Chapter 59 – Ireland
“I gotta head on to the shop darlin’. Bring the wee one by when he gets out of school, and I’ll look after him while you’re at work.”
“Alright, love,” Aislinn said while brushing her hair.
Chibs gave her a quick peck on the cheek then rushed on out the door. Aislinn finished getting ready but felt a little fatigued afterward. The young woman lay back down and could feel her babies kicking.
“Behave you two. Don’t make me come in there!” She humorously put with her hands along her belly.
The twins had been keeping her up more and more as of late. They were very active and were putting a lot of pressure on her bladder, making for constant runs in the middle of the night. Aislinn rolled over so that she’d be more comfortable. She smiled, however, when she saw Thomas – the dragon lying on the bed. She picked it up then hugged it close. Aislinn was thinking about her nephew when she drifted off into a deep unintended sleep…
At the docks:
“I don’t see them,” Riona said as she and Jax were at the docks and in line to board the ship.
“They’re here. Somewhere.” Jax uttered with a simple shrug.
“And if they’re not?” She said while adjusting her husband’s collar.
“They are.” Jax firmly put, and Riona sighed.
“I also told you to save your voice.” Jax reminded as Riona’s voice was fading in and out.
Jax placed his hand along the small of her back when it was their turn to board. He showed the staff the tickets they’d printed out at the hotel. He and Riona were waved inside. One of the staff escorted Jax and Riona around the deck and to their room. The room was one of the cruise’s suites, and there was a king-size bed with the perfect window for viewing.
“Not bad. Sure beats the last ship we were on!” Jax smarted once they were alone.
Riona snorted in memory.
“That’s no lie.” She muttered while going through their luggage.
Jax thought it a shame his wife couldn’t enjoy this to the fullest. He knew Riona’s mind would be on Ireland and what they were getting themselves into. Even now, he could see it in her eyes as she put their things away.
“Hey, I got it.” Jax offered while grabbing one of the suitcases.
“Sit down and relax.”
“Relax?! I just might go stir crazy. We’re gonna be stuck on this ship for days!”
Jax raised his brows but didn’t utter a word. His wife went on another rant about how slow it would be, getting to Ireland. The president kept quiet and simply put their things away. Jax knew better than to say anything. He figured it best to be an ear and let her vent. Hell, if it were his father, he’d be just as upset about the situation.
Riona dropped the tirade eventually and plopped down on the bed in defeat. Jax hated that useless feeling. He was doing everything he could to get her there but knew his wife was miserable as to how they were going about it. But he hadn’t a choice. This right here was the fastest and safest way of getting there, undetected.
Jax finished up then joined Riona on the bed. He reached out and used his thumb to wipe a stray tear off her cheek.
“Baby…” he heart-brokenly whispered.
“I can’t help it. The worst things are comin’ to mind. If they do anythin’ to my ma…” Her voice cracked, and Riona lost all composure.
Jax recoiled as he pulled her into his chest and held her.
“Aislinn love, it’s time to come inside! You’re gonna turn into a water rat!”
The twelve-year-old girl frowned at her mother’s request but did as she was told and crawled on out of the tank. Teagan greeted her daughter outside and handed a towel over.
“I swear ya’d swim all night and day if you had your way,” Teagan said while helping her daughter dry off.
“Ma!” Aislinn embarrassingly called, and her mother laughed.
“Don’t tell me you’re too old to have your ma helpin’ ya out!”
Aislinn groaned in protest but stuck her tongue out at her sister. Riona was making fun of her in the background.
“AISLINN OLIVIA LAWLESS! DID YOU JUST…” Teagan scolded in disbelief.
“That wasn’t meant for you, ma!” Aislinn was quick to defend but frowned when she heard her sister laughing.
Their mother sighed once she caught on as to what was going on.
“You two… What am I goin’ to do with ya?! Em?!”
“Beat their wee little asses! That’s what!” A voice boomed from behind.
“PA!” Aislinn excitably called.
The girl pivoted around then took off to hug her father.
“You’re soakin’ wet!” Her mother scolded as Aislinn got her father’s suit all wet.
Alastar laughed as he lifted his daughter into his arms and kissed her cheek.
“I see you’ve been in the tank again.”
“I can’t get her out! Just as soon as she finishes her chores, she’s right back in! I don’t think that child even eats!”
This is where it happened, isn’t it? A familiar voice said from seemingly nowhere.
Aislinn peered back as she looked upon this particular memory.
“Thomas?” She called.
Thomas stepped out from behind a nearby tree and nodded.
“You must’ve given your parents a TON of cavities!”
Aislinn began to say something but closed her eyes when her father hollered out to their mother. Aislinn started back, only to have Thomas stop her by cupping her chin.
“Don’t. Quit tormenting yourself. Your mother was sick. There was nothing you could do, either of you. You always go back to this day…”
“Because she needed to rest, and I was bein’ selfish.”
“You were being a kid.”
“Riona took care of her, I didn’t!”
“And why is that?” Thomas questioned but with a smile.
Aislinn started to pull away, and Thomas’s grip grew tighter.
“You were scared.” He answered in her stead.
Aislinn sucked back a quivery breath but nodded. Aislinn didn’t know what to think or how to feel when their mother was diagnosed with cancer. So, she distanced herself. That was something she lived to regret. Even more so, considering she was there for Alastar when he self-destructed.
“That’s why you couldn’t give up on your father. You were making up for your mother. Weren’t you?”
“Why are ya doin’ this?!” Aislinn rather hissed.
She slapped Thomas’s hand away, then took a few steps back.
“Because she wants you to stop!”
Aislinn lifted her eyes, and Thomas inched his way over.
“She hates it when you do that.” He said in a softer tone.
“Teagan wants you to let go and live your life – guilt-free!”
“I CAN’T!” Aislinn cried, and Thomas sighed.
“Even with it being your mother’s will?”
“How do you know it is?! Hell, how do I know this isn’t just a figment of my imagination, and I’m just usin’ you as a source to feel better about bein’ A FUCK UP! EVERYTHING WAS ON MY SISTER! EVERYTHING! ALL I EVER DID WAS ADD TO THE PROBLEM!”
“AISLINN OLIVIA LAWLESS!”
Aislinn froze with a look of absolute shock, and Thomas laughed.
“Well now, you’ve done it! She three named you!” Thomas spun Aislinn around then had her leaning against him for a brief moment.
Aislinn couldn’t believe how real this felt. How real HE felt. It’s like he was right there, only he was cold to the touch. Thomas leaned into her ear.
“Hurry.” He whispered with a slight nudge.
Aislinn couldn’t believe her eyes. Her heart raced at the sight.
“Ma…” She softly called, and Teagan Lawless nodded with open arms.
Aislinn took off at a sprint then wrapped her arms around her mother. Teagan lifted her slightly off the ground as she hugged her in return. Teagan dropped her hold and was looking her daughter over.
“Look at ya!” Teagan said with her hands planted along her daughter’s cheeks.
“It’s really you!” Aislinn expressed as she breathed her mother in.
She gave a tearful smile afterward. Her mother still carried that vanilla and strawberries scent. It was from the shampoo her mother always used.
Aislinn, however, felt a sudden wave of emptiness and realized her mother was starting to fade.
“Tell Riona it’s okay. That I’M okay.”
“Aislinn, she needs to know it’s okay. I’m in a good place, no matter where my body rests. As for you…” Her mother’s voice was becoming more and more distant; the more she faded.
“Let go. You deserve to be free. Be happy, both of you. I lo…”
“MA!!!!” Aislinn shouted when her mother vanished.
Thomas cleared his throat, reminding Aislinn he was there. Aislinn whipped around, and her eyes met his.
“Borrowed time… you could say. Teagan had to go through me. I’m sorry, it wasn’t my intention to be a part of something so personal. But it was the only way.”
“What did my mother mean when she mentioned Riona?”
“You’ll see… but for now. You’re late, and he’s one unhappy camper!”
“Wake up, Aislinn,” Thomas said while giving her a good shove.
Aislinn felt herself flying back, and Thomas waved her off.
“Let’s find us something to eat at least,” Jax uttered as he dragged Riona along behind him.
Riona sighed in protest but followed her husband as he headed onto the deck.
“There’s a cafeteria up ahead.”
“Ethan?!” Riona whispered in outright shock.
Jax didn’t hear her at first. He was in attempts to pull her along as he had her hand in his still.
“Come on, Riona!” He impatiently put but tilted his head, wondering what had her so mesmerized.
Jax turned his head the direction in which his wife was staring, and he too was struck stupid.
“Tell me you’re seein’ what I’m seein’,” Riona said.
“Well, if you’re seeing what I’m seeing… I think Happy’s seen Titanic one too many times, and trust me when I say once is enough!”
Riona shook her head in thought. Jax, however, couldn’t help but laugh.
“What are they up to? I mean, what’s with the necking and hand-holding?!” Jax wondered out loud.
“Ethan looks so miserable,” Riona uttered, and Jax chuckled when he saw the massive grin on Happy’s face.
“And Happy looks a little too “happy”. Something’s up… Look, don’t let on that we’ve spotted them. I wanna see just how far they take this… Whatever this is.”
“I think my brother needs a rape whistle,” Riona said with a frown.
Jax chuckled but was quick to yank his wife out of Ethan and Happy’s view as they were headed their way. They ducked out of sight but were blown away once again by Happy and Ethan’s transformation. Ethan had cut his hair and shaved.
Happy himself was different; only he didn’t bother to shave like that of Ethan. But he was wearing a fedora, leather jacket, and a red striped polo shirt.
Ethan ignored Chibs’s advice about the sandals and went with a simple black sweater and slacks.
“Wow. They sure clean up good.” Riona quietly complimented, and her husband nodded in agreement.
“But seriously, what are they up to?!”
“Who knows…” Riona said as they watched Ethan and Happy walk past, hand in hand.
“Well, whatever’s going on… Ethan’s certainly the bitch!”
“Jackson!” Riona hissed.
“Just sayin’… Happy’s got him on a short leash. Look at that!”
Aislinn shot up to the sound of someone knocking at the front door. She couldn’t decipher between reality and a dream as she was still out of it. She forced herself out of that heavy state of mind and crawled on out of bed. Aislinn stumbled her way towards the living room and to the door. She looked through the peephole and saw her little nephew. Aislinn was quick to open the door.
“ABEL?! Aren’t ya supposed to be in school?!”
“YOU FORGETS ME!” Abel angrily snapped.
Aislinn reared back then looked to the time. Her jaw dropped when she saw that it was half an hour after his release.
“How in the…” She muttered while placing a couple fingers along her temple and wondering how she slept for THAT long.
“You’s supposed to pick me up and let me play with Morgan! But you no’s come!” Abel said while pushing his way past and throwing his backpack down.
“Abel love…” Aislinn apologetically whispered while pinching her eyes shut.
“Then, everyone makes fun of me because you’s in your robe when you walks me to school!” Abel added while throwing his hands in the air.
Aislinn’s heart sank when she realized the boy was on the verge of tears. She wondered if this was the future she sought as a mother.
“Abel love, I am so sorry! I don’t know what happened. Honest! I must’ve dozed off and lost track of time!” Aislinn thought back to her dream, and this had her rushing back into the bedroom.
She picked the dragon up off the bed then nodded amongst herself. Abel peeked inside during this and sighed.
“You’s has Tommy when you sleeping, didn’t you?” He said, sounding less angry now.
“So, you no can wakes up, but you try…” Abel surprisingly confirmed, and Aislinn found herself stunned once again.
“Exactly.” She said while sitting on the edge of the bed and patting the area beside her.
Abel joined her and looked to be in thought.
“Does you see Uncle Tommy?”
Aislinn gave a tearful nod. She couldn’t help it. The young woman was still emotional over seeing her mother again.
“Does you want me to hug you?”
Aislinn nodded once again, and Abel hugged her. Aislinn pulled her nephew into her lap and continued with that much-needed hug.
“No cry, Aunt Linny. I no mad anymore. I sorry.”
Something about that had her clinging to the boy even tighter and kissing his forehead.
“ALI?!” Chibs called as he peered into the room.
Aislinn was quick to wipe her face as his presence had her startled.
“Uncle Chibs picks me up since you no do it,” Abel explained.
The Scot gave a mere nod but was looking to his wife with concern. Chibs entered the room and sat beside his wife and nephew as she had Abel in her arms still.
“The school called and asked if anyone was pickin’ him up. They said no one answered when they called the house.” Chibs explained.
“He drops me off then goes to talk to the principal because she being a nosy bit…” Chibs was quick to clamp a hand over his nephew’s mouth.
“Don’t ye go repeatin’ that now, lad.” Chibs rather scolded but with a playful wink.
Abel giggled then crawled on out of his aunt’s lap.
“Why don’t ye go and gather yer things? We’ll head on ta the shop in a bit.”
“Okay!” Abel excitably put.
“I’m so sorry, Scotty. I don’t know what to say!”
“Ye don’t hafta apologize, pet. If anythin’, I was worried. I thought somethin’ might’ve happened ta ye! When the school called, I called ye right after…” The Scot shook his head in thought.
“It’s this dragon…” Aislinn whispered, feeling somewhat foolish.
Chibs tilted his head on this.
“Ye mean this ole thing…” The Scot muttered before taking it from her hold.
“Aye. Scotty, I saw me ma.” Aislinn told her husband all about her dream and Thomas’s involvement.
Then she told him about all the time she lost and how she woke up to Abel pounding on the door. Chibs gave a simple nod once she finished explaining everything. He looked to the dragon as he held it.
“Jackie boy’s had a few instances like that. So’s the boy… And isn’t this yer second time around?”
“Aye… I lost time then too! Me and Abel!”
“I remember ye tellin’ me aboot that. Guess ye’d better call yer sister and relay the message.”
“Ye should listen ta yer mum…” Chibs added, and Aislinn’s eyes locked with his.
“Ye gotta stop beatin’ yerself up, love. Ye was just a kid. She reached out ta ye, for a reason. So, don’t take what she said for granted.”
“But Riona…” Aislinn started to say only to have her husband shush her.
“Riona was older and more understandin’ of these kinds of things. It’s only natural she’d take the reins and know what ta do!”
“But pa was killin’ himself, and I reached out to him! Ma was dyin’ of cancer, and I go and…”
Abel peeked into the room as to her sudden silence. Chibs gave the boy a bit of a gesture, and Abel took the hint. He headed into the living room and gave his aunt and uncle some space. Chibs set the dragon down then took Aislinn’s hand into his own.
“Cancer isn’t somethin’ any of us understands, even more so when you’re a child. Yer pa drinkin’ himself ta death was somethin’ ye had a better grasp on. Cancer, however, is unpredictable, even the strongest of us can succumb ta it. Ye had every right ta be afraid, love. I think that’s what yer mum was tryin’ to tell you. She wants you to move on and be happy.”
Aislinn leaned into her husband’s shoulder.
“It felt so real… when she hugged me.”
“What’s to say it wasn’t, darlin’?”
Jax and Riona stayed out of sight and watched Happy and Ethan from a distance. They followed them into the cafeteria, where Happy pulled out a chair for Ethan and had him take a seat. Happy gave Ethan a swift peck on the cheek and went to get them some food.
“What the fuck…” Jax muttered under his breath.
“Why don’t we just ask them?” Riona impatiently questioned as Jax sat her down at a table further back.
“Because this is more fun.”
“Ya’ve got issues,” Riona said with a grin, and her husband shrugged.
“Hey, we need something to kill the time.”
“And watchin’ my brother suffer is a good way of goin’ about that?!”
Riona shook her head in response.
“Look, we’ll let them know we’re here after we eat. Deal?”
“You think my brother can last that long?!”
“Eh, he’ll be fine!”
Riona watched as her husband practically skipped away. The president was having way too much fun with this. Riona was beginning to wonder if her brother lost a bet. With the Sons, you never knew what they were up to. Riona observed as Happy made his way back to the table. He set Ethan’s plate down first, then his. Riona found herself curious as to Leia and Linny’s reaction to all this, Leia’s especially. She was half tempted to take a picture for her own amusement and well, for blackmail purposes. Riona, however, shook her head, realizing she was no better than her husband.
Jax was making his way back when Riona heard a man from another table criticizing her brother and Happy. The man went on to boisterously complain about their “sickening” display of affection and how he didn’t appreciate seeing that during his honeymoon with his wife.
“Uh, oh…” Jax murmured when he joined his wife back at the table.
“Aye, which one’s gonna put him in his place first.” Riona curiously put.
“My money is on Happy.”
“I don’t know. The look on Ethan’s face…” Riona said as her brother had that bloodthirsty look in his eyes.
To Riona, Jax, and Happy’s great surprise, Ethan kissed Happy on the lips then smiled the homophobic man’s direction. Happy didn’t have time to even react to what Ethan had done. The man was coming right for Ethan, and Happy was quick to his feet. He took the intended hit for Ethan.
“Shit. They’re gonna get themselves kicked off the fucking ship.” Jax uttered.
“How?! It’s not they have a plank to walk on! We’re out at sea!” Riona said.
Happy grabbed the man by the collar of his shirt then lifted him up off the ground.
“No one and I mean no one touches my boo!”
Riona lost all composure and died of laughter. She couldn’t believe those words came out of Happy Lowman’s mouth. Jax watched as Ethan mouthed the words what the fuck. He, too, was starting to lose the battle. The homophobic man had his hands wrapped around Happy’s wrists. The man looked to Happy’s missing finger, however, and sent him a shitty grin.
“Let me guess… Lost that in your queer ass lover’s aid’s carrying ass!”
“JOSEPH!!!” The man’s wife scolded in absolute shock.
The woman screamed out in horror when Happy acted like he was going to slam her husband’s head into the table. Happy refrained, however, then looked to the wife.
“Put your dog on a leash. He’s getting out of hand.”
Security was making their way over, and they questioned everyone around the incident. Most everyone took Happy and Ethan’s side. They even admitted that Happy and Ethan were minding their own business when the man started trouble. The man was clearly drunk and hauled away by security. The wife followed, but Riona could see the humiliation all over her face.
Happy nodded towards Ethan in gesture to follow him outside. Jax and Riona kept their distance but followed as well.
“Your boo?!” They heard Ethan hiss.
“No worse than your little sneak attack.”
“The fucking kiss, brother!”
Ethan started to say something on this, only to have Happy grab him and slam him up against the wall.
“Kiss me again, and I’ll fist you and not in a gay lover’s way. Got it?!” Happy threatened, and Ethan was the one smiling now.
This had Happy tilting his head.
“It’s about time I got under YOUR skin!”
Happy narrowed his eyes, seeing how serious Ethan was at the moment.
“I fucking hate guys like that. I did it because I knew it’d get under his skin and set him off. Fucking asshole!”
Jax and Riona were within hearing distance now but didn’t let their presence known just yet. Jax kept his wife back so they could hear what Ethan and Happy were saying.
“I don’t know, man. You don’t see that different from him.” Happy fired back, and Ethan reared back.
“Come on… You know what I’m talking about. Why do you think he…” Happy trailed off once he realized he was about to throw Chibs under the bus.
Happy knew Chibs did this to pay Ethan back. But he also knew how Chibs worked. There was a moral to this punishment of Ethan’s. This was Chibs’s way of opening Ethan’s eyes a bit. But it wasn’t what either of them thought. Happy and Chibs were wrong when it came to Ethan and why he acted the way he did about things of that nature.
“He…” Ethan probed, and Happy sighed.
“Why does it bother you so much? I mean, come on… We’re both comfortable with who we are, and love pussy. So, why let it get to you?!”
“You’re kidding me, right?!”
Happy tilted his head in waiting.
“I not homophobic, you dick!”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
“Would a homophobic man kiss another man?!”
“If he was desperate enough.” Happy taunted with a smirk.
“I know what this is… I turned you! I mean, not that I can blame you. Who could resist this?” Happy pointed towards himself.
Ethan rolled his eyes and interrupted Happy’s little ego trip.
“Asshole reminded me of that fucking sergeant, okay!” Ethan defensively put.
Happy recoiled. This went back to when Ethan was defending that female soldier – the one that was raped in the military. The sergeant Ethan mentioned assaulted her in attempts to “prove” he wasn’t gay. It all made sense now. Happy shook his head when he thought about Chibs’s punishment. Happy doubted Chibs even knew about that story and how this would affect Ethan. Happy remembered how much that fucked with Ethan’s head. Ethan fought for her but lost. The woman ended up committing suicide before Ethan had the chance to express how he felt about her.
Happy cleared his throat. Just as he was to take the fall for Chibs and put this all on himself, the president spoke up, letting his and Riona’s presence known.
“You two mind filling us in on whatever’s going on here? Because I seriously doubt you two swinging dicks are batting for one another.
“How do you know we’re not?!” Happy humorously put, and Jax half laughed.
“With the way you dive into pussy?!” Jax scoffed.
“Wait… you mean this wasn’t by YOUR orders?!” Ethan questioned, and Jax cocked a brow on this.
“Why would I order something like that?”
Ethan cursed Chibs’s very name. One look from Happy said it all, and Jax died of laughter.
“You mean Filip did this?! Is that the reason you had to catch another flight?!”
“It was both of us. We were having a little fun fucking with this one’s head.” Happy said, taking some of the heat off Chibs.
Ethan snapped Happy a look, and Happy shrugged.
“Like you didn’t enjoy it.” Happy muttered.
“Well, now you two have no choice but to continue this.” Jax seriously put.
“WHAT?!” Ethan snapped.
“After that little scene? You bet your damn ass you two are still an item. You can’t go breaking up over that bastard.”
“Jackson!” Riona scolded but covered her mouth to keep from laughing.
She thought her husband was joking, but he was far from it.
“Stick together until the cruise is over.”
Happy wrapped his arm around Ethan then kissed the top of his head.
“You got it, boss!” He said, and Ethan jabbed him in the gut with his elbow.
“You two are adorable!” Riona teased, and her brother let out a miserable groan.
“I hate you so much right now,” Ethan muttered towards his sister.
“Ah, now ya know that isn’t true.” She lovingly teased.
Aislinn laughed when she pulled into the Tipsy’ Crow’s Nest and saw Bobby, Kip, and Tig waiting outside. Bobby darted on over then opened the door for her. He helped her out of the Mustang then pecked her on the cheek.
“Old man’s on kid duty. So, I can get away with that shit.” The sergeant taunted, and Aislinn shook her head as if to scold him.
The Sons escorted Aislinn into the bar, and she headed towards the stage as they grabbed a table.
“Brought your bodyguards, I see.” Mark teased, and Aislinn laughed.
“Aye. So, don’t fuck up tonight.”
“You think we’re afraid of them?”
“If ya were smart, ya would be!”
“Chibs sure… But those three, pffft,” Mark uttered with a shrug.
“You’re scared of my husband?”
“Fuck, yeah. We both are!” David called as he was setting up his drums.
Aislinn had a good laugh at this.
“It’s that one look…” David said.
“The one where he’s looking deep into your soul,” Mark added.
“RIGHT?! THAT SHIT’S FUCKING CREEPY, MAN!” David confirmed, and Aislinn laughed once again.
“Scotty?! He’s a big ole softy!”
“Sure, he is.” Mark scoffed while tuning his guitar.
“He’s killing you softly with his song…” David punned, and this had Aislinn and Mark looking back like David had lost his mind.
“What?! We’re musicians! It’s what we do!”
“No, it isn’t,” Mark said.
“He’s right. Anythin’ Fugees isn’t welcome ‘round these parts!” Aislinn teased.
“Wow. You actually know that one?!” David questioned in surprise.
Aislinn sent him a look as if to say ‘duh’.
Aislinn was running a couple tests on her mic when a questionable group of bikers entered the bar. Tig nudged Bobby and was making fun of the MC’s name as well as their outfits.
“We should ask them which one is David Hasselhoff,” Kip said once he took notice of them.
“Nah, I just wanna know if Kit’s outside!” Tig added, and Kip and Bobby laughed.
The other MC didn’t take notice of the three Sons sitting off to the corner. They welcomed themselves to one of the tables by the stage.
“Are these assholes lost? This is OUR bar.” Bobby muttered.
“Dig that manbun though.” Kip said with a chuckle.
“Wonder if he vapes too.” Kip added.
“Chibs won’t like us starting trouble with the old lady around…” Tig reminded.
Bobby frowned but knew Tig had a point. If anything happened to Aislinn during a scuffle, Chibs would have their necks.
“We’ll catch them outside,” Tig promised, and Kip nodded in agreement.
Bobby sighed but leaned back as Gina took their orders. Mark observed from the stage.
“Don’t,” Aislinn warned as Kip was getting his flirt on, Mark bitched under his breath.
“I need your head on tonight, not her.”
“Hey… Are you alright?” Mark questioned once he got a good look at Aislinn.
She was sweating and seemed rundown all of a sudden.
“I’m fine. I just need some water.”
Aislinn headed off the stage and to the bar. Bobby took notice of the Knightriders’ VP and the way he was eyeing Aislinn. The VP had this shocked look about him.
“Keep an eye on our girl,” Bobby warned while nudging Tig and signaling towards the Knightriders’ VP.
Tig took notice right away and laughed.
“If Chibs was here…” He whispered out of mere amusement, and Bobby chuckled in thought.
Aislinn was making her way back with her water when the Knightriders’ VP reached out and gently took her by the wrist. The Sons watched his every move and had their hands along their guns.
“I know ya.” The Irishman said.
“I don’t believe so.”
“No, I do. I remember ya. We used to party together back in Galway!”
Aislinn backed away from him, and the Irishman laughed.
“Come on, Aislinn. It’s Carbry. I know ya remember me!”
Carbry gestured towards her stomach.
“So, who knocked ya up, a mhuirnín (my darling)?”
“I’m sorry. But I don’t know ya.” Aislinn pried out of his hold then hurried back to the stage.
David and Mark regarded Aislinn with concern.
“Do we need to deal with him?” Mark sincerely asked.
“Nah, I’m fine. Let’s just get this over with.”
Mark and David reared back as that didn’t sound like Aislinn at all. Aislinn was always anxious to get started and enjoyed every night they performed. But she acted as if it were a chore tonight, and she was in a hurry. So much so she didn’t announce the name of their band, the members, or the songs they were playing like she normally did. Aislinn went from one song to another. Mark and David forced her into a break at one point as she was covered in sweat and leaning against the mic for support.
Bobby took it upon himself to accompany her off the stage and outside.
“You feeling alright?”
Aislinn glanced towards the bar then let out a nervous laugh.
“I guess it’s’ true what they say.”
“And what’s that, sweetheart?” Bobby asked while handing her a bottle of water.
Aislinn downed it in one go before answering that.
“You can’t run from your past.”
“Are you telling me that yuppie little Knightriders VP is someone from your past?! I thought Chibs was your first…”
“He was. But I partied with this guy.”
“Partied… As in drugs.” Bobby confirmed, and Aislinn recoiled.
“And here I was thinking that hit of MJ I gave you was your first experience!”
“It was. Pot that is…”
“Jesus darlin’… I can’t picture it. Just doesn’t seem like your thing.”
“Because it isn’t. Elvis, you gotta believe me. That part of my life was over before it really began.”
“I ain’t judging, Aislinn. Just surprised.”
Bobby looked to be in thought.
“You acted like you didn’t know him.”
“Because I don’t.” She said, and Bobby reared back in confusion.
“I mean… Sure we partied off and on with his friends. But I never caught his name. I was a different person then. I…” Aislinn shut her eyes in memory.
“Elvis, the last time I saw him was at that party. The one my brother was at!”
“Ethan, did drugs?!”
“No, ya big oaf!” Aislinn gave Bobby the cliff notes to that particular night, and Bobby nodded.
“You sure he wasn’t one of the ones pulling some shady shit when Ethan took off with you?”
“Honestly?” She timidly asked, and Bobby nodded.
“I don’t even remember. I was too far gone. I should’ve died that night! It’s a wonder I didn’t!”
Bobby flinched in thought.
“Want us to kick them out?”
“It isn’t worth all the trouble. I’ll be fine. It’s just somethin’ I have to deal with.”
“No, you don’t. Just say the word, and we’ll run them out of town. I mean we’re going to anyway. But we can run them out of that bar right now!”
Bobby retrieved a SAMCRO kerchief from his cut then used it to dab the sweat off her forehead.
“Bobby, I don’t need any fights breakin’ out. AC’s nervous enough about you boys hangin’ around all the time.”
“Well, that’s just too bad. We own a percentage now.”
“Look, just wait until they’re outside. Please, Elvis? I have to worry about our staff and our customers. I can’t have anyone gettin’ hurt. And we don’t need any damaged property.”
Bobby nodded in understanding. He mentioned nothing else on it and led her back inside.
“Better?” Mark questioned once Aislinn had her guitar in hand again.
“Aye.” She said but took notice of the Knightriders’ VP.
He was staring a hole in her.
The night continued without incident. Until the other MC stepped out of the bar, that is. Aislinn promised Bobby she’d stay inside while they handled it. This particular MC was armed with butterfly knives, pepper spray, and tasers. The president even went as far as to brag on not having the need for guns. The Sons poked fun at this, naturally. It didn’t take much to scare them out of their cuts as Bobby had Tig and Kip confiscated them. The Sons ran the Knightriders off Tipsy Crow’s Nest property, and they were told to leave Charming and never come back.
A couple hours had passed since this took place. The Sons’ headed on home for the night. AC went on home as well, leaving the girls to close for the night. Leia and Gina left together as a safety precaution since Leia had the money. Aislinn, however, was stuck in the bathroom as she was sick to her stomach.
“It’s a wonder they haven’t killed one another yet…” Jax uttered as to Happy and Ethan, sharing a room with only one bed.
“Oh, I’m sure my brother is plottin’ somethin’. You two should be ashamed of yourselves. Chibs even more so! Ethan isn’t a prospect anymore, ya know?”
“Eh well, my old man gave me and Thomas hell even after we were patched in. Besides, Ethan’s family now. He better get used to that!”
Jax plopped down on the bed then looked out to sea.
“C’mere.” He lovingly called while patting the area beside him.
Riona took her earrings off then placed them on the nightstand. She joined her husband afterward.
“Look at that. It isn’t every day you have that kind of view.” Jax said as he wrapped his arms around her and watched the sunset.
“Aye, it is beautiful.” Riona agreed.
“What do you want to watch?” Happy questioned as he flipped through the channels.
“Whatever’s fine.” Ethan murmured, sounding a little moody still.
“What’s wrong, baby?” Happy taunted, and Ethan threw an empty beer bottle at him.
Happy dodged the bottle then sighed as it hit the wall behind him.
“Domestic abuse?! That’s a serious crime, you know!”
“Dude…” Ethan warned, and Happy chuckled.
“Here we go!” Happy said as he found a channel with Looney Tunes.
“Love these guys.” He added then made himself comfy.
“Yeah, you’d fit right in with those guys. Bugs Bunny, especially.”
Happy lifted his eyes, Ethan’s direction.
“You really mean that?!” Happy questioned like that was the biggest compliment.
“Thank you!” Happy said, then went back to watching his toons.
“Bugs Bunny…” Happy softly muttered but with the biggest grin.
Aislinn exited the bathroom. She grabbed her purse and was headed for the door when she spotted someone sitting in one of the booths. Aislinn shook her head once she recognized the person.
“How’d ya get in here…?” She questioned while reaching into her purse.
“Door was unlocked…” The Irishman uttered with a shrug.
“Aye, well, we’re closed. So, ya gotta go home.”
“I see. Too good to give an old friend a bit of your time?”
Aislinn sighed in frustration.
“Look, I’m not the lass you remember. I’m sorry, but I really need ya to go.”
The VP sighed, then came to his feet. Aislinn opened the door for him, and the VP acted as if he was going to head on out. Aislinn jumped, however, when he gave her a slight shove out of the way and pulled the door shut.
“What are ya, doin’?!” Aislinn snapped when he locked it after.
“Just givin’ us a wee bit of privacy, love.”
“No privacy needed. There’s nothin’ to talk about.” Aislinn snipped.
“So, you do remember me?” He said with a grin.
“No, I don’t.”
“Come on, a mhuirnín. You remember… You were the life of the fuckin’ party. I’m guessin’, that’s what happened. Did ya go and get yourself into a little trouble?” The Irishman said with a wave towards her noticeably pregnant belly.
“Aye now… That’s close enough, and ya best watch what ya say!” Aislinn said as he was backing her into a corner.
The VP ignored this and inched in even closer. Once he had her where he wanted, he placed his hands along the wall then leaned into her ear.
“Look at it like this… I can’t knock you up if you’re already knocked up.”
“ARE YA FUCKIN’ SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?!” Aislinn furiously shouted.
She couldn’t believe she was in yet another situation like this. What were the fucking odds?! And she was pregnant for God’s sake. What man hits on a noticeably pregnant woman?! Aislinn bitterly thought.
“I didn’t mean that cruelly. Aislinn, I was always fascinated by ya. That’s all. I just want to see what it’s like. You know… one night, no strings attached. Just a little taste, and I’ll be on my way.”
The Irishman tilted his head in thought.
“Ya know… I tried a couple times back in Galway, but I’d pass right after you. But I got the good stuff now. I won’t be passing out this time!”
Passed out… Aislinn’s jaw dropped once she realized what that meant exactly. Bobby was dead on with his assumption. Meaning Ethan really did save her that night, from more than just an overdose.
“Ya…” Aislinn started to say, only to have Carbry whipped out a bag of coke.
The Irishman wiggled his brows afterward.
“Wanna have some fun? On me? For old time’s sake? All I want is a good shag in return. Don’t worry about the pregnancy interferin’. Honestly, it’s kind of hot. I gotta say… You filled out nicely, Aislinn. Ya got a set of real tits now! Ya was barely an A!”
The VP narrowed his eyes when he felt something cold and hard pressed up against his chin. There was a clicking sound to follow.
“Here’s what’s gonna happen. Imma get on my phone and call my husband. Trust me. You’re gonna need him here if ya want to live. I’m pure done with Rale Bulgarians like ya. JUST DONE! I don’t know what brought ya to the states or my hometown, and frankly, I don’t give a shite! You’re not welcome here, Carbry.”
The Irishman held his hands up in a scoffing matter. To him, this was one big joke. Aislinn, however, didn’t budge and held that gun in place as she called her husband. Carbry laughed when he heard Chibs answer the phone. He listened as she mentioned something about leaving the wee one with one of the prospects and making his way to the Tipsy Crow’s Nest, ASAP.
“Ya got another kid?!” Carbry asked after she hung up.
Aislinn didn’t humor him with an answer.
“I bet it looks just like you!” The VP complimented.
Carbry went to lower the gun, only to have Aislinn shove him back and with a warning shot at his feet. The bag of cocaine fell out of his hand then landed on the ground.
“DOES IT LOOK LIKE I’M FUCKIN’ AROUND?!” She yelled and went on to disarm him of his taser and knives.
“THAT THING’S ACTUALLY LOADED?!”
“WHAT’D YA THINK IT WAS?! A WATER PISTOL FILLED WITH HOLY WATER, YA FUCKIN’ GIMP (fool)!” She said while tossing everything onto the ground and kicking it out of reach.
“WELL, I DIDN’T THINK YA WAS CRAZY ENOUGH TO CARRY A LOADED WEAPON!”
“OH, YA HAVE NOOOO IDEA. YOU’RE THE VICTIM CARBY, NOT ME!”
“VICTIM?! WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YA TALKIN’ ABOUT? I JUST WANTED TO HOOK UP AND HAVE SOME FUN, BITCH!”
Aislinn heard the familiar hum of her husband’s Harley. She kept the Irishman at gunpoint and unlocked the door.
“Ya’ve done lost your mind. There’s no need for this. If you wanted me to leave, all ya had to do was say so!”
“I DID!” Aislinn yelled.
“MAN! PREGNANCY’S TURNED YOU INTO A REAL BITCH!”
Chibs entered the bar just as the Knightriders VP said this.
“I’m the bitch? Look who’s at who’s mercy!” Aislinn said, impressing her husband.
The Scot nodded amongst himself. He adjusted his leather gloves then brought one of his dual pistols out.
“What do we have here, darlin’?”
“What’s it to you, bitch?! And really, Aislinn?! You married this old fucker?! He’s old enough to be your great grandfather! Is he?!”
Chibs ignored this and looked to his wife.
“This the one the boys were tellin’ me aboot?” Her husband softly questioned.
“You talked to them?!” Aislinn questioned in surprise.
“Aye. Bobby called not long after ye did. He wanted me to check in on ye.”
“So, you know the story…” Aislinn regrettably put, and Chibs gave a mere nod.
“It was a long time ago.’ She said, looking downright embarrassed.
Aislinn wanted nothing to do with that part of her life. Yet here she was having to face it all over again.
“Oh, this is rich! Old man didn’t know you used to be knee-deep in nose candy. So, what is this exactly? Is he your sugar daddy? Does he buy you nice things if you choke on it – like a good little bitch?!”
The Scot pivoted around on this, and the Irishman laughed.
“That’s right. Sweet little Aislinn would sit in my lap and snort that shit like it was fuckin’ gold! Bitch loved that stuff!”
“Shut it, Carbry,” Aislinn warned as she was angry and on the brink of tears.
“Why?! It’s true, and you know it. You were the first to volunteer. You’d try anythin’ on that table. So, ya can stop with the act now. Put the gun away. I’m not even a threat, and ya know it!”
Aislinn picked the bag of cocaine up off the floor. She opened the bag, and Chibs curiously watched as she smelled it.
“Did ya test it?” She questioned, and the Knightriders’ VP smiled.
“Ya know I did. Give it a try.”
Aislinn dipped her pinkie into the bag then used her nail to scoop some of it up. Chibs kept a watchful eye as she made her way towards Carbry. She acted as if she was going to snort the coke but spun around instead. Aislinn crammed her pinkie up the Irishman’s nose. She had her gun pressed against his gut as she did this.
“DO IT!” She ordered, and Chibs cocked a brow on this.
“COME ON! YA KNOW YA WANT TO!” She taunted.
Carbry snorted the coke, and Chibs recoiled when Aislinn removed her finger. It was covered in blood, meaning she didn’t hesitate and went way up there.
“WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO YOU?! HUH?! WHEN DID YOU BECOME SUCH A BITCH?!”
“Step away, Ali.” Chibs calmly put, almost too calmly.
Aislinn regarded her husband in question. Chibs put his gun away then waved her over. Aislinn sent the Irishman a look of hell but did as her husband requested. Chibs checked her over, once he had her within reach.
“Ye alright, darlin’?” He whispered, and Aislinn nodded.
Chibs pulled her into his chest, then kissed the top of her head.
“Seriously? Ya even handle her like a grandfather would!”
Chibs sat Aislinn down at a nearby booth.
“Put yer gun away. I got this.” The Scot whispered, and Aislinn put her gun back into her purse.
Chibs spun around facing the other VP. The Scot leaned against the table, with his arms folded about his chest.
“Think ye can take this old man on?” The Scot challenged, and the Irishman laughed.
“Really?! You’re gonna fight me?” Carbry mocked while wiping the blood off his nose.
“Oh, I’m gonna do more than that, boy. I’m gonna whip yer fuckin’ arse.” Chibs said while unbuckling his SAMCRO belt.
Carbry laughed then shrugged.
“Alright, hand Aislinn your guns, and we’ll go about this old school. Hell, use the belt if it helps.”
“Oh, I plan ta,” Chibs uttered, and Carbry looked to Aislinn.
“I win, and you’re gettin’ high with me. Just like old times.”
“You won’t.” Aislinn confidently put, and the Irishman raised his brows on this.
“Alright, I’m a bettin’ man. Ye win, and Ali gets high with ye.” Chibs murmured, shocking his wife.
“But here’s the kicker… If I win… I’m leavin’ me brand on yer arse. Ye’ll have one HELL of a cutie mark. Chibs said while showing off his SAMCRO belt buckle, and matching zippo. He sent the Knightriders’ VP a menacing wink as he put his zippo back into his pocket.
“Got yourself a deal, gramps!” Carbry said, and Chibs nodded.
“I’ll even let ye have the first shot!” The Scot said with this manic smile.
Carbry shrugged with that egotistical smirk of his.
“One shot’s all I need, bitch!”
“SCOTTY!” Aislinn shouted when her husband gave Carbry that free shot.
Chibs wiped the blood off his lip then nodded amongst himself.
“Yer gonna have to do a lot better than that!” Chibs muttered.
The Irishman went to hit him again, only to have the Scot block that attempt.
“My turn,” Chibs uttered before taking a swing.
Carbry stumbled back at the impact, and Chibs tilted his head.
“Try again.” The Scot provoked, and Carbry spit a puddle of blood onto the floor.
Carbry charged right for the Scot. Chibs dodged the blow. He spun around, then wrapped his belt around the VP’s neck. Chibs tightened his grip then yanked the Irishman towards him. Aislinn watched as her husband slammed the Irishman’s face into a nearby table. Chibs jerked that belt out from under Carbry’s neck.
“Hold still, boy!” Chibs scolded as he held the VP in place.
The Scot yanked the Irishman’s loosely fitted jeans down, along with his boxers. Chibs took that belt of his and literally spanked the Irishman’s bare ass. Every time Carby used his hands in attempts to block the Scotsman’s strikes, Chibs would hit him even harder.
“MOVE YER HANDS IF YE DON’T WANT THEM GETTIN’ HIT, BOY!”
Aislinn covered her mouth in laughter. Chibs held Carbry in place then tossed his wife his belt and zippo.
“Get that buckle nice and toasty. Will ye, pet?”
Aislinn nodded, and Chibs kept with the struggle as the VP fought to get out from under his hold.
Aislinn burned her fingers a couple times as she heated that buckle.
“Easy, darlin’…” Chibs murmured, taking notice.
Aislinn brought the belt over once she had the buckle ready.
The Scotsman gave no warning whatsoever as he pressed that buckle up against the Irishman’s ass cheek. Carbry hollered out in agony. Chibs dug his elbow into the VP’s spine and held him in place while he finished the job.
“Scotty…” Aislinn called in warning.
Chibs glanced over as the Knightriders’ president entered the bar.
“How ye doin’?” The Scot witted, and Aislinn snorted at the president’s reaction.
“Car?!” The president called as he could hear his VP begging for mercy.
The rest of the MC entered the bar as well, and this had Aislinn grabbing hers and Chibs’s guns.
“Ah now, he’s alright. He just needed some good ole fashion discipline.” Chibs said as Aislinn placed his dual pistols into her husband’s double holster.
Something about her doing that turned the Scot on. Chibs hadn’t a clue why, but it did. The Scot cleared his throat then sent his wife a wink. Chibs removed that buckle from the VP’s ass and smiled.
“See?! All done. He’s all yers now!” Chibs grabbed the VP by the hair then shoved him towards the Knightriders’ president.
The president grabbed the VP in a protective manner then looked at the SAMCRO mark Chibs left behind. This had Chibs tilting his head in observation.
“What’d ya do, Car?!” The president barked as his brother pulled his pants up.
Chibs picked up on the accent that was much like the VP’s. This had the Scot laughing in realization.
“Baby brother, I take it?” Chibs questioned, and a simple look from the president said it all.
“I’m sorry. I told him to stay away.”
“Aye well, he should know if he ever comes near me wife or this town again. He’s a goner. We don’t play those games around here.”
The rest of the MC acted as if they were about to charge Aislinn and Chibs, only the two held them at gunpoint.
“That wouldn’t be very wise. From my understandin’ all ye are pure thick in the skull. Ye bring knives ta gun shows. Tell me… How do ye think this is goin’ ta play out. It’s five of ye. I get that. But it’s me and me girl…” Chibs signaled towards his wife.
“Against the five of ye and yer on SAMCRO territory and this here is OUR bar. And I do believe me boys done told yer arses ta get out of town! That meant ALL of ye!”
“You can’t kick us out of town! You don’t have actual ownership of a whole town!” The sergeant fired back.
“It’s cute that ye think that. Ye must be new ta the MC life. Ye see everyone outside a three-hundred-mile radius knows how this town is run. We ain’t got room for two MC’s, and right now, we’ve got ye at a checkmate. Somethin’ tells me ye done watched one too many biker movies. Them crotch rockets are a joke and don’t even get me started on the name. Yer a wee bunch of fakes, livin’ out some sort of fantasy. Why don’t ye run on home, dig inta yer girlfriend’s bookshelves and fulfill yerselves that way? Ye’d be a hella lot safer readin’ aboot the life, rather than livin’ it. This right here… will get ye inta an early grave. And messin’ with someone’s old lady… Now that’s a long, agonizing, torture before the grave. So, what will it be, boys? Ye gonna play it smart and get the hell out of town. Or ye gonna be dumb and end up buried in this town?”
The president sent Chibs a bitter look as he shoved his baby brother towards the bar doors.
“Let’s go.” The older brother ordered.
Chibs and Aislinn followed them out.
The VP was about to get on his crotch rocket when Chibs shot the tires out, along with the engine.
“WHAT THE FUCK?! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?!”
“I figured since ye like the word so much, ye might as well ride bitch.”
This had the other members looking to one another. Chibs chuckled, knowing those crotch rockets were a tight squeeze. The president rolled his eyes but waved his baby brother over. It took them a bit to figure it out, but they finally did. Chibs was rather amused by this.
“I gotta ask… is the hotdog in the bun?!” Chibs questioned as to how close the two brothers were at this very moment.
Aislinn snorted as the MC sped on out of the lot. Chibs shook his head as they watched them.
“How’d he get inside?” Chibs questioned with his back to her.
“Em?” She hummed as she was half out of it.
“How’d he get inside the bar after closin’, Ali?” There was a touch of anger behind this.
“What are ya accusin’ me of?!” She defensively put, and Chibs pivoted around.
“Don’t ye normally lock up after closin’?!”
“Then how’d he get in?”
“Are ya askin’ if I let him in?!”
Chibs sighed then pinched his eyes shut.
“Ali, I’m just tryin’ ta figure out how this happened. Do ye have any idea how dangerous…” Chibs stopped himself once he saw the distressed look on his wife’s face.
“Don’t even start with me. I’ve had a shite day, and I don’t appreciate the accusation. I hadn’t a clue the door was unlocked. Leia and Gina were the last ones out. I was in the bathroom!”
“So, one of them left it unlocked…” Chibs murmured in thought.
“It was an accident, Scotty.”
“An accident that could’ve ended on a worse note!”
“YA THINK I DON’T KNOW THAT!” She shouted then reached to her stomach.
“ALI!” Chibs hollered then rushed over in a panic.
“I’m alright. Just comes and goes.” She said.
“For how long?”
“Scotty, I’m alright. It’s Braxton Hicks. Leia looked it up for me earlier.”
“Are ye sure?!” He said while leading her back inside.
“Aye.” She said as he sat her down.
“If those become worse and less than five minutes apart, ye best let me know!”
Chibs nodded, then scooted in beside her. The Scot had Aislinn lay her head down in his lap.
“It might be time for ye to take it a little easy.”
“As much as I hate to admit it… I think you’re right. Today was a bit of an eye-opener, and I don’t just mean the incident. Scotty, I could barely get through those songs. I could hardly breathe and thought I was gonna pass out.”
Aislinn sighed, however.
“I really am sorry about tonight. I never would’ve dreamed…”
“Ali love, ye’ve nothin’ ta be sorry for. Ye done told me about yer past. Ye’ve nothin’ ta be ashamed of. We all have a past. I’m only glad I got here in time ta help.”
“What are the odds, ya know?!”
“Ye sure he wasn’t lookin’ for you?”
“Scotty, he was just as shocked as I was. Trust me. He hadn’t a clue I even lived here, much less that he’d run into me.”
Chibs nodded then ran a loving hand along her tummy.
“Let’s pick up the wee buck then get ye home. Ye need ta rest.”
“Why do men do the things they do… I mean… I’m not tryin’ to sound like a man-basher. I know you’re not all like that. But it gets a wee bit old, and I’m startin’ to lose my faith.”
“Ali, I’m not quite sure how ta answer that, but I can tell ye this much… Don’t go losin’ yer faith over the handful. Some lads just don’t have it in them to think about their actions and the effect it has on others, women especially. Some just haven’t been through enough ta really get it and see it from another perspective. If it were their wives, daughters, or sisters, it’d be another thing. Some learn from their mistakes, whereas others go the opposite route and believe the world owes them somethin’. In cases like this one… They feel that YOU as a woman owe them somethin’. Me cousin, the old dishwasher, and this Carbry fella are fine examples of that.” The Scot sighed in thought.
“I was one of the ones that had to learn, Ali. I didn’t have the best reputation when it came ta women myself. After my marriage ta Fiona, I hadn’t any issue sleepin’ with them then sendin’ them aboot their way. As much as I’d like to put all the blame on Fiona for our marriage, I know I fucked up too. There were things I could’ve done ta make the situation better, but I didn’t. I wish I had somethin’ better ta say. I wish I could put an end to these things and promise it’d never happen again. But yer a beautiful lass, and ye just have this way about ye. It isn’t yer fault darlin’. But ye make us lads a wee bit crazy. But that damn sure doesn’t give them permission. I want you ta know yer safe with me, always will be, and I’ll go against ANYONE that means ye harm.”
A week or so later…
“So…?” Riona questioned once Ethan got off the phone with Quinn.
“All set. Says he can meet us in Liverpool. He’s bringing the RV, so there will be plenty of room. His uncle works for the ferry there. That ferry will take us straight to Dublin. So, there shouldn’t be an issue, as long as we let Quinn take the lead. Oh, and that Keith guy from SAMBEL has one of his boys tagging along just to make sure everything goes smoothly. He’s gonna hook us up with some heat as well.”
“Good deal,” Jax uttered, and everyone looked to Riona as she was kicked back on the bed in her and Jax’s cabin.
She was looking out the window but with this dreary look on her face.
“We got this, alright?” Ethan said, doing his best to reassure his sister.
“Aye.” She softly uttered.
“We’ll be there before you know it.” Ethan looked to the time.
“Liverpool is just a few more hours away. Once we get to Dublin, we only have a couple hours’ drive.”
“I know,” Riona said while glaring out the window still.
The boys kept quiet as nothing they said or did eased her fears. Nothing would until they knew what the situation in Galway was. Jax prayed to God; her mother’s grave hadn’t been tampered with. He knew that’d be his wife’s breaking point. Riona hadn’t much of a temper. But when it came to her family that was another story. Jax didn’t want his wife ending up in jail, on Irish soil, especially. Even more so, considering she sought asylum with her sister back in the US.
The ship would be porting soon. This ship made several stops, allowing tourists to shop and eat in various countries. They were allowed a few hours to a few days, depending on where they were. The UK was one of those places. Jax hoped they’d get everything tied up before the ship left. But if something were to prevent them from making it in time, he knew they’d find another way home. He just needed to have a good cover story just in case, and they had to make it back in time for Chibs and Aislinn’s wedding.
Riona lifted her head as she and the boys were waiting by the Steble Fountain in Liverpool.
“Ya, best get off that arse of yours and give me a hug!” The man hollered.
Riona smiled once she recognized Quinn. She came to her feet then dashed on over.
“How the hell are ya, love?” Quinn asked after giving her a big ole bear hug.
“Been better, and you?”
“Eh, I could complain but won’t.” He teased with a wink.
“Where’s that crazy sister of yours?”
“Linny had to stay behind on this one.”
“Oh?!” Quinn said with a touch of disappointment.
“That’s a shame.” Riona heard.
She peered over Quinn’s shoulder and saw Padriac Telford making his way over.
“Padriac!” Riona warmly greeted, and the young man smiled.
“I hear my uncle done knocked your sister up!” He said while greeting Riona with a kiss on the cheek.
“That he did!” She playfully put.
“The bastard!” Padriac teased, and Riona laughed.
“Filip seems happy.” Chibs’s nephew sincerely put.
“Aye, he is. So is Linny.’
“Everythin’ go okay?” Quinn asked once he had Ethan pulled off to the side.
“Yeah, everything went pretty smoothly.”
“How is she?” Quinn hinted with a gesture Riona’s direction.
“Not so good.” Ethan honestly put, and Quinn sighed.
“Can’t blame her, I suppose. Poor lasses can’t catch a break.”
“That’s no lie.”
“I hate the circumstances, but it’s nice seein’ ya again, Lawless.”
“You too, Walsh.”
“Ya sure aged better than I did!” Quinn groaned, and Ethan chuckled.
“Thanks for looking after them.” Ethan hintingly whispered as he glanced Riona’s direction.
“No problem. Ya’d have done the same for me if my sister wasn’t such a cunt!”
Ethan died of laughter, and Quinn smiled.
“Aye, now. She really is.”
“I remember…” Ethan murmured in memory.
“I envy ya. Ya gotta a couple good ones there. It was a pleasure lookin’ after them. I only wish I’d done a better job.”
“Quinn, that was out of your hands. Hell, it was out of mine.”
“I know, still… I can’t help but wonder what I could’ve done differently, ya know.”
“Me and you both.”
“How’s the wee one?”
“Aislinn’s good. Took her a bit. But she’s good now. As much as I hate to admit it, Chibs really pulled her through.”
“Aye, the Scotsman. I’ve heard nothin’ but great things!”
“Old fucker. But he takes care of her.”
“That’s all that matters.”
Riona glanced over as Quinn and Ethan were catching up. She saw the two of them hugging.
“So, who’s that?” Padriac curiously questioned with a nod Ethan’s direction.
“My brother, remember?”
“Aye, I remember now. Never had the chance to meet him.” Padraic said as to the funeral.
“Right…” Riona uttered in memory.
“I’ll introduce ya!” She said while taking Padriac by the arm and leading him towards her brother.
Ethan peered over as he and Quinn were wrapping things up.
“Ethan, this is Padriac Telford – Chibs’s nephew.”
Ethan held his hand out in response, and the two shook hands.
“So, I hear you’re family now!” Padriac said, and Ethan half laughed.
“I suppose I am.”
“Aye well, welcome aboard the nuthouse. Pick yer favorite nut and get yourself settled in. It’s gonna be one bumpy ride, mate! I hope ya’ve given my uncle a wee bit of hell over marryin’ yer wee sister. And to think, ya got ole Jax as a brother-in-law too now. I don’t envy ya, not one bit!”
“Heard that!” Jax called as he and Happy were talking by the fountain.
“Well, I sure hope so. Ya aren’t that old Jax! My uncle now, that’s a different story.” Padriac fired back, and Ethan chuckled.
“Well, are ya ready?” Quinn asked while twirling his keys about.
“Aye. Been ready.” Riona said, and Quinn gestured for everyone to follow him and Padriac.
“So, what were these points of yours Jackson was tellin’ me about?”
Ethan lifted his eyes as he was sitting between his sister and Jax. Riona was waiting for a response.
“Unused points from my traveling days… Back when I used to sneak into yours and Aislinn’s gigs.”
“That far back?!”
“Yeah… They’re from my military days, and they stacked up. They don’t expire. So, I figured I might as well use them.”
Riona nodded in thought.
“So, was the hotel nice?”
“Aye, very nice. Thank you.” She said, and Ethan nodded.
“Alright, keep calm and let me handle everythin’.” Quinn softly uttered once he got in line for the ferry.
Quinn got on his phone, and it wasn’t long before one of the attendants made their way over. Quinn gave a simple nod as his uncle “checked” everyone’s identification and tickets. Jax paid whatever fees they had but with a little extra as a thank you.
“All clear.” The uncle murmured with a wink Quinn’s direction then signaled for him to pull on through.
“Easy peasy,” Quinn uttered with a reassuring nod through the rearview mirror.
Riona was all nerves, and Quinn could see it. Jax took Riona’s hand into his own, then kissed it.
“What is it?” Jax questioned when he caught Riona listening to her voicemails over and over.
“Linny called over a week ago, and I’m just now gettin’ her messages!”
“Because we were out at sea. No reception.” Jax explained.
“Everything okay?” He added with concern.
“Aye, she wanted to tell me about some dream she had. But she keeps cuttin’ in and out. I can’t make out half of what she’s sayin’.”
“You can call her once we get to Galway. If you can’t get through, we’ll find a landline.”
“This is where we part ways for now,” Quinn said as he pulled up to a vehicle parked behind a local pub in Dublin.
“I’ll take ya from here,” Padriac explained.
“It was nice seein’ ya again, Riona. You too, Ethan. Take care of yourselves and call me if ya need anythin’ at all.”
“Will do. Thank you, Quinn.”
“It was no problem at all. I’d tag along, but we’re short-staffed.”
“Understandable. Maybe we can stop by before we leave, for old time sake.” Riona said, and Jax shook his head, thinking that was a very bad idea.
“I meant after closin’…”
Jax gave a mere nod after his wife clarified what she meant.
“I’d like that. Let me know.” Quinn said as the boys exited the RV.
Jax helped his wife as they were the last ones out. Riona waved Quinn off then looked to the charcoal grey SUV they’d be driving.
“Yours?” She questioned, and Padriac shook his head no.
“Bossman’s letting you drive the old lady’s car?!” Happy asked in surprise.
“Aye, but threatened my very life too!” Padriac said as to anything happening to the SUV.
“I imagine so!”
“Why don’t you ride up front with Padriac? You’d be more comfortable up there. I’ll slum it with these knuckleheads.” Jax offered.
“Slum it?” Riona snorted, and Jax sent her a playful wink.
Jax crawled into the back then sat between Happy and Ethan.
“So… How was the honeymoon?” Jax taunted while wrapping his arms around the both of them.
“Fantastic!” Happy happily expressed.
Ethan rolled his eyes.
“Uh, oh… Looks like someone was unsatisfied.” Jax said.
“I don’t leave anyone unsatisfied. Trust me… Ethan just wants more of this.” Happy taunted, and Jax laughed.
“I still can’t believe Chibs put you up to this,” Jax uttered as he leaned back in his seat.
“You alright, love?” Padriac whispered as he was at a stop sign.
Riona nodded but was awfully fidgety. They were fifteen minutes away now, and the closer they got to the Lawless ranch, the more anxious Riona became.
“You didn’t!” Everyone heard Ethan hiss.
Riona peered back, and Happy nodded with this shit-ass grin
“What?!” Riona asked, and Jax smiled.
“Sounds like Happy received the wife’s deepest condolences.”
“Wife? What wife?!”
“You remember that homophobic piece of shit?” Her husband reminded, and Riona’s jaw dropped.
“You didn’t…” Riona said but with a touch of a grin.
Happy gave a simple nod, and Riona laughed.
“I don’t know if I should pray for ya or be impressed.”
“You can always pray for me while being impressed.” Happy egotistically suggested.
“I can’t believe you cheated on Ethan. I thought you two really had something.” Jax mockingly spat, and Ethan elbowed the shit out of him.
“Asshole,” Ethan grumbled under his breath.
“What?! I was defending you, Tex!” Jax added with a swaggering grin.
“Am I missin’ somethin’?” Padriac questioned, looking lost.
“Yeah, Happy and Ethan tied the knot back on the cruise. But not in the sense you’re thinking. I mean, they really tied the knot…” Jax perversely put.
“Jackson…” Riona hissed in warning.
Her brother was looking downright murderous, and Jax was sitting right beside him.
“Are you gonna go on and on?” Ethan rather growled.
“Not sure. I gotta think about that one.” Jax taunted.
“Just remember, I’m not a prospect anymore, and payback can be a brutal bitch!” Ethan warned.
This had Happy and Jax raising their brows.
“Ya heard him. I’d lay off.” Riona defended on her brother’s behalf.
Riona, however, knew it was far too late. Happy and Jax had pushed the Texan too far. She could see those gears of Ethan’s turning. He was up to something, something big. As much as she loved her husband, Riona knew he had it coming. She only hoped she didn’t get caught up in the crossfire. It was then that Riona realized they temporarily took her mind off the dreadful situation. She found herself somewhat thankful for that little distraction, even if it was short and sweet. Riona was going mad in that mind of hers.
Everyone grew quiet, and it stayed that way until Riona pointed out the road leading to the ranch. Padriac turned down the road, but Jax had him pull over before he went much further.
“Keith said you’d have some heat…” Jax reminded.
“Aye, I sure do!” Padraic uttered before stepping out of the car.
Jax followed then watched as Padriac opened a secret compartment in the trunk. It was filled with knives and guns. Jax signaled everyone else out of the SUV.
“Take your pick,” Padriac said.
“Nice!” Jax expressed.
“These, of course, are on loan.” Padriac made clear.
“A loan is all we need,” Jax said as he picked out a couple of knives and some handhelds to go with that.
He was loading the bullets into one of the guns when his wife grabbed one as well.
“I don’t think so…” He firmly put.
“You’re the last person that should be carrying.”
“And why’s that?!”
“You know why.”
“No, actually, I don’t. But do humor me!”
“You’re too close to the picture, and there’s no telling what we’ll be driving up on.”
The president reached over then took the gun from his wife’s hand. He put it back where it went, and Riona sent her husband the dirtiest of looks.
“And just how do you expect me to defend myself?!” She questioned in disbelief.
“I’ll defend you.”
“That’s right. I won’t leave your side.” Jax confirmed.
“Ya really aren’t givin’ me a choice on the matter, are ya?!”
“Nope,” Jax said then slammed the trunk shut once everyone had their weapons.
Riona threw her hands in the air them stormed back into the passenger seat. Jax sighed when he heard Riona going on one of her Irish rants. It was one curse word after another, and his name followed.
“If there’s a couch, mate, you’ll be sleepin’ on it,” Padriac said, and Ethan nodded in agreement.
“Oh, yeah. She’s beyond pissed.” Ethan added.
“Well, she’ll just have to stay pissed. I can’t run the risk of her going off…”
“Then you had better keep her safe like you said you would.” Ethan protectively put.
“You know I will,” Jax vowed.
Riona couldn’t believe her eyes when Padriac crossed the cattle guard. Hearing about it and seeing it were two different things entirely. Riona knew about the rig around the coast of Cork. That in itself was a big historic event for Ireland. But actually, seeing these men drilling, on land. Their land, nevertheless, was a bit of a shocker. Nothing about that letter prepared her for this. These men had two rigs going, and it seemed as if their father was dead on. These men had taken over the land. They were in white hard hats, matching blue jumpers, and bright yellow vests.
“Okay, I need everyone to let me take the lead on this.” Jax made clear when they pulled up to the house.
They were getting strange looks, from all directions when Padriac parked. Men were making their way over, and Jax nodded amongst himself.
“Don’t let on that we’re carrying, not yet.”
Jax could see the bitterness on his wife’s face. But it was an act now and apologize later situation. She’d understand his reasoning, eventually. At least, he hoped she would. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust her. But Riona was emotionally unstable at the moment. If it were one of his boys, Jax would’ve made that same decision. Jax had to see this from a president’s perspective and not a husband’s.
“You folks lost?” One of the crew asked when Jax stepped out of the SUV.
Jax didn’t respond. He opened the passenger side door then helped his wife out of the car.
Padriac, Ethan, and Happy spilled on out as well. The man cocked a brow Riona’s direction.
“Why do you look so familiar?” He asked while pointing her way.
Ethan and Jax flanked Riona as she marched on over. Riona was in one of her usual dresses. The ones she wore when she worked in the Teller-Telford office. The boys, even that of Padriac, were dressed in their Sunday’s best.
“I need to speak to whoever’s in charge,” Riona announced.
The crew looked to one another then laughed.
“Well, that’d be me darlin’.” The man amusingly uttered.
“We need to talk.”
“Well, I’m a little busy, as you can see.”
“Looks like you’re just standin’ there to me.” Riona witted, and the man smirked at this.
One of his men leaned into his ear and whispered something.
“Is that so?” He uttered with that smile of his fading.
“So, you’re the lass from the pictures.”
“Pictures?” Riona questioned, and the man nodded.
“I gotta admit. You and your sister are quite the pair.”
“Watch yourself,” Jax warned as the man looked his wife up and down.
“Emmm.” The man humorously hummed.
The manager signaled for everyone else to get to work.
“If you step into my office…”
“Office?!” Riona spat as he was headed for the house.
“Well, yeah. Where else would I keep it?” The man snootily put.
The president had the others stay back so they could keep an eye on things. Jax got a good grip on his wife as they followed the manager. Riona gasped out the moment they entered the house.
“Ya broke into our house?!” She scoffed as there were beer bottles, cigarette buds, porn, and trash scattered all over the place.
A few of the walls had been punched through. Most of their pictures were broken or lying on the floor. The crew had made themselves right at home while they were drilling. The house was a complete disaster.
“You mean our house.” The man corrected.
Riona curled her lip as she followed the man into her mother’s old office.
“Please, have a seat!” The man said after sweeping some fast food containers off a chair.
The man welcomed himself to Teagan Lawless’s old desk and took a seat. He poured himself a glass of scotch, crossed his legs, then leaned back in waiting. Riona reached over and placed a file on the desk.
“Why don’t ya open it and see what it is!” Riona snipped, and the man chuckled.
“I bet she keeps ya on your toes!” The man said with a nod, Jax’s direction.
The manager picked the folder up then flipped through it.
“And just so you know. I have the originals locked away. Those are mere copies. So, rippin’ them up won’t do ya a bit of good!”
The man read everything over then let out a laugh of mockery.
“First off… Ya can wipe that sour look off your face. It isn’t very attractive.” The man muttered, and Jax sneered at this.
“What are ya? Her guard dog?”
Jax didn’t comment but was staring the man down.
“Squatter’s rights!” The man scoffed with a shrug.
“Ya haven’t been here no twelve years!” Riona said, and the man reared back, looking somewhat impressed.
“So, ya’ve done your homework!”
The man smiled then stuffed a cigarette into his mouth. He lit it then took a long drag.
“Old man dead?” He rudely questioned, and Riona shook her head no.
“Then where is he?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“Actually, it is… You see, from my understandin’, this is only in effect if the old man kicks the bucket. If he’s alive, then it’s a no go. Not to mention, he just up and disappeared in the middle of a deal. A deal he had ten days to act on! We haven’t heard hide nor hair from him. So yes, we took matters into our own hands.”
“You’re wrong. That’s very much in effect! So, ya can stop tryin’ ta fake me out! Annnd YA HAD NO RIGHT!” Riona furiously shouted.
The man sighed then flicked his ashes onto her mother’s desk.
“Connor Grady.” The man uttered as he introduced himself
Riona lifted her head on this, and the man sent her a wink.
“And you are…”
“Riona Teller – Aka Riona Lawless. You know… Alastar Lawless’s older daughter.” She made clear.
“Em well, Riona. Ya best make yourself at home, because we aren’t goin’ anywhere. I gotta get back to work before sundown. But we can discuss business afterward. Make yourself… at home.” The man cruelly taunted.
Connor came to his feet and was headed out when Jax grabbed him by the arm.
“We aren’t done here.” Jax firmly put.
“Yes, we are. I got a couple rigs to run. You could call the Gardaí. But I doubt you want them involved.” He said with a malicious grin.
“Now correct me if I’m wrong. But didn’t the little lasses seek asylum, from Ireland, nevertheless?!” The man jerked his arm out of Jax’s grip then marched on out of the room.
Riona pinched her eyes shut.
“Now, how would he know that?!” Jax whispered.
“Who knows….” Riona said in a defeated tone.
She walked on over to her mother’s desk. She ran her fingers along the marks all in the wood. They’d carved nude images and curse words into the desk.
“This isn’t happenin’…” Riona whispered.
“You’re right. It isn’t. We don’t need the law. We’re gonna deal with this the SAMCRO way.” Jax uttered while taking his blazer off and revealing the president cut beneath.
“I thought ya left that back in the states!”
“Nah, I figured we’d have to get our point across…”
“Ya mean to say you had this on ever since this mornin’?’
“Yep! And so do the others!”
Jax sent the others a text message. It wasn’t long before Padriac, Ethan, and Happy were gathered in the office. Happy smiled the moment he saw Jax with his cut. Happy followed suit and took his jacket off as well. Ethan and Padriac did this also.
Riona’s jaw dropped when they took their slacks off as well. They head their jeans on underneath. This had Riona flashing back to hers and Jax’s wedding day. The president wore his wedding outfit under his usual MC one. She remembered how turned on she was. Somehow, she found herself even more turned on than that of her wedding day.
“You alright?” Jax questioned with concern as she was gawking at him.
Riona gave a simple nod, and Jax smiled.
“We got it from here.” He said while taking his gun and checking the bullets.
“We can’t shoot anyone around those rigs,” Ethan warned, and Jax nodded.
“It’s just a scare tactic. They need to believe we’re just crazy enough to do it!”
Jax regarded his wife in thought. He had half a mind to tell her to stay put but knew his luck. One of those bastards would sneak past him and get into the house. Besides, the president was a man of his word. Jax meant it when he told her he wouldn’t leave her side.
“Stay close.” He said while taking his wife by the hand and pulling her towards him.
Ethan, Padriac, and Happy withdrew their guns as well. They kept Riona and Jax guarded as they headed outside and approached the crew once again. Connor and another employee were checking on a nearby well they were drilling from. They were using that as a water source for the oil. Riona shook her head when she saw the pit filled with rocks and mud beside it. They’d destroyed damn near all the land around them. This had Riona glancing towards the area where the cement tank used to be. The area where they found Nicholas’s remains.
“HEY!” Riona hollered, and Connor peered over.
“You’re the one that called the guards! Ya knew that was the only way to assure my father wouldn’t return! So, ya knew he was alive; this entire time, didn’t ya?!” She hissed, and Connor rolled his eyes.
“I’m guessin’ ya lied about the ownership of the land too,” Riona confirmed.
“Risky move there.” She added in thought.
The manager finished with his instructions, then patted the man he was working with on the back. Connor headed on over. He folded his arms about his chest then looked to the Sons in their cuts.
“Is that supposed to intimidate us?”
“No, that’s what these are for.” Jax witted while waving his gun about.
“You fire that, and we’ll all be up in flames!”
“That’s a chance we’re willing to take.”
“Nah, but nice try!” Connor dismissively put.
The man walked away, and Jax laughed but with that crazed vibe to him.
“You know… You’re right. You called my bluff!” Jax hollered while taking his knife from its holster.
Connor kept his back to Jax and kept walking.
“CONNOR!” One of the oil crew warned.
Connor peered back just as the knife sailed across and pierced through his leg. The Sons braced themselves as they had the entire crew’s attention now. Everyone stopped what they were doing and were headed in that direction. Connor looked to his leg with this stunned expression.
“That pinch?!” Jax hollered with a grin.
Connor’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he fainted.
“Pussy…” Happy uttered.
“Man, he went down quick!” Jax added with that smirk of his.
“Not so fast…” Jax said, then fired a simple but cautious warning shot.
The president got his point across, and the entire crew came to a halt.
“He’ll be fine. Now, here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re goin’ to shut this shit down and ASAP. No more drilling unless me or my wife say otherwise!”
Jax had his boys grab a couple trash bags. They patted the crew down and bagged whatever weapons they had as well as confiscated their cellphones and keys. To Jax’s surprise, none of them were carrying. He figured that had to do with how flammable the oil was. There were a few knives and a pair of brass knuckles. But Jax knew there had to be guns somewhere. This had him looking to Padriac.
“Check their vehicles and the house. Leave nothing unturned.”
Jax turned to the crew after he said this.
“Don’t worry. You’ll get everything back once you hear my wife and brother-in-law out.”
Connor let out a grunt as he came to.
“You…” Jax pointed to one of the other workers with his gun.
“Grab a friend and help your boss.”
The man nodded, and Jax had the others turn off the drills. Riona couldn’t get over how quickly Jax got their attention. Jax looked to Happy next.
“Take their car batteries. Whatever it takes to make sure no one leaves this ranch,” Jax said, knowing someone would try to hotwire their car if they weren’t careful.
Happy gave a simple nod and got to work.
“Ya can’t keep us here! Some of us have families to get back to!”
Jax cocked a brow on this.
“Oh, I can, and I will. If you want to get home to your families, then I suggest you talk to your boss. We’re not leaving, not until we get what we came here for.”
The man shook his head but followed as his coworkers carried his boss into the house. Jax and Ethan rounded everyone else up and made certain everyone was inside. Jax did a headcount during this and counted seven men. Jax gathered whatever information he could. The president discovered they had the main four running things. Connor Grady – the manager. Sean Grady – the Derrickhand and Connor’s younger brother. Jon Lees – one of the main drillers, and Rick Williams – one of the motorhands. There were three others, but Jax never caught their titles. They kept to themselves. Jax could tell they wanted nothing more than to go home and be away from this dreadful situation. But Jax couldn’t allow that, not until they made a deal. He only hoped their families didn’t come looking for them or worse, get the law out here.
(Connor Grady – oil field manager)
(Sean Grady – Derrickhand)
(Jon Lees – main driller)
(Rick Williams – motorhand)
“He needs a hospital!” The younger brother hollered as he tended to his brother’s leg.
“Not happening. You better find a way to patch him up here.”
“We don’t have anythin’!” Sean snapped in response.
Jax rolled his eyes on this.
“Let me get this straight… You work under these conditions, every day, with no first aid kit or anything?!”
Sean sighed in frustration.
“Yeah. I call bullshit. Quit playing games and find the fucking kit.” Jax ordered, seeing right past the little stunt Sean was trying to pull.
“Jackson…” Riona softly called, and Jax lifted his eyes that direction.
“I need to know.” She hinted, and Jax nodded in understanding.
“Wait for Padriac or Happy,” Jax said as to Ethan having backup.
A few minutes passed before Padriac entered the living room. He handed the trash bag over, and Jax nodded as he looked inside. There were a few handhelds, knives, and a rifle inside. Jax wanted to make certain none of those belonged to the Lawless family. So, he had his wife look as well. None of them were. Pepper kept their guns locked away in the basement.
“Keep an eye on them,” Jax ordered.
Jax got a protective hold on his wife then led her outside.
“You sure you’re ready for this?” Jax questioned.
“No, but I need to know.”
Jax nodded, then followed as she led him to the area where her mother was buried. Jax cringed once they were within view. Riona took off at a sprint, and Jax chased after her.
“NO, BABY! Jax shouted when Riona climbed into the empty grave.
“THEY TOOK HER! THEY TOOK HER! THEY TOOK HER AND THE BLOODY COFFIN!” Riona hysterically cried.
The tombstone itself was dug up, and there were chunks of it lying beside the grave still. Riona picked one of the pieces up as it landed in the grave. The young woman ran her fingers along the beloved section of that piece. It had half her mother’s name on it still. Jax’s heart shattered when his wife dropped to her knees in that grave and was hugging that chunk of her mother’s tombstone. Jax said nothing as he crawled in after her.
“Come on…” He lovingly whispered as he was in attempts to drag her out of there.
Riona was so distraught, Jax had to lift her out of the grave. Climbing out of there himself was no easy task, but he managed. Jax kept it at a crawl as he made his way over. He grabbed his wife then pulled her into his arms.
“Why?! Why couldn’t they just leave her be?!” Riona sobbed.
Jax held her even closer but was writhing in fury. He himself couldn’t believe what they’d done. There was no call for this, whatsoever. Her mother wasn’t buried by those rigs. They did this to make a point. Jax saw this for what it was. They wanted Pepper to see this if he ever returned. It was a big ole middle finger because of the feud between them and Alastar Lawless. Pepper never signed off on that deal, and this was their way of getting him back. Just as Jax was beginning to wonder where his mother-in-law’s body was, Riona muttered something about that herself. But she was so hysterical, the president couldn’t’ make out anything she said.
Jax dropped his hold then came to his feet. He helped his wife up off the ground, then hugged her once again. He kissed her forehead and grabbed a fistful of her hair when she ended up crying into his shoulder. She’d say something every now and then, but Jax couldn’t make it out as it was muffled against his shoulder.
Jax regarded his wife with concern when she lifted her head. She wiped the tears off her face. The president narrowed his eyes when she pivoted around and headed for the house.
“Riona?” He called and found it a struggle to keep pace.
Jax felt a little lighter and didn’t understand why at first. The president patted himself down then realized one of his handhelds was missing.
“RIONA!!!!” Jax shouted on top of his lungs.
Riona took off running, and Jax ran like a bat out of hell to catch up to her.
“STOP HER!” Jax frantically shouted when he entered the house.
Happy had her pinned to the wall, and Ethan was prying the gun out of his sister’s hold.
Jax pulled at his hair, then paced the area.
“How’d she get a gun?!” Ethan spat.
“It was mine.” Jax shamefully admitted.
The president couldn’t believe his own wife played him like that. But at the same time, he understood her reasoning. He couldn’t be mad at her.
“What happened?” Happy calmly asked.
Jax didn’t answer. He marched on up to Connor as his younger brother stitched him up.
“HEY!” The crew shouted when Jax yanked Connor right out from under Sean.
The needle and thread were hanging off the manager’s leg still, and his leg was oozing blood. Ethan got a good hold on his sister and let Jax know he had her. Happy and Padriac held the others off. Jax dragged Connor outside. He pulled him towards the grave then shoved Connor inside once he got there.
“I figured someone should take Mrs. Lawless’s place,” Jax said while aiming his gun Connor’s direction.
Connor held his hands up then pleaded for his life. Jax gritted his teeth then shot a few rounds just below his crotch and feet. Connor screamed out in horror, and Jax curled his lip at this.
“Where is she?!” Jax demanded.
“We had her cremated!” The manager hollered in a panic.
“You what?!” Jax growled.
“We hadn’t much choice! Them bodies don’t stay fresh, ya know! There was hardly anythin’ left!” Connor defended but sighed.
“Look, my brother was friends with the younger sister. He wanted to make certain her mother’s ashes were spread on this land.”
“You spread my mother-in-law’s ashes across a land you and your fucktard friends took over?!”
“No, further up the hill. We’re not touchin’ that area.”
Connor gave a frantic nod, and Jax helped him out of the grave. Connor led him to the area he was referring to. Jax could see where the younger brother engraved the mother’s name into the tree, with the same message that was on the tombstone.
“I ought to kill you both!”
“Sean took no part in what we did! This right here… This little memorial – was HIS doin’. I hadn’t a clue he even knew the younger sister!”
“It shouldn’t matter whether he did or didn’t. You don’t do these things. You just don’t!”
Jax beat the story out of Connor. From the sound of things, the younger brother showed up just a few days after the incident. There was a big fight, and Sean demanded that they handle Mrs. Lawless’s remains properly. When they wouldn’t, Sean took it upon himself to do so. Connor admitted to calling the guards and having Pepper arrested. He did that because he didn’t want Nicholas’s body to fall back on them. And just as Riona had assumed, Connor lied about owning the land during their investigation. He even showed them a fake deed to the property. Jax nodded once he got the full story. The president slugged Connor across the face then kneed him in the crotch afterward. Connor came to his knees, and Jax cupped his chin. The president dug his nails through his flesh as he forced Connor to look him in the eyes.
“Your little brother just saved your life. Now, you’re going to go in there and tell my wife everything you told me!”
Jax gave the manager a swift kick in the ass and did this a few more times on the way back to the house. They entered the living room and heard Sean explaining the situation himself. The younger brother apologized, profusely, with tears streaming down his face.
“If I had been here, I wouldn’t have let this happen! As for the deed? I didn’t know! I’m just findin’ out myself!” Sean sent his brother a look of downright hatred as he said this.
“Why didn’t you tell me?! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS?!”
“Sean…” Connor softly called.
“No! You lied to me! Ya told me their father was upset over his daughters leavin’ Ireland, so he sold ya the land and the house.” Sean looked to his fellow crew after he said this.
“You all knew, didn’t ya?!”
The crew looked to one another, and their faces said it all. Sean pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Same ole Connor. You’ll do anythin’ for a buck! Ya make me sick and don’t even get me started on the rest of ya. Ya bunch of graverobbin’ drunks. You should be ashamed of yourselves! It’s a good thing Aislinn didn’t tag along. I would’ve blown my brains out! It might’ve been years ago, but she was my friend.”
Sean stormed out of the house, and Jax signaled for Padriac to keep an eye on him. Graverobbing?! Jax thought amongst himself. That must’ve meant that his mother-in-law was buried in some of her jewelry. Did they seriously stoop that fucking low?! So low they’d pawn off the jewelry of a dead woman?! The mere idea made the president sick. He wasn’t about to bring that up to his wife, either. But he most certainly caught on to the meaning behind that.
Ethan led his sister into another room then shut the door behind them. This had Jax looking to that door in thought.
“I had a little brother once. He was a lot like yours. He died fighting a good cause. Something to think about next time you lie your way into another deal. If he ever trusts you again, that is.” Jax stated.
“Finish patching him up. Then it’s time for business.” Jax ordered the rest of Connor’s crew.
“I’m not goin’ anywhere if that’s what you’re thinkin’,” Sean called.
“Aye, but we can’t be too sure,” Padriac replied.
“I just needed out of there. Ya know?”
“Can understand that,” Padriac said while plopping down beside him.
“Ya want a pint?” Sean offered as he had a six-pack of beer sitting beside him.
Sean nodded, then handed one over. The two drank in silence.
“This was your room, wasn’t it?” Ethan said, while looking around.
Riona gave a sad nod.
“I figured. It suits you.” Ethan picked a picture up off the nightstand.
The room was far too bright to be Aislinn’s. That and the bookcases filled with books were a dead giveaway.
“This was her, wasn’t it?” He said as to the picture of their mother.
“She was beautiful. You and Aislinn took after her.” Ethan complimented after sitting the picture down.
“How am I goin’ to tell Linny?” Riona heart-brokenly put.
“You mean we.” Ethan corrected, and Riona’s eyes met his.
Ethan sighed, then sat beside her.
“We’ll tell her.” He said while taking his sister’s hand into his own.
He patted it with his other hand.
“I can only imagine what you must be going through right now. I’m sorry, Riona.”
“This will kill Linny.”
“Let’s just focus on you for now.”
“And what am I supposed to do?”
“Grieve, all over again. After that, find something to break. But for now… You gotta put that game face on and force these fuckers into a deal. And not just any deal… They’re going to pay for not only the damage done to this land and house but your mother’s resting place. Then they’re going to pay for all the hell they put you and Aislinn through. You’re going to milk them for everything you can get.”
“You mean we.” Riona corrected, and Ethan smiled as he gave her hand an encouraging squeeze.
“That’s right. Let’s raise some hell, sis.”
“You ready?” Jax questioned after peeking into the room Ethan and Riona were in.
“She’s ready,” Ethan said before coming to his feet and offering his sister a hand.
Riona accepted, and Ethan handed her off to Jax. Jax led Riona into her mother and father’s old bedroom. He had the crew lined up against the wall. Jax sat Riona down in her mother’s vanity chair. He leaned into her ear.
“You see these assholes?” He whispered, and Riona nodded.
“You’re going to talk them into a deal. A deal that’s right for you, Aislinn, and Ethan. You will negotiate until you get what you want. Understood?”
Riona nodded once again, and Jax pecked her on the cheek. He lifted up then looked to the men before him.
“You see this woman?”
The men nodded.
“WRONG! You don’t see a woman. You see a motherfucking QUEEN! This queen put her blood, sweat, and tears into this very roof we’re standing under. She was a teenager when she took care of her mother, who died of cancer. This queen took care of a good for nothing drunk and her teenage sister. She worked three fucking jobs in order to keep this house and the land around it afloat.”
Jax paced the area before them.
“Look at her.”
A couple of them glanced her direction, but not all of them.
“I SAID, LOOK AT HER!” Jax shouted as he grabbed Connor by the hair, then turned his head Riona’s direction.
“She rules this land and the motherfuckin’ castle to it. Not you, not your piece of shit crew, and most certainly not those fucking rigs you’ve set up. This queen has last say in whatever happens tonight. We’re not leaving until you make her one hell of a deal, and by deal, I mean you’re going to fucking grovel at her feet and beg. We don’t want the law involved, on that we can agree. However, we’re going to write up a contract, tonight. We’re going to have that contract signed by two witnesses. One on your side and one on hers. If you dishonor that contract, in any shape or form, we will hunt you down. And believe me when I say we don’t do easy kills, no. We torture motherfuckers like you.”
“I need to call Linny first,” Riona said, and Jax nodded in perfect understanding.
“Try your cellphone. If not, you can try the landline here. If it’s working still.”
“It is,” Sean said, and Jax gave him an appreciative nod.
Riona let out a sigh of relief when she managed to get ahold of her sister.
“Linny?” Riona said once she had her sister on the phone
“Riona! I’ve been tryin’ to get ahold of ya for a week now!”
“I know. Sorry, there was no reception.”
“Aye, I didn’t think about that. Did ya get my message?”
“Some of it. It was cuttin’ in and out. But we can get to that later. I’m in the middle of somethin’, and I need you and Ethan in on this.”
“Riona, I really think ya should hear what I have to say first.”
“Ma says it’s okay. That it doesn’t matter where she is. She’s at peace. You just need to know that. I know it sounds crazy, but…”
Riona regarded her brother in shock. Ethan gave a mere nod as he heard what Aislinn said as well.
“No, it doesn’t,” Riona said as she thought on the irony behind her sister’s words.
“Thank you, Linny.”
“I got more to tell you. But it’d be better in person.”
“Agreed. Alright, I’m goin’ to put you on speaker now.”
“Aye, are ya busy?”
“Nah, I’m takin’ Mayhem for a walk. Scotty’s at the house with Abel, and they’re watchin’ Batman.”
Riona smiled in thought.
“Is he wearing his Batman pajamas?”
“Ya mean Scotty or Abel?!”
Riona managed to laugh.
“So, what do ya need, love?”
“I need to know what you want to do with the land and house.”
“I thought we were sellin’ it?”
“Aye, but I wanted to make one hundred percent certain first.”
“Well, how do you and Ethan feel about it?”
Riona looked to Ethan, and Ethan shrugged.
“I’m game with whatever you two decide. You two have more history here.” Ethan said.
“You sure?” Riona questioned, and Ethan nodded.
“I’ll back whatever you two decide.”
“Alright, we’ll sell but with a percentage of whatever the oil brings in.” Riona confirmed.
Connor’s eyes went wild on this, and his brother elbowed the shit out of him. Sean cleared his throat afterward.
Riona lifted her eyes in Sean’s direction. There was a moment of silence on Aislinn’s end.
“Aye, it’s me,” Sean said with a hint of a grin.
“Ya know it!”
“Oh, my… it’s been how long?!”
“Eh, few years give or take. How ya doin’, love?”
“Good, and you?”
“Been better. I’ll let your brother and sister explain that one.”
“Not so sure I like the sound of that.”
“Look, hellcat, just know I hadn’t any knowledge of this, and I’m sorry.”
“Sorry?! About what?!”
“We’ll explain when we get there, Linny. But right now, we need to get on with that deal.” Riona said.
“Alright… It was nice hearin’ from ya again, Sean.”
“You too, Aislinn.”
The five of them went back and forth. Five as in Connor, Sean, Ethan, Aislinn, and Riona. This went on for a couple hours before they came into a deal everyone could all agree on. Connor looked as if he was going to shit himself, however, as this cost him and his men a lot of money. Not only did Riona manage to talk them into sixty-five percent of whatever the oil brought in. But she managed to make a deal on the land as well as the house. The house Connor and his crew pretty much destroyed. Like she and Jax discussed, she came up with a decent figure for suffering as well. That figure in itself came out to a decent two hundred grand. That was to be divided amongst Ethan, Aislinn, and Riona. That would give them right at sixty-five thousand apiece. That didn’t include whatever the oil brought in. Jax couldn’t believe the money his wife was raking in with this deal. Each of them would be set for life. All that worrying between Chibs and Aislinn was now over.
“Aislinn?” Ethan softly called once they wrapped everything up.
“Are ya there?” Riona added with concern.
“Aye…” Aislinn softly called but sounded as if she were crying.
“What is it, love?” Riona asked.
“Is this for real?”
“It sure is,” Ethan said with a smile, and Riona smiled in return.
“This is crazy!” Aislinn tearfully expressed.
“Aye.” Riona agreed.
“We lost everythin’ and now…”
“Ya sound like you’re freezin’! Get on home before ya catch a cold!” Riona playfully scolded, and Aislinn sort of laughed.
Aislinn told everyone she loved them then wished them a safe trip home. They wished her well also then hung up.
“What did she mean?” Sean questioned.
“Em?” Riona hummed in confusion.
“Linny and her husband lost their home, all their money, and most of their possessions in a fire.”
“Jaysus,” Sean whispered in thought.
“You two really have been through the wringer…” He added with a frown.
“Aye. Diggin’ our ma up… only added to that. I hadn’t the heart to tell Linny over the phone.”
Sean recoiled in thought.
“I really am sorry.”
“I know.” Riona sincerely put.
“If there’s anything I can do…” Sean offered.
“Just make sure your brother keeps his end of the contract.” She said.
“I can do that.”
Riona nodded then came to her feet. She waved Connor over and had him follow her into the office. Jax sent the rest of the crew on their way but had Sean stay back so he could sign as a witness. The president made it clear. There would be hell to pay if word got out about Riona being in Ireland, much less anything that took place tonight. Riona took her time and typed out a very detailed contract. Connor would have to make a trip to the US at one point just to have some sort of proof that he had this signed and witnessed in person. That was to cover BOTH their asses and on BOTH accounts. There could be no record of what Connor and his men really did. And there could be no record of Riona being in Ireland after she sought asylum. Riona gave Connor one week to make that trip. Connor reluctantly agreed. Riona had him purchase his tickets then and there, along with Sean’s since he would be signing as a witness.
“We sign it now, but date it when you two arrive.” She made clear, and they nodded in agreement.
Riona, Ethan, and Connor signed their parts. Jax and Sean signed as witnesses. Aislinn would have to sign her part when they got back home.
“If you even think about bailing on this contract…,” Jax threatened, and Connor sighed.
“Ya know I can’t. You two got me right where you want me.”
“And never forget that. We can make your lives utter hell. I say lives as in every one of your boys will suffer if you screw this up.”
“Understood,” Connor said, and Sean nodded in agreement as well.
Sean held his hand out, and Jax shook it.
“It was nice meeting you and Riona. I just hate that it was under these circumstances. I thought the world of Aislinn. I hated when she dropped out of school. She always had my back…” Sean blushed in memory, and Riona tilted her head with curiosity.
“I had a very bad lisp and horrible acne. It took me years of speech therapy and one hell of a dermatologist…. Let’s just say Aislinn was one of the few that saw past all that. Hell, she punched the shite out of a fellow student for givin’ me so much hell over my lisp and acne once. It was embarrassin’ at the time, you know, havin’ a lass fight for ya! But now? I look back and laugh. That lass had no fear, and she never let anyone tell her who she could and couldn’t be friends with. Believe me, they tried. Aislinn could’ve fit in with the popular crowd, quite easily. But she couldn’t stand them and their judgmental ways. I always admired her. She put them right in their place!”
“That certainly sounds like our sister,” Riona said, and Ethan nodded in agreement.
“Aye, I miss that lil lass.”
“Well, it looks like you’ll be seein’ her again in about a week or so.” Riona reminded, and Sean smiled in thought.
Meanwhile, back in California:
“Aislinn…” Pepper greeted when his daughter picked the phone up in the Stockton Prison visitor’s center.
“How ya doin’, pa?”
“Hearing you say that again… You’ve no idea what that means to me.” Pepper admitted.
Aislinn smiled, then placed her hand against the window. Pepper pressed his along the area hers was then sighed.
“They’re moving me, Aislinn.”
“That’s right. Back to Ireland. They’ve done all they can here. I have to face court back home now.”
“So, I won’t be seein’ ya…”
Aislinn closed her eyes on this.
“If I can work out a deal, I will.” Pepper promised.
“I was hopin’ ya’d get to see the granboys…” She hinted while lowering her hand and rubbing her belly.
“Me too, love. Me too. But everything’s going to be okay. You’ll see.”
There was a brief moment of silence.
“You remind me of your mother when she was pregnant with your sister. She always had that glow. Teagan couldn’t wait to be a mother.”
“Aye, but I won’t lie. I’m a wee bit frightened.” Aislinn said, and Pepper laughed.
“We were too. Just comes with it. But you have nothing to worry about. You’ll make a wonderful mother.”
“We don’t have long, pa.” She said, looking at the time.
Pepper sighed in thought.
“Look, I just wanted ya to know that everythin’s fine and the contract went through.’ She did her best to hint.
Aislinn couldn’t say much, considering there were a couple of guards watching them, and she was more than certain their conversation was being monitored.
“That’s great, baby.” Pepper said in relief.
“Aye. She did it.” Aislinn said with pride.
“I knew she would.”
“Do ya ever see ma in your dreams?”
“All the time,” Pepper said with a warm smile.
Aislinn frowned when one of the guards signaled that their time was up.
“Take care of yourself. I love you, Aislinn.”
“I love you too,” Aislinn said before the guards collected her father.
“We got time.” Jax reminded as his wife looked around the house.
Riona lifted her eyes on this.
“Seriously. Babe, pack up whatever you and Aislinn want to keep, and we can have it shipped back, under Connor Grady’s name.”
“Jackson, some of these things are way too big.”
“Doesn’t matter. If it’s something you and your sister want to keep, tag it. Connor being the gentleman he is… will ship it home, won’t you Connor?” Jax taunted.
Connor rolled his eyes but reluctantly nodded. Sean chuckled.
“I’ll ship everythin’ myself. I’ll use my name even. No one would think anythin’ of it since I grew up with Aislinn. I’ll just make it sound like she gave me a list and sent me a key.” Sean offered with a shrug.
“That’s pretty smart actually,” Jax uttered in thought.
“I have my moments.”
“Thank you.” Riona wholeheartedly put.
“It’s the least I can do.” Sean looked to the time, however.
“Am I a hostage still or…” Jax glanced the younger brother’s direction.
“Got a wife and wee one waitin’ on me back home,” Sean explained.
“You’re good. Go home to your family.”
Sean gave a simple nod then headed on out the door.
“And what about me?” Connor asked.
“You got a wife and kid back home?” Jax taunted with a smug grin.
“No, but I got two big dogs.”
“Why does that not surprise me?”
“Aye now, those dogs are my family.”
“I’m sure they are,” Jax said but sighed in thought.
“Go on. We’ll be seeing you in one week.”
Jax watched as the manager grabbed his things then ducked on out as well.
“Well, that was fucking boring.” Happy complained with a frown.
“Boring?!” Riona scoffed in disbelief.
“Yeah. No one died…” Happy said with a shrug, and Riona laughed.
“There really is somethin’ wrong with ya!”
“So I’m told.” Happy muttered, but with that disappointed look still.
“You really are upset, aren’t you?” The president questioned.
“I was hoping there’d be a little more violence.” Happy admitted.
Ethan, Jax, and Padriac had a good laugh at this.
“Men…” Riona scoffed as she continued in her hunt.
“We’ll rest up here tonight. Let Riona tag whatever she wants. We should get back in plenty of time to board the ship before it leaves the UK. It’ll be like we never left!”
Please leave your comment/review or a simple like! Thank you!
A/N – Two more chapters!!!!! Next one will be the big wedding day!
A/N – I have never been on a cruise, nor do know much about the oil business. Everything I’ve written is from research alone. Therefore, I apologize if anything is incorrect. And ofc I do not own Fugees, Bugs Bunny, or any familiar quotes.