| 1 | Finding Memory ||
Devlin adjusted his grip on the handlebars and inhaled the crisp mountain air. There was nothing quite like the sun when she grabbed the earth by his sack and squeezed.
He revved the growling engine. This was all he needed: air in his lungs and the open road.
It was a perfect day to ride, but then, he was pretty damn sure every day was. Rain, snow, goddamn hurricanes or tornadoes, most shit didn’t matter when he was ridin’ Python anyway. She was an ornery piece, but fucking loyal to a fault.
Instead of heading to some tux fitting, he was taking care of business. Bones were never buried when it came to his brotherhood, no matter how much he wanted them to be. Dead men never stayed quiet neither, ‘specially not his dad. The man haunted Devlin’s dreams, and his decisions weighed on his son’s shoulders like the crown he passed on after the Devil claimed his favorite.
He pulled at his collar. A wedding.
A fucking biker’s wedding.
He didn’t understand why Dash couldn’t just go to town hall, sign a license and have a party. That was the tradition around Devil’s Sinn M.C.
She wanted the white dress and shit. Didn’t it stand for purity? He laughed. She’d put up with Dash’s shit since they were in high school, which was a long fucking time ago. Purity shouldn’t even be apart of her vocabulary.
He squinted when the sun caught his eyes, temporarily blocking his view of the penitentiary tucked off in the distance. He looked around. He couldn’t determine if they were lucky or cursed having all that beauty around but never being able to see any of it.
The familiar heat of rage filled him up when his thoughts fell on his purpose at the prison: Connor Duprey. The fucking rat bastard that was the reason why Luscious Sinn didn’t come home. Devlin had every nerve to order a hit once the man got inside, but that would be too easy. He wanted to look the man in the eye when he took his life.
Near half an hour later, he was sitting across from Duprey, staring at the man for the first time in over four years. The tangy taste of hate was still as pungent on his tongue as the day this asshole was put where all rats belong: locked behind bars.
The man picked up the phone and Devlin followed soon after.
“Don’t fucking call me that.”
The other man took a long, deep breath. “You have every right to be mad, but your anger toward me is a waste.”
“You said you had shit on my dad.” The man sure knew how to trigger someone. Devlin was certain steam came out his nose like a bull ‘bout ready to charge.
Duprey set back in his chair. “Oh, I’ve got mountains of shit on him. Where to start is the question.”
Devlin hung up the phone and stood.
“WAIT!” The man shouted so he could be heard through the thick glass.
Devlin looked at Duprey over his shoulder. He gestured for Devlin to sit back down. He just stood for a long moment before slowly sitting in the lopsided chair and picked up the phone again.
“Don’t fucking play games with me, Duprey.”
The man smiled. “I can see you’re far from the little pussy, biker boy who thought he was an outlaw, thought he was a rogue rider.”
Devlin gripped the phone with the strong desire to smash it against the glass, even with no chance of breaking through.
Duprey laughed and made a motion with his fingers.
Devlin started when a guard came behind him and set a notebook down with a hard blood-red cover.
“The fuck is this?”
“Beware the dock master’s chains. A noose around the neck is a deadly fiend.” Duprey leaned forward, coming close to the glass and whispered into the phone. “A legacy is written in blood. Blood of a midnight butterfly. A symbol of hope for the weary, an omen of death for the lost.” He hung up the phone, stood and walked back to the gate, leaving Devlin sitting there like an idiot with words floating around his melon that made no sense.
He looked down at the book and touched his fingers over the calligraphy on the cover. He hung up the phone, just then realizing he was still holding it to his ear.
He opened the book cover and frowned when he was confronted by his mother’s handwriting. “There is no voice quite like my own.” Was scribbled in her familiar font on the front page.
He paused before tying the black apron around his waist. “What? You didn’t get paid this week?”
The woman, Fran, frowned. “You bet your shiny ass ponytail that I got paid.”
“Then why are we having this fucking conversation?” The store phone rang. “Answer that. That is your job.”
She pouted but answered the phone with too much enthusiasm.
“Sinnful Delights! How can I help you find your perfect sin-filled treat?”
Devlin turned his back to her, tuning out the rest of the conversation. He knew he was fucking late. His entire day was fucked up because he wasted time with Duprey. All for what? Some book?
He rubbed his chest when he thought about whose book it was — his mother’s. He thought about her all the time, but those were memories. They were always the same, things he knew, things he remembered. This damn book, this journal, it was new.
He’d been late to the final tux fitting, to the barber, and then to fill in at the shop because some dickhead called in. What the hell was the point of hiring people if you’d have to come in and do their job anyway?
This was the worst time too. Valentine’s day was right around the corner, and there was never a shortage of things to do.
His thoughts drifted back to the whole reason why he was late: Duprey.
The man was a manipulative, traitorous bastard. He couldn’t just rot in prison like all the other rats. He insisted on fucking with the free. Or, should he say, the man insisted on fucking with him. It was typically with a letter every year on Devlin’s birthday, but this time, the man wanted him to pay a visit. That’s the shit that put him in a mood.
The showroom had finally slowed down for the first time since he got in some hours before.
“Fran, did the chocolate roses come in?” Devlin was in the back doing inventory. There was an overwhelming amount because of the upcoming season. The damned made-up holiday made him smile mostly because it was over seventy percent of his profit each year. People were desperate, for some fucked up reason, to enter into modern day slavery. He was more than happy to oblige them, but seriously, how dumb could you be?
“Uh,” Fran said, huffing, and she made her way to the back. “I’ve signed for so many packages; I couldn’t really know. If I had to guess, I’d say they’re in this box.”
He ignored Fran’s obnoxious behaviors of trying to act like his mother and acting like her nosy ass didn’t know every single thing that was going on in the store. Hell, it was why he hired her in the first place.
Of course, the woman pointed him to the right place. “We need to change the window display.”
“I was thinking the new dark chocolates with that Italian red wine. You know the one with the gold and black label.”
“Great.” Why the hell didn’t she change it out if she already knew what she wanted to do?
He worked in peace and quiet, which was what he preferred. He made a mental note to hire someone else right away. Fran would need help the closer they got to Valentine’s day. He had plans to implement some new marketing strategies and focus on the e-commerce side of the business.
When his mother left him the building that his chocolate shop currently resided in, it was a shithole. He, and the delinquents he called brothers, did all the heavy lifting. It’d been thriving, however, ever since he implemented some ideas he stole from a single’s mixer a couple of years back―
“Evening rush.” Fran panted, popping her head into the stock room. She wiped her sweaty face on her red shirt.
Devlin nodded and turned back to his task. He was almost done counting the chocolate-covered blueberries. A surprising smash hit. He shrugged. He supposed anything coated in chocolate was acceptable.
“What?” He turned back to see Fran still standing there. “Are you going to fucking stand there and stare at me until I get up there? Damn! Go do your fucking job, woman.”
The woman made a strange face. “Verbal confirmation wouldn’t hurt. A simple, ‘Okay, Fran’ would have sufficed. Goddamn. You’re the worst fucking boss.”
“Then get a new one.”
He set down his clipboard and headed to the front of the shop. His thoughts drifted to his conversation with Duprey. He loved his father; the man was shit at focusing on what mattered: survival. Feeding mouths and living life, not starting a war.
Everyone loved Luscious Sinn; however, the bastard left a big fucking sack to fill. He didn’t give a flying fuck what they said or how much his father was loved by all. Devlin was grown and free-minded enough to know that his father was wrong for what he’d done. Dead wrong and proud until the day he took his last breath.
He felt the sting of the man’s loss every time he thought about him. It’d been near five years, and he hadn’t visited the man’s grave once. He felt his father’s betrayal and loathed his own righteousness, a trait that he inherited from his mother. He should have had his father’s back, should have supported him like so many other brothers. As much as he blamed Duprey, Devlin was the one that didn’t ride with his father, and it was that decision that ended the stubborn man’s life.
Devlin had to live with that.
He exhaled and took off the apron when he finished ringing up his last customer. There were still some people milling around looking, and others had ventured up to the rooftop garden to enjoy the wears they purchased.
“I’m getting coffee, want something?”
“Coffee so late. No wonder your brain chemistry is so fucked up.”
He laughed. That was one thing about Fran that he liked. She was a bitch on a good day and a bastard on the rest, which was his guess as to why his moods didn’t seem to bother her one bit. He presented a middle finger on his way out into the crisp winter evening.
“Real fucking mature, Sinn.” The woman shouted behind him, making his smirk broaden.
Why bother with a coat? The coffee shop was close enough. He shoved his hands in his pocket and went over what he was going to say in the meeting he finally got with the Hyann Brothers’ leader.
It’d taken near five years to get this meet, and the Devil be damned if he fucked it up. He had to force aside his hate for them. He had to ignore the need for retribution. Luscious’ ghost whispered in his ear that peace with these fuckers, the same ones that stole his life, was for shit.
Devlin promised himself a long time ago that he wouldn’t lead like his father, however. Stubborn as the man was a fucking rogue, Devlin fought to keep that promise. He’d been making good headway bartering peace, getting into owning and operating businesses, building an empire. The Hyann Brothers were his last true test, his last true obstacle. He felt good about the track he was on. It’s what his mom would have wanted.
He shook the chill when he stepped into the warm coffee shop, made his way to the counter, and placed his usual order. He glanced around the place and took a deep breath. The smell of coffee was so similar to chocolate.
He liked the place. The walls had random newspaper clipping and old bikes, old instruments and an assortment of other pieces of garbage on the walls that made it, for some reason, feel comfortable. He grumbled when he saw someone in his spot by the window. He liked that spot because it faced away from everyone else and he could watch the traffic and people walking around outside.
If he couldn’t have his spot, he’d just take his coffee back to the shop. He nodded at the barista when she set his cup down with a saucy smile.
“Good Day, Mr. Sinn.” She cooed, with a smirking wink.
Why didn’t he bone her yet? Oh, right, because she made the best fucking coffee and he’d be pissed if she started making his shit wrong, out of spite.
He shrugged. It couldn’t end any other way he knew that, but it was a temptation nonetheless.
Devlin felt something smash into him with an oof and a gasp when his coffee splashed all over her blouse, which was where his eyes fell.
“Oh shit!” She said, pulling away. “I’m so sorry. I wasn’t paying atten―” The words got caught in the back of her throat, which made him look at her face. She blinked as if her eyes were playing tricks on her then she scanned him, head to toe.
She swallowed noticeably. “D-Devlin?” Her voice went up at least three octaves.He frowned at first, only confused for a moment as the woman’s pretty features started to find place in his memory. “Lacey.”