a set of blue strobe lights were aimed at the bar stage.
Aislinn clasped a hand over her mouth as Mark, Bobby, and David was on stage and singing Warrant’s Cherry Pie.
Mark leaped off the stage, with his guitar, and headed her direction. Aislinn laughed as he finally got the slide down. Aislinn had been working with him on that slide for over two weeks now. Mark sent her a cocky grin but kept with the lyrics as Bobby and David headbanged along.
“Scotty?!” She muttered while looking at her brother, who was standing right beside her now.
Chibs was the only one ever to get her black roses. So, she knew this had to be his doing.
“You’d be correct,” Ethan said with a wide grin.
Mark came to his feet then escorted Aislinn to the stage. Bobby pulled out a chair, and Mark seated her down.
“This is crazy!” The birthday girl hollered as the boys went on to play another song.
Mark sang the lyrics to Steelheart’s I’ll Never Let You Go.
Once the song came to an end, everything went pitch black and dead silent. A solid minute passed when a guitar was heard. It played softly in the background. Aislinn couldn’t see but could hear Mark as he sang Nothing Else Matters by Metallica.
A spotlight hit Aislinn, and black skull balloons fell from the ceiling and landed all around her.
Aislinn giggled in response but shook her head in disbelief. She started to say something about all this when the song came to an end. But a light to the very back of the bar had her distracted. The bar had a built-in garage, and the door to it started to rise. The music Mark, David, and Bobby were playing did a complete one-eighty. There were no lyrics. But Aislinn recognized the motion picture score all too well. It was from a movie she watched over and over again. It was her absolute favorite. That was none other than the Story of Wick by Tyler Bates and Joel Richard.
Just as the score picked up, a Mustang was driven through the garage and into the bar. It skidded across the bar before coming to a stop. Aislinn shot up thinking this was something bad at first. She looked to her guitarist in alarm. Mark, however, sent her a wink. This had the young woman narrowing her eyes in outright confusion. Aislinn heard the door to the Mustang open. She glanced that direction, and her husband stepped out of the driver’s seat. The Scot was decked out just like John Wick. A startled yelp escaped her, and Aislinn was quick to cover her mouth. Chibs nodded her direction and stood stance just like John Wick would.
“I’m thinking I’m back.” He quoted, and everyone stepped out of their hiding spots.
Everyone, as in all of SAMCRO, AC, Leia, Riona, Abel, and to Aislinn’s great surprise – her father. Aislinn couldn’t stop that bottom lip from quivering when she saw her father. Pepper hadn’t been to one of her birthdays since she was thirteen years old. Her father gave a simple nod. Aislinn gasped out, however, when someone else entered the bar. She wasn’t the only one, Tig himself was caught flatfooted.
“Shit, I’m late, aren’t I?! Sorry everyone. I tried.” The woman apologetically put.
“Happy Birthday, sweetheart!” Dinah called, and everyone heard Abel sigh.
“You no supposed to say it yet. Uncle Chibs supposed to, then everyone else!” Abel scolded, causing everyone to laugh.
Dinah, however, recoiled the Scot’s direction. Chibs shrugged like it was no big deal then glanced back towards his wife.
“I told ya not to go all out.” Aislinn damn near whispered, and Chibs shrugged, yet again.
“And I never said anythin’ about NOT goin’ all out.” He made his way to the stage, then waved his wife over.
Chibs lifted her off the stage then looked her in the eyes.
“Happy Birthday, Ali. I knew ye’d fight this. That’s why I went aboot it the way I did. Oh, and I didn’t get ye anythin’. Well, other than the roses, the necklace, and Cracker Jacks… Oh, and that piece of shite Mustang I just drove in here.”
Aislinn’s jaw dropped, and Chibs smiled.
“Aye, been workin’ on that thing for fuckin’ MONTHS now. Do ye have any idea how hard it was, hidin’ that from ye?! Even more so when we had ta move inta the fuckin’ clubhouse.”
“So, that’s why you were sneakin’ off at night… I thought ya had yourself another lass!”
“Ali love, ye equal about ten of those. I’m plenty busy.” He taunted, and Aislinn went to punch him in the chest only to have him block her.
“Behave, pet.” He seductively whispered.
“Now go and have yerself a look at the car.”
“I’m enjoyin’ what’s before me at the moment…” She complimented.
“Are ye now?” He uttered with a smirk.
“Aye.” She said while running a hand along his black blazer.
“Who needs John Wick when I got me a true Scotsman – who can rock a kilt and a suit. Ya’d put John Wick to shame right now, love.”
“Aye, now I know yer lyin’. But keep goin’ lass…”
Aislinn kissed him but was a little teary-eyed when she did.
“Ye alright, love?” He whispered as he held her.
“Aye, just a little overwhelmed.”
“In a good way, I hope.”
“Aye, thank you. This is the best, Scotty.”
“That’s what I was goin’ for. But it’s not over yet, not by a long shot.”
He said, and that’s when all the lights came on. There were red and black skull balloons along the walls. The ceiling was covered in eighties metal posters. Chibs lifted her chin so she would see them.
“Now THAT is deadly!”
“I thought ye’d get a kick out of that.”
Aislinn saw a couple cakes from a distance, one of them was a small John Wick cake, and the other had the devil horns hand gesture, it quoted “for those about to rock we salute you” by Kiss.
“Aunt Linny…” They heard the tiny voice call as they were still holding one another.
“I gets you these,” Abel said, and Chibs dropped his hold as Abel handed her a spiked metal vase with red roses in it.
“I no knows Uncle Chibs gets you some too. Daddy says pick out what I want to get you and knows you like this, so I gets you it.”
“I love them!” Aislinn exclaimed then kissed her nephew’s cheek.
“Thank you, Abel.”
“You is welcome.” He said with a smile.
“I really likes your birthday, and I likes you new car a lot!”
“Maybe I’ll take ya for a spin sometime.”
“I wanna do that!” Abel said with a wide grin.
“We sure will.” She said, and Abel took off as he was playing with one of the balloons.
“Ye ready ta see yer car?” Chibs uttered with a gesture towards the Mustang.
“Oh yeah…” The way she said this had her husband chuckling.
“Then let’s do it!”
“You gonna say hello or not, boy?!” Dinah playfully scolded.
Tig shook his head with this baffled expression.
“Is it really you…” He softly murmured as if in a daze.
“Do you want me to pinch you just in case?” She teased, and Tig closed his eyes for a moment.
“I had no choice. I had to disappear just long enough to give this time to rest…” She hinted, and Tig opened his eyes on this.
“You could’ve warned me…”
“Actually, no. I couldn’t. They were on me, Tigger. It wasn’t a risk I could take. I need you to understand that, baby. It was never about you or anything you did. I did what I did for us. That was the only way we could be together. I had to fool the system.”
“They weren’t the only ones fooled.” Tig sadly murmured, and Dinah welcomed herself into his lap.
“In all fairness. You were always a fool.” She teased with a smile.
“Gee thanks, babe. I feel so much better about myself!” Tig witted in return.
Dinah placed her index finger along his chin then lifted his head.
“You should… I wouldn’t do that for just any man. I really need you to see that.”
“And how do I know you’re not just blowing smoke up my ass, so I’ll forgive you?!”
Dinah shot him a look of hell, and Tig chuckled.
“Hey, you had that one coming. Keeping me waiting like that… not cool. I get it, trust me, I do. Still, that’s pretty fucked up. I didn’t know what was what…”
“I’m guessing you had some fun while I was away then…” Dinah hinted in disappointment.
“Maybe…” Tig tested, just to see her reaction.
Dinah recoiled then turned away from him. Tig smiled and pulled her in for a hug.
“Come on, doll. You know, I waited for you. Only woman I’d wait for.”
“You’re just saying that shit.”
“No, I’m not.” Tig sternly put.
“Why do you think I was so pissed about you haulin’ ass the way you did?! You’re not the only one that’s put a lot of risk into this relationship. I was fucking a pig for crying out loud…”
“Call me that one more time…” Dinah warned, and Tig smiled then kissed her.
“Right… Sorry, Jimmy.” He murmured after that kiss and Dinah dead legged him.
“SON OF A…” Tig shouted only to have Dinah grab him by the cut and kiss him once again.
“I can’t believe you did all this,” Aislinn said in sheer on admiration.
Chibs observed his wife’s reaction as she ran her hands along the steering wheel.
The Scot kept it classic but with a custom spin to it. The Mustang had the old wood paneling along the dashboard, steering wheel, and doors. Everything else was classic black.
“How long did this take?!”
“A few months… Ye know I almost showed ye before I did any work ta it. But some shite happened, and I guess it was fate because I like this much better. I figured it’d mean more if I waited fur yer birthday.”
Aislinn got a little teary-eyed all over again.
“I can’t believe ya did all this…” She repeated once again and was quick to wipe a stray tear off her cheek.
Chibs took her hand then kissed it.
“Ye deserve the best, Ali. That’s all I want fur ye. Yer days of cursed birthdays are over. Ye hear me? All that ended last year. This one starts a whole new beginnin’. I don’t want the very day ye were born to be somethin’ ye dread. It should be celebrated. Ye’ve touched so many lives and yer very loved. Don’t ye ever forget that, darlin’.”
This, of course, made her cry and Chibs hugged her.
“Yer not supposed ta cry!” He playfully scolded but with a smile.
Aislinn laughed against his chest.
“What do ye say ta takin’ this bad boy for a spin after your party?”
Aislinn lifted her head off his chest, but with this shameful presence. Chibs tilted his in wonder.
“You’re gonna kill me…”
“Now, why would I do that?”
“Scotty, I’ve never driven stick.”
“Yer kiddin’…” The Scot muttered in disbelief.
He’d seen her handle a bike before. So, it never even crossed his mind that she couldn’t drive a manual transmission.
“But I’ve seen ye with a motorcycle…”
“Aye, but that’s a wee bit different.”
“True, but if ye can handle a bike Ali, then ye can handle a stick!”
“Oh, I can handle a stick…” She flirtatiously witted, and Chibs chuckled.
“That ye can, very well I might add.”
Chibs cleared his throat in thought.
“Alright, guess I have ta teach ye all about another one’s stick!” He teased, and Aislinn gave a tearful laugh.
“Words I never thought I’d say,” Chibs added with a sigh of mockery.
The Scot kissed his wife, then he took the crow necklace from her hold. He clasped it around her neck.
“As fur the necklace. I think ye pretty much know what it represents. I’m here…” Chibs said while tapping the area of her heart.
“Even when I’m not…” He did his best to hint.
Like that of Ethan, Chibs hated the age difference. What he wouldn’t give to be twenty years younger. He wanted all the time he could get. That and he hated the idea of leaving his wife but knew it’d happen eventually. He’d kick the bucket long before she did. But he couldn’t think about that now. All he could do was make sure his wife and children were taken care of when that time came. But for now, he’d give Aislinn everything he had to offer.
Chibs kissed the rose part then rested the crow against her neck.
“Now go on, enjoy yer birthday, pet.” He said while reaching over and opening her door.
Pepper took it upon himself to approach Aislinn first. He led her off to a corner.
“I understand if you don’t want me here…” He whispered with a touch of nerves.
“I’ll admit, I was taken by surprise…”
Pepper lowered his head. He took something from his pocket then handed it over. Aislinn opened the jewelry box then took out the antique-looking four-leaf clover necklace.
“The clover’s real. Thought it’d bring you some luck.” Pepper said before kissing her forehead and heading for the bar doors.
“Where ya goin’?!” She hollered, and Pepper froze with his hand along one of the doors.
“Stay…” She insisted, and her father pivoted back around.
“Are you sure?” He softly questioned as everyone’s eyes were on him and Aislinn.
Pepper nodded in response. He made his way back to Aislinn, and she smiled.
“I love it. Thank you.” She said while putting it on with the necklace Chibs had given her.
Pepper lifted the crow off her neck and got a better look at it.
“He certainly knows you.” Pepper complimented.
“Aye, afraid so.”
Both looked towards the stage; however, as Mark, David, and Bobby acted as the entertainment.
“One hell of a birthday. I can’t think of anyone more deserving.” Her father said as they were performing Jeremy Renner’s Heaven Don’t Have a name.
“Feels weird, huh?” Aislinn heard her sister say as she approached her and Pepper.
“Them singin’ without ya!”
“That’s no lie.”
“Now, ya know how I felt when ya first started without me,” Riona said, and Aislinn laughed.
“It is a wee bit strange feelin’,” Aislinn admitted.
“Aye, well tonight’s your night to relax. First thing’s first… presents!”
“Don’t we usually do the cake first?”
“We’re breakin’ the rules tonight, love.” Her sister said while sending their father a wink and taking Aislinn by the hand.
Riona led her sister to the table with the John Wick cake. Ethan pulled out a chair and Riona seated her sister down.
“Gotta admit, this is pretty damn smooth, brother,” Jax said while handing Chibs a beer.
“I tried,” Chibs muttered while leaning against the Mustang and taking a sip.
They watched from a distance while Aislinn opened her gifts.
“Pffft, tried my ass. You fucking succeeded. I don’t think I’ve seen Aislinn smile like that before. It’s different…”
“Aye, it is.” Chibs softly admitted with a touch of pride on his face.
The president patted his VP on the back.
“You did good, Filip. Real good.” He said before joining everyone else around the table.
Chibs, however, stayed put and continued in his quiet observation.
“Well, before we start. I think it’s safe to say we all have an unfair advantage. Thanks to that man of yours!” Riona taunted with a nod Chibs’s direction.
Chibs chuckled but gave a simple nod in return.
“I mean no one can beat John Wick showin’ up at your party and givin’ ya a Mustang!” Riona added, and her sister giggled.
Riona took over from here just as she and Chibs had planned. He knew Riona would be better as the actual host than he would. That and the Scot rather enjoyed watching his wife and her reactions to everything. That alone gave him great pleasure.
Riona looked to the table of gifts and started to grab one, only to have Pepper stop her.
“Maybe we should save that one for last…” He whispered just so she could hear.
“Okay…” Riona uttered in wonder.
“Trust me. This one needs to be last.”
Riona nodded and grabbed another gift instead. She made her way over and handed the bag to Aislinn.”
“My mother sent you those…” Ethan called once he recognized the bag.
He had Leia in his lap, and his arms were wrapped around her waist. Aislinn couldn’t help but think how cute her brother and Leia were together. Ethan seemed more at peace when Leia was around.
“I invited her, but she and Steven had to work.” He explained.
“She was pretty upset but wanted you to know that she and Steven will be here for the wedding. Riona, she got you something too. Remind me, and I’ll give it to you before you leave.”
Riona nodded but was rather stunned by this.
“Awww, that’s awfully sweet of them!” Aislinn said while taking the items out of the bag.
There were a few maternity pants as well as shirts. The shirts were very fitting as they were all rocker style and most of them were black. They read “Rock The Bump”, “Sham Rocker” with a guitar and clover in the middle of the guitar, “Future Rocker” with an arrow pointing towards the belly area, and “Without Me The Band Would Suck”. There was a shirt that had a spiked hair baby with sunglasses, and he was playing the guitar, there was a shirt with a skeleton Elvis, and he too was playing guitar. This had Aislinn looking Bobby’s direction.
“Hey, look! It’s you, Elvis!”
Bobby looked that direction then laughed.
“Well hell, it sure is. I bet that one’s your favorite!” He teased.
“You know it!”
The last one she pulled out read “Mini Metal Head” – with the devil horns logo.
“Thank them on my behalf, please. These are brilliant and much needed.”
“Will do,” Ethan said before taking a sip off his beer.
Riona handed her sister one long present and piled a few smaller ones on top of it. Aislinn looked to her sister in question.
“I was told to give you all these at once. Something about not fucking up the theme.” Aislinn said with a nod in Kip and the band’s direction.
Aislinn opened the smaller ones first. Each of them contained alchemy gothic guitar picks, straps, strings, and things of that nature. Those were from David and Mark. But Mark let it known that Gina had gotten her the Metallica strap and picks they threw in.
Aislinn thanked them, then went on to unwrap Kip’s present. Aislinn, however, couldn’t help but notice the frown on Mark’s face. Kip was flirting with Gina, and the waitress was giggling at whatever he said.
“You promised…” He hissed but with a small grin.
“I said I’d put in a good word… I never said I was a miracle worker.” Aislinn teasingly whispered in return.
Aislinn looked down however and was stunned to see an Alchemy Gothic skull guitar.
“Now that’s fuckin’ savage! Thank you, Kip.” Aislinn sincerely put, and Kip raised his beer in her direction.
Riona handed her another gift, and Aislinn laughed at the pouty expression on her guitarist’s face.
“Oh, shit!” Tig uttered and waved Riona over as he had Dinah in his lap.
He handed Riona a card for Aislinn.
“Forgot. Sorry, doll.” He said while looking at Aislinn.
Aislinn opened Tig’s card before the gift in her lap. She snorted as the front of the card had a young and very attractive man on the front. He was shirtless and wearing a kilt.
Aislinn blushed once she saw her husband eyeing her from where he was standing.
“Ya can blame Tig on that one!” She said in defense, and Chibs shook his head.
“You were supposed to keep with the theme…” Jax scolded in reminder as to the guitars.
“Meh, that’s boring. I wanted to be different.”
“You are different…” Jax mockingly put, and Dinah laughed.
“That’s no lie.” She said, and Tig shrugged.
“That’s the point.” Tig muttered.
Aislinn broke into a fit of laughter when a gift card to a sex shop fell out of the card. Dinah sighed then cut Tig a shameful look.
“What?!” Tig uttered.
“You know what…” Dinah said, and Tig shrugged.
“She’s a woman, and it’s clear she likes sex annnnd Scottish dudes! How could I go wrong on that?!”
Aislinn giggled but thanked him.
“SEE?! She likes it so lay off!” Tig defended.
Aislinn didn’t comment and opened the gift in her lap. Happy cleared his throat, letting her know this one was from him. Aislinn’s jaw dropped when she opened the guitar case and saw the guitar inside. The guitar was custom made and carved into a reaper with wings, skulls, and chains.
“Happy…” She whispered in absolute shock.
“Can never have enough guitars.” He said with a shrug.
“This is wicked as hell. Thank you!”
Happy tipped his beer to her in response. Riona and Chibs exchanged glances on this then smiled upon one another. Riona handed her sister yet another heavy long shaped box, and Aislinn regarded Riona in question.
“That one’s from Lele and me!” AC announced from the bar.
Aislinn nodded and opened the gift to find another guitar. Only this one was a bass. It was see-through, and Leia went on to explain how it lights up different colors in the dark.
“Now that’s brilliant. Thank you. I needed a bass too!”
“We know,” Leia said with a smile.
Riona placed yet another heavy long box in Aislinn’s lap.
“Are ya serious?” Aislinn whispered in astonishment, and her sister sent her a playful wink.
“That one’s from Bobby.”
Aislinn looked to Bobby then opened her present.
“A fiddle?!” Aislinn exclaimed.
Riona, however, tilted her head upon her father as he recoiled on this. She said nothing on it but wondered what that was about.
“To go with the other one. Got a theme going…” Bobby said as to the skull carved into the fiddle itself.
“I can see that. Deadly. Thank you!’
“Gotta play for me, though!” Bobby made clear, and Aislinn laughed.
“Now hold on… I got one more gift!”
“Bobby, I…” She started to argue, only to have the Son hand his cellphone over.
“Hit play.” He said with a smirk in Tig’s direction.
“What’d you do…” Tig hissed, and Bobby shrugged.
“This is for naming your fuckin’ dog after me, you bastard.”
Aislinn did as Bobby requested. Everyone was peering over her shoulder and trying to see what it was. It was the video Bobby took a while back. Chibs was spanking Tig, during his “buttocks” surgery. This was taken back when Tig was attacked by one of the guard dogs during their meth ingredients hunt. Chibs performed the surgery but lost his cool when he couldn’t get Tig to be still. Aislinn was laughing so hard she had tears rolling down her cheeks. She watched it a good three times before handing it back.
“Yeah, yeah… Serves me right I guess, considering I almost killed your husband.”
Aislinn lifted her head, and her eyes met Tig’s.
“The acid… That was my fault, doll. I never meant for him to…”
“It’s alright, love. I know.” She interrupted, and Tig sent her a look of relief.
“If it helps. I can see why Dinah’s into ya…” Aislinn said, taking everyone by surprise.
“Oh?!” Tig curiously put.
“Ya’ve got a cute lil lady butt!” Aislinn uttered in payback and Tig sneered at this.
Chibs lost all composure and was laughing so hard he was coughing and hitting at his chest.
“She’s not wrong. It is pretty cute.” Dinah admitted with a shrug.
Another box was placed into Aislinn’s lap, and it was wrapped in Metallica wrapping paper.
“From Ethan.” Riona said.
“Ethan…” Aislinn hesitantly murmured.
“But he already got me a gift, and he took me out!”
“All I got you was clothes… That’s the real gift right there.”
It was yet another guitar; only it wasn’t any guitar. It was a replica of the one James Hetfield from Metallica played. It was white and had the well-known iron cross on it. But that wasn’t the best part. No.
“OH, MY FUCKIN’…” Aislinn trailed off with a hand over her mouth.
Her brother laughed.
“The man himself. Certificate and everything’s in there. Picture of him signing it too.”
“Ethan…” Aislinn said like she was out of breath and on the verge of tears.
“That’s your Christmas and next birthday too!” Riona teased.
“Fuck yeah. That’s all you’re ever getting from me again!” Ethan mocked as well.
“I’d be okay with that actually.” Aislinn honestly put and with trembling hands.
Aislinn was cautious with it and placed it beside the others. She mouthed the words, thank you as she was a tad emotional at the moment. Ethan gave his sister a simple nod.
Another long and heavy present was placed into Aislinn’s lap. Aislinn gathered this overwhelmed presence.
“Riona…” She whispered.
“Open it.” Her sister ordered.
Chibs cleared his throat as his wife’s hands were shaking beyond belief. Riona glanced his direction, and he made the cutthroat gesture. Riona nodded and was quick to stop her sister from opening the gift. Chibs made his way over, and Riona removed the gift from her sister’s lap.
“We’ll just be a minute.” He whispered as he took his wife by the hand, then led her outside the bar.
“Don’t do it, lass,” Chibs said the moment they were alone.
“It’s too much.”
“No, it isn’t.” Her husband insisted.
“Yes, it is. Riona’s birthday…” She started to say as to feeling as though it wasn’t fair.
“Ali, who do ye think helped me set this up?! Em?! She wanted nothin’ less! Neither did I or anyone else for that matter! Now get yer arse in there and enjoy the fuckin’ spoilin’. Besides, yer sister got a whole weddin’ fur her birthday annnd gifts!” Chibs uttered with a playful smile.
Aislinn had that guilt-ridden look about her still, and Chibs sighed.
“Ali, Riona told me all aboot yer other birthdays and how they went. They were utter shite, and ye know it! All that comes ta an end, today. Now, that’s not ta say yer gonna get guitars every year, but that curse of yers is over and done. Ye hear me?!”
Aislinn lowered her head, and Chibs lifted her chin with a single finger. He shook his head, then dried her tears with his gloved thumbs.
“Ye went without presents for how many years?” Chibs said, and Aislinn sent him a wide look on this.
“That’s right. She told me. Riona was seventeen when yer mum died, so she pretty much experienced what you never got to. She had both parents around for her birthdays. Riona also told me how ye wouldn’t let anyone get ye shite after yer old man pissed ye away. She told me that she had ta FORCE anythin’ she gave ye! That she’d sneak it inta yer room, leave it there and pray ta God ye wouldn’t sneak it back into hers. That’s why I hid this party from ye. I knew ye’d go and pull the same ole shite and I’m not down for that, darlin’. Ye were just a kid, Ali. What kid doesn’t want presents for her birthday?! Em?!”
Chibs and Aislinn glanced over as they heard someone clear their throat.
“That’d be my doing…” Pepper softly admitted and was making his way with his present.
“I’m right, aren’t I?” He regrettably put, and Aislinn gave a tearful nod.
“I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve to feel that way. Chibs is right. I robbed you of your childhood.”
Pepper sighed in thought.
“Look, I told your sister to give this to you last. But I think you might want to open it now. That way you still got hers to open if you hate it.”
Aislinn regarded her father in question but accepted the gift. She opened it then started to say something, only to end up sneering at her father instead. Chibs reared back wondering what that was about. There was a fiddle inside the box. It was white and had fluttering crows on it.
“Am I not part of your life anymore? Am I not welcome anymore?” Aislinn quoted the message on the fiddle.
Chibs himself was blown away by the nerve of this man. The Scot grabbed his father-in-law by the collar, then got right in his face.
“Are ye fuckin’ serious right now? A guilt trip?! On the one birthday, ye finally show up to?! Looks like Jackie was right, we should’ve done ye in, the moment ye came inta their lives again!”
“JUST LET ME EXPLAIN!” Pepper desperately hollered and with his hands in the air.
“NOOOO!” Pepper pleaded as his daughter started to break that one as well.
Pepper snatched it out of her hand.
“Don’t, baby. PLEASE! Let me explain!” The man begged then held the fiddle close to his heart.
“That is there for ME! Not you, baby. NOT YOU! I wanted that there as a reminder, a message! Every time I see you playing this fiddle – I’ll be reminded of what I nearly lost. I wasn’t part of your life, and I wasn’t welcomed – that was MY doing!” Pepper explained.
“Don’t break this fiddle.” He added with his emotions getting the best of him.
“Don’t break this fiddle.” He repeated in a loving and softer tone.
Aislinn placed a hand along her husband’s shoulder, and Chibs dropped the hold he had on her father. Aislinn took the fiddle and carefully put it back into its case. Pepper was caught off guard when his daughter hugged him and close. Pepper closed his eyes then hugged her in return.
“I want you in my life…” She whispered only adding to her father’s shock.
He wasn’t the only one. Chibs was taken back by this as well. Pepper dropped his hold then regarded his daughter in absolute disbelief.
“Aye, I do. I think you’ve more than proved yourself. Sorry for readin’ into that wrong. It’s just…”
“No, trust me. I knew you’d think that when I had it made. But I had to… I needed that there.”
Aislinn nodded in understanding.
“You really mean it? I can be in your life?”
Aislinn sent her father a tearful smile.
“Aye. I think it’s time we moved on.”
“Even with me being Alastar’s murderer?” He reminded with a wince.
“I’m thinkin’ Alastar’s makin’ a comeback… and has been…”
“But he was dead…”
“So was I… What can I say? It’s a Lawless thing. We’re stubborn, pa.”
“That’s no lie,” Pepper said with a smile then hugged his daughter once again.
Chibs gestured for Pepper to lead her back inside as there was a storm blowing in. He was following them when Dinah rushed out of the clubhouse.
“You need to go!” She shouted Pepper’s direction.
“What?!” Pepper responded in confusion.
“GO! GET OUT OF HERE!” Dinah shouted in warning.
Chibs glanced towards the road and saw the new sheriff and his deputies making their way over. Pepper let out a miserable laugh once he caught on. Dinah recoiled but looked Aislinn’s direction.
“I’m so sorry. I tried. There wasn’t anything I could do. I just got word of this!”
“Word of what?!” Aislinn asked.
“Nicholas…” Pepper uttered in defeat and Dinah nodded.
It was just as he feared. All that time he was spending here… that left the land back in Ireland unattended. The oil field must’ve taken his absence as a welcome mat and took matters into their own hands. As in they were in attempts to steal the land, the house, and everything else, right out from underneath his children. Pepper didn’t have time to explain the situation. All he cared about was making sure his daughter got out of there and fast, before she let it slip that she too played a part. Pepper sent his son-in-law a desperate look, and the Scot’s eyes went wild. He was quick to grab his wife, and he was dragging her inside. Pepper nodded in approval.
“Wait! WHAT?!” Aislinn shouted and was in attempts to break out of her husband’s hold.
Pepper held up a hand when his daughter reached out to him.
“No, Aislinn. Not a fucking word! Get her inside!” Pepper sternly ordered.
“GET HER OUT OF HERE!” Dinah yelled simultaneously.
Chibs scooped his wife up then rushed her inside.
“What’s goin’ on?!” Riona said while shooting to her feet.
Chibs was in a full-blown panic as he handed his wife over. He looked to Ethan then back to Riona.
“YOU TWO, KEEP HER QUIET AND HIDDEN!” The VP demanded while handing Happy the fiddle Pepper had gotten Aislinn.
Tig helped Ethan and Riona with Aislinn and dragged her into the stock room.
“Shhhh…” Tig said with a hand over Aislinn’s mouth as Ethan and Riona held her away from the door.
It took all three to block her path.
“You can’t do that, doll… They’re gonna need you.” Tig whispered, then tapped her stomach in reminder.
Aislinn flinched in response.
“That’s right. Can’t have ya doing hard time and that’s what this would be.” Tig added and tears streamed down Aislinn’s face.
“I know. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, sweetheart.” Tig said then hugged her.
Tig knew what had happened because Dinah had told him in a panic before she rushed out the door to prevent it. But it was too late. The sheriff and his men were just a block away when she stepped outside to warn Pepper.
Chibs kept his eye on that stock room door. Everyone waited inside as Pepper was being hauled off and read his rights. Chibs pinched his eyes shut once they heard the sheriff and his deputies leave. The president placed a hand along his VP’s shoulder, and the Scot shrugged out of it.
“Filip…” Jax softly called, and Chibs held out a hand letting Jax and everyone else know not to come near him.
“It’s not your fault, man!” Jax said.
Chibs didn’t comment and headed for the stock room. He opened the door then gave Riona, Ethan, and Tig a mere nod. They took the hint and exited the room. Chibs pulled the door to once they left.
Chibs recoiled when his wife sunk to the floor and covered her face. The Scot had no words as he joined her. He pulled her into his arms and held her.
“What’s goin’ on, Jackson?! Why are we hidin’ my sister?! What did Tig mean by doin’ time?!” Riona frantically asked.
Jax sighed then told his wife what he’d overheard between Dinah and Tig. Dinah was on the phone with the sheriff, and he’d let it known that they were looking for the Lawless sisters’ father. The sheriff arrived at the wrong bar, however. Dinah knew the sheriff was doing his best to give her the heads up but didn’t realize how close his deputies were. There was nothing he could do. It was out of his hands. Sheriff Noone had a warrant for Alastar’s arrest. So, he had to act on it. Sheriff Noone hated this because, like that of Dinah, he wished to remain on good terms with the Sons. He wanted to keep that connection that Dinah always had. He was going to do his best to honor Dinah and do things the way she would’ve. That was his only reason for not storming into the actual bar. The sheriff knew about the party and didn’t wish to make matters worse than they were already.
Riona staggered back once her husband made the reveal.
“No…” She whispered, then glanced towards the stock room where her sister was.
“No…” She repeated with a heavy heart.
“Of all days… Why today? WHY?!” Riona said with tears in her eyes.
Jax hugged her then kissed the top of her head.
“I’m so sorry, baby. Dinah tried to warn us, but it was too late. They were already here.”
“Jax, we can’t let her anywhere near that office or my father!”
“Trust me. I know. So does Chibs. It’s gonna take all of us. I mean as in intervention time. Aislinn needs to realize what will happen if she says one word on what took place that night.”
Dinah and Tig overheard the last bit of that conversation and nodded in agreement. Ethan however, just stood there. He wasn’t sure how to feel or what to make of this. He too was in shock and never saw this coming.
AC and Leia kept quiet as they hadn’t a clue what was going on exactly.
“Then, we wait.” Happy confirmed as to Jax’s intervention comment.
Happy took a seat and did just that. The others joined in as well. None of them were letting Aislinn leave, not until they all said their peace on the matter.
Chibs had Aislinn in his arms still and rocked her as she cried into his chest.
“What’s goin’ to happen to him, Scotty?” She softly questioned, and with a quivery voice.
“Not sure… I’m guessin’ they’ll ship him back ta Ireland and deal with him there.”
“But I…” Chibs covered her mouth and shook his head.
“I know what yer gonna say and I’m gonna stop ye right there. Ye were a kid when yer father put ye up ta that. He hadn’t any business involvin’ ye. If he wanted Nicholas dead, he should’ve taken matters into his own hands, instead of turnin’ ta his teenage daughter for help.”
“Scotty, I was eighteen. Killin’ Nick was my idea. It was him or Riona. Nick was plannin’ on killin’ my sister THAT same night! I watched him sit there with that gun for two fuckin’ hours. He kept watchin’ that door and waitin’. He was tappin’ that finger along his gun, and waitin’ for my sister, Scotty!”
Aislinn drew back a quivery breath.
“I called pa and had him walk me through everythin’. Pa told me what to do from there.” Aislinn revealed the truth behind that night. She’d already done so with her sister. Chibs himself knew parts of it, but not the entire story.
Chibs grew ill at the part where she flew into Nicholas’s lap after her father tricked him with the doorknob. She described the gurgling sound Nicholas made and how chilling it was for her to hear that, even more so, knowing she caused it.
“Scotty, if I hadn’t done what I did… It would’ve been my sister’s brains lyin’ on the floor that night instead of Nick in that fuckin’ chair. Pa had to pry me off the bastard! Pa and I chopped up the recliner then buried the remains with Nicholas. So, ya see… I can’t let my father take the wrap for this.”
Chibs gritted his teeth then sprang to his feet, with Aislinn in his hold still.
“Ye can and ye will!” He snapped while pointing at her.
“Scotty…” She uttered in misery.
“So, let me get this straight. What yer sayin’ is ye want ta go down ta the sheriff’s and turn yerself in – all so ye can save yer father’s sorry arse?!”
“He’s not the same man!”
“I don’t give a shite! He could be the motherfuckin’ pope, Ali, and I still wouldn’t let ye do it. Look at yerself! Yer pregnant with our boys. Is that how ye want to spend yer days? Em?! Ye want ta give birth ta them in a fuckin’ cell and be given visitation rights when I bring them by?! Is that what ye want for our future?!”
The door to the stock room flung open, and they turned to see Riona. She was shooting her sister daggers.
“I didn’t just hear that.” Riona hissed.
Riona sent Chibs an apologetic glance as she took her sister by the arm. She dragged Aislinn back into the room then sat her down. Chibs raised his brows when he saw everyone sitting around his wife. The president waved him over, and the VP headed that way. Riona had sent her son to one of the back rooms with a couple prospects.
“What is this…” Aislinn impatiently questioned.
“You’re not to talk until we give ya the go-ahead. You’re goin’ to hear us out, ALL OF US! Then you can talk, understood?!” Riona said in that motherly tone she used when she was raising Aislinn.
Aislinn started to say something and Ethan interrupted that with the clearing of a throat. Their brother shook his head in a scolding manner. Riona squatted down to her sister’s level then cupped her chin.
“Ya need to listen to your husband on this. Linny love, trust me. You can’t win this. No matter how much you think you can, you won’t. There’s nothin’ you can do now. Our father is at the law’s mercy and before ya even go there… He could’ve made a different choice but didn’t. He supported your plans and did nothin’ to talk you out of it! A normal lovin’ father would’ve talked his daughter out of murder!”
“MURDER?!” Aislinn snapped, and Riona clamped a firm hand over her sister’s mouth.
“You were defendin’ me. I get that, love. But ya were plannin’ it out, and that’s all the court is goin’ to see. They won’t see this as self-defense, Linny. They’re goin’ to ask why you didn’t call the police. It doesn’t matter what you say about Nick bein’ a Gardaí and how his friends covered his arse. None of that will matter the moment you reveal you were in that house and waitin’! All they’re goin’ to focus on is the attempt, not your reasonin’ behind it. I need ya to understand that. That and I done told ya, if you go down, then I’m goin’ down with ya!”
“And I’m not letting that happen.” Jax made clear with a firm nod in his sister-in-law’s direction.
“None of us are letting either of you go down for this.” Happy confirmed, and everyone nodded in agreement.
“Aislinn, as much as you hate to hear it right now… You need to see this as karma finally catching up to our father. I know he’s come a long way. But that doesn’t erase everything he’s done.” Ethan said.
“I got somethin’ ta add there,” Chibs uttered, and everyone glanced that direction.
“I know you two just literally made amends before all this shite went down…” Chibs said, and Riona seemed taken back by this.
Chibs nodded in that direction but continued with what he had to say.
“But ye saw it yerself, Ali. Your father doesn’t want ye anywhere near this! Ye might think yer doin’ him a favor, goin’ there on his behalf, but ye wouldn’t be. Let Alastar do the right thing fur once. Let him act like a real father would and should. I know that’s what he wants. And deep down, love, I think you do too. I know it’s killin’ ye. But you have to let this one go. Ye can’t be apart of it. Ye just can’t.”
“He’s right. Linny, it would absolutely KILL pa if you went to prison, love. This isn’t what he wants, and I know it isn’t what ma would want. She’d tell you to let him handle it from here.” Riona said with a touch of desperation in her voice.
“You need to listen to your loved ones. Trust me when I say you don’t want to give birth on an ice-cold cement floor!” Dinah said, and Chibs recoiled at the mere idea.
Everyone else said something along the same lines of encouragement. Aislinn’s cellphone rang, however, during Bobby’s little speech, causing her to jump. She answered it without looking to see where the call came from.
“Keep quiet and listen.” She heard in her father’s voice, but it was so faint she could barely hear him.
“First off, I need you to promise you’ll finish that birthday party. Secondly, I need you to go and feed the dog back at the hotel. Oh, and be sure to grab your bible. You left it there.”
Aislinn started to argue with her father about the party and how he didn’t have a dog. But thought back to what he said and refrained.
“Now. I need to hear that promise.”
“Promise?!” Aislinn tearfully scoffed.
“That’s right, you’re going to finish your party, and you’re going to enjoy it. Promise me!”
“I can’t promise that.”
“Aislinn baby, I’m gonna need that promise. I wouldn’t have come if I had known… Please, don’t let this ruin your day. Finish your party then head to the hotel.”
There was a moment of silence as Pepper waited for that promise.
“Aye…” Aislinn whispered while pinching her eyes shut.
“Don’t break your promise. I love you.” Pepper said before hanging up.
Aislinn stared at her phone for a couple minutes.
“That was him, wasn’t it?” Riona asked, and Aislinn gave a sad nod.
“What’d he say?”
“To finish the party and feed his dog at the hotel.”
Riona reared back in thought.
“Pa doesn’t have a dog.”
“I’ll take ye. But I agree. You should finish yer party.” Chibs uttered, and everyone else nodded in agreement.
“I know just the thing that’ll cheer ya up,” Riona said, but she herself was struggling.
This hit all of them out of left field. Nicholas… that happened so many years ago. Riona didn’t see this coming, not after all this time, much less on her sister’s birthday. But it was better their father than Aislinn. That would’ve killed everyone in that room if they hauled Aislinn away as well.
“Riona…” Aislinn uttered in downright misery.
“Aye, now. Ya made a promise.” Riona reminded then whispered into Jax’s ear.
Jax gave a simple nod and headed off. Aislinn regarded her sister in question. But Riona didn’t utter a word and simply smiled her sister’s direction. That smile, however, said a lot of things. Aislinn knew that smile. It was the – “I’m sorry. I know you’re going through hell, but we’re going to get through this. I promise.” Aislinn grew up with that particular smile when their mother was dying of cancer and when their father became a no-good drunkard. Aislinn always knew what that smile meant.
Jax returned with Abel in his arms. Abel had a couple gifts with him. Jax set him down in Aislinn’s lap. Chibs nodded his president’s direction, thinking that was rather brilliant. If anyone could make those blues of hers go away, it’d be Abel.
“This for you babies, Aunt Linny,” Abel said while handing one of the presents over.
Aislinn was careful as she unwrapped it. There were two framed dragon pictures.
“One’s for Liam and the other for J.T.” Jax made clear.
“These are beautiful, love. Thank you.” She said then kissed Abel’s cheek.
“You’re so talented.” She said while admiring the pictures side by side.
“Those are great, buck. The boys will love em!” Chibs said.
“These for them too,” Abel said before handing the other bag over.
“I tells daddy what I want to get them, and he helps me find them. The white one for Liam and the black one for J.T.”
Aislinn opened the small bag then retrieved the small jewelry box inside. Jax gave a mere nod when her eyes locked with his. They were matching crow skull necklaces.
“They’re goin’ to love these! I’ll put them up for safekeeping and give them to the boys once they’re old enough.”
“Does you likes your gifts?” Abel asked.
“Aye, very much. Thank you, Abel.”
Abel hugged his aunt then crawled on out of her lap. He did this because he saw his Uncle Chibs waving him over. The Scot thought this the perfect time to give Abel his new necklace and explain his reasoning. Chibs led the boy towards the bar then lifted him up and propped him up on the counter.
“Ye wearin’ that necklace of yers, boy?” Chibs asked, and Abel nodded as he lifted it out from under his shirt and showed his uncle.
“I want ye ta take that off.”
“Okay…” Abel said with a confused shrug.
He took it off, then handed it to his uncle. Chibs pocketed it then pulled a couple of necklaces out from his blazer.
“I say it’s time for an upgrade. What do ye say?” Chibs said while showing Abel the new matching set.
“How bout ye put mine on, and I put yers on!” Chibs said hoping Abel wouldn’t be upset over the exchange.
Abel ran a single finger along one of the crosses.
“You gets us new ones?!” He excitably put, and this put the Scot at a little more ease.
“I sure did.”
“These so cool, Uncle Chibs!” Abel said.
He picked one of them up then placed it around his uncle’s neck. Chibs adjusted it afterward then looked to Abel.
“What do ye think?”
“It deadly!” Abel said, sounding like his aunt.
This had the Scot chuckling.
“Good deal. Now it’s yer turn.” Chibs said then placed the other necklace around Abel’s neck.
Abel smiled then held the crosses side by side like he did back in Belfast.
“So, what do ye think, boy?!”
“I love them! They so cool. Thank you, Uncle Chibs. I never takes it off, ever!” Chibs smiled then roughed Abel’s hair up a bit.
“What’s you gonna do with the other one?” Abel curiously questioned but was admiring the new one around his neck.
“Eh, haven’t thought about it yet. Just figured it was time fur new ones. Why don’t ye go and show yer aunt?” Chibs dismissively put before lowering the boy back down and sending him Aislinn’s way.
“You alright?” Jax sincerely questioned, and Chibs shook his head no.
“We’ll get them through this, just like everything else.” Jax vowed.
“I know we will. I just…”
“Hate that it was her birthday.” Jax finished, and Chibs nodded as he watched his wife from the bar.
“I went through this day over and over in me head…” Chibs uttered in defeat.
Jax nodded but regarded his sister-in-law in thought.
“Something tells me it’ll be a birthday to remember and I’m not just talking about Pepper’s arrest. Filip, I saw the look on her face when you stepped out of that Mustang. Trust me… nothing can top what you and Riona did for her today.” Jax said before making his way back to his sister-in-law and wife.
Chibs kept to himself but watched as the sisters gushed over Abel’s new necklace. At Abel’s request, his mother lit Aislinn’s birthday candles. Abel helped his aunt blow them out then they had cake and ice cream. Aislinn was talking to Happy when Riona brought her last gift over.
“From me…” Riona softly put.
“But before you open that… You should know there’s a reason behind all these guitars.” Riona lifted her eyes Chibs’s direction, and the Scot nodded in approval.
“Your husband told us all about your deal with Brent Smith…” Riona looked to everyone else as she made the announcement.
“Linny’s done sold her first song! ANNNNND Lzzy Hale is gettin’ her name out there. It won’t be long now. So, congratulations on settin’ your future, Linny. I couldn’t be prouder. I can’t think of anyone more deservin’. You worked hard to get here, love. Even THEY can see it. I always told you ya had it in ya.” Riona raised her drink, and so did everyone else as Riona made the toast to Aislinn and her success.
“Ya were supposed to wait!” Aislinn scolded her husband, and Chibs shrugged.
“Ya done told them about the sex of our babies and now this? Don’t I get to announce anythin’ in this marriage?!”
“Nah…” Chibs teased then drank along with everyone else.
“I knew you could do it.” Happy sincerely put and Aislinn lifted her eyes that direction.
“I’m proud of you.” He added, and Aislinn smiled.
“Thank you, Hap.” She said then ran her fingers along the familiar angel wrapping paper.
“Wasn’t this ma’s paper?”
“I’m surprised ya used it.”
“Just open it, Linny.”
The look on Aislinn’s face had the Scot making his way over.
“Riona…” Aislinn whispered in such a way.
“Oh, man…” Happy uttered in admiration.
“Now, that’s a guitar!” Bobby added, and everyone nodded in agreement.
“Do you remember?” Riona softly questioned, and Aislinn gave a tearful nod.
“Ma drew this for me.”
“That she did… But do you remember what you said?”
Aislinn closed her eyes in memory.
“That I wished it was real.” She said with a quivery voice.
“Linny, ma was goin’ to have that made for your birthday, but she succumbed to cancer before she had the chance. I’d forgotten all about it. But I ran into one of her old sketchbooks the other day and found that. I took it as a sign.”
Aislinn removed the guitar from its case then shook her head.
“It’s damn near too pretty to play!”
“You better play it! That wasn’t cheap!” Riona teasingly scolded but gestured for Ethan to cut off the lights.
The wings lit up with a beautiful blue hue.
“That so cool!” Abel said, and Aislinn nodded in agreement.
Riona was at a loss for words as her sister strummed a few notes. Riona placed a hand over her heart as she recognized the song all too well.
“Linny…” Jax heard his wife whisper with tears in her eyes.
Aislinn went on to play the song she and Riona played at their mother’s funeral. It was a song Alastar Lawless personally requested. It was My Beloved Wife by Natalie Merchant. Riona knew her sister was playing this on their mother and father’s behalf.
Chibs signaled for everyone to scatter about, knowing the girls would need a bit of one on one once Aislinn finished. There were no words. Aislinn put the guitar back in its case then came to her feet. Riona and Aislinn hugged one another then held each other for a while.
Chibs took Ethan by surprise when he sat beside him and wrapped an arm around his shoulder.
“How ye doin’, kid?” Chibs hinted, and Ethan shrugged as he watched his sisters from afar.
“Not sure what I feel. If I should feel anything…” Ethan honestly put, and Chibs nodded in understanding.
Chibs didn’t comment but could smell the alcohol coming from Ethan’s breath. The man was shit-faced. Leia made a gesture the Scot’s direction as if to let him know she was taking Ethan home. That was a sure sign that Ethan was taking this harder than he realized. Chibs saw this for what it was. The alcohol was just a coping mechanism.
“We got it from here,” Riona said after leaning into Chibs’s ear.
She had a few prospects with her, and they were cleaning everything up. Things were starting to wind down anyhow as most everyone had already left.
“Take her onto the hotel and see what our father wanted her to find.”
“Aye. Will do, love.” Chibs uttered while digging the keys out from his pocket.
Ethan overheard this as he and Leia were headed out. He handed Chibs the keycard to Pepper’s room. Pepper had given it to Ethan just in case they needed him or wanted to visit.
Chibs and Aislinn were quiet the entire drive to the hotel. The Scot took notice of the way she held the necklace her father had given her. She’d fidget with it every once in a while, and stare out the window. Aislinn was so lost in thought. She didn’t take notice of her husband pulling up to the hotel. It wasn’t until he was at her door that she even realized they were there. Aislinn looked to the driver’s side then back to her husband as he had her door open and was offering a hand. Chibs would’ve laughed if it wasn’t for the dreadful situation. She looked as if she was trying to figure out how he got from a to b, so quickly.
Aislinn took his hand, and the Scot led her towards the door. Chibs used the keycard Ethan had given him. He opened the door, and they stepped inside.
“And what is it we’re lookin’ for?” Chibs softly questioned when his wife got to digging.
“A bible and somethin’ about a dog…”
Chibs nodded then locked the door before joining her on the hunt. It didn’t take long to find the “dog’ Pepper was referring to. It was on the hotel dresser. The Scot looked at the figurine of the dog leaning on a boot. It wasn’t until he picked it up that he realized it was a vase. There were a few things stuffed inside. Items such as a watch, some coins, and an envelope addressed to Riona and Ethan.
“I’m guessin’ this is what he wanted us to find?” Chibs uttered then waved the envelope his wife’s direction.
Aislinn peered back as she was looking for the bible her father had mentioned.
“I suppose so!” She said, looking surprised.
Chibs nodded then stuffed the letter into his cut.
“Take the dog too, will ya? That was ma’s.”
“Aye. Will do, darlin’.”
They had been searching for a little over five minutes when Aislinn let out a gasp. Chibs snapped a look that direction, thinking something was wrong.
“Ali?” He called as she was holding something and hugging it close.
“What is it, love?” He asked while making his way over.
“This…” She said while showing him the antique Catholic bible.
Chibs had never seen such a bible before. The cover had been carved out of wood, and everything was finely etched. It was the most beautiful bible he’d ever seen.
“My ma’s bible.” Chibs took note of how childlike she sounded.
Aislinn sat at the foot of the bed then looked to the bible for a solid minute before opening it. Chibs sat beside her and watched as she carefully flipped through the pages. Chibs knew this must’ve been a family heirloom. The pages were pristine, but you could tell the age by the discoloration.
Aislinn was flipping through it when she found an envelope with her name on it. Like that of the other envelope, this was in her father’s handwriting. Chibs took the envelope then used his knife as a letter opener. He handed it back afterward.
Aislinn unfolded the letter within.
If you’re reading this. That means one of two things. I kicked the bucket, or the inevitable has taken place, and you know what I mean by that.
If it is the inevitable:
All I can say is you know what your mother and I would want. Don’t dishonor that. I got it from here. I mean it, Aislinn. Don’t even consider it. It’s time for me to step up and do the right thing. It’s been a long time coming, and we both know that. We’ve always been firm believers in karma, and I finally got my due. So, let me serve my time.
Aislinn paused for a moment, thinking that was somewhat ironic, considering what her brother had said.
If I finally kicked the bucket:
Turn me into ash and spread me wherever you, your sister, and brother see fit. Don’t make a big deal out of it. I’m with your mother now. Hopefully, through the good Lord’s forgiveness. That’s all I ever wanted.
I love you, all of you, never forget that,
Oh, and the bible goes to you since your mother’s ring went to your sister.
Aislinn folded the letter then put it back in the envelope. She placed the envelope back in the bible where it was. Chibs wrapped an arm around her, then kissed her cheek.
“See…?! We were right.” He lovingly whispered against her cheek.
“Are ya admittin’ to readin’ my letter?” She playfully put, taking her husband by surprise.
He wasn’t expecting the almost cheerful response.
“I suppose I am.”
Aislinn half-heartedly laughed.
“At least I had my pa back, even if it wasn’t for long.”
“That you did.”
“I missed him so much!” Aislinn’s voice cracked, and Chibs was quick to pull her into his arms as she broke into sobs.
“I know ye did, lass. I know ye did.”
“What are ya doin’?” Aislinn questioned when her husband pulled over on the to the clubhouse.
“Yer turn!” He said with a mischievous grin.
“My turn?” She questioned, looking somewhat lost.
“Aye. I didn’t build ye a car so ye couldn’t drive it! Now, scoot yer arse on over!” He said while opening his door and stepping out of the car.
Aislinn climbed into the driver’s seat. She started to put the car into gear, only to have her husband stop her.
“Let me get me fuckin’ seatbelt on first. I don’t trust ye, lass!”
Her jaw dropped, and Chibs chuckled.
“Ye don’t know what’s what when it comes ta drivin’ on the right side of the road and yer aboot ta drive a car ye don’t even know how to drive!”
Chibs hoped this would get her mind off everything, even if temporarily. Aislinn frowned but listened as Chibs went over everything she needed to know.
“Jaysus! Ali, lay off the clutch!”
“No, yer too heavy on it. Just hit the clutch, shift, let up, then fuckin’ go.”
Chibs chuckled at her frustrated reaction. But she got it right after a couple more tries. Her biggest issue was inclines. Aislinn would roll back before she hit the brakes and would get confused and frustrated with the clutch. She had a couple freak out moments, thinking she was going to hit the car behind her. Chibs kept patient, but he too was afraid she’d wreck the car before she even got it back to the clubhouse. The Scot had her loop around a few more times. This seemed to do the trick as she was focused on getting the maneuvers down. Chibs noticed the more comfortable she got with the Mustang, the more fun she was starting to have.
“THERE YE GO!” He applauded when she got over her first incline, without any issue.
“See?! Now yer gettin’ it!” He praised while turning the radio on.
Chibs found a decent station and turned the volume up. Sick Love Song By Motley Crew was playing.
Chibs drew back a breath of relief when his wife sang along and was shifting gears like nobody’s business now. The Scot leaned back and relaxed. Aislinn took the car on the freeway before heading to the clubhouse.
“So?” Chibs uttered once she parked the car.
“It’s perfect, Scotty. Ya nailed it.”
Chibs nodded but with a touch of gloom.
“Ali love, I’m sorry aboot yer party goin’ ta utter shite.” Her husband sincerely put.
Aislinn sat there and stared off into space for a moment. Chibs shook his head as her silence only added to his misery.
“Would you believe me if I said that was the best birthday I ever had.”
Chibs had a good laugh at this.
“I appreciate what yer doin’, love. But ye don’t hafta lie on my account.”
“That’s just it. I’m not. Scotty, what you and Riona did for me… Ya’ve no clue what that means to me. Today isn’t somethin’ I could ever forget. Ya made my birthday enjoyable. Believe me when I say that isn’t an easy thing to do. I might have had to deal with court and watched my father get arrested. But that doesn’t take away from what you and Riona did.”
Aislinn leaned back and smiled in thought.
“What?” Chibs questioned with curiosity.
“When ya stepped out of that Mustang… In that savage arse suit…”
Aislinn shook her head.
“I’d never seen anythin’ so unbelievably smooth and sexy in my entire life. I wasn’t lyin’ when I said ya could put John Wick to shame. I meant every word. I can promise ya this much… John Wick never got my panties wet the way ya do!”
Chibs cocked a brow on this.
“Is that so…”
“Aye, you’re the whole package, Scotty. No one could ever replace you. Not in a million years. I love you.”
Aislinn unfastened her seatbelt then crawled into his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck then kissed him.
“Thank you.” She whispered afterward.
Chibs caressed her cheek but looked to be in thought.
“What’s on that mind of yours?” Aislinn asked, and Chibs smiled.
“What do ya say to christenin’ this here Mustang?! Em?”
A/N 1: Please leave a review, comment, or simple like. It’s appreciated. Thank you in advance!
A/N 2: As most of you already know, this story is dedicated to Robin. But this chapter in particular… She visited me all the way from Tennessee last year for my birthday. It meant the world to me because, like that of Aislinn, I have a bit of a birthday curse. Things tend to go wrong somehow. I’ve always dreaded my birthday because I felt like it was cursed. Well, even with my car acting up, the ac not working, the key getting stuck in the ignition, and not getting to do everything we hoped we could (again BIRTHDAY CURSE!) – we had an amazing time. I hadn’t laughed like that in a long time. It meant the world to me that she flew to Texas just to see me. I wrote this chapter with Robin in mind and the time we shared. She didn’t complain once about my crappy situation and simply laughed it off. We poked fun at my POS car through the time she was here. I will be returning that by visiting her sometime next year in Tennessee. She and her loved ones have been warned. Snorts. Love ya and thank you for giving me a memorable birthday!
Also props to Robin on helping me with the Reaper Row idea and the lead up to that!