They thought their lives were settled.
They were wrong.
After rescuing Krystal from the Rattler Kings MC, Samuel promised to love and protect her forever. She trusted him to keep her safe.
Then, the Favoloras Cartel roared into town, declaring blood debt.
They had to run.
How can you keep someone safe when there’s danger at every turn?
I would like to believe that Samuel “Blue” Donahue and I are one of the great and forever loves that I read about when I was growing up: Anthony and Cleopatra, Jamie and Claire, Roark and Eve. Certainly our first encounter was fate. He was a police officer, I was a victim. He rescued me from the Rattler Kings Motorcycle Gang. I rescued him from a life without true love.
Now, we were together, planning our life, surrounded by family and friends. Our unborn child was going to be encircled by the unconditional love that we had found within each other.
Maeve, Blue’s sister, was downstairs in her own apartment scurrying about, trying to decide what to wear to impress the oh so dark, oh so handsome, Derick Black, ATF Agent Extraordinaire. She had been enamoured of him from the beginning. She had been a friend, so I was reciprocating by doing some matchmaking. When she first met me, Maeve had refused to treat me as if I was damaged, using her nonstop talking and snarky comments to push me from my fear fogged brain that kept me trapped in silence when I first came to the house on Bardstown Road. Now that house was my home.
Now, we were together, planning our life, surrounded by family and friends. Our unborn child was going to be encircled by the unconditional love that we had found within ourselves.
Maeve, Blue’s sister, was downstairs in her own apartment scurrying about, trying to decide what to wear to impress the oh so dark, oh so handsome, Derick Black, ATF Agent Extraordinaire. She had been enamoured of him from the beginning. She had been a true friend, so I was reciprocating by doing some matchmaking. When she first met me, Maeve had refused to treat me as if I was damaged, using her nonstop talking and snarky comments to push me from my fear fogged brain that kept me trapped in silence when I first came to the house on Bardstown Road. Now that house was my home.
Tonight, we were having Derick over for dinner. Maeve had commented more than once that she would like to get to know him better, as she had waggled her eyebrows suggestively. Maeve had quickly insinuated herself as my friend, with her huge heart and concern about people. She was a nurse, finishing her graduate degree as a nurse practitioner in midwifery. All her patients loved her, and so did I,
Part of my fear that was so difficult to remove from my subconscious thoughts, was the memory of my best friend’s murder. I could remember as if it was yesterday, the glint of the blade against Donna’s neck, the spatters of bright red blood on the walls, then Jag’s voice whispering in my ear, “Don’t tell anyone what you seen or your momma’s dead.” I still had horrific nightmares where I would wake up, screaming, with Blue’s arms wrapped so tightly around me I couldn’t move.
I would always miss Donna. Our childhood friendship had kept us together for so long that we could finish each other’s sentences; we could practically read each other’s minds. As my life changed so drastically, I missed being able to talk to her. However, I knew she would have loved Maeve as much as I did and I was comforted by that knowledge.
I was excited about Derick coming over tonight. He had been a good friend and mentor to Blue and he was always gallant to Maeve and me in a dark brooding alpha man kind of way.
Maeve had been flitting about all day, helping me clean the apartment, and talking about how much she liked Derick. She kept hinting that he might be “quirky” in bed, but she refused to elaborate. Now she was downstairs trying to decide what to wear.
It was obvious to Blue and me that Maeve and Derick were interested in each other, so we had decided to push that along a bit by getting them together. Now she was downstairs again, changing her clothes again so she could impress him.
The doorbell rang so Blue went to get it while I finished getting ready. I still struggled at times talking to strangers or people I didn't like, but with close friends I only had problems if I got overwhelmed by my feelings, so I was relaxed and comfortable that Maeve and Derick were joining us for dinner. They knew me very well and if I acted unusual or different than normal, they understood the reasons and didn't question me.
Blue clattered downstairs just as Maeve opened her apartment door, so they both greeted Derick at the same time. I heard the three of them coming back up the stairs so I gave one last brush of my hair and walked into the living room.
Derick looked at Blue and me with a concerned expression. “Krystal, Sam,” he said, “I need to talk to you.”
His serious tone made me nervous, so I immediately went to Blue and curled against his side. He would always be my savior and protector in my eyes and, I think, in his. He immediately wrapped his arms around me and I felt safe once again.
Derick suggested we go into the living room to talk, but I insisted we go into the kitchen so I could finish getting the table set and dinner ready. I announced, “Blue’s made his famous Parmesan Lime Grilled Corn and his White Chili. He used his mom’s recipe for the chili so it’s gotta be good. Maeve and I made a salad.” A dinner party was something I had never done so I smiled nervously at Blue and started pulling silverware out of drawers and the chunky pottery bowls that we had bought a few days ago at the ByBee Pottery Outlet just for this party.
“Sam, Krystal,” He said, interrupting me, “There's been some chatter from our informants that some men in the Favoloras Cartel from Mexico have come into town. Word has it they are gunning for the people that shut down their pipeline for drugs and guns into this area.”
I stilled, almost not breathing and looked at Blue. He took two steps and had me pressed hard against his body. He put his lips against my ear and whispered, “It doesn't matter. You and the baby belong to me. I will always protect both of you. Every breath in your body is mine to take care of forever. You will always be safe with me.” My face was against his chest and I heard his steady slow heartbeat. I smelled his spicy cologne with a faint hint of his own musk underneath. My body knew these signals intimately and I relaxed almost unconsciously.
“Unfortunately,” Derick said, “I have some more news. Krystal, I got a call from Captain Frank about twenty minutes ago. I told him not to call you because I wanted to be with you when I told you. The police had a call to the Riverside Trailer Homes this afternoon. A cavalcade of cars went through the park today with guns. They shot up everyone's trailers from the entrance to the road where your mom lived. A few people were injured, and one person was pronounced dead at the scene.”
The bowl in my hand crashed to the ground as I sagged, unable to support myself on nerveless legs. I remembered what Jag had said about coming after my mom. But he was in jail. How would this cartel know about my mom? We weren't particularly close anymore, but I loved her. It could not be her that was dead. Maybe someone I knew. Maybe Mom’s new boyfriend . . . my mind kept going in useless circles.
Blue scooped me into his arms and held me tightly against him amid the broken pieces of blue speckled pottery. “Shhhh” he murmured in my ear, “It’s all going to be okay.”
Derick said, “I'm sorry, Krystal. I’m sorry to have to tell you that your mom died this afternoon. Also, from the description of the cars and people it looked like not only was it the Favoloras Cartel, but it was their leader, Aaron Favoloras, who actually shot your mom. That means he’s calling the kill as a blood debt to him personally.”
I knew I should say something, but I felt once more as if my throat had a huge blockage that words couldn’t pass. How was I going to be able to deal with my mom dying? How was I going to deal with more violence and death? I slid out of Blue’s arms, and sat heavily onto the floor. I looked at the broken bowls and whispered, “I need to pick this up, I guess we can just use our regular bowls.”
Claire feels like she sprang into existence, a full blown personality, just like her books. She believes she is made from her imaginary dragons that lived in her closet when she was eight, her half feral imaginary friend, Jennifer, who lived in the Girl Scout Camp woods when she was ten and finally started growing up with her Water Brothers when she was sixteen.
Claire has had many living reincarnations in her life time before becoming an author. She has been a poet, a healer, midwife, nurse, artisan, mother, grandmother, wife and lover.
She and her dear husband (he claims she rescued him, she says it was the other way around) live with their four rescue birds, three rescue dogs and one rescue fish in the wilds of Tennessee in a house with at least two ghosts.