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Maybe for the very last time.

I whisper back to her and can only hope that she can still hear me.

“Bye, Nikki.”

Chapter Seven

King

“What exactly did the fucking thing say again?” Bear asked.

“Here,” I said, flinging the envelope across the room. It landed on the floor. Bear reached down and unfolded the paper I wish I’d never received. He muttered as he read through the lengthy letter from the state informing me that since I didn’t qualify for guardianship of Max, that they would like to put her up for adoption. They’d already had an interested family reach out to her caseworker.

They’d already taken her from me physically, and now they wanted me to give them permission to give her to another family and strip the King from her.

It was the last fucking thing I needed.

Bear and I were delirious and running on only a few hours of sleep in a week. We’d spent a shit load of time running offense, actively searching for Eli. We’d been everywhere from Miami to Atlanta, but the guy was like a ghost. Every bit of information we received brought us somewhere he’d just left.

Sometimes we’d missed him by just minutes.

“Says here they can’t do shit without you signing off,” Bear concluded, flicking the letter with his index finger, tossing it haphazardly onto the coffee table.

“Yeah, but it’s also basically saying that if I don’t sign off she’ll be in fucking foster care until she’s eighteen.” I twisted the last piece of my tattoo gun in place. “Don’t know if I can do that to her, man. When I was a kid I would’ve given anything for my mom actually be a mom. Fuck, I would have given anything just to know who my father was.”

“But your mom was a fucking cunt,” Bear stated, “and now she’s a dead fucking cunt.”

“Her being a dead fucking cunt is the reason I don’t have my kid,” I reminded him, “and maybe she’s better off living with normal people who don’t have to worry about all this bullshit of killin’ or being killed.”

Bear rolled his eyes. “Bullshit. Killing motherfuckers is business. Ain’t got shit to do with family. What the fuck do they know, anyway? We’re lawless, my friend. Civilians can’t wrap their little fucking brains around what that means without getting their frilly panties in a fucking twist.”

“You do know that in the eyes of the MC I’m a civilian,” I countered.

Bear waved me off. “Just to my old man, and what the fuck does he know?”

I paused for a minute; before I shared with Bear something I’d never told anyone else. Even Preppy. “If I ever get the chance to be a real dad to Max…I’m going full civilian.”

Like you had to tell me. I fucking knew that shit. Let me know how your application to fucking DeVry pans out you fucking pussy, Ghost-Preppy taunted.

“You ain’t thinking clearly right now. We’ll get Eli all nice and dead and then you can think about what a dumb fuck you just sounded like when you informed me that The King of the Causeway is going fucking legit,” Bear scoffed.

I’d expected that answer from Bear. I knew he wouldn’t understand what lengths a person would go to for their kid, for their family. “You know how you would do anything for your brothers in the MC?”

Bear nodded. “For the MC. For you. Yeah, man. Anything. Steal, fight, maim, kill. Shit, I’d take a fucking bullet. I’d go back and take Preppy’s fucking bullet right now if I could.” I believed him, because Bear’s loyalties ran deep.

“Well,” I started, “those things are jack shit compared to what you would be willing to do for your own kid.”

It was Bear’s turn to shake his head. I knew he would never really understand what I’d meant unless he up and had a kid of his own someday, and that thought was laughable at best.

I rubbed my hand across the stubble on my jaw, which over the past week, had turned more beard than stubble. All I really wanted was to drag Pup into my bed and settle my face in between her legs for the foreseeable future.

But I couldn’t do that until we ended Eli.

The guy was smart. He liked his revenge slow, sweet, and torturous.

Torture is the word I would use to describe not being able to reach out to Pup. It was too dangerous. The last guy Eli set his sites on lost his entire family, right down to his second cousins before Eli finally put in an end to the guys misery of watching every he loved die off one by one.

“We’ll start back up in the morning,” I said, “put more feelers out there, see if we can get info from someone closer to him or his inner circle. Someone who will know where he is in present tense, not past.”

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