now, knew my body more than I thought anyone ever would. It was complete bliss with him. He fit me, inside and out.
I closed my eyes as his hands moved all over me. He pushed deeper inside me, cupping my breasts, teasing my nipples with his fingers until I didn’t think I could take it anymore.
“I want all of you,” Blaze said, and I felt desperate with need as he thrust inside me, bringing me to the edge.
“You have me,” I moaned. He thrust into me one last time, groaning loudly as he climaxed, and I finally let go, the wave of pleasure crashing over me like a tsunami. When I blinked open my eyes, I could feel his lips pressed against the nape of my neck, his arms wrapped around my chest as he held me. His breath mimicked mine, and I could feel his heart pounding, the sensation a comforting one.
“I love you,” he whispered.
“Ditto,” I said. “You know, you’re still going to have to entertain me until the barbeque. We’ve got more time.”
“Is that so?”
“You better believe it,” I said. “I insist.”
“And what the Old Lady wants, the Old Lady gets,” Blaze said. “Shit, you guys really didn’t have to go to all this trouble,” I said, heat rising to my cheeks. I hadn’t expected all this fuss over me leaving for school. The whole club was here, Old Ladies too.
Blaze pulled me close. “You’re one of us now,” he said, and I felt a rush of pride.
Picasso walked up, put his hand on my arm, spun me around. “Let’s see it, girl,” he said, looking at my shoulder. “Nice. That’s some great fucking ink there.”
“You did a good job, man,” Blaze said. I knew Blaze loved seeing me emblazoned with his name. Some women would think it was crazy having that kind of ink. Hell, before all of this, I probably would have looked askance at some girl if I saw “property of” tattooed on her shoulder. I knew people would think it was strange.
But I’d come to be a part of this, something much bigger than myself. This club was more than just something Blaze was interested in, a thing he did in his spare time. It was his family. It was part of him. It was written into his DNA. I understood that, and I loved him for it. The tattoo was a symbol. It said I was standing right here beside him. I was joined with him. I was a part of him, and a part of his family.
It wasn’t that I was his property, something to be possessed. The tattoo said that if anyone hurt me, that person would bring down the full wrath of the Inferno Motorcycle Club. I wanted to wear that symbol now more than ever, especially having seen the club rally around me in so many ways after what had happened.
“I love it, Picasso,” I said. “Thank you.” Standing on tip-toes, I kissed him on the cheek and watched his face turn scarlet.
Picasso cleared his throat. “Get out of here, girl. Go get some barbecue or something.”
In the parking lot of the clubhouse, we mingled with the raucous crowd, most of them already drunk. I looked around, trying to memorize every bit of it, etching it into my brain, something to hold on to when I went back to Stanford next week. I wanted to take it all in - the drunk bikers groping their old ladies, the smell of smoke from the grill mixed with the scent of grease and leather that seemed to permeate every article of clothing Blaze owned. I watched as Mad Dog’s Old Lady, Kate, leaned against him, laughing as she rubbed his grey hair. He bent over, burying his face in her chest, and she swatted him away playfully.
“Hey, there, lovebirds,” Axe said, raising his bottle to mine and Blaze’s, then bringing it to his lips. “So you’re really going to trade all this for Stanford?”
“I have to get my edu-ma-cation, you know.”
“At least I won’t have to deal with all the kissy face anymore,” Axe said. “Shit, man, she’s got you whipped real good.”
“Hey now,” Blaze said.
I laughed. “So when are we going to get you an Old Lady, Axe?”
Axe shuffled, looking the ground. “Oh, honey, I think I’m beyond having an Old Lady anymore.”
“You talk like you’re an old man - you’re only what - forty?”
“Fuck you too,” he said, smiling. “Jesus, Blaze, get your Old Lady in line. Forty, shit. Do I look that old?”
“You’ve got an ugly mug, dude. Can you blame her for thinking you’re an old man?” Blaze took a drag on his beer.
“Any girl would be lucky to have you, Axe,” I said, glaring at Blaze, who raised his hands in a “what can I say?” gesture.
Axe was one of Blaze’s closest friends and Mad Dog’s right hand man as the sergeant-at-arms for the MC. He’d become one of my favorite people here. He had a calm nature and dry sense of humor that persisted no matter what shit was happening. Like Blaze, he was more than just some dirty biker. While he might not be well-educated, he was smart, just like Blaze.
The first time I'd really talked to Axe was right after I'd shot Guillermo. I was waiting at Benicio's house with a bunch of guys from the club, while the surgeon worked on Blaze. It was a surreal experience, sitting around waiting in a Malibu mansion while a surgeon operated on my biker boyfriend. I had gone down the hallway and sat on the floor, just wanting some silence. Standing here thinking about it, my mind went right back to that memory.
I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder, and I turned my head to see Axe, squatting down beside me on the floor.
“Man,” he said, grimacing. “My knees. They’re not so good anymore.” He settled down beside me, his back against the wall. “Too many deployments, carrying too much gear. I’m not as young as I used to be.”
“Yeah.” I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know Axe, hadn’t talked much to him before. There were too many people in Benicio’s house and I felt claustrophobic. I wanted to tell Axe to go away, to leave me alone.
“Blaze will be fine, you know. Just a shoulder injury. It’s minor.”
“Yeah, I know that,” I said.
“You did good today, honey,” Axe said. “Taking your father down.”
“He was never my father.”
“No, I guess he wasn’t, was he?”
I paused, thinking. “You were in the military.”
“You ever kill anyone?”
Axe nodded. “I was a sniper.”
“Did you feel bad about it?”
“A couple times, yeah.” He paused. “Not for the bad guys, though.”
I looked over at him. “I thought I would feel guilty about killing Guillermo, but I don’t. Is it wrong that I don’t feel bad about it?”
Axe shook his head. “Guillermo was one of the bad guys. And he shot at Blaze. You’ve got nothing to feel bad for. You were just protecting your family.”
I was, wasn’t I? Blaze was my family.
The sound of Blaze's voice as he talked to Axe snapped me back to the present.
“I’ll have to keep a look out at Stanford,” I said. “I’ll see if I can find a chick for you, Axe.”
Axe laughed. “Yeah, you do that, girl. You get me some rich doctor chick or something. Thanks, but that shit’s not written in the cards for me.”
“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with rich chicks,” Blaze said. “This one’s going to be a rich lawyer and keep us all out of prison.”
Later, he pulled me away from the crowd and put his arms around me from behind. I leaned back on him, my head against his chest. “Thanks for all of this, Blaze,” I said.
“You know I’ll miss you,” I said.
“You know I’m going to be up there checking on you.”
“You mean that in the least creepy and possessive way possible, right?” I asked.
“Well, I’ll have to keep the Stanford boys away from you.”
“I think I’m perfectly capable of doing that myself, you know.”
“I do know that,” he said.
I liked doing my own thing, having my own space, and Blaze knew that. But I also liked knowing that he was looking out for me, especially after all the shit that had happened at the beginning of the summer. I'd heard that Billy was somewhere in Europe, and while I suspected some of the guys might wind up having a chat with him, I also didn't know if he'd even return. I'd seen a magazine article about him possibly going to rehab.
I looked out over everyone from my vantage point here with Blaze’s arms wrapped around me. These people - this fucked up, dysfunctional family - was mine. My upbringing was unusual, and now the family I had chosen was even stranger. Still, they were mine.
I wish I could say that Benicio had swept in and somehow become the father I never had. The truth was that I liked Benicio, but he wasn’t my father. Nevertheless, I could see in him the man my mother loved. I think Benicio loved her still. And he was a good man, as far as criminals go. He was the kind of man my father was not, the kind who would do certain things but not cross other lines. He didn’t mess with women and children - had a rule against trafficking or running girls. In this kind of life, the biker life and the one in which I’d been raised, those kind of principles meant something. Those kinds of principles meant you were a good man.
That was as good as it would get for me. I had no illusions that Benicio would ever become something he was not, that he would trade a criminal lifestyle for a civilian one. It was the same with Blaze. They were strong men who knew who they were. I loved Blaze for that, and I respected Benicio for that. I won’t say I loved Benicio like a father. We were not there yet, and I wasn't sure if we’d ever get there. But I did respect him.
There was no fallout from shooting my father. Benicio, with his network of resources, simply made it all go away. His physician took care of Blaze, and Blaze was healed up in a matter of weeks. I had waited expectantly for a month after the shooting to be hit with a sudden wave of guilt, or remorse, or sadness. I waited for the PTSD that never came, expecting to wake at night with nightmares and cold sweats. But it seemed that Guillermo had left nothing in his wake, not even a ghost.
I think that by the time I killed Guillermo, I was already all cried out. When I killed him, I thought I would mourn for him, that I would grieve for relationship that I had lost. But the truth was, it was a relationship I’d never had. I’d been gone for a long time. I had run back to him in a fit of desperation at the beginning of the summer, but I was running toward a fantasy, someone I imagined my father to be.
I leaned harder against Blaze. “I’m finally home,” I said.
Blaze squeezed me tighter. “We both are.”