Copyright © 2017 Michelle Woods
All rights reserved
All rights reserved
He leaned back against the bar glancing around at his club, taking in his band of brothers. They weren’t the pansy-assed boys thrown in over their heads like the ones he’d left in Iraq. Nope, these were hardened men.
Men like him.
When he’d walked away from the army after two tours, he hadn’t known what to do with himself. It hadn’t taken him long to figure out that he wasn’t the same good ol’ boy Tyler Fenton that he’d been when he left home years ago. When he walked into the recruiting office in his small west Texas hometown to join the army, he’d never suspected that he wouldn’t return to pick up right where he’d left off, but what he’d seen had changed him. Going into the army at eighteen had twisted him in ways he never could have predicted.
That was how he’d ended up becoming ‘Buck’ Fenton. He thought of these men as his brothers because they were. Some were like him and couldn’t settle down after leaving the army and others had joined because their fathers had been a part of the club or because they were tired of bureaucratic bullshit.
Glancing over at Toot, he motioned for another beer. Fuck, that had been a long time ago. Almost twelve years now and not a damned thing had changed since then. He would be thirty-nine in four days. Fuck, maybe that was why he was sitting here remembering the day he left the army. The day he’d walked away from all the death he’d lived through for the six years he’d been there. Hell, at least he’d survived it, unlike the other ten men in his battalion. Well Roger had survived too but he was crippled, and not just physically either. Of course, Buck hadn’t really been mentally okay either and was likely just as fucked in the head as Roger was, only in different ways.
Running a hand over his buzz cut, the haircut being one habit left over from his army days he couldn’t seem to shake, he turned to look out the window near the bar. Seeing the Harleys parked outside the clubhouse, he thought about the time he’d spent trying to be the same man for his family.
Two weeks after climbing out of the car he’d rented to return home in, he’d gotten a job at the local packing factory as a manager. It hadn’t taken a month before he’d been fired. Not that he could blame them. It was frowned upon when you literally grabbed a customer by the throat and tried to kill him because the customer got in his face triggering a flashback. Buck took another swig from his beer, closing his eyes as more memories played out in his head. He had a fiancé back then, a sweet girl who’d baked pumpkin pies and made homemade bread. She’d been so disappointed when he’d told her about losing his job. She hadn’t understood what PTSD did to you any more than his momma did.
Buck wanted to be normal for her and his momma but it hadn’t been who he was any longer, and that had been clear from the moment he walked into the house he’d grown up in. All the pretty knick-knacks and doilies, and pictures of people smiling like their faces were going to break, had given him hives. He’d tried to go to a therapist for the nightmares and the sudden flashbacks, but it hadn’t helped. Nope, the nights spent drinking himself to sleep, worrying that he’d wake up screaming, had been hell for him, but they’d terrified his mother.
Fuck, nothing had helped.
He still had the nightmares but at least the flashbacks were gone now. Of course, he didn’t need bloody flashbacks to know that he was no longer a good man after ten years with the Grave Diggers MC. Maybe that was why his mind had stopped showing him all the horrible shit he’d done in the name of his country.
Fuck, did it really matter?
He was fucked up. Buck wasn’t too worked up about being part of an outlaw MC, even if it meant he was considered a dredge to society. He didn’t care what the fuck anyone thought about him or his brothers. Buck couldn’t figure out why he was sitting here reliving this shit tonight. Yeah, it still fucked with his head knowing he would always be that guy people in his little hometown pitied. He was the one everyone whispered about and he was a cautionary tale for young men who wanted to go into the service because he’d gone away to the army and come back a bad seed, a soulless man they all felt bad for because of who he rode with and the things he did for his family.
What the fuck ever.
Buck didn’t care. He’d seen enough shit over in those foreign countries to turn anyone’s hair grey and half the time the shit the club got up to wasn’t even half as bad as shit he’d done under orders from his commanding officers.
Buck shifted his ass on the stool trying to ease the tense muscles in his back and shoulders. He grabbed the second beer Toot set on the bar for him and took a long swig, wondering what the fuck was wrong with him tonight. He needed to quit thinking about this shit and get on with it for fuck’s sake.
“Hey Buck, when is the run tonight?” Joker yelled from across the room.
“ ’Bout twenty minutes or so when Choke gets here,” Buck called back.
Choke was the president of their MC and the boss for everyone here, including him. Buck was a lieutenant and second only to the president and vice president of the club. It allowed him a lot of freedom and he’d worked hard for the past ten years to get where he was. He didn’t answer for much and did whatever the fuck he wanted for the most part. The only rules were that he couldn’t betray the club and he had to defer to the vice, Shredder, and the prez, Choke, which meant there weren’t many rules. It was a damned good thing because Buck liked it that way.
“So no time for pussy then?” Joker asked, his arm wrapped around a sweetbutt who giggled and rubbed her bare tits on his arm.
“Depends on how fast you can get it done. No fucking around and being late but you think you can do it in fifteen minutes, go for it,” Buck yelled back.
“Hear that, sweet thing? Let’s go fuck real fast,” Joker said and began tugging the sweetbutt over to the couch nearby.
Buck shook his head. That boy was always thinking with his cock and one day he was going to fuck up because of it. Not that Buck didn’t like a good fuck; hell, he’d had a sweetbutt less than an hour ago in his room upstairs and he’d sure as shit took longer than fifteen minutes. He couldn’t say that he hadn’t had a quickie before but he preferred to take his time when he had a woman beneath him.
He stuck to whores or the free pussy because his head was too fucked up for anything serious. He wasn’t interested in long term unless it involved a few thousand g’s and a new gun. He wasn’t the relationship type and hadn’t been since he broke it off with that sweet little hometown girl whose heart he’d broken when he’d walked away. Still unsure why he was thinking about Lane and their inevitable break-up tonight, he glared at the beer in front of him.
“Hey, motherfucker, move. I’m trying to play a game here,” Dice roared.
Turning to see what the hell was going on, Buck watched Dice shove Hazard out of the way of the TV where he was playing some new shooter game he’d bought last week after gushing over it like a teenage girl. Buck shook his head; Dice got all bent about a fucking video game if he was interrupted or someone got in front of his TV. Most of the time it was entertainment for the group, who hung around throwing stale popcorn at the screen and teasing Dice when his character, a burly looking dude with a scar on his face, died under a hail of bullets.
It was funny that the six-foot man with a lean frame and a pretty baby face—a face he was still teased about—chose to create a beefy man with an ugly mug and scars as his avatar. Buck watched Dice kick Hazard’s leg and command him to quit being a dick. He shook his head because that move would end up making Hazard work at being even more of a dick. Buck snorted a little at the two men’s antics before turning back to glance out the window again. His hand rubbed absently at the paper label on the beer bottle, his mind sliding away from the heated argument that was now going on behind him and back into the past.
He needed to call his mother, he realized, because he hadn’t called her in over two months and she’d likely be worried. Those calls never went well and he tended to avoid them as much as possible only because he hated the lectures and the updates on how he should come home because of this or that happening. She was always telling him about the job openings in Round Top and reminding him that he should go straight and stop rebelling like a child throwing a tantrum. Round Top was a little town with an artsy-type community with antique markets and bake sales and it made him nauseated to think about living there again. She was always talking about how Lane—his once-fiancé—was single again and would love to get back together with him. Ha, as if he would know what to do with that innocent girl he remembered. He would chew that sweet bit of candy up and spit her out a bitter used up woman. Yeah, no thanks, Ma.
Buck felt a soft hand rub over his lower back and turned to find Tracy, the sweetbutt he had been fucking an hour ago, standing behind him. She smiled coyly at him and rubbed her impressive breasts against his arm. Her soft blonde hair was curled lightly and hung to her shoulders. He watched her purse her plump red lips. Buck knew what she wanted and grinned before he reached out and slipped his hand into her shirt to pinch one of her hard little nips. He’d fucked her against the pool table in the game room an hour ago but she was apparently still horny.
“Didn’t get enough earlier, huh?” he asked.
Tracy shook her head and he grinned; she loved nothing better than a good hard fuck. Buck was always more than willing to give it to her and had done so on more than one occasion. He shoved the thoughts of Lane and their fucked up relationship out of his head. Women like Tracy were what he understood now. Buck knew she had lived a hard life and she understood that him fucking her didn’t mean he’d marry her—she was definitely not a girl who thought sex meant love and a happily ever after.
“No, and you’re leaving soon. You going to be back early enough to take care of me later?” she asked, her red lips pouting as she began rubbing her hand over his semi-stiff cock.
“Don’t know,” Buck said, unwilling to commit to anything when he wasn’t sure he’d be in the mood to fuck her later. Not that telling her he’d come to her room would mean he couldn’t blow her off if he didn’t feel the need, but he tried not to be a dick most of the time. That was the reason he rarely had an issue getting one of the sweetbutts—or hell, any woman—to let him in their pants. She pouted and squeezed his cock, her breasts pushing into his hand as he rubbed over her nipples enjoying the soft flesh. “Please?”
His other hand slipped under her shirt to cup her other large D cup tit and tug on her stiff bud, seriously considering agreeing to fuck her when he returned. Pushing up the shirt to look at her breasts, he was about to lean forward and take one into his mouth when he paused. He was distracted from Tracy’s tits by another woman who pulled out the barstool next to him catching his attention. He dropped his hands from Tracy’s tits and turned to look at Margo.
“Go away, skank,” Margo growled, her hand waving at Tracy to leave as she sat down next to Buck at the bar. Tracy let out a huffy whine that made Buck’s slightly stiff cock deflate—he hated whining—and jerked her shirt down, glaring briefly at Margo. She didn’t talk back because Margo was Gunner’s old lady and she knew better than to sass her. There was a hierarchy in the club even among the women and old ladies out-ranked sweetbutts like her so she just moved away from Buck without speaking.
“Come by if you want when you get back, even if it’s late,” Tracy called over her shoulder as she moved away from the bar and headed towards the upper floor, likely to find a prospect who’d fuck her because she was horny.
“You could do so much better than these nasty whores, Buck,” Margo said, frowning at him as he watched the way Tracy’s ass swayed back and forth as she walked away.
“I’m sure I could if I wanted to but you know me, Margo, only interested in a quick fuck.” Buck knew he was likely not the only man who received the third degree from Margo about needing a ‘good’ woman. “Besides, good girls give me hives.”
Margo was always disappointed when the men she was friends with preferred the company of whores to nice girls like herself but she also understood how the club worked. Free pussy was a part of the life and most old ladies just hoped like hell their old men respected them enough not to take advantage of the offerings. Margo was one of the lucky few whose old man would sooner cut off his dick than hurt her by screwing around with other women.
It was a fact that the club didn’t usually allow old ladies to wander around the clubhouse unless their old man was with them but tonight was different. Margo was here because she had to be—with Gunner off on a run tonight it was the safest place for her to be. Their rivals, the Tricky Dicks MC, had threatened her life a few days ago because she was the reason one of their men had been beaten to death by the club a week ago when he’d tried to lay his hands on her in a bar she’d gone to with a few of the girls.
Buck knew she felt guilty that she was causing trouble even if it hadn’t been her fault because she was a sweet woman. She really wasn’t meant for this life but Gunner had fallen hard and fast for her over three years ago. The two of them had fought long and hard to make their relationship work and despite a few times during the first year when they’d broken up, they made each other happy.
Margo was likely one of his favorite old ladies in the club because she didn’t annoy the fuck out of him like most of them did. She didn’t give her old man shit about the week-long runs or the shit the club got into like most of the women here. She also rarely complained and he loved that about her. He was sure her naturally calm no-nonsense personality was one of the reasons Gunner loved her so much.
“You really need a good woman to straighten you out and one day when you meet her I’m going to remind you that you said that too.” Margo laughed, motioning for Toot to give her a beer and then turning to look at him.
“You likely won’t ever get the chance, sweetheart, ’cause that’ll be a cold day in hell. I’m not looking for long term—ever,” Buck said firmly before taking a sip of his beer.
“Sometimes it happens when we aren’t looking, Buck. Look at me and Gunner. Do you think either of us thought meeting at a church picnic would change our lives? Trust me, your day will come, I would bet my life on it. You’re not the type to stay alone forever,” Margo stated as she lifted the beer Toot had handed her to her lips, a slight smile playing around her mouth.
Buck didn’t know why the cold shiver raced down his spine but he didn’t like the odd sense of foreboding that he felt at her statement as he glanced outside seeing Choke pulling his bike to a halt. He finished his beer and said his goodbyes but that odd feeling didn’t leave him for hours after his conversation with Margo and he didn’t like it one damned bit.
Tessa Holden braced her feet apart and lifted the weapon, her finger on the trigger as she attempted to line up the target. She let out a breath and pulled the trigger, feeling the kick of the gun as she looked to see where her shot hit. Damn, she’d missed again.
“Damn it, Tessa. Why can’t you seem to get the hang of this, girl? You’re the only one who can’t seem to shoot worth a damn,” her Uncle Dale cried as she closed her eyes and wished she was anywhere but here.
“Aw, leave the girl alone, Dale. She’s just a little prissier than her sisters. She’ll get it eventually as she did with the other weapons,” Grant, her other uncle, grumbled.
Tessa glanced at them where they both sat behind her on the little concrete wall that lined the yard. She wanted to get this over with as fast as possible and the way to do that was to learn to shoot the AK-47 she was holding with dead-on accuracy. It was a skill she would likely never need. Rolling her eyes as she aimed again, she was glad her ears were covered with the sound mufflers when her two uncles began to argue, again. They’d been doing it for most of the two-hour lesson and she didn’t see an end to it any time soon. She really wished that her family was normal. It would have been great if they could have been, but they weren’t.
Letting out another steadying breath, she pulled the trigger again hearing the rat-tat-tat of the bullets as they pinged the target. This time she was closer but they were still off by about three inches and until she could line it up with the heart every time she shot for at least three targets, they weren’t going to let her go back to reading her book and she damned well knew it. The fact that the target was on a conveyor belt that moved every few seconds didn’t help her aim.
Tessa felt a little bit of sweat trickle down her chest between her breasts and she wanted to wipe it but she didn’t want to lower the gun. Her uncles would decide she needed instruction again and start in with all the tips. They’d come over to ‘help’ her with the shot and she’d end up being here for another three hours.
Why her family thought that she would ever need to shoot at a moving target with an AK-47, she would never understand. She just couldn’t seem to think like them. Despite repeatedly hearing their philosophies about why this was important, she just didn’t agree. Rolling her already sore shoulder, she felt certain that when she finally managed to master the use of the weapon she was holding, she’d never have a call to use it. She would however have to practice with it at least once a week or her pappy and uncles would make her do it every day like they had for the past two weeks.
Tessa wasn’t bad with a gun most of the time but this one was heavier and kind of bulky for her five-foot frame. She found herself hailed as ‘the prissy one’ by the family often. That was fine with her because it allowed her to get out of a lot of the chores that her family did each week, like wiring the perimeter of the compound or making sure that the twelve-foot fence was secure. Tessa had no wish to do these things, ever. Mostly because, like learning to shoot this gun, the tasks were pointless.
After another three rounds, she finally managed to hit the heart on one of the targets and excitement that this task might be over soon almost made her feel faint. Geez, she was glad she’d finally managed to hit one; now only two more to go and she’d be free.
“I’ll be damned. She finally hit one,” her cousin, Jim, crowed.
Tessa wanted to turn around and glare at him but she refrained. His assessment was a little unfair anyway because she had hit the target multiple times, just not in the heart. With a little huff, she reloaded and took aim again. Best to get this done.
“Yeah, but it took her two weeks to learn it. At this rate she’ll never learn to shoot the bigger guns,” Dale uttered in a snide tone.
“Dale, I said to leave the girl alone. Not every woman has a knack for weapons like your Harriet. She took to them like a fish in water,” Grant grumbled with a little chuckle at the end.
Harriet was Dale’s fourteen-year-old daughter. It was true that Harriet was a crack shot but she was also a nut. If any of the kids who lived in the compound had gone to high school, she would have been the girl voted most likely to become an axe murderer.
“That’s ’cause I started her young,” Dale said in his proud-of-his-psychopathic-daughter voice. “Unlike Diego, who thought his girls should be adults before he trained ’um. What if it had happened when they were kids? They’d be a liability, that’s what, but not my Harriet.”
Maybe calling Harriet a psychopath was a bit unfair but the kid was just a little too into the whole ‘learning to maim people’ exercises her family thought needed to be practiced regularly. Tessa was forever grateful that her pappy didn’t think his kids should be trained to use firearms or explosives until they were at least eighteen. She was twenty-six and the youngest so she was the last of her two sisters to finish her training. It was taking her longer to get through the weapon skills training than it had her sisters, mostly because she just didn’t care for it and only paid attention to the lessons so that she could get them over with.
“I can’t agree with that because I didn’t start training Jim till he was fifteen and he’s damned good,” Grant told him.
Tessa had finished reloading the gun and was again taking aim at the targets. Her shoulder was sore from the repeated kick that the gun discharged every time she fired it. She wanted to tell them she had better things to do than this but she knew the can of worms that would open up. She would be in for another long lecture about why it was important now that the world might fall apart at any moment. The theories on why that would happen were varied; her crazy uncles thought some zombie virus would break out, her pappy thought that someone would set off an EMP, and still others here thought there would be a total collapse of the economy.
There were more theories, everything from natural disasters to manmade ones, that were tossed around and they were somehow preparing for all of them at once. Not that she believed for even a second any of them would ever happen. Nope, twenty years from now she’d be living in this three-hundred-acre compound and the world outside would still be going on like normal without her. Tessa wasn’t dissing her family, she just wanted them to allow her to not be a part of their crazy ideology without being criticized as that weird one who didn’t believe in their doomsday preparations.
Her family’s crazy prepping for the apocalypse had started about fifty-eight years ago when her grandfather was about thirty and his great uncle died, leaving him a millionaire. That had been the beginning of the compound—a massive underground bunker that spanned nearly two hundred of their three hundred acres. He’d always been convinced after leaving the army that there would be a military takeover that would lead to the fall of society. Being a Vietnam vet had shaped his entire view of the world and the reception when he’d returned to the states hadn’t been much better than the months he’d spent traipsing through the jungles. Was it any wonder that he thought the world would end in a complete societal breakdown?
Tessa was sure her poor grandfather had PTSD when he’d returned—but regardless of why he thought as he did after returning from the army, the compound had been born. Her abuelo and two of his army buddies of a similar mindset with money to burn had created a home where they could raise families in what they felt was a safe place. They’d bought a three hundred acre tree farm and turned it into the massive underground bunker they now called home. He grandfather had the compound built by an out of state builder—who later joined them inside with his family—so no one in state would know about the structure or the layout. Tessa wasn’t entirely sure if the builder had chosen to live here or if her grandfather had forced the poor man to move in to keep anyone from knowing the layout of the place. He had been a fanatic and that never went well for anyone involved. She was sure he would have thought it was necessary despite it being morally wrong.
A year after the compound had been built, her grandfather had met a Mexican-American immigrant who he’d swept off her feet and whisked away to his underground home. They’d had three children—her father and his two brothers—that they raised inside the high electric fences topped with razor wire. Tessa had heard the stories that all revolved around the sad fact that they never really ventured out into the outside world except for the once a month supply runs. It was a sheltered and insolated life that they’d shared with five other families who were also part of the first generation.
Most of the kids who’d been raised in the compound stayed but one or two had ventured out into the real world to live. None of them had ever returned. Most of the people living here thought that was because something terrible had happened to them. Tessa, however, suspected they’d just never wanted to come back and live with their crazy family in their underground bunker and she couldn’t blame them.
The community had grown since it was started back in 1969 and now there were about forty families living and working in the compound and they were like a self-sustaining machine. After the attacks from 9/11 in 2001, eight new families had undergone the extensive application process to become a part of the compound. Three of the applicants were accepted so now they had forty-three families, she supposed.
To her all of this was just her oddball family’s way to make a place where they fit in, but she was different. Ever since Tessa was ten and her pappy shared his views with her, she’d felt like all of this doomsday stuff just wasn’t for her—she’d always been an avid reader and it had likely exposed her to more of the outside world than any of the others had ever known. After she’d turned eighteen she’d known that if she had her way, she would prefer to live in the normal world.