Home > Ashes (Men of Inked - Heatwave, #9)

Ashes (Men of Inked - Heatwave, #9)
Author: Chelle Bliss


PROLOGUE

 

 

DYLAN

 

 

Every person has a breaking point. Some people snap immediately, while others take years before they inevitably lose it.

I had put up with my father’s shit for eighteen years, breaking a long time ago but resigning myself to my age and the limitations that placed on me and my ability to truly know freedom.

But for the last two years, I’d saved every penny I made, buying a bike and formulating a plan.

I am getting out.

I’ve had enough.

I’m done.

No longer will I continue to be his punching bag, taking the blame for all the wrongs in his life.

“Come with me,” I say to my brother Ian as I jam everything I can into a backpack. “Don’t stay here.”

“I can’t just leave,” he says, sitting on the edge of my bed. “You shouldn’t either.”

“I can’t do it anymore. I refuse to let this be my life.”

His gaze drops to the black eye I’m sporting thanks to my father’s drunken tirade last night. “Where will you go?”

“Don’t care, as long as it’s not here. Last chance to join me…”

Ian stands, following me to the front door and outside, but he doesn’t grab his things. “I can’t. This is home.”

“This isn’t a home, Ian. Life isn’t supposed to be like this. He’s not supposed to be like this.”

“He said he’ll get help,” Ian tells me, sounding hopeful, even though there’s no chance my father will get sober or change his ways.

I lift the backpack over my shoulder and stare at my brother as I stand next to my bike. “He always says that until he has another drink.”

Ian kicks at the dirt near his feet. “Maybe this time will be different.”

“It’s never different. I want you to come with me. Don’t stay here.”

“I can’t just leave everyone behind.”

I shake my head, wishing I could talk sense into my brother. “No one cares about us. Callum, Finn, Sean, Nevin, and Quinn don’t give a fuck what happens to you or me. Everyone’s out for themselves. Don’t be stupid.”

“I’m not stupid, but I’m not a quitter. You may be willing to leave us behind, but I can’t throw away my brothers as easily as you can.”

“I’m no use to them if I’m dead,” I tell him.

His face hardens as he lifts his chin, glaring at me. “If you leave, we might as well be to you. You hit that road, don’t ever come back.”

I take a deep breath, feeling the weight of his words. “Didn’t plan on it, brother. Once I’m gone, I’m gone for good.”

“You’re an asshole,” he bites out, looking at me with so much hatred. His mood has just shifted as quickly as our father’s does after his first drink. Ian’s just a kid, filled with so many hormones and emotions he doesn’t understand.

I climb on my bike, ready to go, knowing I can’t change how he feels and finally resigning myself to that fact. “I may be, but I’m going to be an alive asshole, living in peace without being someone’s punching bag.”

“Just go,” Ian says, swiping his arm through the air. “I hope you find whatever you think is out there that’s so much better.”

“Ian, you deserve better too.”

“Fuck off,” he bites out and turns to face me before he makes it to the front door. “I hate you.”

His words sting, but I’ve made my decision. No matter how much he hates me now, hopefully someday he’ll understand why I have to go.

He’ll have a breaking point too, and when he does, I hope he’ll remember this moment and it’ll finally hit him why I left and how it had nothing to do with him.

I walk my bike backward, ready to hit the road, when a loud giggle draws my attention.

The three girls next door are running around in the yard as their mother sits on a blanket, watching them closely. The oldest kid throws herself into her mother’s arms, looking as if the world revolves around the woman.

An ache deep in my chest is hard to ignore as I watch the happy, perfect family for the last time. Their lives aren’t filled with fists and hateful words. They walk in the clouds, not touched by the cold, harsh reality of everyday life.

One of the twins stops moving as soon as I start the engine. She looks my way, waving with a sweet smile on her face.

I curl my lip, jealous of her happy little life and perfect world she doesn’t even know she has. She’s a lucky little shit for it, too.

“Rosie, baby, come here,” her mother calls, and for a moment, Rosie doesn’t move.

She stares at me, her smile falling as I gun the engine and take off down the driveway for the last time. Her tiny feet move through the grass, chasing me as I drive past the fence.

She’s running toward me, and I’m running away.

I’ll never step foot back in this town as long as I can help it.

I am done being my father’s bitch while faced with the constant reminder of what I don’t and never will have by the happy family next door.

I don’t look back as my wheels touch the road, leaving my past where it belongs…behind me.

 

 

1

 

 

ROSIE

 

 

The reality of growing into an adult is never as great as the vision you create as a child. I thought by now I’d be engaged or married to someone who was head over heels for me, the way my father is with my mother.

But I was wrong.

Dead wrong.

A string of failed relationships follows behind me like a bunch of aluminum cans tied to the back of a wedding car, reminding me of all my failures and allowing doubt of my self-worth and lack of love to settle in deep.

Tonight, I put myself out there for the first time in over a year, figuring it was time. I’m not getting any younger, and I’m starting to become lonely.

But keeping with the theme of my life, the evening and the guy were a total disappointment. Could he even be considered a guy when he was more interested in playing video games and with action figures than with me—or any woman, for that matter?

I stir my chocolate martini, staring at the line of bottles behind the bar. I can’t help but wonder what in the hell my problem has been and continues to be? I must be a human magnet for dumbasses and cheaters, and no matter how much time goes by, I can’t seem to break that streak.

“Beer,” a man says next to me, sliding onto the stool to my left.

Instinctively, I lean a little to the right, keeping my eyes on the bottles and continuing to stir my drink like I’m doing something more than wasting time.

I told Luna, my twin sister and roommate, not to wait up for me. I gushed about having a good feeling about this guy and how I was going to stay out late, burning the midnight oil.

The last thing I want to do is go home early and tell her I am a moron.

She gave me the thumbs-up as I walked out the door. Told me I had this shit and that I should get some dick if I could, because in her mind, I clearly needed to get laid.

Luna is the wilder one of us. She is freer with her love and isn’t looking for a relationship, wanting to have as many life experiences as she can before it’s too late.

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