Dex:Great Wolves M.C. Book OneBy: Jayne Blue
For thirteen years, I’ve done nothing but dream about a day like this. The roar of my Harley ran through my body, heated my blood and seemed to work its way into my soul. A light, late summer rain started to fall, filling my nostrils with a whiff of ozone and wet asphalt as I rounded the curve toward home.
Thirteen years of only seeing the horizon over coiled razor wire and watch towers.
Now, a thin fog settled over the jutting peaks of Mount Shasta. The road before me stretched for miles. For a moment, I thought about simply staying on it. Everyone that mattered already knew how to live without me. It hurt like hell, but I knew how to live without them now too. The pain of the loss had scabbed over and hardened over the years. Going back to Green Bluff could rip it all open again. The easy thing to do would be to leave them in peace. Find somewhere else to settle. Start over.
Except I’ve never been a man to choose the easiest path.
Charlie’s engine revved behind me, as if he could sense where my thoughts headed. He pulled up alongside me, his curly gray hair flying straight behind him, his cut flapping wildly. He lifted his chin and smiled at me. I could see my own face in his mirrored shades. God, I looked cold and hard. How could I think I belonged back in the light?
But when Charlie veered off toward the exit to Green Bluff, I followed. On the back roads into town, nothing had changed much. We passed the same cattle pastures and rolling hills that had always been there. In that way, the years seemed like they passed in a minute. They hadn’t though, and I knew the greatest challenge of my life wasn’t behind me, but ahead. It was time to find out what was left of Dex McLain. How much of that man could still be in there after all those years of hard time and rage I’d had to swallow. Only I would ever know what it had taken to survive. I couldn’t let myself think about what I’d lost. Not yet. Not without giving into the darkness that had put me away. That could wait.
I followed Charlie. He let the throttle out and picked up speed as we hit the straightaway toward town. There was still nothing out here but cattle and dust, with the mountains in the distance. I knew that Green Bluff itself was nothing like I’d left it. I’d spend the next few days seeing just how much. For now though, we were headed for familiar ground and the place I used to call home.
I realized I had no idea where I would even lay my head tonight. The club would provide, I knew this. Since I stepped foot outside the gates of Marion Penitentiary six weeks ago, the members of the Great Wolves M.C. had made sure I had a place to crash on my journey from Chicago all the way to northern Cali. But now it was time to step back into the arms of my own chapter. The men I’d called brothers were calling me home. Charlie and I turned one final time and headed for the clubhouse.
The Wolf Den started out as a converted barn. My father, his cousin Blackie Murphy, Charlie, and the rest of the Great Wolves originals had built the bar and clubhouse from the ground up. When we pulled into the parking lot, I got my first taste of the changes to come. The old barn was gone. In its place was a large two-story brick and stone building. The black silhouette of a howling wolf’s head was inlaid on the roof. The same symbol was inked on my back, just like it was for every member of the Great Wolves M.C. Thirty or more Harleys were parked around the building. Charlie cut his engine and I pulled in next to him and cut mine.
“Looks like the welcoming committee’s all here,” Charlie said. He threw his head back and laughed. His eyes shone with mirth and it did my heart good to see some of the pain gone from his eyes. Every other month for the last thirteen years, I’d watched him age with the torment of seeing me behind bars. In some ways I thought it was harder on him than it was on me. Since my Da passed, and Uncle Blackie after him, Charlie was the last of the old guard. That last of the Great Wolves originals.
“I can see that,” I said. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I had been hoping for a quiet reunion with some of the club members I’d been closest to. I didn’t know probably more than half of the new members in there.
“Relax.” Charlie slapped my back with the force of a damn grizzly bear. Hell, he looked like one with his round belly, full beard and steel gray hair that curled in ringlets halfway down his back. “This is your family, Dex. I’ll take you through the back to the table. It’ll just be Sly and Billy back there. They’re waiting for you.”