Soothing His Madness (Bantorus MC #3)By: Debra Kayn
The back of Slade’s eyes protested the light coming from above. He lifted his arm to shield the pain and groaned. His fingers stiff and bandaged throbbed with the movement.
Cold, hard truth punched him in the gut, recalling every fucking detail about yesterday. He rolled off the bed and rushed to the bathroom where he hurled the contents of his stomach.
He’d lost his kids.
Another person’s decision had ripped his kids out of his life and forced him to break his word to them. He’d promised them he’d never leave their lives. He squeezed his eyes shut, but blocking his sight did nothing to erase the fear in Lee’s eyes at the courthouse.
At nine years old, Lee still wanted a constant parent in his life…Slade. Tears had run unchecked down Lee’s cheeks as Jodie ushered the boys out of the room. Then Kurt, more mature than any thirteen-year-old boy should be, had lifted his chin in a silent promise to Slade that he’d look after his brother. The dry eyes and defeat on his oldest boy face hurt the most.
Fuck. That wasn’t his son’s responsibility. It was Slade’s job.
Then that motherfucker Ray, the kids’ stepfather, had fucking waved at Slade on his way out of the building. Anger tightened his throat. First opportunity he had, he was going to kill the bastard.
Not only did Ray neglect the children and put them in questionable situations, he’d used Kurt’s big brother status against the courts, by agreeing to let Kurt go with Slade, if Jodie could have full custody of Lee. Slade’s head pounded. The asshole knew Kurt would never leave his younger brother’s side, no matter how much the boys pleaded to live with Slade.
How was he going to protect them? He braced his hand on the back of the toilet, gasping for breath. He’d only see his kids four days out of the month. It wasn’t enough.
“Fuck,” he mumbled, wiping his forearm across his mouth. Fuck Jodie. Fuck the judge. Fuck Ray…the motherfucker now had more time in his kids’ life than he did. “I’m going to kill him.”
He stumbled out of the bathroom and flung open his top dresser drawer. Anger soured his stomach, and he swallowed the nausea down. He tossed the towel he used to cover the contents in the drawer to the floor and frowned. Both his pistols were gone.
“They’ll be at the bar when you’re ready,” Rain said behind Slade.
He whirled, regretting the movement instantly. “You can’t take my guns.”
Rain leaned against the doorframe and crossed his arms “What I can’t do is lose my vice president because of a decision he made when his head wasn’t straight.”
“Bull shit.” Slade snapped his leather Bantorus vest off the end of the bed and shoved his arms through the holes “I’ve stood beside you many times in retaliation for different reason, which made no sense to me at the time, all in the name of being a Bantorus member. The motherfucker has my kids—he lifted his gaze to Rain—if it was Lilly taken away from you, what would you do?”
Rain pushed off the wall and walked closer. “I’d kill anyone who touched her or my woman.”
“Damn right, you’d—”
“And my vice president would make sure my ass stayed out of prison, so even if I only had a slim chance of seeing my kid again, I could.” Rain walked over to the dresser, removed the knife and boot shield, and tossed it to Slade. “We’ll come up with a way to get your kids back, but now is not the time. That fucking judge is waiting for you to screw up, and he wants to make a name for himself by bringing down one of the Bantorus members.”
Slade attached the knife to his boot. The weapon wasn’t the same as carrying a loaded pistol, but the tension eased somewhat. If he had to, he’d gut Ray and watch him die.
“Don’t go there,” Rain said.
Slade wiped his hand across his mouth. “Ain’t making any promises. I get the opportunity…Ray’s a dead man. The longer my kids are with him, the more I’m afraid something is going to happen. I can’t take the chance of my boys getting hurt.”
“I have Jim working on getting all the information he can on Ray.” Rain pulled out his cell. “I’ll make sure he devotes all his time to the case, and the club will eat the cost.”
“Your investigator has been working on the case for two fucking years, and a lot of good that did me,” Slade muttered. “I got to get out of here. Everywhere I look I see Lee and Kurt…”
Rain nodded. “Why don’t I take you to Taylor’s place?”
“No.” He marched over to the closet, reached up on the shelf, and removed a bottle of whiskey off the top shelf. He unscrewed the lid and took a healthy swallow. “I’ll hang out at the bar.”
“Answers not in drinking.” Rain shrugged when Slade took another drink. “Your life, man. I’ll take you to Cactus Cove. Maybe one of the other brothers can talk some sense into you.”
Slade rode in Rain’s truck, wishing he had his motorcycle and could escape. No destination in mind, just him and the open road. He tipped back the bottle, wanting to numb the guilt from failing his kids. From failing Taylor. From failing to provide for his family. He swigged another drink. He’d failed everyone.