The next instalment in Abbi Glines’s sizzling Smoke series comes out next week, and I have the prologue and the whole first chapter for you to give you a little taste. If you’ve been following the series so far, this is Garrett’s book.
Deciding to meet with The Judgment MC’s president was more of a family matter than business. Since the president, Liam Walsh, was my daughter-in-law’s father and there had been bad blood between us in the past, I felt it was time to remedy that. This would be my belated wedding gift to Blaise, my oldest son, and his wife, Madeline. It also didn’t hurt to have The Judgment as backup when needed. The more men I had in my pocket, the more power I held.
The family had never associated with MCs before, but then times were changing, and I had to learn to accept that. Our world couldn’t just exist among the elite. We had to broaden our attachments. This was a good start. I imagined my father was rolling over in his grave. But then perhaps not. Madeline’s grandfather had been his best friend. If there was an afterlife, then I would hope he’d see this as the right thing to do. For Madeline and the family.
Liam Walsh fit the biker persona with his combat boots, leather vest, tattooed arms, and ripped jeans. It had taken a lot for me to come here. To face the man who had been the cause of Madeline’s mother, Etta’s, disappearance that led to her death. His side of the story was still one I questioned, but for Madeline, I was willing to fucking try. Madeline had given me my first grandson. The heir to the Hughes place as boss among the Southern Mafia. For Cree, I could accept this.
“I’m sorry, Garrett,” Liam said as he handed me a glass of whiskey.
It wasn’t what I typically drank, but I doubted Liam could afford my preference in scotch.
“Micah was called to meet with us before we went to church. The others will have all gathered. I’ll get Micah on our way down.”
Not smirking at the way he called a meeting among his men “church” was difficult. I had always found biker clubs to be cliché. It was a dirtier, uncivilized gang of criminals. The family at least had a standard, unlike the men here. Again, I was judging them. I had to control that if this was going to work.
“This way,” Liam said to me as he headed for the door of his office.
I downed the amber liquid in the glass, then set it on the bar as I followed him into the hallway. There were doors that I knew were rooms for the higher-up members in the club. Liam walked down the hall and stopped at the third door on his right.
“FUCK, that’s it! Suck it like a good little slut,” a voice shouted inside the room.
Liam sighed and shook his head, then banged loudly on the door.
“MICAH! CHURCH NOW!” Liam yelled.
“Fuuuck!” Micah called out from inside the room. “Yeah, okay.”
Liam scowled. “Get your dick out of her goddamn mouth! We have business.”
“Fuck, baby, suck that dick … take it deep … TAKE IT! I’M COMING!”
Liam looked disgusted as he glanced back at me. “I sometimes wonder why I put up with his shit.”
“Why do you?” I asked.
If one of my men disobeyed me this way, I’d have them killed.
“I raised him,” Liam replied. “He’s like a son.”
Now, that, I could somewhat understand. He wasn’t his flesh and blood, but that wasn’t what made family. Loyalty made family.
The door swung open, and Micah was grinning while zipping up his jeans.
“Sorry, Liam. It’s hard to walk away from a blow like that.”
His gaze swung to me then, and I saw him stiffen. We’d never met officially, but like I knew who he was, I knew that he was well aware of who I was.
“Mr. Hughes,” he said, closing the door behind him. “I didn’t realize you were here.”
“If you could keep your dick out of her mouth, then you’d have seen my text. And stay out of Tex’s goddamn room,” Liam said, sounding disgusted. “Now, let’s get to church.”
I followed Liam as he led me down the stairs I’d come up when I arrived. The black walls seemed all very forced. As if they were trying to be dangerous by color choices alone. The paint on a wall did not make you threatening. The willingness to end a life did. I doubted these men had much of that in them. Especially the pretty boy who would rather get his cock sucked than listen to the chain of command. But then my youngest son wasn’t much different. He, too, struggled to obey when it came to his pleasures.
“This way,” Liam said as he opened a large wooden door and stepped inside.
Leather jackets, which they all called cuts with their emblem on the back and their title patched on the front; tattoos; scarred faces; beards; cigarettes hanging out of most mouths—it all fit the description of a biker club. Except for the surprising number of younger men scattered among the others, who seemed almost too pretty for this life. I knew not to judge a man on his looks. My most dangerous man had a face that made women fucking swoon. He could have been a damn model.
Only the unavoidable twitch of my nose reacted to the stench of stale beer and nicotine. A good cigar I could respect. A Marlboro I could not. It was just a waste of a good set of lungs.
“Men, I’d like you to meet Garrett Hughes,” Liam began.
For the next fifteen minutes, he discussed the decision to work with the family and the benefits it would mean for them. I listened and didn’t speak. These weren’t my men, and I respected that. Liam was their leader. I took in their expressions. I was an expert at reading people. Men at least. Women I wasn’t always the best at, but what man was?
For the most part, his men seemed happy about the connection. I could see doubt in the eyes of a few older ones, but nothing to be concerned with. This wasn’t something I offered to just anyone, especially a biker club. They all seemed to realize that.
When Liam was finished speaking, the men all stood, and I spoke to a few who approached me. Even in their need to appear as if my presence didn’t intimidate them, I could see it in their mannerisms. The way they struggled to meet my gaze. Yes, every one of them knew if I wanted them dead, they would be within minutes.
“My girl is waiting on me,” Micah said with that cocky smirk on his face.
“Oh, yeah? Which one?” the man who had been introduced as Tex called out, and the others laughed.
Micah scowled then, and I was surprised to see he had it in him.
“Shut the fuck up, Tex,” he warned.
“Stay out of my goddamn room with your club whores,” Tex replied, then stuck a cigarette in his mouth and stalked past him.
“Men!” Liam raised his voice, slamming his hand down on the table, and the room went silent.
I liked that. He had control. Good. I was beginning to wonder.
Micah turned and opened the door. I started to turn back to tell Liam I was leaving when my eyes locked on a face that took my fucking breath away. Exquisite perfection. Eyes the color of spun gold, full pink lips, long, pale blonde hair, framing the face of an angel. Who the fuck was she? It was then Micah walked to her and pulled her into his arms, lowering his head and taking her mouth. Jesus Christ, that was whose mouth he’d been fucking earlier? Lucky bastard. I couldn’t blame him.
Disappointment sank in as I realized that angelic, heart-shaped face belonged to a club whore. What a waste. She probably wasn’t that perfect up close, and she was used goods. I didn’t want a virginal innocent in my bed. An innocent couldn’t give me the shit I demanded, but I sure as hell wasn’t interested in a biker slut.
It must have been the pale blue of his eyes that had made me stupid. Crossing my legs, I tilted my head to the side and studied the male who had turned me into a cougar for a short time. He grinned at me with that sexy smirk that drew women in, not knowing I’d just overheard him letting Dylan—one of The Judgment’s porn stars—suck him off in Tex’s room only ten minutes ago.
Living in their little biker den of iniquity hadn’t been my best mom moment. I loved an adventure, and this time, I’d let it go too far. My daughter, Gypsi, deserved better from me. I had failed her with this decision. Thank God for the slap in the face I’d just had to get my head on straight.
“Damn,” Micah drawled, walking toward his bed that I was perched on the edge of, wearing nothing but his T-shirt from last night. “Looking at you never gets old. It’s unfair for a woman to be so fucking beautiful.”
I gave him my own smirk. Silly boy. I wasn’t one of his female worshippers. Poor Dylan seemed to always be waiting for him to toss her some attention. It seemed he still obliged her even though he had moved me into his room and promised me that I was all he wanted. He wasn’t the first player I’d ever dated, and I doubted he’d be the last. I had a type, and unfortunately, he checked the boxes. All the boxes.
“Get a good look,” I told him, then uncrossed my legs slowly for his benefit before standing up.
The way his gaze heated with instant arousal made me want to roll my eyes. The man was a machine. His erection was always on the go, it seemed.
I chuckled softly and stepped around him before he could reach me. “I’m going to get my things together.”
“What?” he asked.
I didn’t look back at him as I pulled his shirt off and dropped it on the floor, knowing he was currently taking in my naked body. It was the last time he would ever see it. I picked up the sundress I’d had on last night and slipped it over my head before glancing back at him.
His eyes were on my legs, but they snapped up to meet mine. A confused expression was on his ridiculously handsome face. Those thick black lashes outlined his crystal-clear ocean-blue eyes, and I couldn’t truly beat myself up over this. The man was gorgeous. I’d had a weak moment. It was over now though.
“You heard me,” I told him, then just smiled and shook my head. “I’m not one of your girls, Micah. Did you think that I would become one of the many females to worship at your feet?”
“What are you talking about, Fawn? You’re the only one in my bed. I moved you into the club. Into my room. I don’t move women into my room.” His brows were lowered as he studied me.
I shrugged. “Yes, well, I’m not the only one on your cock, now am I?”
He stilled. I could see the realization dawn in his expression. He knew he’d been caught.
“It’s for the best really. I’m not mad. It’s time for Gypsi and me to move along anyway. We’ve stayed here longer than I intended.”
Micah moved then and took the five long strides to reach me. His fingers wrapped around my upper arm as he stared down at me. The pleading look in his eyes wasn’t going to change my mind, but I did feel a little sadness that I wouldn’t see him again. He had made me laugh, taken me on an adventure in his little world. I’d had a good time, but all good things must come to an end.
“Wait, Fawn. That was nothing. I didn’t touch her. She—”
“Just sucked you off while you called her a hot little cumslut. Yes, I know. I heard it clearly. You were rather loud while you got off in her mouth.”
He had the decency to wince.
I reached up and patted his cheek. “It’s okay. I’m not destroyed. This wasn’t love. It was fun, and it’s over.”
He inhaled sharply and shook his head. “Fawn, I’m sorry. Fuck, please don’t leave me. I shouldn’t have let her. I messed up. Just give me one more chance. I swear to God it won’t happen again.”
I laughed and took his hand off my arm. “You’re right; it won’t. At least not with me. I don’t give second chances. If I’m not enough for a man, I don’t stay.”
“FUCK!” Micah ran his hand through his blond hair. “You are enough. You are more than enough. Jesus, Fawn, it was one mistake. I don’t feel shit for Dylan. I’m … I think I’m falling in love with you.”
I wanted to cackle with laughter, but I didn’t. This boy was entirely too young for me. He had no clue what he was saying. I was only thirty-six, but when you’d had a daughter at the age of seventeen and you were alone in the world, you grew up fast. Dating a twenty-six-year-old was dumb. I should have known better.
“Micah, you are not falling in love with me. I can promise you that. We had fun. We laughed a lot. Sex was great. It will be a fond memory for both of us. Let’s end this as friends.”
He let out a short, hard laugh. “That’s really how you feel, isn’t it?” He shook his head, as if he was in disbelief. “You don’t know your power, Fawn Parker. I’ve never met a woman like you. You’re fuckin’ perfect. Not only are you the sexiest female I’ve ever seen, but you’re also not afraid of new things, you love life, and your laugh is the most addictive sound I’ve ever heard. There is no jealousy or clinginess, and I thought I’d hit the jackpot, but dammit. The one time I want a female to be clingy to me, she isn’t. If you walk out of that door, I’m pretty damn sure you’re taking the only chance of me loving a woman with you.”
I doubted Micah could love only one woman. Maybe one day, when he had lived more of this wild life, slept with enough Dylans, and felt like he’d gotten it out of his system, he would meet a female who would be enough for him. He’d love her. I hoped so. He had a good heart. He was just a whore. A sweet, sexy manslut.
“One day, she’ll come along. I’m not her,” I assured him.
“You’re leaving before we had a chance at love,” he argued.
“There was never going to be love. That was never going to happen. You have a lot more living to do, and I’m not the kind of woman who falls in love. I think I’m broken when it comes to that. When we started this, I told you this was just a good time. I didn’t want anything more from you.”
Micah sighed in defeat as he stared at me. “Yeah, well, that wasn’t the first time I’d heard that from a female.”
“But I’m not like the others.” I winked at him, then turned to get my duffel bag.
I needed to go find Gypsi. It was time to go home to our camper. Then decide on where we were headed next. I was thinking we could go up the East Coast.
“There is nothing I can say to make you stay, is there?” he asked me.
I shook my head. “No.”
“Fuck, I’m gonna miss you.”
I smiled, but I didn’t reply. I couldn’t say the same to him. Not honestly. Sure, I’d think about him and remember the good times, but my heart wasn’t damaged. I wasn’t attached. I never got attached.
I hadn’t been lying when I said I was broken. The torment in my past hadn’t destroyed me. How could it when I’d been given Gypsi in the end? She was where I found my happiness. The darkness had severed whatever emotion it was that made a woman love a man. My heart was guarded from everyone but my daughter. There was an impenetrable wall that kept me safe. No man would ever be able to get through. And that was a good thing.