THERE ARE LIES in life we accept. Whether it’s for the sake of ignorance, bliss or, in my case, survival, we all make our choices.
I choose to belong to the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club. I choose to work for the security company associated with them. I also choose to do this while still in high school.
All of this boils down to one choice in particular—whether or not to believe my father’s version of a lie or the town’s. I chose my father’s lie. I chose the brotherhood of the club.
What I haven’t chosen? Being harassed by the man invading my front porch. He’s decked out in a pair of pressed khakis and a button-down straight from a mall window. The real question—is he here by choice or did he draw the short stick?
“As I said, son,” he continues, “I’m not here to talk to your dad. I’m here to see you.”
A hot August wind blows in from the thick woods surrounding our house, and sweat forms on the guy’s skin. He’s too cocky to be nervous, so that dumps the blame of his shiny forehead on the 110-degree heat index.
“You and I,” he adds, “we need to talk.”
My eyes flash to the detective badge hanging on the guy’s hip and then to his dark blue unmarked Chevy Caprice parked in front of my motorcycle in the gravel drive. Twenty bucks he thinks he blocked me in. Guess he underestimated I’ll ride on the grass to escape.
This guy doesn’t belong to our police force. His plates suggest he’s from Jefferson County. That’s in the northern part of Kentucky. I live in a small town where even the street hustlers and police know each other by name. This man—he’s an outsider.
I flip through my memory for anything that would justify his presence. Yeah, I stumbled into some brawls over the summer. A few punches thrown at guys who didn’t keep their mouths sealed or keep their inflated egos on a leash, but nothing that warrants this visit.
A bead of water drips from my wet hair onto the worn gray wood of the deck and his eyes track it. I’m fresh from a shower. Jeans on. Black boots on my feet. No shirt. Hair on my head barely pushed around by a towel.
The guy checks out the tats on my chest and arms. Most of it is club designs, and it’s good for him to know who he’s dealing with. As of last spring, I officially became a member of the Reign of Terror. If he messes with one of us, he messes with us all.
“Are you going to invite me in?” he asks.
I thought the banging on the door was one of my friends showing to ride along with me to senior orientation, not a damned suit with a badge.
“You’re not in trouble,” he says, and I’m impressed he doesn’t shuffle his feet like most people do when they arrive on my doorstep. “As I said, I want to talk.”
I maintain eye contact longer than most men can manage. Silence doesn’t bother me. There’s a ton you can learn about a person from how they deal with the absence of sound. Most can’t handle uncomfortable battles for dominance, but this guy stands strong.
Without saying a word, I walk into the house and permit the screen door to slam in his face. I cross the room, grab my cut off the table, then snatch a black Reign of Terror T-shirt off the couch. I shrug into the shirt as I step onto the porch and shut the storm door behind me.
The guy watches me intently as I slip on the black leather cut that contains the three-piece patch of the club I belong to. Because of the way I’m angled, he can get a good look at our emblem on the back: a white half skull with fire raging out of the eyes and drops of fire raining down around it. The words Reign of Terror are mounted across the top. The town’s name, Snowflake, is spelled on the bottom rocker.
He focuses on the patch that informs him I’m packing a weapon. His hand edges to the gun holstered on his belt. He’s weighing whether I’m carrying now or if I’m gun free.
I cock a hip against the railing and hitch my thumbs in the pockets of my jeans. If he’s going to talk, it would be now. He glances at the closed door, then back at me. “This is where we’re doing this?”
“I’ve got somewhere to be.” And I’m running late. “Didn’t see a warrant on you.” So by law, he can’t enter.
A grim lift of his mouth tells me he understands I won’t make any of this easy. He’s around Dad’s age, mid to late forties. He gave his name when I opened the door, but I’ll admit to not listening.
He scans the property and he has that expression like he’s trying to understand why someone would live in a house so small. The place is a vinyl box. Two bedrooms. One bath. A living room–kitchen combo. Possibly more windows than square footage.
Dad said this was Mom’s dream. A house just big enough for us to live in. She never desired large, but she craved land. When I was younger, she used to hug me tight and explain it was more important to be free than to be rich. I sure as hell hope Mom feels free now.
An ache ripples through me, and I readjust my footing. I pray every damn day she found some peace.
“I drove a long way to see you,” he says.
Don’t care. “Could have called.”
“I did. No one answered.”
I hike one shoulder in a “you’ve got shit luck.” Dad and I aren’t the type to answer calls from strangers. Especially ones with numbers labeled Police. There are some law enforcement officers who are cool, but most of them are like everyone else—they judge a man with a cut on his back as a psychotic felon.
I don’t have time for stupidity.
“I’m here about your mother.” The asshole knows he has me when my eyes snap to his.