Note to Readers
This is Bear’s story and book three in the King series. It is recommended that you read both King and Tyrant in order to fully understand and enjoy all that goes on in Lawless. I hope you enjoy reading LAWLESS as much as I loved writing it.
“We’re lawless my friend.
Civilians can’t wrap their little fucking brains
around that without getting their frilly
panties in a fucking twist.”
I was born a Bastard.
A soldier, in the lawless army of the Beach Bastards Motorcycle Club. Groomed to one day take the gavel from my old man.
Duty came before my conscience, before family, before everything.
I didn’t choose the life, it chose me, and living it came with knowing, and accepting, that every morning I got up to take a piss, could be my very last day above ground.
Or, depending on my orders…someone else’s last.
Being a biker, a Bastard, wasn’t just in my blood. I didn’t just live it.
I breathed it.
I drank it.
I fucking loved it.
It was everything.
Until it wasn’t.
I don’t remember the exact moment it happened, maybe after my first kill, maybe on the day I was patched in, but it happened. Motor oil, leather, violence, and a penchant for laying down enemies of the club, replaced the blood in my veins.
I became more biker than man.
And I was proud.
I never thought of it as a problem, but I also never thought there would come a day when I wouldn’t be a Beach Bastard anymore.
But it came.
And I wasn’t.
On the day I laid down my cut and walked out the door of the MC, I’d turned my own hourglass and set the expiration on my life.
Once a Bastard, you were always a Bastard.
Or you were dead.
They’d come for me. But the fucked up thing was that it wasn’t the thought of my brothers trying to put me to ground that bothered me most, it was the uncertainty.
I knew everything about being a biker.
I didn’t know shit about being a man.
I’ve been tortured and on the verge of death, violated for the amusement of my captors. Through it all I’d never lost that edge that kept me alive. That fight. The thing inside that makes your heart beat so fast it feels like it’s going to beat its way right through your chest, and tells you that no matter the situation, you’ll not only get the fuck out of it, but that you’re going to burn every motherfucker alive who tried to take you down.
I’ve been beaten, but I’d never been broken.
Ten years old…
I don’t know where it all went wrong.
I never understood that saying. Because looking back on my life I can pinpoint the exact day, the exact hour, when it all changed and took a turn that no one could have predicted.
Three weeks away from my eleventh birthday, I had just ridden my little red bicycle the three miles to the Stop-n-Go. Dad wanted me to drop off a crate of oranges so I’d tied them to a skateboard and tied a rope from the front wheels to the seat of my bike with a rope I’d found in my dad’s old boat. “Will you watch the counter, Cindy?” Emma May asked, swaying her hips from side to side, she shimmied her way over to the door, clutching her little square purse in her hand. “I’m just going to pop next door to the salon for a bit. No one will probably even come in,” she added, leaning over the counter she opened the antique cash register using a series of button pushes and a slam of her fist on a spot at the bottom. She removed some cash and smiled back at me, pushing through the glass door that chimed when she opened it and again when it swung shut.
Emma May was right. She’d asked me to watch the store before and no one had ever come in.
Until that day.
It’s not like I was eager to get home. Mom had started acting weird. Cleaning the floors for hours until the wood lost its shine. Talking to herself in the kitchen. Anytime I asked her about it, she acted like she didn’t know what I was talking about. Dad told me that it would be okay and to just stay out of her way and give her some space.
I did what he said and stayed away as much as possible, most of the time not getting home until just after the sun set.
Watching the store was a good reason as any to prolong going home.
After an hour I got fidgety. I straightened the wall of cigarettes behind the register, turned the hot dogs on the rollers that didn’t work, and tried to read a magazine, but I didn’t understand what ‘Seventeen Positions to Make Him Ache’ even meant.
If someone was aching why didn’t they just go see a doctor? Or a dentist? That’s where I went when I had a toothache.
I’d given up on magazines and was leaning back on an old bar stool that creaked every time I swiveled on it. With my feet up on the counter, I turned the channel dial on the little black and white TV that was propped up on a phone book sitting on the corner of the counter. The only two channels that came in was some western one and the weather channel. Both pictures were fuzzy and the only sound coming out of the speakers was the sound of static and white noise. I tried to turn the entire thing off but nothing was working, if anything I’d only managed to make it louder. It became so loud that I didn’t hear the motorcycles pull in the parking lot or the chime of the door bells against the glass.
I pulled the plug from the outlet. I was still holding the cord when I looked up into the eyes of a dark-haired stranger.
And his gun.
“Everything you’ve got,” he ordered, pointing with his gun to the register. He was swaying from side to side and his eyes were rimmed in red.
“I don’t know how…” I started, but the man interrupted.
“Just fucking do it!” he ordered, making the gun click, he hopped up so that his chest was resting on the counter and the gun was only inches from the side of my head. I slid off the stool and pushed it over to the register, climbing on it I sat back on my knees and attempted the complicated combination of buttons that Emma had used when she’d opened it.
“Come on! Now kid!” The man yelled, growing impatient.
“I’m trying, maybe I’m hitting it in the wrong spot.” I tried again, this time hitting it more at the bottom than the top. The man came over to my side of the register. He smelt like the time my baby brother got sick in the backseat of the truck on our way to Savannah.
“You listen here you little bitch,” he said, raising his gun in the air like he was going to hit me with it. I jumped off the stool and wedged myself under the counter.
The front door chimes announced the door had opened and a voice boomed through the room, rattling the display case filled with glass jars of homemade beef jerky. “What the fuck are you doing?” The voice asked. The man with the gun froze with his hand still in the air.
“I’m getting paid, motherfucker,” the man slurred.
A colorful arm came across the counter and grabbed the man by the neck pulling him over the counter like he weighed no more than a bug. There was a commotion and again the bells announced the door opening and closing.
It was another few minutes before I came out of my hiding spot from under the counter, crawling back onto the barstool I leaned across just as the doors opened. In walked a blond man wearing the same type of leather vest as the man with the gun, except he wasn’t wearing a shirt underneath. He had muscles you could see under his skin like the wrestlers on TV, except not as enormous, his skin was decorated with tattoos, one large one across his shoulder and down one arm. The same colorful tattoos on the arm that had just pulled away the guy with the gun.
His bright eyes were the same shade as the Maxwell’s new above ground swimming pool. A deep shining blue. His sandy blond hair was slicked backwards, longer on the top and shaved on the sides. A Mohawk I think they called it in the movies. “Are you the only one here?” he asked, scanning the room, peering into all three of the little aisles.
“You are the one that Skid just…” he didn’t finish his sentence. Leaning forward he braced his hands on the counter and took a deep breath. His colorful tattoos extended to the tops of his hands and his fingers. He wore three big silver rings on each of his hands. He had hair on his face and up until that moment, when someone talked about beards, I’d always imagined the long white wire hair growing from the chins of old and ugly wizards wearing long robes and huge blue pointed hats. This man’s beard was a little darker than his hair and only an inch or so long.
He was no wizard. Or old.
“You have cool hair,” I said. He had cool everything. More than cool he was…
Pretty? Could a guy be pretty?
No, he wasn’t pretty.
He was beautiful.
“Thank you, Darlin’,” he said, leaning on the counter. He smelled like my father’s truck when he was changing the oil and the lilac soap Mrs. Kitchener made from scratch every summer. “Your hair is pretty cool too.” It was the first time in my life I think I blushed. My cheeks got hot and when the man noticed, he just smiled brighter and leaned in closer.
“Why are you in here all alone? They don’t believe in child labor laws in Jessep?”
“I don’t know what that is, but no one really comes in here much since they opened up the new highway. I was just minding the store while Emma May went to the beauty parlor. She said she’d be right back, but if they are going to make Emma May beautiful I think she’s gonna be a while.”
The man laughed and leaned on his elbows. “Listen, sweet girl. I’m sorry about my friend.” He shot me a small smile. “He’s very sick from a long ride and was being really stupid.”
“Looked more like drunk to me. Maybe hungover, but you should tell him not to drink and drive.”
“Where did you come from?” He looked amused. I wanted to do whatever it took to keep that look on his face. “Yeah, long rides can do that to people. But you’re okay? He didn’t hurt you at all did he?”
I shook my head. “No, I’m fine and you don’t hafta be sorry. I was reaching for Emma May’s shotgun just when you came in.” I lifted the shotgun off its hooks under the counter so he could see it and pumped the shaft. The man took one look at the gun and bent over in a fit of laughter. I put it back under the counter. “What’s so funny?” I asked.
“Oh man, I can’t wait to tell Skid he almost got put to ground by a little girl.” His eyes teared up as he continued to laugh, deep and loud.
“I’m not a little girl.” I argued. “I’ll be eleven next month. How old are you?”
“I’m twenty-one.” He smiled even brighter and suddenly I was no longer angry over him calling me a little girl. If he kept smiling at me like that he could call me whatever he wanted.
“What’s your name, Darlin?” he asked.
“I’m Thia Andrews,” I said proudly, extending my hand out to him like my dad had taught me to do when introducing yourself.
“Thia?” he asked, giving me the same weird look most people did when they heard my name for the first time.
“Short for Cynthia, but not like Cindy. There are twelve girls in my class and three of them are Cindy’s so I’m glad I’m a Thia and not a Cindy.” I stuck out my tongue and mimicked sticking my finger down my throat. I hated the name Cindy, although when my dad proposed Thia as an alternative my mom refused to use the new nickname and had stuck to calling me Cindy. “What’s your name?”
He took my hand in his. “They call me Bear, Darlin’.” His skin was warm, except for the cool metal of his rings. I looked so small and pale compared to Bear, my hand looked like doll hands. “I got a buddy who shook hands as a kid too.”
“Daddy says it’s polite.”
“Your daddy is right.”
“Your friend who shakes hands, is he nice like you?” I asked.
“I wouldn’t exactly say I’m nice. But my friend? He’s…let’s just say, he’s different,” Bear said with a laugh.
“Different is good. My teachers say I’m different cause I got pink hair, although they also say I have a speaking-out-of-turn problem,” I said, with all the prolific knowledge of a ten-year-old.
“Sometimes different is real good, kid,” Bear agreed.
“Is your real name Bear?” I asked. “Is your last name Grizzly or something?”
“Nope,” he said. “Bear is just a nickname my club gave me. All the members go by nicknames, except we call them road names.”
“You’re in a club?” I asked with excitement. “That’s so cool! If your real name isn’t Bear though, what is it?”
“Can you keep a secret?” he whispered, looking around to make sure no one was listening. “I haven’t told anyone my name in years. Even my old man calls me Bear. But my real name? It’s Abel. And now you’re one of the only few people who know that.”
“That’s a really great name.” Although Bear fit him too. He was taller than my dad and he had a lot of muscles and his hands were huge like Bear paws.
He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a clip with folded bills in it. More money than I’d ever seen.
More than what was in my Buzz Lightyear piggy bank in my room at home.
More than what was in Emma May’s register.
Bear pulled off three of the bills and set them on the counter. “What’s that for?” I asked, looking down at his hand which was partially covering the money as he slid it over to me and released it.
“That, is three hundred dollars.”
“What do you want to buy? I can run over to the hair place and get Emma ’cause this dang register—”
“I’m not buying anything. It’s for you. For your help today. For not—”
“Three hundred bucks for not calling the sheriff?” I asked, catching on to what he was offering.
Three hundred dollars to a ten-year-old might as well have been a million.
“Consider it a thank you for not shooting him,” Bear corrected.
“That’s okay. Emma May would have been mad about the blood anyway.” Emma May hated a mess.