The final story in the Rolling Thunder series, Moving On, has gone to my editor. In December, Moving On will release and except for edits now, I’m also moving on – – to other stories. 🙂 (See what I did there?)
Last month I shared Chapter One with you, today, I’m sharing Chapter Two. I’d love to hear from you about this. Tell me what you think so far? I’ve known all along that LuAnn’s book would be the last book, she was a polarizing character in Moving to Love, so I had to tell her story too.
It was a beautiful day today. The weather was a mild 78 degrees, no wind, trees and flowers were in full bloom, the grass was still a vibrant green. He’d put the top down on his Mustang convertible before he left the shop. The thrill of his wheels and seeing LuAnn again conflicted with Dog’s look of disappointment and frustration when Chase told him why he needed the rest of the day off. Hard to blame Dog, but he’d stayed friends with LuAnn while she was incarcerated. She needed friends now more than ever before, and he was going to be that friend.
It just might mean that he would have to forego some of the shop rides in the coming days. It settled like a rock in his stomach because everyone at Rolling Thunder was and had been, a family to him. He’d worked for them for close to ten years now. Dog had been the first person to help him straighten out his life after he’d fucked up. He’d had to do some community service back in the day. His better judgment wasn’t all that good, and he’d become a real shit. Then he met JT, who shared his love of motorcycles, who then introduced him to Dog. He hadn’t really had a “ home.” His life changed when Dog took him in.
Dog demanded that he be on the straight and narrow. He had to develop manners. Take a shower every day. Be respectful. Show up to work on time, which was tough some days because he and JT used to hit the liquor pretty hard back then. But, he admired Dog and he loved JT like a brother, and he didn’t want to lose them, so he straightened up. Many a night he spent at the Sheppard house. He slept on the sofa, he helped make meals. He balked the first time Dog asked him to clean the bathroom, but then he saw that JT and Ryder, JT’s twin, had chores to do so he stopped griping and did it. They’d just started Rolling Thunder and money was tight, but he always had a place to go and Dog always made sure they all ate.
Once money started rolling in, he got a raise, they all did. Then he and JT got the chance to design bikes for custom builds and his life changed forever after that. He found out that he was good at it. Really good. He had an eye for design. He had the chops to imagine what a bike would look like if he just changed this or did that. JT too. Together, they were unstoppable.
Flipping the lever to turn on his right turn signal, he slowed and turned down the road that would lead him to the women’s prison. His stomach flipped and not for the hundredth time; he wondered if he was making a mistake. Dog’s face flashed before his eyes and nausea rose up in his stomach. He didn’t want to lose the Sheppards. He also remembered needing someone to believe in him and the Sheppards had. How could his life, which had been so bad, become so damned good and now feel as if he was losing it? Why the fuck couldn’t life just stay good once you were lucky enough to find it?
The prison came into view as he reached the crest of the hill and as it always did his stomach flopped. By some miracle, he’d never had to go to prison. Too bad LuAnn hadn’t found her salvation before she did. But thank God, she didn’t kill Joci or Maddie and that she’d only been given three years. He couldn’t help but worry that she still loved Dog, which is how she ended up here. Where would that leave him? Irritating Dog and the family for staying friends with LuAnn only to have her behave as she always had would end his relationship with them. He couldn’t let that happen.
He pulled into the parking lot and wasn’t sure what he should do from this point. Did she come out the front door or the gates? He’d been given no information on where to park or where to find her once he got here.
Twisting his wrist to see his watch, he saw that he was five minutes early and decided to get out of the car and stretch. It had been an hour’s drive from home.
Opening his door, he stepped out and bent over to stretch his back . Then stood, tucked in his shirt and closed the door. Walking to the front of his car, he leaned on the hood and stared at the gates. Turning his head to the right he could see the front door, and to be honest, he still was undecided as to what to do, so he stayed where he was.
A few minutes later he heard the inner gate open and he saw her. She looked small and scared as she clutched that plastic bag in front of her. Her hair had always been dyed far too much. While she’d been in here, she’d let it grow out completely to its natural dark brown, which was far more attractive on her. The guard with her turned and said something to her and he saw her smile. That was a good sign. LuAnn nodded and the inner gate closed as the outer gate opened. LuAnn walked tentatively through the outer gate and stood in place as it closed behind her. She turned and looked at it, likely not sure what to do.
Pushing himself off the hood of his car, he began walking toward her and thought that she looked like a scared rabbit. Her fingers squeezed the contents of the plastic bag and his heart actually hurt. This was not the same woman who’d put herself in this place. He hoped that was a good thing.
She turned her head and saw him walking to her and she hesitated for a moment, then started walking toward him. A few steps later, they met face to face, and she tilted her head up and smiled at him.
“Hi.” He looked into her blue eyes, and he felt happy. “Let me carry that for you.”
She looked down at the bag and clutched it tighter to her body. “Do you mind if I hang on to it? It’s all I have.”
His heart sank to the pit of his stomach. He reached forward and wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in for a gentle hug. “You have me.” He whispered.
He heard her sob as he held her, and tears sprung to his eyes. He allowed her to cry into his chest with stupid plastic bag between them, and he knew he’d made the right decision in coming for her today. Dog would come around. He hoped anyway.
She sniffed and pulled away, “Sorry. My emotions are all over the board today. It’s surreal being out and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. Normally right now I’d be gardening.”
He turned and wrapped his arm around her shoulders and began leading her to his car.
“Can you garden at Linda’s house?”
“She said I could. My brother-in-law, Tanner, made a place in the backyard I guess.”
“Well, darlin’ that’s a great start, don’t you think?”
He opened the trunk. “You want to put your bag in here, so it doesn’t blow around?”
He saw her look down at her meager possessions and swallow. Good God, this just made his heart hurt. But she carefully placed her bag in the trunk tucked safely into a corner and stepped back. He closed the lid, walked to the passenger side of his car, and opened the door for her.
“Wow, what a gentleman.”
She giggled and without thinking he said, “Dog would kick my ass if I didn’t treat a woman respectfully.”
She halted and looked up at him. He saw her swallow, then she slowly sat in the seat. He closed the door, chastising himself as he walked around the car for bringing up Dog so soon.
He slid into the driver’s seat, put the key in the ignition and started the engine, then pulled his seatbelt over his shoulder and clicked it into place. Looking at LuAnn, he saw her put her seatbelt on. Neither of them said a word. How did you break this awkward silence?