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“Bear?” I asked. Despite being surrounded by water my throat was dry and scratchy, my words came out like I’d been in the desert for months breathing in sand. “How are you here?”

“No, you’ll answer my questions first,” Bear said, peering down at me like he’d never seen me before in his life. “Don’t worry about where you are or how I’m here. You need to be more concerned about telling me why you’re here and who sent you.” Trails of water ran down his face, dripping off of the bottom of his beard which was much longer than I remembered it being. He brushed some of the wet hair from my forehead. I jerked away from his touch, my body still in full panic mode.

Remembering the prodding on my back I looked down to where his jeans bulged. Bear’s eyes followed mine. “Can’t help that. All my cock knows is that I’m in the shower with someone who has a pussy.” I lifted my hands to cover my naked breasts, suddenly all too aware of my nakedness, but thankful I was still wearing my shorts.

My muscles felt like rubber that had been melting in the heat of the sun like a tire in the middle of the highway.

Used, spent, hot, useless.

Broken.

Bear wanted to know why I was there.

Why was I there?

Something had happened before I went to the MC. Before Chop. But my brain was foggy and I couldn’t see the images of the day that were just beyond my grasp.

“I don’t understand,” I said. This time when I spoke I felt a tug at the corner of my lip. I touched the spot with my fingertips, discovering a soft scab over a fresh wound.

“You don’t remember going to the MC?” Bear asked, raising a brow. I don’t know who the man sitting in front of me was because there was none of the charm and carefreeness that practically dripped off of the Bear from seven years ago. This man was like a vacant version of his younger self.

I closed my eyes and dropped my forehead to my knees. “I remember riding my bike. I remember the rain. I remember going up to the gate. A prospect named…Pick? Peck? No, Pecker let me in.”

“Never liked that little twat,” Bear scoffed.

Why did I go to the MC?

Think, Thia. Think. Why are you with Bear right now?

The images I’d been reaching for began to flash in my mind like Polaroid pictures being thrown into a stack, each one containing a flash of memory, one after the other.

My mother sitting in the rocking chair in Jesse’s old room.

The gun in her hand.

My father’s lifeless body.

The shotgun in my hand.

My mother’s blood against the white of the side of the house.

I gasped as the photos began to stack up higher and higher, filling my brain with images I never wanted to see again. This couldn’t be real. I had to be dead. Mama was right. I was going to hell. Because that’s exactly where it felt like I was.

My stomach rolled. Acid and bile rose in my throat. I covered my mouth with my hand.

“Hey! You still in there? Come back,” Bear asked, sounding like a far away echo as the pictures kept flashing in my brain.

A river of blood.

So much blood.

Bear grabbed hold of my shoulders and began shaking me. “Whose blood? What the fuck are you talking about?”

“I killed my mother!” I blurted, leaning over the side of the tub just in time to heave the little I had left in my stomach into the porcelain toilet. “That’s why…that’s why I came to see you.” I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, opening the scab on my lip, fresh blood and vomit streaked my skin. “I…I killed her.”

Bear turned the shower off and leaned over me, grabbing his phone off the top of the toilet tank. “Where?” he asked, pressing a button on the phone. The screen lit up and he held it to his ear. “Damn it girl. Where?”

“Where what?” I asked into the toilet.

“Where? As in where is your mom’s body? Where is she right fucking now?” he asked angrily, sliding me forward so he could stand up.

My mother’s body.

“Uh. Um she’s…” I said, trying to catch my breath long enough to not be sick again. “Home. She’s home. In Jessep.” Without the hot water against my skin I started to shake violently. The skin on my fingers ached they were so pruned.

“Ray, is King up there?” he barked into the phone. “Tell him to get his ass down here.” He pressed a button on the phone and tossed it onto the counter. He stood, lifting me up under my shoulders as he stepped over the rim of the tub and onto the tile. He closed the lid on the toilet and set me down on it. Tearing a towel from the wall rack he tossed it to me and I immediately wrapped it around my shoulders.

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