Authors: Catherine Johnson
The Kairos Series
FREAK CIRCLE PRESS
Bones by the Wood ©
Copyright Catherine Johnson
All rights reserved
Catherine Johnson has asserted her right to be identified as the author of this book under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Susan: Without your support this would not exist.
Sarah: Thank you for being the inspiration for so much of this story, and for allowing me to steal slices of your life.
Susan, Sarah and I tried to bring about the apocalypse. It didn’t work. I can’t think why not. But if at first you don’t succeed…
To the Freaks. One day, ladies, one day.
The perfect, delicate, crucial moment; the fleeting rightness of time and place that creates the opportune atmosphere for action, words, or movement.
The day had turned out to be quite mild for July, but for
Louisiana that wasn’t saying much. It was still humid enough that Dizzy knew he would want a shower before he climbed into bed. The only saving grace of summers here, versus his native Texas, was the lack of tornados. He still remembered the gut-clenching wail of the warning klaxon that had assaulted more than just the eardrums as it rang out, giving residents precious little time to find a place of safety.
He was glad that the club was taking this day to connect. There had been a lot of upheaval and loss in the last few months, and while they’d had plenty of their usual debauched nights, it was nice to get together in the daylight and at least try to be a little bit civilized. With that in mind, he parked his bike outside his President’s house. The single story, clapboard residence was set well back from the road. There was a narrow, paved path leading through the grass up to the porch. The grass never needed cutting; its constant use as a parking lot for various vehicles, both two and four-wheeled, ensured that it was often mostly dust with a few patches of defiant greenery.
The scrubby space was more crowded than usual. Once it had become apparent that the day was not going to be a record breaker, temperature-wise, Samuel, President of the Priests MC, had invited the club over for a barbeque and beers - although the two incentives should probably have been reversed – there was likely to be a lot more drinking than eating. It was a celebration of sorts since, the previous week, Samuel had found out he was going to be a granddaddy for the first time. Samuel and his wife, Moira, and the club as a whole, were still grieving the death of Samuel’s firstborn, and the news of a new baby, a new life, had given the club a shot of happiness that it sorely needed.
Samuel’s son, Dean, had been a member of the club for almost fourteen years. He’d died during an ambush by members of a Mexican drug cartel, invested in a turf war with the Colombian cartel that the Priests dealt with. The official story was that his neck had been broken when his bike had skidded out of control during a fierce rainstorm. It was true enough, and that might have happened anyway, but two men shooting at them hadn’t helped him keep his seat.
Dizzy knocked the kickstand into place and swung off his bike. He hooked his helmet over the handlebars, fished his battered Stetson out of his saddlebags and settled it over his shaggy blonde hair. It would be different, having little kids running around the place. There hadn’t been kids around the club in twenty years, not since Samuel’s two, Dean and Ashleigh, had been young. This new addition wouldn’t be the only one.
Barely more than a month since, the club had been rocked by the revelation that its long time allies, the Rabid Dogs MC of southern Texas, had made moves to assassinate Samuel and his Vice President, Terry, with a view to taking over their business arrangement with the Rojas family. The move that they had made was to allow one of their members to patch into the Priests, but with a hidden agenda. In the end, Shark Reardon had fallen hard for Samuel’s daughter and had confessed his mission without ever having attempted to carry it out, but that had brought about a brutal retribution for the Rabid Dogs. Every member had been killed, and some of the bodies would never be found. One of the members had been father to a little girl, a precious little eight-year-old. Shark had made the request that, regardless of the consequences that he and the girl’s father faced, that a home be found for the child whose mother had abandoned her.
Samuel had agreed to approach Eduardo Dias, his contact for the Rojas family, and the source of all their illegal work. The Rojas had the far reaching tentacles and resources to find the little girl a home without questions being asked. But then when Samuel had visited Texas to take care of some business, he had met and fallen in love with the little girl, and he’d known where the perfect home for her lay. Terry and his wife Dolly had never been able to have their own children. Dizzy didn’t know the specifics of why and he wasn’t about to ask, but he assumed Samuel knew. Samuel had called Terry almost straight away with the suggestion that he and Dolly take in the little girl. Terry hadn’t been sure at first, but Dolly had been enthusiastically militant about accepting this random gift from the cosmos, and there wasn’t much Terry wouldn’t do to keep his wife happy. It was going to take a few weeks for the Rojas to buy off the appropriate officials and make the paperwork legit, but by the end of that time, Terry and Dolly would have the child they’d always craved.
The changes filled Dizzy with a new hope for the club. He could see a future, or a possibility of one, for it now in a way that he hadn’t been able to before. He was looking forward to the kids arriving. He liked playing uncle. He’d been in his early twenties when Ashleigh and Dean were young and had been something of a co-conspirator when they wanted to do something that wasn’t strictly allowed, although he would never have helped them to do anything dangerous.
Being two years older than his sister, and a boy, Dean had had an easier time finding a way to fit into the culture of the club as a kid, but Ashleigh had always seemed somewhat lost to Dizzy, especially while Samuel was in jail. It seemed like half the time she was supposed to be a princess and the rest of the time she was supposed to be seen and not heard. She’d found a way to get her mama to agree to her spending Sundays at the garage. He’d shown Ashleigh how to navigate her way around an engine, and taken her out on short rides that wouldn’t get him stripped of his patch. His other brothers knew he always took Ashleigh for a treat at Gina’s Diner and maintained an impenetrable solidarity when it came to keeping Moira from finding out that her little girl was riding around town on the back of a Harley.
Dizzy figured his chance at a family had come and gone somewhere along the way without him even realizing it. He’d never found anyone that he felt a strong enough connection with to settle down and raise children of his own. In the back of his mind he’d generally measured most women, that weren’t club pussy, against Moira. It wasn’t that he had a crush on her, far from it, but he had a healthy amount of admiration for his President’s wife. She impressed the hell out of him. She handled life in the shadow of the club, especially the times her husband had been in jail, had raised two kids, kept the town sweet by heading up various charities and made it all look easy.
As Dizzy rounded the corner of the house, the scent of the wildflowers that lined the road collided with, and was overwhelmed by, the aroma of cooking meat. He scanned the group of people who were closer to him than his blood family, looking for his President first automatically. Samuel stood over the grill with Sinatra, one of their newest patches. Chiz, one of the club enforcers and something of a protégé of Dizzy’s, had discovered that Sinatra had a gift for cooking meat over hot coals and no doubt Samuel was imparting some of his own tricks to the young man. Samuel looked up, having heard the rumble of Dizzy’s bike. Dizzy nodded and received a bob of the head as welcome in return.
Dizzy checked for Moira next, since he was a guest in her home, with the intention of greeting her, but he saw that she was deep in conversation with Dolly and Ashleigh. She hadn’t even noticed he’d arrived. She was still fit to bursting with the news of the next generation, and he could see that she was animated in her discussion, so he left her to her talk and headed over to the man who had been his own mentor in the club. Fletch had been the Sergeant at Arms when Dizzy had first donned his Prospect patch and had become something of a surrogate father in his life and a guiding hand when Dizzy had stepped into the role when Fletch retired from it.
Fletch was sitting with Kong, Tag and Crash. As he got closer, Dizzy realized that the discussion underway was about some sort of TV program that had nothing to do with either naked women or engines. He would have reversed his course, but Fletch had seen him and was rolling his eyes and shaking his head in despair. Dizzy felt duty-bound to rescue him, or at least provide respite. Fletch tilted his head in the direction of the house. Dizzy followed his indication and spotted several large plastic crates filled with beers and iced water. He detoured and helped himself to a bottle before heading back to Fletch’s side.
Crash was in the zone, busy making a point of opinion. “All I’m sayin’ is, if it were me, I’d do a soup for starter. Something like tomato or minestrone. You can’t go wrong with that. Just keep it warm while you get your main sorted out. Do a fancy main course to impress people, do a cold dessert that you can have waitin’ in the fridge the whole time.”
Tag’s eyes had flicked to Dizzy when he’d walked up and he’d almost flinched, but then he’d tuned back into what Crash was saying. Dizzy wasn’t offended; as far as he was concerned it was a sign of a job well done. As SAA one of his responsibilities was discipline in the club, and he’d had to remind Tag that he was supposed to stand up for his President’s daughter when a strange patch grabbed her, ally or not.
Tag was fully engaged in the conversation again now. “No man, I‘m tellin’ you, put out your fancy shit for the starter, set the tone. Then do somethin’ simple, but really tasty for the main course, somethin’ with a lot of flavor. Then you can give everyone time to get hungry again while you’re doin’ somethin’ fancy for dessert and end on a high note.”
Crash was shaking his head in vehement disagreement. Dizzy hope this wasn’t going to be one of those times that Crash lost his temper, spectacularly and without warning. He’d left the Marines after receiving a head injury during a tour of duty, and the aftereffects were interesting, to say the least. The most obvious were wild mood swings and trouble with his balance. Crash had stopped re-spraying his bike every time he laid it down; it had gotten too tedious. Now his Harley was more scratches than paint. The young man’s bright blue eyes gave him a slightly mad air anyway, but coupled with the extensive scarring on his head, almost highlighted by the patches of hair he kept buzzed short, he looked almost totally insane when a tantrum hit.
“Brother, you do all your cookin’ in the fuckin’ microwave. Your insides have been exposed to so much fuckin’ radiation you should be the Incredible Hulk!”