And here’s the teaser for book four in the series—Resonance. There are NO SPOILERS for any of the previous books, so it’s safe to read even if you haven’t read/finished the previous ones. Also, it’s not edited. Just so you know.
She’s Not Worth It
IT WASN’T THAT IT was stupid per se, but I was still so nervous I was about to throw up. I didn’t have any other options, though. I had to do it.
I was parked outside gates leading to a garage located in Greenville, Arizona, and I knew that somewhere inside those gates was Tommy Miles. He might not be my last hope, but he was something pretty damn close to it. The last time I saw him, about six years earlier, I’d told him to go fuck himself, and that if I ever saw him again I’d feed him a high velocity bullet—he was welcome to chose if he wanted it up his ass or down his throat. Guess that made me, Billie Jensen, a less than charming woman.
Tommy and my brother, Zach, had been best friends since they were born. Tommy’s dad and my dad were friends, and they’d both been in the Air Force.
On occasion they’d been stationed at the same place, but even when they weren’t, we’d still spent every vacation or holiday with the Miles family. So, no matter what the distance was, Tommy and Zach had managed to remain friends. When Tommy was fourteen, his father died, and just a year later, his mom had been admitted to a psychiatric institution. She’d never been very stable, and I had frankly always been a bit scared of her. It was Tommy’s older brother, Dwayne, who had made the decision that she needed professional help, because he didn’t want Tommy to live alone with her. So when he went to college, he’d sent his younger brother to live with us. I’m sure it was overwhelming to Tommy, but to me it hadn’t made much difference with one older brother or two, because Tommy had been like a brother. He’d always been a part of our lives in one way or another.
Dad had been looking forward to getting sons, and when Zach was born he gave him the full name Zachary, because he’d thought it sounded like a strong, manly name. Even if he wasn’t exactly disappointed that I was a girl, he had decided I should get a strong, manly name, too—or at least a manly name. So, I was named Billie. I quite liked my name, though. I’d never felt very girly, and my name confirmed I could be one of the guys—at least in my own head it did.
After silently counting to ten for the umpteenth time, I got out of the car, threw my bag over my shoulder, and walked towards the gate. It wasn’t business hours, but I knew he most likely was there anyway. From what I could tell, he basically lived there. I’d been following him for the last two days. Not in a crazy stalker kind of way, but just to gather up my courage to face him.
Zach and Tommy served as Scout Snipers in the Marines together, and when Zach died it was just the end stretch of my entire life falling apart, even if it had been the absolute worst part of my slide downhill. It wasn’t a horror just to me, but to Tommy as well—something I hadn’t been able to admit until lately. The last time I’d seen Tommy had been… strange. We’d both been pretty messed up, and we’d dealt with it in all the wrong ways. I’d accused him of some horrible things towards the end, just before I told him I’d kill him if I ever saw him again. The threat might sound like a bad thing, but it was even worse when you took into account that Tommy basically had been my brother for years. He’d been a part of the family, but none of us had seen him since that day, and it was my fault. I’d taken his entire family from him. I should’ve contacted him a long time ago, but I’d chickened out every time. The longer it took, the harder it got, but I’d reached a point where I had to talk to him.
I walked across the lot and to the door leading into the clubhouse belonging to the Marauder Riders MC. If I could have chosen a place to meet him, a clubhouse wouldn’t have been it, but he didn’t seem to be anywhere but there.
I took a deep breath and opened the door. The beer and weed stench hit me like a slap in the face, so I decided to not take any more deep breaths.
“Can I help ya, sweetheart?”
It was an understatement to say that I hated being called ‘sweetheart,’ but I decided to let it slide, since I didn’t think it was a good idea to piss off people right off the bat. They’d be pissed enough anyway.
“Yeah, I’m looking for Tommy Miles,” I said, and I tried to look…
I wasn’t even sure what I was trying to look like, or what I should have been trying to look like, but either way, it wasn’t working. The guy took a few steps towards me and put a hand on my hip.
“Tommy’s busy, darlin’, but I’m sure I can help you with whatever you want from him.”
“I doubt it. Listen, he’s an old friend, and I really need to talk to him.” I took his hand from my hip. “Just talk.” He was still smiling widely, and I decided to try another approach, because obviously a woman could only have one business with a man in this guy’s head. “My brother served with him.”
“Yes, my brother Zachary Jensen. They were friends.”
The name seemed to ring a bell, because he took a step back. Then he turned towards the bar and yelled at a young kid behind it.
“Go get Tommy.”
“I don’t give a fuck. Go get Tommy!” He turned back towards me and extended his hand in a surprisingly civil manner. “I’m Sisco.”
“Billie,” I answered and took his hand.
“Want a beer?”
“No, thank you.”
“No. I don’t… do that.”
I heard some screaming from down the hall in the direction the young guy had disappeared, and when I turned towards it, I saw Tommy stumbling through the hallway while simultaneously buttoning up his jeans and pushing a blonde in front of him. The young guy was walking behind him, and he looked very unhappy.
Tommy halted for a second when he saw me, then he started to rush towards me, and he didn’t look happy, either—not that I had expected him to.
“What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Listen,” I started, but he wouldn’t let me finish.
By then he was standing right in front of me, and I’d forgotten how tall he was. Having a huge former Marine towering over me was a lot more intimidating than I remembered.
“Fuck no! I’m not going to listen. You’re gonna turn around and get the fuck out of here. We have nothing to say to each other!”
I wasn’t going to give in that easily, but another imposing guy, with a big mustache and the label ‘president’ stitched to his vest, came towards us. And he wasn’t the only one. The clubhouse was silent, and most guys were gravitating towards us with very unfriendly faces.
“Missy,” mustache started, “I don’t know who you are, but you need to leave.”
“Tommy, five minutes.” I held up my hand with my fingers spread. “That’s all I ask. Give me five minutes.”
“Get out!” he repeated, and the president grabbed a hold of my arm and started to lead, almost drag, me outside.
“Please,” I tried again and heard, more than felt, how choked up I was, but Tommy just crossed his arms over his chest.
By then, I was almost already out the door, and judging by the guy dragging me outside, I wouldn’t be able to get through the door a second time. My suspicion was confirmed when the president stood in front of it with his arms crossed and glared at me.
“Miss,” he started.
“Billie, my name is Billie Jensen,” I said and started searching through my bag. I wasn’t giving up, not a chance in hell I’d give up.
“Well, Billie Jensen, I’m Brick. I don’t know what history you have with Tommy, but he obviously doesn’t want to see you, so you need to stay away.”
“I know, and I don’t even blame him, but I need…” I found a pen, and took it along with a piece of paper that was probably an old receipt. “Brick, I need him to contact me. Please give him my number and tell him it’s life and death.”
Brick raised an eyebrow and gave me a knowing smile.
“It’s not about getting laid,” I continued. “I have vibrators for that. I’m not an old fuck that came to get some more. He’s an old friend of the family, he served with my brother and we grew up together. He is, or he was, family.”
That seemed to get to him, and he took the piece of paper from me with a nod.
“I’m not giving you any promises.”
“I know. Just give it to him. I’m in Phoenix.” My phone rang and I had to pick up. “Mom?”
I looked at Brick. “Just give it to him, that’s all I ask. I always answer,” I said and waved with the phone I’d just answered. Then I turned around and started walking back towards my car. “Mom, sorry, I was in the middle of something. How is he?”
“He’s just fine. He wants to talk to you, though.”
“Sure. Put him on.”
“Hey, little guy. You okay?”
“Yeah. I’m having pineapple.”
“That sounds good, honey.” I sat down on the curb and tried to stop myself from crying. I was not going to cry. No way. And if I would cry, it wouldn’t be over Tommy Miles. “I’m on my way home, so I’ll see you in a while. We can talk then.”
TOMMY COULDN’T FUCKING believe that bitch’d had the nerve to come looking for him. She’d basically accused him of killing her brother. Like he’d ever have been able to hurt Zach. He’d been his best fucking friend since they were kids, and she’d said that what had happened had been his fault. He’d held his best friend, his brother, in his arms when he died. He’d told Billie the full story, something he hadn’t been able to do until then, and she’d said it was his fault. She’d told him to stay the fuck away, so he hadn’t just lost his brother, he’d lost his entire fucking family at the same time.
“You okay?” Brick asked him when he came back inside after throwing Billie out.
“Not really,” he admitted. There was no point in lying to Brick.
“She left you her number.”
“I don’t want it.”
“Tommy, look at me.” He did as Brick had asked, but avoided looking at the piece of paper Brick was holding in his hand. “She left me her number, she said it was life and death, and she said you were family once.”
“I’d say ‘were’ and ‘once’ are the key words in that sentence.”
Brick took his hand and shoved the paper in it before giving him a stern nod.
“She’s in Phoenix, she wanted you to call, and she used to be family. Think on it.”
Brick left him with those words. At first Tommy crumbled the paper into a small ball in his fist, but after a few seconds, he cursed and pushed it into his pocket instead of just throwing it away.
“I’ll think on it,” he mumbled, mostly to himself.
The last time he’d seen Billie had been the morning after Zach’s funeral. He’d been injured when Zach was killed, so he’d been sent home. He’d done his years as an active by then. They both had, Zach and he, they’d basically been on their way home when it happened, but had talked about doing a few more years.
When Tommy got his honorable discharge, he’d accepted it without any thoughts of further service. There was no fucking way he’d continue without Zach—he wouldn’t even know how. It had actually been hard to know how to continue without Zach even outside the military, and he’d ended up leaving everything behind just to find something that was just his in an attempt to get away from Zach’s ghost. He’d ended up in Arizona, where he’d found the Marauders.
Tommy went back to his dorm room and lay down on his bed. He found the note in his pocket and carefully unfolded it. It was just a number, nothing else. It was still enough for him to recognize her handwriting, though.
Billie’d been Zach’s tomboy baby sister who’d hung after them like a tail during the early years. Zach and Billie’s dad hadn’t treated her any differently than he’d treated Zach, which meant she’d done the drill exercises right along with them in the Jensens’ backyard. She’d been tough as nails despite being a scrawny little chick.
Then she grew up, and as much of a tomboy as she’d been, it was hard to miss the fact that she was hot. Zach had been very uncomfortable with Tommy pointing that out, until Tommy’d said that the chick was basically his little sister, too, it wasn’t about that, but objectively speaking: their little sister was hot. By then she wasn’t following them around anymore, and it’s safe to say he wasn’t the only one in town who’d noticed what she looked like.
With a growl, he ran his hand over his dark buzz cut. She was his little sister, too, and she wanted his help with something. So he picked up the note and his burner, then he dialed her number.
He didn’t have to be nice to her, but he had to at least find out why she’d come to find him. It had to be some fucking emergency for her to have done that.
“Billie Jensen speaking.”
“So why are you in Phoenix?” he asked, ignoring the twitch in his cheek muscles that wanted to smile about the fact that she still answered the phone in the same way she’d done since she was five years old. He didn’t introduce himself, either. She would know it was him.
“We live here. Dad was stationed here when he retired, and we stayed.”
“Still living with your parents?”
They both stayed silent for a long time, and Tommy made up his mind.
“You’ve got thirty minutes tomorrow.”
“Where?” she immediately asked.
“There’s a café here in Greenville on Main Street called Java. Meet me there at two.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
He regretted his decision the second he hung up.
Sisco and Bucket were out in the bar when he got up the next morning. Bucket’s number of nights at the clubhouse had increased the last six months, so no one had been surprised when he’d told them he was getting a divorce from his old lady. They had a kid together, and Tommy knew he was worried he’d lose custody of the boy. They’d gotten pretty close, Bucket and him, since they worked out together almost every morning. Something that had started around the same time as Bucket started to… interact with sweetbutts again, so Tommy assumed it had to do with the shitty marriage.
Besides Bucket, there were a lot of guys with families in the club, and most of them went home at nights, since none of them strayed on their old ladies. Tommy liked the family feeling of the club, but he also liked that the singles like him, Sisco, Bull, and Wrench stuck together for the evenings at The Booty Bank. And lately, Bucket, whenever he didn’t have his kid living with him.
Tommy’d been a member for about four years, and Wrench had become a member after him, but he still often felt like the new guy. Most of them had been around for decades, and even the younger, newer members, Mac and Mitch, had been around for a long time, since they’d grown up in the damn club. It wasn’t that he didn’t feel welcome, he just didn’t fell all in, yet.
It might be that geniuses surrounded him. Tommy’s brain had never been his strong suit, and he was very well aware of it. He’d passed a lot of the exams thanks to Zach’s smarts, but on the other hand he’d been the one who’d pushed Zach in the physical things, because his strongest card had always been his physical and mental strength. He could push his body to the maximum, and then he’d let his head take over and get by for a while with the help of that. It wasn’t that he was stupid, but he’d always compared himself to Zach, who’d been smart and really quick-minded. Tommy’d often thought it was something of a waste that Zach had gone into the Marines. He would’ve done well at college, but the Jensens were all about the military and serving their country.
“Hey,” Sisco said when he noticed him. “Did you call her?”
“Fucking hell. You guys gossip worse than old ladies,” he muttered as he sat down by the bar.
“Like you’re any better,” Bucket laughed and pushed a cup of coffee towards him. “Did you?”
“Yeah. I’m seeing her later.”
“She was hot,” Sisco mumbled. “Sexy in that ball-busting way.”
“Do you hit on every fucking woman that walks through those doors?” Bucket asked Sisco.
“Pretty much,” Sisco shrugged. “I’m not picky, so I cast a wide net.”
“She’s not worth it,” Tommy told him.
“You sure? Tits looked great.”
“I’m sure. She’s… I don’t know. I’ve known her since she was born, so I know her pretty well, and she’s not worth it,” he shrugged. “Also, she’s never been much for short things. She’s the relationship kind.”
“Damn,” Sisco muttered. “Not gonna happen, then.”
“What did she want?” Bucket asked.
“Don’t know. Guess I’ll find out.”
He worked until lunch, and then told Brick he needed the afternoon off. When Brick asked him why with a big smile, Tommy assumed he knew but wanted to hear him admit it, so he told him.
Billie was already at the café when he arrived and stood up when she saw him. He hadn’t really had a good look at her the day before, simply since he’d seen red and just wanted her out of his fucking sight, but now he did. She looked good, she always did, but when he got closer he noticed the dark circles under her eyes. Her blonde hair was up in a messy ponytail, and even though her eyes had the same green-brown color as she and Zach had always had, they didn’t have the same shine. She looked dead tired.
“I ordered coffee for you,” she said and pointed at the cup waiting for him while she sat down. “I assumed you still drink it the same way you used to.”
Coffee with just a dash of cream, that was how he always had his coffee. The coffee in the cup in front of Billie looked more like a latte than a regular coffee; it had so much cream in it. Zach had used to tease her that her kind of coffee was pussy coffee, but she’d never minded, and Zach had stopped commenting on it when she’d pointed out that she had a pussy. In general, she hardly ever cared when they teased her, but she always gave as good as she got. That was okay, though; it had just made it more fun.
He looked at her again, and he had no idea where to start. He wasn’t even sure he’d be able to stay for the full thirty minutes, because as nice as it was to see her again, he was still so fucking pissed at her.
“So, I’m listening,” he said.
“I’m really sorry for what I said to you. I was just a mess, and losing Zach…” She drifted off, and after taking a few deep breaths she boldly met his gaze. “I know it wasn’t your fault, and I’m sorry I said that.”
It really wasn’t just what she’d said, but just as much what she’d done. She’d cut him off, and they’d been his family. He hadn’t just lost Zach, he’d lost the rest of them, too, and that had been almost as bad. He knew she’d been in a bad place when she’d said those things, but so had he, and he’d taken care to not make it worse for her. She was trying now, though, so he should at least give her a shot.
“Okay,” he said, and she gave him a nod. “How long have you been in Phoenix?”
“Four years. Dad was transferred here and I followed them. He retired two years ago.”
“I have a hard time seeing Clay as a content retiree.”
“He’s doing okay. Got a lot going, but I think he’s bored at times.” She looked at him. “I didn’t know you lived so close until a few weeks ago.”
“How would you know?” He’d probably said that slightly more harshly than he’d intended, and he wanted to at least try to be pleasant. “So, why did you move with your parents?”
“I needed help.” She kept her eyes on the cup in front of her. “I have a son.”
He was surprised. Tommy talked to his brother, Dwayne, on a pretty regular basis, but he’d never mentioned that Billie’d had a kid. Although they’d never really talked about Billie or anyone in the Jensen family, so he didn’t even know if Dwayne was in contact with them.
When their dad died, their mom fell apart, or rather, got worse than normal. When Dwayne was moving on to college, he’d flat out said to Tommy they needed to get their mom help because there was no fucking way he’d leave Tommy with her. So their mom had ended up in an institution, and Tommy with the Jensens. He hadn’t minded. Their house had always felt more like a home to him than his own. His mom had committed suicide while he was in boot camp. In her farewell letter, she’d claimed it was his fault because she couldn’t see ‘that fucking army take another one of her family members.’ Strangely, losing the Jensens had hurt a lot more than losing his mom, and he didn’t know if that spoke volumes about him or his mother.
He didn’t see his brother often, but they were still pretty close. They kept in touch, and Tommy owed his brother for the decision he’d made when he left for college. It had been the right thing to do.
“Yeah.” Billie smiled at his surprise. “He’s… God, I don’t know where to start. He’s sick. Really sick.”
“I’m sorry.” He reached over the table and took her hand. “Really, Billie, I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Thank you. He’s got something called Polycystic Kidney Disease. He’s developing cysts on his kidneys, and they’re shutting down. He needs a new kidney, and we’ve all been tested, but none of us are a match, and he doesn’t have long. He’s on the list, but… if it takes much longer, he’s going to need a new liver, too, and that’s an even longer wait.”
“Fuck, Billie. That’s rough. Is there anything I can do? I know you probably don’t need money, but anything.”
He’d help her in any way he could. If a kid was involved, an argument six years ago didn’t matter.
“I was hoping that… maybe you could see if you match. That’s why I came to find you.”
“Why…” He’d just started the question of why she thought he would be a match, when the obvious reason hit him like a brick. He let go of her hand “Oh, you fucking bitch.”
“You fucking thunder cunt. He’s mine, isn’t he?”
It had been once, or rather one night, just after Zach’s funeral. Some weird attempt from them both to just be closer to Zach by being closer to each other—the two most important people in Zach’s life. It had been amazing. He’d had his entire leg in a cast and a funky shoulder, but it was still probably the best sex he’d had in his entire life. He might not be the smartest guy, but even he understood that the reason it had been good was that it was the first time in weeks he’d been able to relax and think about something else than his best friend dying in his arms. Actually, he’d been so relaxed, he’d started talking to her once they were sated and told her what’d happened when he was injured and Zach died. The next moment, she’d started yelling at him. It had escalated and eventually he’d left her. The unfairness of it had grown into a huge raging ball of anger—all of it directed at her. Walking into the bar and seeing her there had been like a punch square to the jaw.
But this… She’d had his kid, and hadn’t even bothered with telling him. That was so fucking wrong! So fucking… There weren’t even words for how fucking wrong that was.
“Yes, he’s yours.” Billie had the decency to look ashamed, but it didn’t help. “I didn’t know what to do. We’d been fighting, I said some mean things, and you’d said to never contact you, and… Frankly, I wasn’t sure you cared.”
“You thought I wouldn’t care if I had a kid? What the fuck do you think about me, Billie? Was I really that much of an ass to you?” All he really wanted to do was to reach over the table and slam her face into it. “What the fuck gave you the right to make that decision for me?”
“Nothing!” she yelled before lowering her voice again. “Nothing gave me that right, and I know it. Don’t you think I’ve thought about it? Then you were gone. The longer it went, the harder it got, and then he got sick, and it was all I could think about. There is nothing you can say or call me that I haven’t already thought myself, and I know it doesn’t mean shit to you, but I am sorry, and I need your help.”
He bit down on all the other things he wanted to call her, or do to her, and decided to try to remember what was important. “What was it he had?”
“Polycystic Kidney Disease. It’s most often a genetic disorder, but they don’t think it is in his case, since he got it so early. Cysts are basically fluid-filled bladders, and they’re developing at a rapid speed inside his kidneys. It was discovered when he was just two years old. He’s getting dialysis now and medication for the associated symptoms and conditions. So it’s as much under control as it can be.” She hesitated before saying the next thing. “His name is Felix.”
He could’ve made a comment about the absurdity of a kid named Felix in Phoenix, but he didn’t. He sighed, and Billie continued talking,
“He’s very brave and so smart. Really smart, and always in a good mood. It’s usually him cheering me up instead of the other way around.” She looked at him. “Please, just think about it. You don’t have to promise me anything, but just think about it.”
“To test and see if you’re a match. I know I have no right to ask you—”
“Fucking hell, Billie! Of course I’ll do it. I’m not the ass you obviously think I am.”
He could see her exhale, and her face broke out in a smile.
“Thank you. I know that’s not enough, in any way, but thank you. And we’ll cover any medical expenses, loss of income, anything you want.”
Tommy didn’t give a shit about money. “What have you told him about me?” The kid should have been five years old, so he must’ve asked about his dad. At least Tommy thought he might have.
He should’ve known. “You went for the Jensen way.”
They were always brutally honest about everything. Tell the truth and shame the devil, was basically their family motto.
“Yes. Rather have him know than having to try to remember what lies I’ve told him. It would just mean he’d hate me when he grew up and found out the truth,” she explained. “He knows you were a friend of Zach’s, that you lived with us for a while, and he knows you don’t know about him. He doesn’t think you’ve stayed away by choice.”
“Good. Because I’m not gonna do this and disappear. That’s not fucking going to happen.”
He might not have wanted a kid, but now he had one, and he’d be damned before he ignored that. It was his kid, a Jensen-Miles kid. He was bound to be an awesome guy, Tommy thought to himself and tried to hide his smile. He couldn’t wait to meet him.
“I didn’t think you would,” Billie said.
“I want to meet him.”
“He knows I’ve been looking for you, but I haven’t told him I’ve found you. Just in case…”
“… I was as much of an ass as you thought.”
“It’s a lot to process. I just thought it was better to not get his hopes up.”
“Whatever you need to tell yourself to sleep at night,” he snarled. “When can I see him?”