Soothing His Madness (Bantorus MC #3)By: Debra Kayn
Tori gave her an awkward hug that included Lilly in the middle. “Thanks.”
She shifted Lilly to the other arm. “For what?”
“For being there for Slade.” Tori flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Now, I’m going to take you up on the offer of watching Lilly and grab a half a sandwich. I’m starving. Bring her to me when your arm falls asleep.”
Lilly paid no attention to her momma leaving, and continued to snuggle against Taylor’s shoulder. She walked slowing around the room, swaying side to side, and patting Lilly’s warm back. Tori’s contentment and security in her life came out in everything she did.
To have a baby girl to hold and hug whenever she wanted would make anyone feel like they won the lottery. Her friend loved Rain to an unhealthy level, and yet it worked for them. A pang of loneliness hit her again. She was being silly.
At twenty-nine years old, Taylor was at the age when she had to think about her future and decide if children were a possibility. She’d love to have her own child, but she also knew that she wanted the baby’s father in her life too.
Slade had mentioned before that he never regretted having his kids, but he’d never again put a child in the middle of a custody battle. He was bitter, and at a different stage in life than her. He’d had his family. She gazed at the wall of pictures of Bantorus members beside the pool table. The recordings of happy times were a new addition Tori put up for everyone to look at and reminisce.
Slade stood in almost all of the photos, proud, wearing his leather cut, and acting all badass. She sighed and held Lilly a little closer. She’d be thrilled to be part of his life, whether or not he wanted more children. She loved him that much and to think of life without him, she simply hurt because he’d become the biggest thing in her life.
“Your Uncle Slade is a hard man to figure out, Lilly,” she whispered. “Someday, you’ll grow up and probably fall in love with a biker. If you’re lucky enough to capture him, remember to hold on tight.”
Male voices grew louder. Taylor pivoted and spotted the men walking into the bar. The usual rowdiness that came after a club meeting was missing.
Slade walked straight to her and lifted his chin toward Lilly. “Where’s Tori?”
“Around. I’ll go find her and give this little girl back to her mom,” she said.
“I’ll be outside.” Slade walked away.
It seemed like she’d spent most of the week watching Slade run away from her. She kissed Lilly’s shoulder without waking her. “Let’s go find your momma. Then your Aunt Taylor needs to go knock some sense into your big, bad biker uncle.”
The news of Lagsturns Motorcycle Club and Los Li, a gang linked to the Mexican Mafia, heading toward Pitnam further complicated Slade’s life. He leaned against the outside brick wall of Cactus Cove, waiting for Taylor, and peered into the distance. This was his town.
Born and raised in Pitnam, he worked hard alongside the Bantorus men to keep trouble away from their families and community. He closed his eyes. Maybe the judge was right and he wasn’t a fit father.
He’d done everything he thought possible. He gave Lee and Kurt a safe place to grow up, a community that cared about everyone living in the small town and looked out for each other, and enough rules to keep the boys real without stifling them. What they lacked was a mother.
For all Jodie’s good intentions and promises, she still ran around wild the way she did back when she was twenty and newly married to Slade. Her lack of self-esteem drove her to seek attention anywhere she could find it, which caused her to put the boys second in her life, maybe third.
The judge’s decision to give his kids to his ex-wife supported some bullshit study that children under the age of twelve were better off with their mothers, but Jodie wasn’t the typical mom. He opened his eyes and spit on the ground. He wasn’t a normal father with a nine to five job and golf on the weekends either.
He was a biker. Plain and simple.
He supported his freedom, his country, and believed only in black and white, never gray.
His chest tightened and he blew out his cheeks, letting the air out slowly to help calm him down. Most of all, he believed in justice, and he wasn’t afraid of taking that responsibility on himself.
Jodie and Ray did not deserve to be active participants in his kids’ lives.
He’d given Jodie enough time to learn how to be a responsible parent. She failed, but most of all she’d disappointed Lee and Kurt.
Some women were not cut out to be mothers. He groaned and tapped the back of his head against the brick wall. Then there were women like Taylor.
His head pounded at the primal longing that came over him when he walked into the bar and Taylor held Lilly. She’d make a wonderful mom, a deserving mom, an unselfish mother. It wasn’t the first time that thought entered his head and wouldn’t let go.
He’d witnessed his boys come alive while around her. They soaked up her positive influence and walked away a better young man for knowing her. They longed for a softer touch and feminine approval that he couldn’t provide as their father.