Chapter 7 – Land of Confusion
I do not own SOA or anything youtube related.
A few days later…
The past three days were awkward and tense between Chibs, Jax, and SAMCRO. The boys (Jax and Chibs) hadn’t much to do with their own MC and spent most of their time with Abel and the girls. Chibs had been tempted to take that chance with Aislinn, and Jax even encouraged it. But Chibs felt the timing just wasn’t right, not after the shit Brodie pulled. He didn’t wish to make that same mistake. So the four of them got to know one another and on a much deeper level. They played pool, darts, and cards and all while keeping Abel entertained.
There were twelve people under this roof, aside from SAMBEL’s usual drop in’s. Those twelve were made up of Clay, Tig, Bobby, Juice, Happy, Opie, Chibs, Jax, Half-Sack, Abel, Aislinn, and Riona. Keith, Clay, Jax, the SAMBEL prospects and the girls took turns cooking meals for everyone there. The girls, however, took it upon themselves to clean up after the boys as well as themselves. Riona and Aislinn figured it was the least they could do considering they were under both MCs’ protection. They even went as far as to clean up after the boys in the men’s room. Something Riona and Aislinn soon regretted.
“What is that?!” Riona asked, and Linny looked over as her sister was scrubbing behind one of the toilets.
Aislinn wrinkled her nose as her sister was holding a clump of hair and what looked to be a condom balled up together.
“That’s one hairy lad! Aren’t ya glad I found those gloves?!” Aislinn teased, and Riona gagged as she stuffed it into a trash bag.
Aislinn giggled and went back to scrubbing one of the urinals. They looked over as Jax entered the bathroom with his son. Abel ran into one of the stalls and went to do his business. Jax narrowed his eyes however as he watched the Lawless sisters.
“What are you two doing?”
“Cleanin’…” Riona uttered with a wrinkled nose as she picked up another gob of hair.
“I bet that one’s Elvis’s!” Aislinn teased, and Jax died of laughter.
Riona shook her head and got back to it.
“Stop,” Jax said and went on to block Riona from her cleaning attempts.
She lifted her head, and Jax shook his.
“There’s a reason we MC’s have prospects. This is their job, not yours. You’re guests, and I’m more than certain Keith would agree. He wouldn’t want you doing this. Hell, I was wondering why everything was so fucking spotless. I hadn’t a clue this was you and your sister’s doing.”
Riona and Aislinn looked to one another as if lost on what to do.
“Come on ladies; leave the grunt work where it belongs.”
Abel exited the stall and went on to wash his hands. He giggled after looking at Aislinn’s hair. She had it in a ponytail, but it was falling out and all over the place.
“You look funny.”
“Do I?” She looked in the mirror and Riona was laughing as well now.
“Ya look like ya stuck your finger in a light socket!” Riona teased, and Aislinn frowned.
“You’re one ta talk! Have yourself a gander!”
Riona tilted her head and looked into the mirror. Her jaw dropped, and she was quick to take her gloves off and fix her hair. Aislinn was laughing so hard she snorted.
“They is funny daddy!” Abel said with another giggle.
Jax nodded in agreement but leaned into Riona’s ear as she was fussing over her hair.
“You great, always do darlin’.”
“Aye now, look at ya… Suckin’ up, in hopes of gettin’ laid!” Aislinn taunted with a playful wink Jax’s direction.
“LINNY!” Riona scolded and Abel looked to his father.
“What is laid?”
Aislinn cringed and sent Jax an apologetic glance.
“Just means your father needs to take a nap.” She was quick to cover, and Jax cocked a brow on this.
“Daddy don’t take naps!” Abel said with a giggle.
“No, but I could sure use one,” Jax said with a grin.
Riona waited until they were out of the room then she threw a glove at her sister.
“Really?!” The eldest hissed afterward.
Aislinn shrugged and went on to wash her hands.
It was late that night when Clay called for church. The girls had volunteered in getting Abel ready for bed, something they’d been doing off and on. They went out their way to help with Abel in whatever way they could, and Jax was very appreciative.
Jax and Chibs were last to enter the SAMBEL chapel. Jax pulled the door to and nodded in an indication that they were ready. Clay cleared his throat gathering the room’s attention, and it was then he brought up Chibs’s plan. Chibs knew how the IRA worked better than anyone, anyone other than JT that is. Jax gave the Scot a respectful nod once Clay revealed what Chibs’s plans were. For once, everyone agreed and decided to move forth with the notion.
The following morning…
“So you’re leavin’…” Riona softly stated, and Jax nodded.
“Just for a couple days. We have to make this look legit. We need the IRA to think SAMCRO is headed back home. Promise me that you and Aislinn will stay put. Do not leave this clubhouse!”
“Aye, I promise.”
Jax nodded and finished packing. Once he had everything ready to go, he pulled Riona into his arms.
“I’d like to pick up where we started off all those years ago. I should’ve found a way to get back in touch. I regret not doing so. Seeing you again… Riona babe, you haven’t any idea. I know you want to take it slow and I can respect that. I just hope you’ll consider my offer about staying in Charming.”
“Thought you were considerin’ leavin’ Charmin’…” Riona said but with a playful smile.
Jax smiled in return.
“Honestly, I’m not sure what’s going to happen. But for now, Charming is my home…” Jax didn’t voice it, but he felt the same way about SAMCRO. He’d do whatever he could to knock Clay off that pedestal and get his patch back.
“Aye. Linny and I have decided to stay with Chibs.”
“He made the offer back when your prez was givin’ us hell. I think he mainly did that for Linny’s sake though. That man has stars in his eyes.”
“You’ve noticed that too, huh?”
“You’ll be in good hands with Chibs,” Jax assured.
“What did you mean by goin’ Nomad?”
“It means I would be a Son with no physical base. There are a handful of Nomads around the US.”
“I see. So if that’s the path you decide…”
Jax glanced towards the door as he and Riona were talking.
“Between me and you I don’t see that happening. But if it does… I’d reside in Charming unless something else were to come up.” He whispered, and Riona nodded in understanding.
“I don’t want you worrying about something like that. We’ll face that if and when the time comes. Let’s just focus on what’s right in front of us.” He said with a flirtatious wink, and Riona laughed.
“Oh yeah… I’m really digging the view.”
Jax went to kiss her and Riona blocked his attempt with a single finger.
“Not so fast Mr. Teller…”
Jax reared back on this.
“One more question…”
“And that would be?”
“Why were you and Chibs in prison?”
“If I answer will I get that kiss?”
“Now that’s just cruel…” He uttered while placing a strand of hair behind her ear.
“We were set up darlin’. Chibs and I got pulled over, and someone hid meth all in my truck. I’m talking sewn into the motherfuckin’ seats and all up in the tires. They took my entire truck apart, and by the time they were done, they had a little over five pounds. You can imagine what all we were charged with. To top it off, I had an unregistered handheld in the glove compartment.”
“Jaysus… How’d ya get out of that one?!”
“Got us one hell of a lawyer and fought with everything we had. I wasn’t going to watch my son grow up behind bars. Chibs and I did whatever we could think of to prove our innocence.”
Jax zipped his suitcase, and there was a moment of silence between the two.
“C’mere…” Jax whispered as he took her by the hand and pulled her towards him.
The man took his time looking her over and still it felt as though a dream that she was even standing before him. In fact, his feelings for Riona were so strong, Jax knew he wouldn’t have given Tara another thought if Riona had reentered his life instead. He wished she would have. This had him caressing her cheek in thought. What he wouldn’t give to go back and make up for those five years. Jax would’ve killed that piece of shit husband of hers then he would’ve taken Riona and Aislinn with him.
“God, you drive me crazy…” He uttered in such a way.
Jax was taken back as Riona kissed him, but it wasn’t just any kiss. No. It was shocking and possessive. The woman had the Son backed against the wall and with a fistful of his cut in her hold. It was a long, wet kiss filled with lust and she was making up for those five years they lost. Jax had never been more turned on.
“Hurry back.” She said, and Jax just stood there in a daze as she walked away.
Aislinn was sitting on the couch and talking to Keith and Padraic. She glanced over as SAMCRO was packed up and headed for the door.
“You’re leavin’?!” She questioned in surprise, and this had Chibs looking her direction.
Jax nodded giving Chibs the go-ahead as he and the others headed on out. Chibs cleared his throat and made his way over.
“I thought we were goin’ with ya.” Aislinn softly said, and the Scot nodded.
“Aye, ye are.”
The young woman narrowed her eyes in confusion, and Chibs hunkered down before her. He told her what Jax had told Riona about tricking the IRA.
“So ya weren’t just about ta leave without sayin’ goodbye?” She sadly uttered, and Chibs smiled.
“I hope not.” She coyly put, and Chibs chuckled.
“Take care, love. We’ll be back before ye know it.”
Aislinn giggled as the Scot slipped a pack of smokes and a SAMCRO lighter into the hoodie he’d given her. But as he did this, he leaned into her ear. “Yer test were clear.” Chibs hinted as to the bloodwork and the swab he had her take a few days ago. “Thank you.” She whispered in relief. He sent her a wink then headed on out. Padraic was shaking his head but with a smile.
“What?!” Aislinn questioned taking notice.
“My uncle’s got it bad.”
“Aye…” Keith murmured in agreement.
Riona exited the back room, just as Abel darted back into the clubhouse in tears.
“I NO WANNA LEAVE!” He shouted as Jax was chasing after him.
Abel clung to Riona’s leg.
“WE NO LEAVE RIONA AND LINNY! THEY MY BESTEST FRIENDS!” Abel cried, and Aislinn placed a hand over the area of her heart.
“Abel son, we’re not leaving them. We’ll be back.”
Riona nodded as Jax had this desperate look in his eyes. The young woman crouched down to the boy’s level.
“Abel love, you’ll be back.” She reassured, and Abel nodded but with a quivery lip.
“Aye, I do.”
“I wove you and Linny. We always be bestest friends.”
“That’s right, and we love you too,” Riona said.
Aislinn gave a tearful smile as she walked on over. She too squatted down to the boy’s level, and Abel hugged both girls.
“You’ll be back. So listen to your daddy and do what he tells ya.” Riona whispered, and Abel nodded.
He took his father by the hand and with this apologetic look about him.
“I sorry daddy.”
“It’s okay, son.”
“We really be back?”
“You know it,” Jax said with a respectful nod towards the Lawless sisters.
Jax knew these girls had a tremendous impact on his son’s life. He’d make certain they stayed in his life, no matter what it took. Abel nodded and waved goodbye as Jax lifted him up in his arms. The girls blew the boy a kiss as his father carried him on out of the clubhouse.
“He alright?” Chibs questioned as Abel was rather emotional even on the ship.
“Yeah. Just had a misunderstanding, that’s all.”
“He thought we were leaving the Lawless sisters behind.”
“Aye, I’d have been upset too!” Chibs said with a smile the boy’s direction.
Abel climbed into Chibs’s lap and held the crosses they were wearing side by side. Abel wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. The boy made himself nice and comfy and was staring at those crosses. Jax shook his head in thought. There was no telling what was going through his son’s mind. Abel truly lost it when he thought they were leaving and never looking back. He took off like a bat out of hell, and no one could catch him. Jax sat across from Chibs and stuffed a cigarette into his mouth.
“So what was it like?” Jax hinted with a smirk.
Chibs narrowed his eyes in question.
“And what would that be, Jackie boy?”
“Your little one night stand,” Jax whispered thinking Chibs and Aislinn had hit it off.
Chibs half laughed.
“Imma fraid the little lass is gonna be out of commission for some time.”
Jax recoiled on the meaning behind that.
“That bad, huh?”
“So what did you do?” Jax curiously asked as he’d seen Chibs carry her into the van that night.
“Slept,” Chibs said with a shrug.
Jax reared back on the irony. The look on Jax’s face said it all and Chibs gave a mere nod.
“Those girls aren’t ready for all that. Careful Jackie boy, don’t be chasin’ somethin’ ye don’t plan on takin’ seriously. Ye don’t break a Galway Girl’s heart, Catholic ones at that.”
“I haven’t any intention of doing so.”
Chibs drew back a breath on this.
“If you’re takin’ this home… Ye gotta leave the past behind ye.” The Scot hinted as to Jax’s old playboy days.
Jax nodded in understanding.
“I think I learned my lesson the last time we met.”
“Oh?!” Chibs curiously questioned.
“Oh yeah, Riona turned me down flat.”
“Cause she’s not that kind girl.” Chibs uttered with a wide grin.
Jax chuckled in memory.
“You know… I spent all these years wondering if she ever left that piece of shit. Dad always wanted me to call her. Man, was he pissed when I got back with Tara.”
“That makes two of us,” Chibs grumbled as he couldn’t stand Tara. All she ever did was tear Jax down.
“I should’ve called… Maybe I could’ve prevented all this.”
“Ye can’t put that on yourself, Jackie.”
“I know, but it does make me wonder.”
Chibs smiled and ran his fingers through his goatee.
“I think we’re in big trouble, Jackie boy.”
“Why’s you and daddy in trouble Uncle Chibs?” Abel asked.
“Because women are nothin’ but trouble.” Chibs taunted, and Abel had this puzzled look.
“Why are they trouble?” Abel innocently questioned.
“Because they make lads like us insane.”
“Ain’t that the damn truth.” Jax muttered.
“Padraic…” Aislinn scolded as she caught him cheating during a game of cards.
The prospect shrugged and continued. Aislinn laughed as this reminded her of Chibs. Riona and Luther placed their hands down, and Aislinn frowned.
“That right there! That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Ya’ve got no poker face!”
“Yet ya accuse me of bein’ like pa!”
“Cause ya are, ya just suck at cards.”
Aislinn frowned like that of a child, and Riona laughed.
“Shut up…” Aislinn grumbled then folded her arms about her chest.
“How old are ya?!”
“Old enough ta kick your arse.”
“Are ya sure about that? We can have a go outside if you’re that confident.”
This had SAMBEL raising their brows. Aislinn snorted in thought.
“They always got the ring…” She witted with a shrug, and Riona laughed.
“Aislinn…” They heard as someone entered the clubhouse with one of the SAMBEL prospects.
“Brodie?” Aislinn called and came to her feet.
The Scot gave a mere nod, and Keith let the prospect know that Brodie’s visit was okay. The prospect nodded then went about his way.
“Can we talk?” Brodie asked looking a little uncomfortable.
“Aye.” Aislinn gestured for Brodie to follow her.
Brodie pecked Riona on the cheek then followed Aislinn into the room. He pulled the door to then leaned against it with his arms crossed over his chest.
“Aislinn…” Brodie whispered with this shameful presence.
“Brodie, it’s okay,” Aislinn said with a smile, and the Scot shook his head in disagreement.
“Nah, it isn’t. I was a straight up arse, and ye know it!”
“Aye, ya were!” Aislinn admitted but in a playful demeanor.
Brodie managed to laugh but couldn’t shake the guilt.
“Can I hug ye?” He asked but in a child-like mannerism.
Aislinn nodded. Brodie walked on over and hugged her.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered.
“The things I said… I didn’t mean a word of it. Yer the best there is, and that’s why I said what I said. I’d always hoped ye’d be my girl.”
Brodie sighed then planted his hands along the apples of her cheeks.
“He’s a good man, love. Ye’d do good endin’ up with someone like my cousin.”
Brodie lowered his hands then chuckled on the puzzled expression on her face.
“Ah now lass, I’ve seen it. Filip hangs the moon and stars, and that’s alright. Ye deserve ta be happy, both of ye. Guess there was a reason I gave ye those crosses. What were the odds? My best mate and best gal… Though I gotta say, I can’t believe ye went and gave my cross away!” He teased.
“Aye, how could I turn down those beautiful blue eyes?”
“I think he’s the only lad ye’ve ever caved for!” He taunted once again, and Aislinn laughed.
“What can I say? He’s quite the charmer.”
“Aye now, are we talkin’ about the wee lad or the medic?”
Aislinn lowered her head, and Brodie lifted her chin with a single finger.
“I hafta give ye a little hell. You know that. I’m right, aren’t I? Ye’ve feelings for my cousin.”
“I don’t know what I feel Brodie…”
“Aye, but I do.” Brodie placed a strand of hair behind her ear.
“Ye’ve never looked at anyone the way ye look at him.”
A tear made its escape, and Brodie wiped it away with his thumb.
“None of that now.”
“So where is the son of a bitch anyhow?”
“Aye, said somethin’ about trickin’ our kidnappers. They’ll be back in a couple days.” She wasn’t about to mention that they were IRA. She wouldn’t put Brodie in danger like that.
Brodie nodded in understanding.
“Then I’m stayin’ until they get back.
“Ya don’t have to do that.”
“I want ta. I gotta make certain my girls are taken care of.”
Brodie went on to show Aislinn he was carrying. Her jaw dropped.
“Are ya mad?”
“Did ye really think I’d walk through the doors of an MC unarmed?! Come now, lass.”
Brodie smiled and hugged her once again.
“You’re kiddin’.” Aislinn uttered, and Brodie shook his head no.
They were kicked back on the cots exchanging stories of their past when Filip Telford was brought up.
“Nah, we did everythin’ together,” Brodie said and smiled in memory.
“What happened?” She questioned as it was more than obvious they were nowhere near as close now.
“Fiona entered the picture.” Brodie murmured with a frown.
Brodie went on to tell Aislinn all about his cousin and Fiona’s relationship. From the sounds of things, their relationship took off pretty fast, too fast. Fiona ended up knocked up and Filip being well Filip and Catholic at that, felt as though he needed to take responsibility and propose. They were married, not even a week after that proposal. Chibs however even admitted that he wasn’t quite ready for all that but went through with it anyhow.
“Now here’s the kicker lass… Guess who did their ceremony?”
Aislinn looked to Brodie, and a simple nod was all it took.
“Aye, the bloody bastard himself!”
“So Jimmy was always around, from the very beginning..” Aislinn murmured in thought.
“That he was. This was long before we even knew the bastard was IRA-affiliated. He was a friend of the family and Filip met Jimmy through Fiona.”
“Do ya think they were… ya know.” She hinted with a heavy heart.
“Aye. Ye bet yer arse they were! Filip was livin’ in denial, but ye know as well as I do that Jimmy and Fiona were fuckin’, way before Filip ever came inta the picture. That woman was swappin’ cocks like no one’s business.”
“If she was all about Jimmy even then… Why would she go through with the weddin’ and have Jimmy doin’ the ceremony?”
“Think about it love… That’s what ole Jimmy wanted. He needed that control. The bastard knew he’d have my cousin, right where he wanted if Filip went and married Fiona. Filip was already a Son, and Jimmy knew by sendin’ him off ta the states he’d eventually get what he always wanted.”
“The cartel!” Aislinn said with a gasp, and Brodie nodded.
“So Jimmy planned it all out, from the very beginnin’?!” She added looking ill in thought.
“That’s right. Filip was just a pawn in one of Jimmy’s sick games. He wanted to see just how far he could take things and boy did he ever. Jimmy knew Filip would take care of those girls, meanin’ he’d take care of him as well. If they needed money, Filip sent it. If they needed supplies such as anythin’ medical, Filip found a way of smugglin’ them in. Jimmy knew JT would take care of Filip as that relationship was cemented in, long before Filip even joined SAMCRO. This was back when Chibs was the sergeant of SAMBEL.”
Brodie told Aislinn what little he knew about the deal between the Sons and the IRA. A secret Filip had Brodie swore an oath to. Brodie knew better than to go spilling something like that out. He’d get himself and everyone he ever loved killed if he went against Filip’s wishes. Only it wouldn’t be at Filip’s hands; it’d be at Jimmy’s. This came as a shock to Aislinn that Brodie even knew.
“Jimmy had Filip believin’ that everythin’ he did was for those girls. All Jimmy had to do was feed Fiona the lines, and Filip ate every word.” Brodie shook his head in memory.
“How do ya know all this?”
“I just do love. I just do…” Brodie uttered looking a little broken himself.
“My cousin’s got a heart of gold, and the gash knew it. Fiona did whatever she could think of to reel him in. Poor bastard thought he was in love, but he was in love with the idea Fiona and Jimmy created. Ye should’ve seen the act she used ta put on. She had her hands all over him, and it was Filip this and that. It was all an act. The Fiona ye know now… it’s night and day in comparison. I tried tellin’ Filip…” Brodie laughed in memory.
“Let’s just say it ended with a couple shiners and a mild concussion.”
Aislinn’s jaw dropped, and Brodie softly chuckled.
“Oh yeah, Filip’s a true Scotsman in comparison ta my sorry arse!” Brodie said and looked to be embarrassed that he even admitted that.
“That’s how much these fuckers played him. Aislinn, they ripped his heart out and laughed about it the moment his back was turned.” Brodie was quick to wipe a stray tear from his face.
“I’d never seen a man so broken. It killed me, seein’ him like that. I had no choice but ta head back to Scotland. If didn’t… I would’ve killed the bitch, and I wouldn’t have cared that she was with child. I loved Filip, but he was blind to everythin’ around him. All he ever saw was Fiona and that kid, and I’m willin’ ta bet me life that kid isn’t even his!”
Aislinn cringed, and Brodie shut his eyes for a brief moment.
“After all that fizzled, he turned to that club and hadn’t looked back since, other than helpin’ those girls, but from a distance as that’s the way ole Jimmy wanted it.”
“Did ya ever tell him about the wee one?”
“Nah, I hadn’t the heart, love. Ye know he’s got that girl’s name tattooed ta his chest?”
Aislinn cringed, and Brodie nodded.
“Imagine what that would do to him… Findin’ out that kid isn’t even his, after all this time.”
“Oh, Scotty…” Aislinn whispered in thought, and Brodie cocked a brow on this.
The young woman blushed. She hadn’t realized she’d said that out loud.
“Ye got a nickname for him and everythin’! I knew it!”
Riona entered the room to find Brodie and Aislinn strumming on their guitars. Brodie had taken it upon himself to grab a few of the girls’ things. Things – such as their clothes, toiletries, a few pictures, books, as well as their fiddles and guitars. The girls hadn’t the chance to thank him as he’d done this before he even arrived at the SAMBEL clubhouse. That was the reason behind them so prepared that night. The piano, however, belonged to the SAMBEL clubhouse. Riona was just about to ask how he managed to get into the house when Brodie handed her guitar over. She smiled then kicked back on the cot he was sitting in. Riona laid her head in his lap and joined in. This was the norm for the three of them. They never thought about how it looked to anyone else. Brodie thought the Lawless sisters were perfect, in each and every way. He would’ve taken pride having them as family but Brodie only had himself to blame, and he knew that. He’d never forgive himself for fucking up what could’ve been. Riona was dead on when it came to Brodie. His feelings for Aislinn would never change, not in a million years.
Keith knocked on the door before entering the room the girls and Brodie were in.
“It’s open.” Brodie softly called.
Keith peeked inside and gave a simple nod as the girls had fallen asleep. Brodie was kicked back and keeping watch.
“You gonna stay here all night?”
Keith shook his head.
“That a problem?” Brodie added with a cocky grin.
“Depends. How long ya plan on stayin’?”
“Till my cousin gets back.” Brodie made clear.
“Aye, and we said we’d keep an eye on them.”
“Good. The more, the merrier.” Brodie said with a shrug.
“Ya best not cause any trouble,” Keith warned, and Brodie gave a simple nod.
“Stay out of my hair, and I’ll stay out of yers, at least what’s left of it.” Brodie witted.
“Ya just keep bein’ a wise arse and see where it gets ya.”
“It’s gotten me pretty far so far,” Brodie said with an egotistical wink then gestured towards the sleeping sisters as they were lying right beside him.
“Ya wish.” Keith smarted in return then went about his way.
“Ye’ve no idea…” Brodie miserably muttered.
“Oh yeah, I’m hitting that just as soon as we get back!” Chibs and Jax overheard Half-Sack bragging to Clay and Tig as they entered the room leading to the kitchen.
The Sons were on a ship and just a few hours away from Ireland. This was exactly what they were going for. They knew the IRA would be watching their every move and SAMCRO needed them to believe they had left with Abel and were leaving all this behind them. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. A war was among them, and the IRA hadn’t a clue as to SAMBEL and SAMCRO’s plans. Another ship was on its way, and the Sons would be jumping onboard first thing tomorrow morning. From there, SAMBEL would have an unmarked bus waiting for them. Meaning they would have to leave their bikes behind (on the ship) for now, but Keith assured them that he’d find a way of bringing them back, in one piece.
“You really think you have a chance?” Clay witted with a smirk, and Half-Sack nodded.
“Got her wrapped around my little pinkie.” Half-Sack bragged and this had Tig and Clay laughing.
“Tell ya what if she lets you fuck her. I’ll make sure you get patched in!” Clay said, and the prospect reared back on this.
“Oh yeah, but there has to be proof.”
Clay looked to Tig, and they shrugged upon one another.
“Pictures…” Tig muttered, and Clay smiled.
“Or even better… record that shit.” Clay said with a nod.
“You really think Aislinn’s going to agree to that?!” Half-Sack bitterly scoffed.
“Never said she’d agree. Gotta have that proof or no deal. Besides, what she doesn’t know…” Clay uttered with a shrug.
Jax cringed once he saw the look on Chibs’s face. Jax cleared his throat letting their presence known and this had the three of them looking back. The Scot gave them a mere nod but was eyeing the prospect something fierce. Jax resisted the urge to laugh as Chibs wiggled that index finger of his. Half-Sack made his way over then let out a painful grunt. Jax looked over to see the prospect holding his gut and Chibs was dragging him into another area of the ship.
“What was that about?!” Clay asked, and Jax shook his head in disbelief.
Jax wasn’t about to humor those two with an actual answer. He walked on past then headed into the kitchen so he could grab his son something to eat.
Half-Sack had this wide-eyed look about him as Chibs had him up against a wall and with a single hand wrapped around his throat.
“I don’t wantcha anywhere near the lass. If ye so much as touch her, I’ll take my boot and cram it up the one nut ye got left. Do we have an understandin’?”
The prospect just looked to Chibs in shock, and the Scot gritted his teeth.
“I ASKED YE A QUESTION PROSPECT. YE BEST ANSWER!”
“Alright! Alright! Hands off. I get it! I’m sorry!”
“That’s right, ye are.” Chibs uttered as he thought back to the conversation.
“Ye’ve a lot ta learn about women. All the more reason ye haven’t any business in seekin’ someone like Ali’s interest! Ye done lost one nut. Don’t make me finish neuterin’ yer sorry arse!”
Chibs dropped his hold, and the prospect just stood there like a deer caught in headlights.
“Get lost boy!”
The prospect nodded and damn near tripped over his own two feet, he couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Chibs placed a hand along the wall and shook his head. He thought back to what all was said and a low growl escaped him. Leave it to Clay to even suggest something like that and with a known rape victim. He knew better. Chibs couldn’t believe this was the man leading SAMCRO now. Chibs took pride in being a Son, but this made one of the rare instances where he was downright ashamed. SAMCRO was meant to protect the people of Charming, as well as their family, and friends. As far as Chibs was concerned those girls might as well be family, and he knew that was Jax’s way of thinking as well. Aislinn’s hazel green eyes came to mind, and the Scot drew back a breath before stuffing a cigarette into his mouth.
“You alright?” He heard and turned Jax’s direction.
“Grabbed a few sandwiches and some chips. Figured you might be hungry.”
Chibs nodded as Jax tossed one of the bags over.
“I was surprised to see the prospect still standing.” Jax uttered with a grin.
The Scot didn’t comment and peeked into the bag.
“Abel took the bologna, so we’re left with the mystery meat.” Jax uttered and went on to smell his.
“Aye, it’s probably horse meat.” The Scot teased, and Jax wrinkled his nose in thought.
The two kicked back then ate in silence. Once they finished, however, Chibs looked Jax’s direction.
“Ye gotta get the gavel back Jackie.”
Jax nodded in agreement but was staring off into space.
“How do I do that when I can’t even look them in the eyes?”
Chibs sighed in thought. But that sigh wasn’t directed at Jax. The Scot understood more than Jax would ever know. What they did… was just plain shitty and Jax had every right in feeling betrayed.
Jax already knew the answer, but deep down he just needed that reassurance.
“I can trust you, right?”
Chibs reared back and looked to Jax as if he were offended.
“Come on brother; I just need to hear it. After everything, I need to know you have my back. I need to know that you’re the one brother that wouldn’t have let that happen; the one brother that would’ve come to me with the truth!”
“Look at me.” Chibs uttered, and Jax peered over.
“I’ve always had your back, and nothing about that has changed. I love you kid. I love this club, but I’m not aboot ta stoop down the level SAMCRO’s at now. I never thought I’d see the day where I was ashamed ta be a part of this MC. Son of Anarchy we have a duty. A mission. We need our leader. So quit doubtin’ yourself and get yer arse back where ye belong! As ta Abel… I’m not aboot ta answer that because ye already know the answer.” Chibs jabbed his index finger along the area of Jax’s heart then came to his feet.
“I love you too Filip.” Chibs gave a simple nod then went about his way.
The following day…
“So good.” Riona murmured as she and Aislinn were stuffing their faces.
Brodie smiled in response. They were eating outside the clubhouse as it was another beautiful day out and Brodie thought the weather would brighten the girls’ spirits.
“Told you. Haggis, tatties, and neeps… can’t go wrong.” He proudly put before taking a swig off his beer.
“It is pretty good.” Aislinn murmured with a full mouth.
“Linny!” Riona scolded, and Brodie laughed as Aislinn chased that mouthful down with her beer.
“Thank you, Brodie,” Riona said as he’d been taking care of them the entire time.
Brodie sent Riona a mere wink before taking a bite of his food.
“Padraic!” Aislinn scolded as he snuck a bite off her plate.
He chuckled then plopped down beside her. He reached over and stole a sip of Brodie’s beer as well.
“Watch yerself, kid. I’ll give ye a good wallopin’.” Brodie warned and snatched the beer back.
“My uncle called wanted ya to know they’ll be back sometime today,” Padraic said, and Aislinn nodded.
“Guess that means our fun is about over…” Brodie grumbled, and the girls laughed.
“Ya really are a big man-child.” Riona scoffed, and Brodie shrugged.
“Just like havin’ me girls to myself. What’s wrong with that?”
Brodie took notice of the awkward look the girls were giving one another.
“What was that?” He questioned, and Riona sighed knowing they had to come clean.
“We’re leavin’ Brodie.”
“What do ye mean yer leavin’?”
Riona looked to her sister and Aislinn drew back a hesitant breath.
“We can’t stay. It isn’t safe. Not for us or anyone dear ta us. Brodie, you bein’ around us is dangerous.” Aislinn admitted.
“They’re right,” Padraic said, and Brodie shook his head in disbelief.
“Ye mean ta tell me that yer headed ta America?!”
“Aye, once the Sons take care of things around here,” Riona said.
“But if they’re takin’ care of things. That means ye’d be safe again, right?!”
“Brodie…” Riona groaned knowing he’d take the news pretty hard.
“I don’t see why ye hafta leave yer home. I’ll help rid of them bastards! I won’t have ye leavin’, either of ye!” Brodie barked.
“Brodie love, we have no home here, even if they manage to wipe out most of the IRA. Pepper destroyed whatever home we had, the moment he laid that hand down and used the money I’d given him ta do so. Linny and I need a new start. We haven’t anythin’ left when it comes ta Ireland.” Riona took her sister’s hand into her own and gave it a little squeeze as Aislinn was rather emotional as well.
“I need you to understand that we gotta do what’s best for us. SAMCRO has offered us a new start. I think we should take it.”
“Nah, I know you Riona. What ye mean ta say is ye asked if ye could go with them.” Brodie corrected, and Riona’s jaw dropped.
Brodie shook his head.
“Ye’ve been wantin’ ta leave for some time. But did ye even give Aislinn a choice on the matter or did ye go and pull your usual rankin’. Because that’s the Riona way of doin’ things! She’s twenty-three years old fur cryin’ out loud! Ye don’t hafta play the role of mum anymore. She can decide what she wants, without ye goin and decidin’ for her!”
Aislinn shot up at this, and she cut Brodie a look of absolute hell.
“Don’t ya ever talk ta her like that again! Ya don’t know the half of it! Riona’s always been there.”
“And ye just hafta be wherever Riona is, right?!”
“You’re goddamn right!” Aislinn shouted.
“Jaysus Christ. So yer runnin’, both of ye!”
Riona shook her head on the irony of his words. Aislinn had said the same thing.
“No Brodie, if we stay here we’re admittin’ defeat. All we’ll ever have is that farm, and it’s not even ours, it’s Peppers. Linny and I have been givin’ a chance to rebuild, to find ourselves. All we’ve ever known is that farm. And deep down… Brodie, you know this is somethin’ Linny needs. So before ya go accusin’ me of somethin’, ya know nothin’ about. Why don’t ya think about what’s best for us and not yourself? I love ya, but we both know what this is really about…” Riona hinted as to Brodie’s feelings when it came to her sister.
Brodie leaned back in defeat. He wiped his face with a napkin then looked to the sisters. He shook his head afterward.
“So nothin’ I say is gonna change yer mind?”
“I’m sorry, love,” Riona said, and Brodie looked to be on the verge of tears.
“So I’m losin’ ye, both of ye.” He said with a broken heart.
“Ya can always visit,” Aislinn said behind tears, and Brodie sighed knowing he caused those tears.
That made twice, twice of making her cry. Brodie took Aislinn by the hand then walked her around the table. He had her sit beside him then hugged her.
“Ye know I will.” He softly put, and Aislinn punched him on the arm.
“WHY DO YA HAFTA BE SUCH A FUCKIN’ PRICK?!” She shouted, and Padraic and Riona died of laughter.
“Aye, we’ll be there in about half an hour or so,” Chibs said as he, Abel and Jax were looking out to sea.
“I can’t waits to see my friends!” Abel said, and Chibs smiled.
“Aye, me too.”
“Daddy says Riona and Linny are gonna live with you.”
“But yous only have one bed!” Abel exclaimed with his arms in the air.
“That’s right lad…” Chibs taunted with a smirk Jax’s direction.
Jax rolled his eyes.
“Well, I suppose I’ll be on the couch if that’s what they want.” Chibs mocked with a wink Jax’s direction.
“Funny…” Jax murmured, and Clay chuckled.
“Are those girls even aware of how small your place is?” Jax questioned, and Chibs shrugged.
“It’s a roof, and I’m more than certain they’ll dig the bar.”
“Everyone digs your bar.” Jax uttered with a grin.
Damn near every Son envied Chibs’s little bar. He built it himself as well as most of the house as it was a complete dump when he first bought it. Chibs had just the one bedroom for now, but he’d planned on adding a couple more, along with another bathroom. The man shook his head however as he found himself pondering whether Aislinn would be there for all that or not. The Scot knew he was in trouble as he was actually considering what kind of bathroom she would like and things of that nature. This was supposed to be a temporary situation until the girls got on their feet. Just what in the fuck was wrong with him?! Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. He thought back to Fiona and how quickly things escalated. He couldn’t afford to make those same mistakes. Not that Aislinn was anything like Fiona, but he’d be damned if he let another woman play him like that. That pang of guilt hit as he knew that wasn’t exactly fair to Aislinn. Chibs was beginning to see that he too had some baggage and he’d been carrying that shit for years as to why he never got serious with anyone. In fact, Aislinn made his first attempt since Fiona.
“Shite…” Chibs grumbled, and Jax lifted his eyes on this.
“Maybe the girls should stay with you,” Chibs grumbled in such a way that had Jax dying of laughter.
“What makes you say that?” Jax curiously asked, and Abel tugged at his father’s sleeve.
“Can they?! Please daddy? They can stay in my room!”
“Abel son, they’ve already made arrangements with Chibs.” Jax uttered as he wasn’t quite ready for all that.
Not that Jax didn’t love the idea of Riona living with them. But he’d made one too many mistakes with that sort of thing and knew this was something he needed to take more seriously and cautiously at that. Abel frowned then folded his arms about his chest in a pouting mannerism. Jax gave him a noogie then kissed the top of his head.
“I imagine you’ll see them every day!” Jax said hoping to brighten his son’s spirits a bit.
Abel nodded but didn’t look very convinced.
“Aye, ye can visit whenever ye want. I still got that swing set ta put up, remember?”
“Oh yeah!!! I forgot!” Abel said, and Jax sent Chibs a look of relief.
The Scot gave a simple nod.
“Daddy, look it a dolphin!” Abel said and pointed that direction.
“I’ll be damned it is,” Jax muttered under his breath.
“I never see a dolphin before! WOW! Can we takes a picture? I wants to show Riona and Linny!”
Jax nodded then snapped a few with his cellphone.
“Got a minute?” They heard and peered back seeing as how it was Clay.
The president nodded Jax’s direction, and Jax signaled for Chibs to watch after his son. Jax followed Clay below deck.
“What are you doing?”
“What do you mean?”
“Come on Jax. You know damn well what I’m referring to.”
“Alright… Let’s say I don’t…”
“Just how long do you think you can go?”
Jax raised his brows in question.
“Other than Chibs, you haven’t had much to do with the MC.”
Jax half laughed then shook his head in disbelief.
“You’re kidding right?”
“You might be going nomad, but you’re still a Son. There’s respect to be paid, and you’ve done had your little tantrum. Now it’s time to pull up them big boy pants and move the fuck on.”
“Move on?!” Jax uttered with a curled lip and Clay nodded.
“Move on… MY SON WAS KIDNAPPED, AND NO ONE EVEN TOLD ME!” Jax gritted his teeth then closed his eyes for a moment.
“I need this time. Don’t push me, Clay. I’m at my wit’s end. So you can either give me this time, or you’re going to see a side of me you’ve never seen before.”
Jax went to walk away, and Clay placed a firm hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t… I mean it, Clay. Fuck off, man.” Jax warned with a balled up fist then shrugged out of his hold.
Aislinn was picking up after their meal while Riona showered and Brodie was in the men’s room. The young woman was tossing their trash into one of the bins when a car pulled into the SAMBEL parking lot. Aislinn frowned once she saw Fiona behind the wheel. She was just about to head inside when Fiona hopped out of the car. Aislinn spun back around seeing as how the woman was in hysterics and going on about her missing daughter.
“Oh no…” The young woman whispered and was quick to go and console the woman.
“Calm down and tell me what ya know…” Aislinn said and went to sit Fiona down so she could gather Keith and the others.
“CALM DOWN?!” Fiona snapped in response then pried out from under Aislinn’s arm.
“YOU! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! ALL OF IT!”
“Aye now… I get that you’re scared and…” Aislinn softly put.
“SCARED?! SCARED?! YA HAVEN’T A FUCKIN’ CLUE YA DAMN WHORE!”
Aislinn shook her head knowing this woman wasn’t about to hear her out, no matter what she said. Fiona had already made up her mind about her. So the young woman started towards the clubhouse once again, only to be jerked back by her hair. Before she could even think about what was taking place, something wet was wrapped around her mouth and nose. The young woman struggled in the older woman’s hold, only to find herself losing consciousness. Aislinn’s eyes rolled into the back of her head, and her knees buckled out from under her.
“AISLINN?!” Brodie called as he and Riona were searching the entire clubhouse, inside out.
The man was outside yet again and in a panic as no one knew where she was. Riona ran back out of the clubhouse and shook her head.
“Brodie…” She whimpered, and Brodie sighed.
“Just where in the fuck did she run off ta?!” He hollered.
“She wouldn’t leave Brodie. Linny knows it isn’t safe.”
Riona and Brodie looked over as a bus pulled into the SAMBEL parking lot. They stepped aside as it drove right on up to the SAMBEL doors. Brodie and Riona nodded amongst one another knowing it was the boys. They’d set it up perfectly as it was pitch black out and SAMBEL was quick to herd them into the clubhouse and whoever was driving the bus left directly after. Riona darted into the clubhouse then looked to Jax in desperation.
“What is it?” He asked with that pitfall feeling.
“We can’t find Linny…” Riona said.
Chibs staggered back with that heart sinking feeling. He wasn’t the only one Bobby and Half-Sack looked just as distraught by this.
“WHAT?!” Jax questioned in disbelief.
Brodie pinched his eyes shut, and Riona had tears streaming down her face.
“We’ve looked everywhere. She’s not here.”
Keith overheard this as he entered the clubhouse and sighed.
“I think I know who has her…” The SAMBEL president admitted with a look of shame.
“I saw the two arguin’ outside. I thought nothin’ of it and let it be. I should’ve intervened.”
“Who?!” Riona demanded.
“Fiona,” Keith muttered with a nod Chibs’s direction.
“SHITE!” Chibs shouted in alarm.
He grabbed Brodie, and Happy then started towards the door.
“I’m going!” Bobby made clear, and Chibs peered back.
Bobby took Riona’s hand into his own and gave it a bit of a squeeze.
“We’ll bring her back.” He vowed.
“Chibs?” Riona called as if needing that reassurance from him as well.
“I know where she is love, but we gotta hurry before Jimmy gets ta her first!” He said and rushed on out the door.
Aislinn woke to find herself stripped of her clothes and cuffed to a bed. The young woman tried screaming for help only to find that her mouth was gagged as well. She could hear what sounded to be Fiona outside the bedroom door. She was on the phone with someone and demanding that she speak with Jimmy and now. Aislinn lifted her head and was doing her best to hear what was being said and pick up on her surroundings. But all she could make out was shadows from the moonlit window and the space beneath the door itself.
The young woman laid her head back down and crossed her legs, protectively. She just knew she was going to be raped again. Aislinn wasn’t so sure she would survive another round with Jimmy. All she could do was lay there and await her fate. Only this time, she hoped Jimmy would just do her in. She couldn’t live through all that hell, not again. She’d much rather die.
“Ye sure this is the place?” Brodie asked as they were parked outside the house.
It’d been awhile since he or Chibs had been here.
“I can’t believe they live in the house ye two shared,” Brodie muttered in disgust.
“Look, I wantcha ta knock on the door. Do whatever ye can to keep Fi distracted.”
“Got it.” Brodie confidently put.
”Happy, Bobby, keep an eye on Brodie but keep the engine goin’.”
“And what are ye goin’ ta do?” Brodie curiously asked.
“I know a way in, but I gotta go through the back. That’s why I need Happy ta keep the van goin’ just in case. We can’t afford ta be made.” Chibs said as he placed a ski-mask over his face.
Happy and Bobby already had theirs on.
“Ye got a piece on ye?” Chibs asked.
“Ye know it,” Brodie said with a nod.
“Good. Don’t let yer guard down around Fi.” Chibs warned, and Brodie chuckled.
“I told ye… Didn’t I?” His cousin scoffed as to his warning back in the day, and Chibs ignored this.
He hopped on out and snuck his way into the backyard. Brodie shrugged amongst himself, adjusted his collar through the rearview mirror then nodded Happy and Bobby’s direction.
“How do I look?”
“Murderous.” Happy said and wasn’t joking either; Brodie had that crazed look in his eyes.
“Perfect!” He said before exiting the van.
“You alright?” Happy asked as Bobby just sat there staring off into space.
“How does one woman manage to kidnap someone off SAMBEL grounds?”
“Ya got me…” Happy murmured with a shrug.
Chibs crawled on through the basement window. He knew this house like the back of his hand, and this was an old trick he’d picked up when he’d locked himself out of the house once. Chibs listened as he snuck on up the stairs. He could hear Brodie knocking on the front door and the Scot was praying to God those stairs wouldn’t creak and give him away. Once he got to the basement door, he wrapped his hand around it then pushed against it very carefully. It squeaked a couple of times, and the man froze with his hand along his gun. But thankfully Brodie’s voice carried throughout the house as he kept Fiona distracted. Chibs nodded amongst himself once he had that door opened. He could see Fiona from the kitchen where the basement stairs had led him. He grimaced seeing as how he was right in his assumptions. She too was carrying and was holding the gun behind her back as she was in attempts to push Brodie out of the doorway. She had her body pressed up against the door and was bitching up a storm.
Chibs knew he needed to move and fast before Brodie ended up with a bullet in his head. The man managed to sneak on past, and he was quick to get Brodie’s attention about the gun. Brodie caught this warning but kept up the ploy as he brought a hand up against the door. Once his cousin was out of sight, the game came to a stop altogether. Brodie grabbed Fiona by the collar of her shirt then put his gun to her chin.
Fiona dropped the gun, and Brodie shoved her inside. He slammed the door shut then locked it afterward.
“Have a seat love,” Brodie said behind gritted teeth.
“Riona, there’s someone here to see you,” Seamus said as he was at the SAMBEL entrance.
“Me?!” She questioned as she had been pacing the area and waiting on word about her sister.
“Aye, he’s outside.”
Riona grabbed her jacket and started out the door.
“Hold on…” Jax called as he didn’t want to run the risk of it being anyone IRA related.
He doubted they were that stupid, but you never knew… The Son grabbed his jacket as well then followed her out.
“Ya’ve got ta be jokin’…” Riona muttered under her breath as an older man was leaning against one of the SAMBEL benches.
He had his hands stuffed into his coat and nodded Riona’s direction.
“Why are ya here?!”
“To see my girls.”
Riona shook her head then let out a miserable laugh.
“That’s great Pepper. Now, how ‘bout the truth?”
The man took a step towards her and Riona held up a hand.
“That’s close enough. Ya take another step, and I’ll shoot ya!”
“Who is this?” Jax whispered with curiosity.
Jax raised his brows on this.
“That’s your father?!”
“Alastar Lawless himself. Only everyone calls him Pepper because he’s got a bit of a temper when he’s had one too many.” She uttered while sending her father a look of complete and utter hatred.
“Where’s Aislinn?” Pepper asked.
“Maybe off gettin’ raped again, thanks ta ya!”
Pepper staggered back on this and Riona nodded.
“Go home, Pepper.”
“Brodie told me you girls were here. I thought Aislinn…”
“WELL, SHE’S NOT!” Riona shouted behind tears.
“YOU DID THIS! YOU DID THIS TO US!” She screamed and before Jax could even gather what was taking place… Riona had snatched his gun out from its holster and took a shot at her father.
“JESUS!” Pepper shouted as the shot grazed his arm.
Jax was quick to knock the gun out of Riona’s hold. The Son wrapped his arms around her as the young woman was going into hysterics. She was calling her father every name in the book and let her father know everything she and her sister had endured because of him. Jax was doing whatever he could think of to calm her down. If it had been SAMCRO grounds, Jax wouldn’t have stopped her, but they were on SAMBEL grounds and in another country at that. He was all for taking the rap if something went down but he preferred to do that back in the states.
“Easy babe…” Jax soothingly put.
“He isn’t worth it.” He said, and Riona shook her head in disagreement.
“You don’t understand,” Riona said, and Jax hugged her while sending Pepper a look of hell.
“You need to leave,” Jax warned, and Pepper shook his head.
“I’m not leaving without my girls.”
“I beg to differ. They didn’t want any part of this, yet you forced them into it anyhow.”
“You don’t know shit about me kid!”
Jax managed to laugh.
“No but I know enough, and if it weren’t for the situation, I’d have let Riona kill you then I’d bury the body myself. What kind of man gets his daughters sold off into a human trafficking ring?! You’re already dead as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want to see you anywhere near the clubhouse or the girls again.”
“This is between them and me. This isn’t your place.” Pepper barked.
“That’s where you’re wrong. It’s very much my place, but you’ll find out soon enough. Now get lost.”
“Riona…” Pepper called in one last desperate attempt.
“OH PISS OFF!” Riona shouted, and Pepper gave a simple nod.
“Riona, I never meant for this to happen,” Pepper said as he was headed back to his truck.
“But it did, and I don’t want anythin’ ta do with you and ya best stay away from Linny!”
Aislinn jumped as the door opened then shut directly after. All she could make out was their shadow as they approached the bed. The young woman panicked, and her entire body jarred about as she was in attempts to get away from the shadowed figure.
“Ali…” The familiar voice softly called, and the flickering of a light followed this.
Chibs had cut on the lamp and was standing right beside her. A breath of relief escaped her and tears streamed on down her face. The man recoiled after getting a good look at her. He tested the cuffs then shook his head. These were just any cuffs. No. They were the real deal, meaning he needed a key. He went on to search for the key only to end up spinning back around. Aislinn was banging those cuffs up against the headboard. Chibs himself was a mess, and for whatever reason, it never occurred to him to remove the gag. All he could think about was those cuffs and how he wanted her free of them. He placed one hand on her cheek then removed the gag with the other.
“Don’t leave me.” She pleaded.
“Not goin’ anywhere darlin’, but I need a key. I doubt ye know where it is?” He explained and Aislinn shook her head no.
Aislinn watched as he searched throughout the room, but the key was nowhere in sight. The Son sent Aislinn an apologetic glance.
“She has it on her…” He uttered.
“I’ll be right back. I promise.”
Chibs brought out his gun and was about to exit the room.
“Scotty…” The young woman whimpered.
“Not leavin’ ye love.” He reminded with a nod.
“Could ya cover me up. It’s freezin’.”
The Scot lowered his hand then headed on back. There was a flannel blanket on a nearby chair, and he used it to cover her up.
“Thank you,” Aislinn said and this only pissed the Scot off.
Not that he was pissed with her. But he felt she shouldn’t be thanking him, not a time like this. If anything, she should be thinking about putting a bullet in his and Fiona’s heads. Chibs kissed her forehead then headed on out of the room.
Chibs nodded upon Brodie as he had Fiona on the couch and with a gun aimed at her head.
Chibs gave no warning whatsoever as he walked on up and yanked Fiona off the couch. The woman’s jaw dropped as Chibs had her lifted up off the ground and with his hands wrapped around her throat.
“GIVE ME THE FUCKIN’ KEY FIONA!”
Fiona went to say something only to have Chibs send her a swift punch to the gut.
“GIVE. ME. THE. FUCKIN’. KEY!” He barked and was trembling with fury.
Fiona’s hand shook as she dug into her pocket and handed the key over. Chibs shoved her back onto the couch then started towards the bedroom.
“He took her…” Fiona said, and Chibs came to a halt.
He pivoted back around, and Fiona nodded.
“He took our baby.” She cried, and Brodie rolled his eyes.
Fiona came to her feet and was making her way over.
“Please Filip. The only way to get her back to offer Aislinn in exchange. Jimmy wants the girl. Said he wasn’t done with her.”
Chibs closed his eyes on this and Brodie gritted his teeth. He shot up from the recliner he was in.
“SHE’S JUST SOME BASTARD KID AND YE KNOW IT. THAT’S NOT MY COUSIN’S! DONTCHA GO AND PUT THAT ON HIM! AND EVEN IF SHE WAS HIS, YE DON’T GO AND OFFER SOMEONE AS A RAPE CANDIDATE, YE DUMB GASH!”
Chibs opened his eyes then brought his gun to Fiona’s head.
“Is Keri mine or not? I don’t care what yer response is. I’m not sendin’ a woman off ta be raped. But if you don’t tell me the truth yer goin’ ta end up with a hole ye weren’t born with.”
The Son cocked his gun and waited for an answer.
“I’d tell the truth,” Brodie said with a wicked grin.
The woman broke into uncontrollable sobs.
Chibs closed his eyes then lowered the gun. Brodie grimaced as he knew this day would come eventually. Only he didn’t expect to actually be here for it.
“Alright.” Chibs softly put after putting his gun away but took not only Fiona but Brodie by complete surprise.
He took his knives from their holsters then backed Fiona into a corner.
“I won’t kill ye, for Keri’s sake. But I ought to and I will if I ever see ye around anythin’ club affiliated or Aislinn again. That’s not ta say I won’t leave ye without a little reminder. Ye should’ve never fucked with me Fi. Ye think Jimmy’s bad…” Chibs said then went on to give Fiona the very scars Jimmy had left him.
“Now ye know… Don’t ever forget how that feels. ” Chibs darkly put, and Brodie just stood there in absolute shock.
Chibs was officially done, and not a single fuck was given.
“That’s nowhere near what ye truly deserve. I oughtta have ye raped and tortured. That’s not ta say I won’t if ye go and cross me again. Watch yerself Fi. Ye done lost any love or respect I ever had for ye. I’d have killed ye if it wasn’t for Keri. But that girl needs her mother. I hope ye find her FI, I really do. But I’m not down for playin’ anymore of yours or Jimmy’s games. Ye brought this on yerself. Keri’s your responsibility now.”
The Son headed back into the room where Aislinn was, and Brodie nodded Fiona’s direction. She was holding her hands over her face and huddled into the corner. A pool of blood was forming around her as it oozed on out of her face.
“I’d leave town before Jimmy sees you. Rat my cousin out, and I’ll kill you just as I should have done years ago. Ye never saw us, and we were never here.” Brodie made clear.
The Scot freed Aislinn of the cuffs then brought her into his arms. Chibs rocked her as she cried into his chest. He would’ve given her more time but knew Jimmy was on his way, and he wasn’t about to take that risk.
“Yer alright love.” He whispered, and Brodie peeked into the bedroom.
He shook his head as Aislinn’s bare back was exposed revealing she hadn’t any clothes on. Brodie looked Fiona’s direction and sneered.
“Yer one sadistic bitch ye know that!” Brodie got a little choked up as Chibs wrapped the blanket around Aislinn and carried her out of the house and into the van.
“I got you baby…” Jax whispered as Riona was inconsolable.
“How could he be so heartless?!” She cried.
“He hardly had any reaction to what we’d been through!”
Jax hadn’t a clue what to say, and he hadn’t any advice to give. He couldn’t imagine being someone like Pepper. By no means was Jax perfect but he’d do anything for his son, anything.
“He wanted somethin’… That’s the only reason he showed his face.”
Riona thought back to her sister however and broke into sobs all over again. Jax brought her against him and rocked her. He knew there wasn’t anything he could other than be there. He prayed to God that Chibs would walk through those doors any minute, with Aislinn in his arms, safe and sound. The Lawless sisters couldn’t go through something like that again. It’d kill them. Galen’s face came to mind, and Jax gritted his teeth. He thought back to everything Galen had put his father through, and now here he was… History had a way of repeating itself. All the more reason Galen needed to be out of the picture, once and for all, him and that rapist brother of his.
Jax looked down and saw that Riona had cried herself to sleep. This had the man shaking his head in thought. If he ever got a moment alone with Pepper, he’d end up in ICU, where Nicholas should have ended up that night.
Chibs and Brodie looked to one another as Happy pulled into the SAMBEL parking lot. Aislinn was curled up in Chibs’s lap and had her face hidden.
“I’ll get her some clothes.” Brodie offered as he exited the van.
Happy and Bobby hopped on out and followed Brodie inside. Chibs lowered the blanket then caressed Aislinn’s cheek.
“I don’t want to be here anymore.” She said.
Chibs nodded in perfect understanding.
“Aye, we’ll get you and yer sister settled. I give ye my word love.”
Brodie opened the van doors then tossed a bag of clothes Chibs’s way.
“I’ll keep watch.” He said before shutting the doors again.
Chibs cleared his throat as he set the bag down. He helped Aislinn to her feet and respectfully turned his head as she got dressed.
He nodded then glanced her direction.
“Is it too much to ask everyone to leave me be? I don’t want to be bothered with questions.”
“Aye, I can do that.”
“I’m sorry about Keri…” The young woman whispered.
“Aye, so am I.”
“Are ye goin’ after her?”
“That’s in Fiona’s hands. That might sound cruel, but Ali I spent the last fifteen years thinkin’ that kid was mine. A kid that wanted nothin’ ta do with me, even after she knew the truth about the letters and Jimmy. Keri turned her back ta me. Not sure what I expected, but I have done everythin’ I could think of ta get that kid ta see the light and she just wasn’t down for hearin’ me out. Now I don’t want anythin’ ta happen ta her. But I can’t do this anymore.” Chibs sucked back the deepest of breaths then lost that battle he’d been holding onto for years.
“Scotty…” Aislinn said with a gasp as the man came to his knees and had himself a good cry.
The young woman said nothing and merely brought him against her as he let out fifteen years of utter hell.
Chibs was first to wake as he and Aislinn had fallen asleep in the van. Both had decided they just wanted to be left alone, so Chibs asked Brodie to let everyone know that Aislinn was safe and sound but needed some time and space. He also let it known that he and Aislinn didn’t wish to be bombarded with questions about the kidnapping or anything else related. Brodie teased his cousin a bit but respected their wishes and relayed the message.
The Son he was doing everything he could to get his mind off of Fiona and Keri. He had to in order to keep from going insane. Still, that guilt resided within him when he thought about Keri and what she might be going through. But like that of her mother, she made a choice. Chibs hated what he was about to do, but meant what he said. He had to put all this behind him and move on and he’d the perfect distraction right in his arms. For once, the man had to think about himself and what he wanted in life. Aislinn was a good start; only he hadn’t a clue on how to go about this. She was just as broken as he was.
Aislinn was curled up against him and with an arm wrapped around him. There was something oddly peaceful about that. It felt so natural having her against him, and he couldn’t get over her scent. That was the same scent that hit him last time. It was so intoxicating; it made his mouth water and his dick harder than ever. Once again, the man scolded himself. He felt downright pathetic as he had to keep from outright humping her. Her thigh was cushioned right against his erection, and he was throbbing all to hell. He couldn’t help it. She felt so good.
Chibs brushed her hair back with his fingers and watched as she slept. He thought back to last night when he saw this young woman in all her glory. She was breathtaking, and he remembered having to force himself back into the situation they were in. Chibs hated himself for having those thoughts, but he couldn’t control them. Here she was… cuffed to a fucking bed, his ex-wife’s doing, and all so Fiona could tempt Jimmy into giving Keri back. Yet the Scot was having sinful thoughts of his own, nothing even close to rape. But he did want her, in a bad way. There was a HUGE difference between the way Jimmy wanted her and the way Chibs wanted her. Jimmy wanted to live out his sickest fantasies, by having his way with her, whereas Chibs wanted nothing more than to make love to her, for hours on end, and wanted to be the one to show her just how good it could feel. That was a personal goal of his. First sign Aislinn gave, he’d give her just that. He vowed that much. No woman should fear sex; it just wasn’t right.
Aislinn’s entire face flushed over when she opened her eyes and saw him. The Scot gave a simple nod. The young woman was quick to rise and adjusted her blouse as she had a good amount of cleavage showing.
“Sorry…” She whispered.
“And what are ye apologizin’ for?”
“I’m sure ya got better things ta do.”
Chibs popped a cigarette into his mouth, lit it, took a drag then handed it over.
“Not really.” He murmured with a shrug and lit up another cigarette.
“Aren’t ya tired of sexless nights?” She teased, and Chibs chuckled.
“I don’t know… I slept pretty good for havin’ not hit that release valve.” He teased with a flirtatious wink.
Aislinn brought her knees up against her chest and smoked her cigarette. Chibs came to his feet and went on to crack one of the back doors open. Aislinn looked to those doors like they were a death sentence.
“Ye alright?” Chibs asked with concern.
“Riona’s gonna ask what happened and I don’t know what ta say. I’m tired of talkin’ about things that are out of my control, only this time it seems I’m just as much at fault.”
“I let my guard down. Fiona mentioned the kid and…” Aislinn shook her head in shame.
“Ye wanted ta help, and she took advantage of ye! I don’t see how that’s yer fault. If anythin’ that just shows how big of heart ye got.”
“Why would Jimmy take Keri?”
“Ta prove a point. That’s all Jimmy’s ever about. I imagine he and Fi got inta it. If he found out Fi and Keri were seekin’ MY protection that was sure to add fire ta the flame. If she questioned Jimmy about ye… That’d give him a good reason ta hold Keri over her head. She made it clear that Jimmy wanted ye in exchange.”
“How old is Keri?”
“Ya should’ve taken the offer.”
Chibs cut Aislinn a look, and the young woman sighed.
“I’ve been there. I know what ta expect. But Keri… She’s just a kid. And if that’s her real father…” Aislinn and Chibs recoiled in thought.
“Ya don’t think he’d…” Aislinn asked with a quivery lip.
“I hope not, for Keri’s sake. I can’t say what Jimmy would or wouldn’t do. Yer a fine example of how far he’s willin’ ta take things. I knew Jimmy was a lot of things, but never a rapist. He kept that shite hidden. I’m surprised he used his real name with ye.” Chibs admitted.
“We weren’t supposed to get away. I think we make the first. They weren’t countin’ on that. Did ya know Galen wanted my sister as a wife?”
“Nah, I was ta become Jimmy’s toy while Riona was Galen’s little obeyin’ wife.”
“Galen said we were special. That we were the first, he brought home.”
“Well, he sounds swell.” The way Chibs said this had Aislinn giggling.
“He really is quite the gentleman.” She witted in return.
Chibs walked on over and helped Aislinn to her feet.
“Why don’t I see what the others are up ta and I’ll make us all some breakfast.”
“Ya, cook?!” She teased, and Chibs smiled.
“Aye, I cook!”
“Well you’re just full of surprises, aren’t ya Scotty?”
Chibs was digging through the fridge and gathering enough eggs for everyone there. Aislinn came up behind him and grabbed the milk and butter. She went on to grab some salt and flour as well.
“What are ye doin’?” He asked as he grabbed the carton of eggs.
“What does it look like I’m doin’?”
“Looks like yer aboot ta make a mess!” He teased, and Aislinn sent him a ‘look.’
“Aye, you’re a funny lad, now aren’t ya?”
Chibs didn’t comment and watched as she went on to grab a bowl and measuring cup.
“I told ye I was gonna cook.”
“Aye, but thought ya could use some help. Why don’t ya get to those eggs and let me worry about the pancakes? But don’t use them all I need a few of those.”
Aislinn went on to count heads and nodded amongst herself.
“Six should do it. We got a full house.”
Chibs grabbed the measuring cup and went on to crack the eggs then handed the cup over afterward. She poured the eggs into the bowl and went on to mix the other ingredients. Bobby entered the kitchen as she and Chibs were getting breakfast prepared. He poured himself a cup of coffee then pecked Aislinn on the cheek.
“Morning!” He said, and Aislinn smiled.
“Morning.” She greeted in return.
“What are you making?” Bobby asked and went on to dip his finger into the batter.
Aislinn’s jaw dropped as he licked it off and was about to double dip. She slapped his hand away, and Bobby reared back. Chibs chuckled as he was at the stove and frying some bacon.
“Don’t ya go and put your filthy finger in my batter, Elvis!” She scolded.
“Well, that makes a first…” Bobby mocked but with a wide grin.
“Ya perv…” She uttered in return.
Bobby cleared his throat however and leaned into her ear.
“How you doing?” He whispered hintingly.
“I’m alright…” She whispered in response and Bobby nodded.
“If you need anything…” Bobby sincerely offered taking Chibs by surprise.
Aislinn stopped what she was doing and sent Bobby an appreciative nod.
“Thanks, but I’m gonna be alright.” She did her best to reassure.
Bobby patted her on the back then went about his way. Aislinn finished stirring and handed Chibs the bowl.
“I’ll find another pan.” She said as he sat the bowl down by the oven.
“Linny?” The tiny voice called, and this had Chibs and Aislinn looking that direction.
“You is back…” Abel said with a quivery lip.
Chibs thickly swallowed as the boy ran up and hugged Aislinn.
“Shhh…” Aislinn whispered as Abel got rather emotional.
“None of that love.” She said then kissed the boy’s cheek.
“The bad man take you again?”
“No love, it was just one big misunderstandin’. I was perfectly fine.”
“I sure was.”
“So where you go?”
“To have a much-needed woman to woman talk.”
Chibs shook his head on this. But he understood why Aislinn put it the way she had. She didn’t want Abel brought into all that and Abel wouldn’t understand even if he had known the truth.
Aislinn forced that smile.
“How ‘bout some chocolate milk?”
“I is okay. Riona already make me some.”
“Did she now?”
“Yeah but you can make it next time,” Abel said, and Aislinn laughed.
“I’d be honored.”
Abel nodded, and Chibs handed the boy a piece of bacon on his way out. His eyes locked with Aislinn’s afterward.
“Why are ye here… helpin’ me with breakfast?”
“What do ya mean?”
“Come on Ali… My ex-wife’s husband beat and raped ye. Then she went and kidnapped ye so he could do it all over again.”
“But he didn’t because you got there first.”
Chibs shook his head on this. Aislinn went to heat up the pan she found, only to have Chibs stop her.
“Ali…” He whispered with a hand over hers.
“Ya really want to do this?”
“Nah, but I think it’s needed.”
“No, it isn’t. What happened was just as much out of your control as it was mine. So what is there to talk about exactly? We’re just two people who have been thoroughly fucked but in different ways. Why punish ourselves by relivin’ it?”
“It isn’t about punishment, and ye know that.”
“Aye, then why don’t ya go and tell me all about this…” She pulled his tank top down, just enough to reveal the Kerrianne tattoo and the look on his face said it all.
He hadn’t a clue she even knew about that. Aislinn sent the man an apologetic glance and looked to be on the verge of tears. She placed a hand on the name then lowered her head.
“I’m sorry… Ya didn’t deserve that.” She whispered, and Chibs narrowed his eyes as she rushed on out of the kitchen.
Chibs had set a plate aside for Aislinn as she never showed for breakfast. Riona asked about her sister, and Chibs let it known that Aislinn needed a little more time. The Scot could tell it was damn near killing Riona… not knowing. But Chibs and Brodie respected Aislinn’s wishes and said nothing on it. Riona helped Chibs with the cleaning up and whatever dishes there were. She was drying one of the plates when she handed it over.
“Just tell me one thing… please.”
Chibs stopped what he was doing and looked over.
“Did Jimmy get to her?”
Riona closed her eyes and nodded.
“Give her some time. She’ll come around. I’ve a feelin’ she needs ye more than she’s lettin’ on and it’s gonna hit her like a sack of bricks when it does.” Chibs uttered.
“Linny thinks she’s helpin’ by keepin’ me out of it. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. I turned ta her with Nicholas. I just want her to trust that she came come ta me as well.”
Chibs nodded and went on to put up the plate.
“I think ye two need some time without us lads hangin’ all over ye!” He teased but was somewhat serious. He knew these girls being surrounded by men, bikers at that sure didn’t help matters. That alone would make it hard for any woman. It was one thing after another, and these two girls were thrown into the pit of it all. They hardly had the time to even talk things over, much less get anything off their chest. That’s what had him so concerned when it came to Aislinn. She was a walking time bomb, and the Scot could see it in her eyes. Aislinn was far too concerned with everyone else and what they needed. Chibs knew that was her reason for not going off about Fiona. He thought back to his own meltdown and how Aislinn was there for him.
Chibs cleared his throat in thought.
“Didn’t ye say Ali’s got a bit of a temper?”
“Aye, for sure!”
Chibs nodded as he’d seen a bit of this himself, but it was the way Aislinn dealt with it. It seemed as if this was mostly triggered when it was directed at someone she cared about and not so much herself. Chibs thought back to when she let Fiona have it and how the truth came out about Jimmy, even then it wasn’t for her own sake but Keri’s. She might have been defending her sister at first but that most certainly was more about her concern for Keri.
“Correct me if I’m wrong but that temper seems ta arise when someone’s messin’ with you or anyone else she cares about.”
“Aye, but if it’s about her…”
“She bottles it up and lets it eats her alive.” Chibs uttered, and Riona nodded.
“Well look at you… ya certainly got her pegged.”
“And where’d she get that from?” Chibs questioned with curiosity.
Riona smiled and went on to dry her hands.
“Ma… And she thought she didn’t have a lick of her in there.” Riona said with a look of pride.
“We need ta find a way for Ali ta get these things off her chest. She might’ve revealed the truth behind Jimmy, but we both know that wasn’t so much for her sake.”
Riona tilted her head on this.
“Come now love. Ali was leavin’ the room when Fiona called ye a whore then she goes and warns her about Keri after the truth is revealed.”
“Jaysus…” Riona said and looked to Chibs in utter amazement.
“How do ya do that?! You’re like the Linny encyclopedia!”
“The same way ye do it… I just pay attention. Ye knew somethin’ was wrong before anyone else did lass. That says a lot. So don’t ye go and beat yourself up over things ye can’t control. Ali meant well that’s the only reason she didn’t go and tell ye about Jimmy. She didn’t want ye to relive all that ye went through. She loves ye, and she’d rather suffer than to bring back any of those dreadful memories. I know because she told me that herself.” Chibs drew back a hesitant breath on this.
“I’m tellin’ ye. So ye’ll know, and I’m hopin’ ye’ll find a way of reachin’ out ta her.” Chibs made clear.
Riona managed to smile then hugged the hell out of him. Chibs looked to her with raised brows afterward, and Riona laughed once again.
“Forgive me…” She said and looked somewhat embarrassed by her own reaction.
“You’re just too good to be true and just what she needs. Ya’ve known her for such a short time, and it’s like ya’ve…” Riona trailed off figuring she’d embarrass him and didn’t want to ruin what could be between him and Aislinn.
“Follow me…” Chibs nodded and followed Riona into the room with all the cots.
She made her way to Aislinn’s cot and opened a lunchbox filled with napkins, paper, pens, and a couple of journals.
“This is what she does… This… This is my sister’s way of dealin’ with things, whether it be mournin’ for someone she lost, sadness, betrayal, family, friends, love…” She said with a certain beam Chibs’s direction.
“Or hate…” She said as she held up something Aislinn had written then handed it over.
His name wasn’t revealed, but even Chibs could see who this particular song was written about.
The words were very angry, and the song itself was darker than anything Chibs had ever seen in a song. This was most certainly about Jimmy. Riona picked up another paper however and held it against her heart.
“If I show you this. Ya have to promise it stays between us and that ya won’t give up on her.”
“Give up?” He questioned, and Riona nodded.
“Aye now, I can see it. You and Linny, she just doesn’t know it yet, but ya do. That’s why you’re so protective. I suppose I just want ya to know it isn’t one-sided.”
Chibs handed the one he had in exchange for the one Riona was holding. The man couldn’t help but stagger back once he read the familiar lyrics. It was the song she sang the other night only his name was written above the actual song. He thought back to what Jax had said Come on brother, that song was meant for someone.
“That’s her version of the Radiohead song, but I need ya ta promise ya won’t say a word on what you’re about ta see next.”
Riona hurried over to the door and locked it.
“Look on the back.”
Chibs turned to the page and saw the lyrics and chorus Aislinn had jotted down. The song wasn’t complete, but a good chunk of it was written.
“She’s never written a song about a man before.” Riona drew back a breath and shook her head.
“I probably shouldn’t have shown ya that. But ya don’t understand… My sister, everythin’ she writes and sings comes from here.” She pointed to her heart and Chibs nodded.
“That’s what I meant by not givin’ up on her. She can be a downright arse and stubborn as hell. She’s gonna punish herself by tryin’ to push ya away because as you can see… She feels undeservin’ of your affections. Leave it to Linny to fall in love and beat herself up over it.”
Chibs sighed amongst himself and sat down as he reread the lyrics to both songs. She’d go on to praise him, but she’d cut herself down. Riona sat on the cot before him and decided to break the tension a bit.
“Maybe we should let her join a metal band for a bit. Aye? Get those frustrations of hers out, and she could vent about Jimmy!” Riona teased behind tears, and Chibs lifted his eyes on this.
Normally, he would’ve laughed, but he felt as if Aislinn had him pegged wrong. He wasn’t worth all she was putting into these lyrics, or so he thought. That and he never realized just how down on herself Aislinn was. Whereas he saw a breathtaking and very talented young woman, Aislinn thought she’d never amount to anything and wasn’t anything special.
“Penny for your thoughts? You’re makin’ me nervous.”
Chibs cleared his throat then handed the paper back.
“I’m not this man…” He whispered with a touch of fear in his eyes.
“Yes, you are,” Riona said, and Chibs took notice of how American the girl sounded then. It was as if her accent temporarily faded away.
“To Linny you are. Trust me when I say that’s a big deal. So don’t ya go doubtin’ yourself now. Ya wouldn’t have if I hadn’t shown ya these.” Riona said with a regretful sigh.
“I’m sorry… It wasn’t my place.” She said, and her hands trembled as she put everything away.
“I’m glad ye showed me.” Chibs wholeheartedly put and Riona’s eyes locked with his.
“I don’t know what I’m doin’ Chibs. I broke my sister’s trust by showin’ ya these. She doesn’t even know I read them.” Riona shook her head.
“But at times I feel as if that’s the only way of truly knowin’ her. When I read these…”
“You feel a connection.” He finished.
“Aye, that’s it.”
Chibs leaned back in thought.
“Yer metal band idea might not be that far off from the truth. If this is how she expresses herself…”
Riona snorted in thought, but Chibs wasn’t exactly joking. Maybe something like this was what Aislinn needed if she was happiest on that stage. Why not use it to express her anger as well?
“So I just need ta break down those protective walls of hers, aye?” Chibs uttered, and Riona nodded.
“I’m gonna need a sledgehammer and lots of booze.” Chibs taunted as to his way of letting Riona know he was still very much interested in her sister and nothing about that had changed.
Sure, seeing himself through Aislinn’s eyes had him somewhat troubled but only out of fear of disappointing her. He’d never forgive himself if he went and broke her heart and all because he was nowhere near what she thought.
“See?! Ya got it!” Riona teased, and Chibs laughed.
Chibs grabbed Aislinn’s plate then headed towards the room where she was. He could hear her strumming on her guitar and peeked inside. The woman was propped up against the table and softly singing to herself as she played a few notes. It sounded as if she were in the midst of writing a song. She’d strum a few notes then reach over and write something down in her journal.
“Ya need somethin’ Scotty?” She called, and Chibs entered the room.
“If you’re goin’ ta stalk someone ya should do a better job.”
“I’ll keep that in mind darlin’.”
“Thought ye might be hungry…”
Aislinn smiled then went back to plucking. Chibs made his way over, and Aislinn lifted her eyes. They locked with his, and the Scot gave a simple nod.
“Well, ye gonna play somethin’ or not?”
“I thought ya didn’t want ta hear me play again!”
“Changed my mind. Could be interestin’…” He hinted, and Aislinn drew back a breath on this.
“Depends on what ya mean by interestin’.”
“Ye’ll see just play.” He said then leaned against the table with his arms folded about his chest.
“You’re puttin’ me on the spot, Scotty.” That blush of hers returned, and Chibs chuckled.
“Not meanin’ ta love. Close yer eyes and pretend I’m not even here.”
I must’ve dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They’re moving into the street
Now did you read the news today?
They say, the danger’s gone away
But I can see the fire’s still alight
There burning into the night
There’s too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go ’round
Can’t you see, this is a land of confusion?
This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in
Ooh Superman, where are you now?
When everything’s gone wrong somehow
The men of steel and men of power
Are losing control by the hour
This is the time; this is the place
So we look for the future
But there’s not much love to go ’round
Tell me why this is a land of confusion?
This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in
I remember long ago
Ooh, when the sun was shining
Yes, and the stars were bright
All through the night
And the sound of your laughter
As I held you tight, so long ago
I won’t be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We’re not just making promises
That we know, we’ll never keep
Too many men, there’s too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go ’round
Can’t you see, this is a land of confusion?
Now this is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth fighting for
This is the world we live in
And these are the names we’re given
Stand up and let’s start showing
Just where our lives are going to
Chibs just stood there as he was at a loss for words. This girl blew him away every time she sang and this time wasn’t any different. Aislinn set her guitar down and gave a simple nod.
“Fuck it.” The Scot uttered and took the young woman by surprise when he lifted her up on the table and kissed her.
Aislinn wrapped her arms around him and was kissing him in return. The kiss grew rather intense as Chibs was pressed up against her and moving about suggestively. He knew they couldn’t go there, just yet. But he wanted her to feel him. What he wouldn’t give to yank those little jeans of hers down and have himself one hell of a marathon. Chibs forced himself to stop then put his forehead to hers for a moment.
“Scotty…” Aislinn called, and he lifted his head to see she was crying.
“Ali love, don’t let those fears take ye over.” He whispered and was quick to wipe her tears away with his thumbs.
“Ya barely know me…” She said, and Chibs knew this was her way of doing what Riona said she would do.
“Aye, but I already know what I want.”
“Do ya now?” She challenged.
“I think ye want this too. That’s what has ye so threatened. I can feel and smell ye.” He hinted as to her own arousal.
Aislinn blushed in response.
“What if you regret it?” She timidly asked.
Chibs kissed along her neck and shoulders. Her scent was giving him that heady feeling all over again.
“I won’t.” He said and truly meant it.
He hadn’t any doubt now. He knew Aislinn was the one. The Scot was never this confident with Fiona or anyone else. This hit him like a slap in the face, and he couldn’t ignore it.
“Ali love, we don’t hafta do anythin’. I won’t go there until you’re ready. I just wanted that kiss.”
“Because I’m tired of holdin’ back. Let’s not let Jimmy or Fiona win. That’s not fair ta either of us.”
“You’re only sayin’ that because ya want a shot.”
Chibs chuckled on this.
“Aye, I do. But no, that’s not the reason. I wantcha ta see that we’re not all the same. So let me be the one to show you that.”
“I never said ya were.”
“No, but yer expectin’ it. That’s why ye’ve never been in a serious relationship.”
“So ya know me now, is that it?”
“Aye, I do. Yer gonna fight me on this, just as ye have any other man. But I’m gonna keep on showin’ ye until you finally cave. Believe me, lass, I’m not usually down for the chase. But for you, I’ll make an exception.” Chibs dropped his hold then went on to adjust her blouse.
“And what if I don’t have time for trivial things like love?!” Aislinn cruelly put, and Chibs knew this was just another way of testing him.
“Ye’ve heard the term ain’t no fury like a woman scorned…” Chibs uttered, and Aislinn shrugged like she was the least bit offended.
“Look at me; I’m a mess. Ya’ve done seen me at my worst… No man wants to touch that…” She hinted as to being raped, and Chibs shook his head in disagreement.
He cupped her chin then looked her in the eyes.
“Any man can see how beautiful ye are, but it takes a real man ta see how remarkable ye are. The bad things that happen in life don’t have to define us.” Chibs pointed to his own scars in reminder. Whereas his were permanent, hers weren’t. In fact, he was confident she was already healing and would be back to herself before long.
“Yer so much more than that darlin’ and ye know it.”
“I don’t know how to love… I don’t know if I ever will.”
“Now I never said anythin’ about bein’ in love. Yer movin’ way too fast. I barely know ye!” He mocked with a playful wink and Aislinn managed to give a tearful laugh.
The Scot was full of shit and knew it. He was most certainly in love. That’s what had him gunning to snatch her up before someone else did. He just knew Brodie was going to somehow pull that off but was relieved to find that wasn’t the case. That and despite what Aislinn said, he knew she felt the same. It was in those lyrics and whatever anxiety those lyrics might have caused; he was thankful Riona showed him. That’s what had him braving it up and taking that chance.
“Can’t we just enjoy each other’s company, without worryin’ about all that mess?” He said deciding to play along.
“Can we?” She challenged in return.
“Aye, ye know I’m up for the challenge, love!”
“And by company ya mean…”
“Havin’ ourselves a little fun and just seein’ where it takes us. I’m not proposin’ Ali, so quit actin’ as if I’m aboot ta pull out a ring or somethin’. I just wanna get ta know ya. You know what they call that, right?”
Aislinn narrowed her eyes, and the Scot sighed.
“Do hafta spell everythin’ out for ye? It’s datin’. That’s all I’m wantin’, just a shot. Let me take ye out a few times and see how things go. And if it’s okay with ye, I’d like ta hold ye from time ta time, maybe steal a kiss or two. And IF the time ever comes…” He hinted.
“I’ll take it slow. If ye want me to stop, I’ll stop. But I won’t lie, I hope we reach that point one day because I feel like I could show you that not everythin’ hurts.” Chibs cleared his throat as the conversation was slightly uncomfortable, but he felt the need to get his feelings across. He knew this was a relationship where he wouldn’t be getting laid, not for quite some time. She had to heal physically as well as emotionally.
“Things of that nature… It’s supposed ta feel good.”
Aislinn thought back to how it felt and recoiled.
“Nothin’ about that felt good.”
Chibs pulled her into his arms and kissed the top of her head as the young woman was in sobs.
“Ye just need some time. The right partner will come around, and ye’ll see.”
“Ya mean you.” She rather mocked, and Chibs let out a nervous laugh.
“Ye like puttin’ me on the spot, dontcha?!”
“If I’m ta be honest… Aye, I’d like to be givin’ that chance. But I would never force anythin’. It’s like I told ye. That’s somethin’ we’ll cross later. Right now, I just want ta get to know ye. Cantcha just be my girl for a bit?”
“For a bit, ya?”
“Alright, but just for a bit.”
Chibs chuckled on this.
“Alright, but that means ye hafta let ole Bobby down easy.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“So can I tell ye things like how beautiful ye are?”
“I suppose…” She teasingly grumbled, and Chibs chuckled.
“Alright, I’m gonna try it.”
Aislinn raised her brows on this.
“Well not right now. The timing isn’t right. And yer expectin’ it!”
Aislinn died of laughter, and Chibs smiled. He placed a strand of hair behind her ear and whispered: “ye really are beautiful.” He kissed her once again, and the two were lost in that kiss when someone grabbed ahold of Chibs and shoved him back against the wall. Chibs looked at the man before him and was just about to unleash the angry Scotsman within when he heard…
Chibs narrowed his eyes in question as the man was quick to shush the young woman with a single finger pressed against her lips. He went on shut the door then locked it behind him.
“What are ya doin’?!” Aislinn questioned in disbelief.
“I’m not supposed to be here, so I need you to hear me out, kid.”
“Hear ya out…?!”
The man nodded but peered back and was looking to Chibs.
“How old are you?!” Pepper asked.
“PA! NOW YA JUST LEAVE HIM ALONE!” Aislinn scolded and sent Chibs an apologetic glance.
“SHHHH!” Pepper hissed and went to clamp a hand over her mouth only to have her knock it out of the way.
“I can’t believe you were kissing that guy.” He harshly whispered.
Chibs was taken back to find her that father was American or he had an American accent at least.
“He’s damn near my age! Did I cause you that much of a daddy issue?!”
Aislinn’s jaw dropped. She pushed her father back then hopped on down from the table. Chibs kept a hand along his holster where his gun was, just in case. The man took Aislinn by the arm and led her into a corner away from Chibs. This had the Scot on edge, and he was inching his way towards them. Father or not he didn’t trust this guy, not after everything he heard and damn sure not with the way he was acting.
“First off, how are you?”
“How am I?!”
“Keep it down Ash.”
The young woman shook her head.
“I told you not to call me that, and I’m fine…” She said through gritted teeth.
“That’s good baby. I’m glad they managed to find you. I was worried sick.”
“Sure ya were.”
“You know I was.”
“No. I don’t.”
“It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. You girls weren’t even supposed to be home. I…”
“Ya spent the money Riona gave ya, instead of payin’ them off. So they came after us.”
Pepper shook his head, and Aislinn took both men by surprise when she hauled off and slapped her father. Pepper gawked at his daughter in disbelief and held a hand against his cheek.
“Ash…” he pleaded, and the young woman shook her head.
“I wish ya had died instead of ma. I can’t even stand ta lookatcha. Even now, I can see it in your eyes. You’re not here for me. You’re here because ya want somethin’. How’d ya even get in here?”
“Tell me how you really feel.” Pepper drunkenly put.
“I just did. Now, what do ya need?”
“I just need a few bucks. I haven’t eaten anything in days and…”
“Ya haven’t eaten, but ya smell like ya drank the entire bar!”
“Wouldn’t you? Riona told me what they did to you. I’m so sorry. I…”
“Aye, you’re sorry.”
Aislinn gave a simple nod. She took her guitar and smashed it against the table. She handed her father the remains. Then she went on to break her fiddle and gave him those as well. She dug into her pocket and stuffed whatever money she had on her into his shirt pocket.
“There. That ought to hold ya over. Would ya like me to claw me heart out as well and hand it over?”
“I bought you that fiddle…” Pepper uttered, and Aislinn nodded.
“I know. It was the only thing ya ever gave me that was worth anythin’.”
“You loved that fiddle.”
“Aye, but I have no love for the man that gave it ta me.”
Aislinn went to walk away, and Pepper dropped everything. He reached out and took his daughter by the hand.
“IT’S AISLINN!” She shouted, and Pepper recoiled.
“Ya can’t even tell me that ya love me. Ya didn’t even hug me. All ya wanted was somethin’ out of me. If it weren’t for Riona, I’d have shut down a long time ago. I hate lookin’ myself in the mirror and seein’ you. But I was never as clever or as beautiful as ma. Riona got all them traits. And here I am… I’m stuck with your drunkard arse, and at times I want nothin’ more than ta slit my own throat!”
“You used to be proud of that!” Pepper snapped in response.
“Aye, when I had a pa I could be proud of. But that man died right along with ma, and I haven’t seen him since.”
“I’m still here.”
“Nah… Ya might take his form, but you’re not him. My father would die before hurtin’ his girls like this.”
“I never meant to…”
Aislinn walked on out of the room and Pepper made the mistake of following. Before Riona or anyone else could even react, Aislinn grabbed a beer bottle. She smashed it up against a table, pivoted around then took that bottle to her father’s gut and looked him in the eyes while doing so.
“LINNY?!” Riona shouted and Chibs recoiled as the look on Aislinn’s face said it all.
She meant it but was shocked at what she’d done. Aislinn yanked the bottle out then looked to it as she staggered back.
“Pa…” she said while shaking her head.
Pepper clamped his hands along the area then came to his knees. Riona was quick to grab her sister. She pried the bottle out of her sister’s hold then planted her hands along her face.
“Linny love, look at me.”
Aislinn had that stunned look about her still. Riona was doing whatever she could to bring her sister back.
“BRODIE!” She screamed, and Brodie darted on over.
Brodie reached out, and Aislinn shoved him back.
“DON’T TOUCH ME!”
“Aislinn…” Brodie called in disbelief.
Aislinn backed herself up against the wall and was leaving a trail of her father’s blood along it. She looked as though everyone was about to attack her at any given moment. She headed outside the clubhouse, and Riona cut her father a look of absolute hell.
“I TOLD YA TO STAY AWAY FROM HER!” Riona shouted as she grabbed her jacket and took off after her sister.
Chibs grabbed Pepper by the nape of his neck then dragged him towards the door.
“Grab my medical bag.” He said, and Half-Sack was quick to grab it then followed them out.
Chibs shoved Pepper onto one of the benches and went to care for his wound. Pepper took a swing at him, however, and Chibs was quick to send him a good blow in return.
“Ye want ta bleed at death! Fine by me!” Chibs scolded but not before taking the money Aislinn had given her father back. The Scot placed it into his pocket then spit in the man’s face.
“If ye can afford a bottle of scotch. Ye can afford ta get ye somethin’ ta eat. You’re not gonna sponge off those girls.”
“And who are you to tell me what me what to do. Those are my girls!”
Half-Sack’s jaw dropped when Chibs took his gun then put it to Pepper’s crotch.
“I’m the man that’s goin’ ta take yer ability ta have any more children away. It’s more than obvious ye aren’t fit ta be anyone’s father.”
Chibs looked to Half-Sack.
“Take my wallet out.”
Half-Sack had this puzzled look but grabbed the chain connecting to Chibs’s wallet.
“Take out a couple bills.”
Half-Sack did as Chibs requested.
“Now hand them to this miserable piece of shite.”
The prospect handed the money over, and Pepper looked to it in confusion.
“I don’t care whatcha do with it. Ye can eat, or ye can drink yourself into oblivion. Just stay away from those girls. I don’t wantcha in their life ever again.”
“Funny, I think we had this same conversation,” Jax said as he had made his way over as well.
He blew a ring of smoke into Pepper’s face.
“We’ll hunt you down and skin you alive.” Jax made clear.
Pepper looked up to see Bobby, Happy, and Juice standing amongst them as well now. The three of them nodded as if to say they were backing Jax and Chibs up on this. Pepper shook his head in defeat then pocketed the money.
“If ye were smart, ye’d go and get that looked at.” Chibs pointed to the wound Aislinn had given him.
“I’m not aboot ta patch ye up. I got better things ta do with my time; savin’ yer sorry arse isn’t one of them.”
Jax grabbed Pepper by the arm then forced him into his truck. Jax slammed the door shut then waved him off.
The boys looked over to see Riona and Aislinn hugging one another and having themselves a good cry. Chibs placed a hand along Brodie’s shoulder as he looked lost on what to say or do.
“Just a bad time. Wouldn’t take it personal.” Chibs whispered as to Aislinn yelling at him.
“Aye, but I think it’s time I went about my way. I’ll make sure Pepper gets his sorry arse home. Ye’ve got this covered. Take care of them, alright? It was good… seein’ ye again.”
Chibs and Brodie hugged it out, and Brodie was about to leave when Aislinn called out to him. Brodie spun around, and Aislinn had this shameful look about her.
“I’m sorry, Brodie. I…”
Brodie smiled then made his way over. He kissed her forehead then gave her hand a bit of a squeeze.
“Take care of yourself lass. I love ye and that bratty sister of yers.”
“Brat?! I think we know who the brat is amongst the three of us.” Riona taunted.
Brodie hugged them both then took off.
Riona escorted her sister back into the clubhouse and into the ladies room. She helped her sister get their father’s blood off her hands and clothes.
“Maybe ya should shower…” Riona suggested, and Aislinn regarded herself in the mirror.
“I can bring ya a towel and some clothes.”
“Am I really like pa?” Aislinn whispered, and Riona sighed as she glanced at her sister’s reflection.
“Ya are, but you’re the best parts of him. The way he was before ma died. I don’t wantcha to lose that Linny. You’re all we have left of him.”
“Don’t let me become that…” Aislinn pleaded, and her sister forced a smile.
“Linny love, no matter how much I tease ya. Ya’d never become that. Ya’ve got too big a heart to let that take ya down. Despite what ya think ya got ma in there as well.”
Riona exited the bathroom and Aislinn stripped down and got the shower ready. She heard a knock on the door but before she could even reply the door opened. The president of SAMCRO nodded her direction as he entered the bathroom then locked the door behind him.
“What are ya doin’?” Aislinn asked and was quick to cover herself behind the shower stall.
“I think we need to go over some ground rules…”
“Think we can do that when I’m dressed?!”
“Trust me I’ve seen it all. Not that big of a deal so don’t flatter yourself, sweetheart. You’re like a beanpole with tits, unlike your sister who’s nice and curvy.”
Aislinn’s jaw dropped, and Clay chuckled.
“Relax, I’m not going to try anything. But this is the only way I can catch you alone.”
Clay regarded her reflection through the mirror so he could get a better look. Aislinn took notice and locked herself in one of the stalls.
“A little dramatic, don’t you think?!” He said while rolling his eyes.
“Look, what you pulled with the old man? I get it, but you can’t be pulling that kind of shit on these grounds.”
Clay went on to give Aislinn the one on one, but she hadn’t heard a word of it. The girl was hyperventilating and picturing the worst. She just knew this guy was about to have his way with her. She was curled up in the corner of the stall and rocking back and forth. Jimmy’s words replayed in that head of hers. All she could hear was how rough he liked it and how she wasn’t screaming loud enough. Aislinn sucked back a breath and covered her ears.
“GIVE ME A MINUTE!” Clay hollered as someone was banging on the bathroom door.
The minute Riona heard the SAMCRO president’s voice she marched right on up to Jax.
“What is your prez doin’ in the ladies room with my sister?!”
Chibs overheard this as he and Juice were having a couple of shots at the bar. Before Jax could even react, Chibs was marching his way over. The Scot took his fist to that door and banged on it like there was no tomorrow.
“I SAID GIVE ME A FUCKING MINUTE!” Clay shouted.
“AYE, WOULD YE LIKE THAT MINUTE WITH A BULLET IN YOUR ARSE OR FACE BECAUSE I CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE AS OF LATE!” Chibs hollered back, and within a matter of seconds, that door opened.
Chibs gave a simple nod, and he rushed Clay on out of the bathroom. He would’ve beaten his ass if he wasn’t so concerned about Aislinn.
“Ali?” He called as he could hear her but couldn’t see her.
Chibs looked in the shower, but that’s when he picked up on her legs in the next stall. He softly knocked.
“He’s gone, love.”
The man recoiled as this girl’s breathing was erratic. There was no way she even heard him. Chibs managed to jimmy the door to the stall open. The girl had her face buried between her knees and was covering herself best she could.
“Ali…” he whispered hoping not to startle her as he carefully approached.
“I’m gonna pick ye up alright?”
Chibs scooped her up off the ground then carried her on out of the stall. She was freezing to the touch. But it was the way she clung to him that had the man taken back. He hadn’t expected that at all. She had her face buried in his chest, and her breathing started to slow down. Chibs couldn’t believe the night and day difference. The Scot knew he was the only one that could get away with this. Something about that was even more meaningful. He knew this girl put all her trust into him. That was saying a lot considering everything she’d been through. The Scot sat her down on the counter and simply held her.
Jax gave no warning whatsoever. The Son grabbed his president by the collar then got right in his face.
“JUST WHAT IN THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!” Jax shouted, and Riona pushed her way past the two men and went to check on her sister.
She entered the room to find her naked sister in Chibs’s arms. Riona swallowed back at the rather intimate scene between the two. There was nothing sexual about it. Still, she felt as if she’d interrupted something. Chibs sent Riona an apologetic glance and was about to explain himself. Riona smiled and gave a simple nod before laying the towel and her sister’s clothes down. She exited the ladies room knowing her sister was in good hands.
Riona strutted right up to the prez then pointed his direction.
“If ya ever disrespect my sister like that again…”
“YOU’LL WHAT?!” Clay angrily challenged, and Jax gritted his teeth.
“Well go on… Tell me girlie, just what are you gonna do? I’m your ticket out of here, remember?! If I were you, I’d be asking when to jump and how fucking high! You and your sister have caused a lot of drama as of late. I don’t need that shit around here, much less back in the states. If you’re going to hitch a ride with us, you had best behave and do as you’re told. I don’t play games.”
“Neither do I. We both know the real reason ya went in there. It’s the same reason ya walked in on me.”
Jax reared back on this news and Riona nodded.
“That’s right. I was comin’ out of the shower when he decided he had ta take a piss, in the ladies room. Saw me in all my glory and didn’t even bother to look away. He just smiled and went about his merry way like it was nothin’! He threatened me afterward. Told me not to tell a soul or me and Aislinn would be back on that farm and handed to Galen personally.”
Jax couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and he wasn’t the only one. SAMBEL and SAMCRO were looking to Clay in shock.
“HEY!” Jax shouted as his president had Riona pinned up against the wall and with his arm pressed against her throat.
“Grandpa?” They heard as Jax was in attempts to pry his president off of Riona.
Clay was quick to drop his hold and turned to see Abel looking at him with a quivery lip.
“Why’s you hurt my bestest friends?!” Abel cried, and the man recoiled.
“Abel…” Clay started to call, and Jax shoved him back as he was headed for Abel.
“You’re not going anywhere near my son or my old lady!” Jax warned as he went on to check Riona over.
Riona, however, was blown away by Jax’s claim. Sure, they decided to give this a go but actually hearing Jax refer to her as his old lady gave her this odd sense of pride. It was the way he said it too. It was possessive yet protective all the same.
Everyone in the room was looking to Clay in disbelief, even that of Tig.
“You can’t tell me to stay away from my grandson.”
Jax half laughed and gestured for Juice to take Abel with him. Juice gave a simple nod and carried Abel into another room.
“He’s not your grandson. I’ve made that clear before. He will always be JT’s.”
“Still whinin’ about that son?”
Jax drew back the deepest of breaths then closed his eyes for a brief moment.
“First off, I’m not your son. Second, if you weren’t married to my mother, you wouldn’t have anything to do with my son. Any relationship you two have is what I ALLOW and ONLY for my mother’s sake. You might be my prez, but my father is the one that founded this club, and he should be the one at the gavel, even now.”
“I see. You still think I have something to do with the old man’s death.”
“Oh, I know you do, and I’ll bring you down, first chance I get. Mark my words, that gavel will be mine. I will finish out my father’s legacy and the day you die; I’m going to piss on your remains. Don’t come near my son or the Lawless sisters again.”
“You didn’t have a patch last time I checked. Maybe you’re letting that old presidency get to your head. Do we need to have another vote and have your ass booted kid?!
“Oh, you can have a vote. But I’d be careful; you might lose your patch in the process.” Jax said while wrapping his arm around Riona protectively.
He flipped his president off then headed into the room where his son and Juice were.
Chibs kept watch by the door and was doing his best to be respectful as Aislinn showered. He wasn’t about to leave this room.
“Could ya hand me my towel?” She shyly asked.
Chibs averted his eyes as he handed the towel over. He hadn’t meant to catch a glimpse of her reflection through the mirror. The Scot found it hard to look away but forced himself to do so.
“Is your president always like that?” She asked while drying off.
“Fraid so. Sorry love. He didn’t touch ye did he?”
“Nah, just said some rather cruel things…”
“Apparently I’m a bean pole with tits and my sister’s nice and curvy.” She said with a smile and went on to brush her hair.
Chibs shook his head on this. That was so far from the truth. Both sisters were lovely in their own ways. Chibs just happened to take more of a liking to Aislinn, which was rather odd considering his usual taste when it came to women, would’ve been someone more like her sister. Chibs liked a curvy woman and the bigger the breasts, the better. But when looking at the sisters side by side, Aislinn had the man mesmerized each and every time. This girl had a smaller frame and was a couple of inches shorter than that of her sister. Chibs put Aislinn around a b, maybe a c cup. But that milky-white Irish skin of hers only added to the appeal. Those pouty pink lips of hers didn’t help him any. The man swallowed back in thought. This girl had become his new preference. Aislinn Lawless was all he could think about now, as to why it pissed him off knowing what Clay had pulled.
“So he took a gander…” The Scot uttered looking rather miffed.
Aislinn didn’t comment.
“He’s wrong, and he knows it, or he wouldn’t have been so eager to lookatcha. He wanted to knock ye down a few pegs before doin’ so. There ain’t nothin’ wrong with ye darlin’!”
“It’s okay, Scotty. I’m used to men flockin’ towards my sister. She is beautiful.”
“Whether that’s true or not, love, those aren’t the men worth knowin’…” He said before exiting the room so she could get dressed.
(Be a good sport by leaving your comment/review or a simple like, if you dug the chapter. To those that might be wondering… I will be focusing on BOTH relationships equally off and on as they are my key interest in the story. But some chapters require more with one particular couple than the other at times depending on the situation. And yes, more flashbacks to come for certain!)