Damon:A Bad Boy MC Romance Novel(7)

By: Meg Jackson

Tricia thought that might be the reason she hadn’t managed to make more friends in the little town. Her coworkers at the library were pleasant and unscathed, all with decent marriages and simple stories. When she’d finally opened up about what had brought her there, they were sympathetic to a fault. And they never really treated her the same. They treated her like she was an orphan, or something too tender to touch. They meant well. They meant exceptionally well. She didn’t blame them for making things worse.

She loaded her duffel bag into the trunk of her car and sat behind the steering wheel. In a movie, she might have paused before starting the car and driving off – a long and poignant moment where she gathered her courage and everything else inside her into a tight bundle, prepared herself to propel into the past and the future at the same time. But she didn’t, just turned the key and pressed down on the pedal and left the town behind.

It had all started the previous autumn, when a motorcycle club, the Steel Dragons, came to the Volanis brothers looking to take over the marijuana business in Kingdom – they wanted to start introducing some more heavy-duty drugs to the small town, and didn’t want any competition from the gypsies. When the brothers refused, the Steel Dragons fought back, and they fought dirty.

Tricia’s involvement in the affair was pure, unfiltered bad luck. That bad luck had a name, incidentally; its name was Paul Tiding.

Paul was Tricia’s boyfriend that season. And he liked to show his affection with his fists. Tricia never thought of herself as the sort of girl to fall in with a man who’d abuse her, but there she was, being choked by her boyfriend outside the local bar. Cristov Volanis acted as her savior, running Paul off and bringing Tricia back to his trailer to spend the night in safety. The next morning, as she was leaving the trailer, someone saw her and made an assumption – an assumption that would change her life forever.

The bikers had confused Tricia for Ricky, thinking that it was Tricia who Cristov loved; they kidnapped her, intending to hold her hostage until the gypsies promised to leave town for good. For one awful night, she was at their mercy, tied up and bound. When she struggled and screamed, they punished her by putting her out in the frigid cold. Tricia had truly believed they would kill her. But they never got the chance.

Because Damon Volanis killed one of them first.

And, in doing so, Damon made sure that she would never forget him. He’d been the one to wrap his arms around her, offer her the first bit of warmth in that cold hell. Released her from her ties. Carried her to safety. When she thought of him, though, those weren’t the things that she thought of.

Instead, she thought of a joke he told her when they first met, before the kidnapping, when Cristov brought her back to the trailer he shared with his brothers. It had been a rough night for her, though nowhere as rough as the nights to come. Damon offered her the first thing that made her feel better. As it happened, it was also the last thing that made her feel better.

“Why was the nihilist dating service such a success?”

That’s what she remembered. That, and the way just being around him had seemed to make things calmer. The way his eyes held hers like a steel trap, and told her that it was going to be okay. The things he said without saying them. And the way she felt sure that she would meet him again. That something was going to happen between them. That something was meant to happen.

Of course, she could never have predicted the circumstances that led to their meeting again, when he saved her with a bullet on a cold November dusk. And, compared to the kidnapping, her abusive boyfriend seemed like a walk in the park, making Damon’s ability to comfort her afterwards far less significant. But still…when she thought of home, now, she thought of him.

It had been just over six months, and outside of some trips to Delaware to testify against the men who’d hurt her, Tricia had been living in Massachusetts, where there was an outpatient clinic for crime victims and the safety of distance between her and the remaining members of the Steel Dragons who might want to silence her before she could bear witness. Living in a strange town, with a temporary name, a temporary address, a temporary job, a temporary everything had taken almost as much a toll on her as the actions that had made such precautions necessary. She missed her friends and her family. She wanted to come home.

But as she watched the landscape slip backwards on the interstate, her knuckles tight on the steering wheel and her jaw aching from tightness, she wondered if she shouldn’t take some wise words to heart.

You can never go home again, she thought.

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