Authors: Catherine Johnson
Thea was feeling more like her old self. She’d had one more nightmare since the first night they’d slept at Dizzy’s house. Josh had had nightmares during the first three nights, but he hadn’t wet the bed since the first night. Thea still felt powerless to help her son, but she thought he was making progress on his own, and that made her proud as hell. She had a feeling that it had a lot to do with his new surroundings. Having Dizzy around, having his friends nearby. She’d worried the night before that he’d regress without Dizzy in the house at night, but Josh had slept through. Thea had been amazed, and tired, because she’d lain awake all night listening for screams that never came.
She was actually starting to think about Christmas with more than mounting dread. It was a little over a week away, so she didn’t have much time to plan anything. She’d stuck her head firmly in the sand about the coming holiday, particularly after Thanksgiving, but now she was wondering if the club had any plans. She hadn’t heard of any. As far as she knew, all the boys, except Ferret, were single. She wanted to speak to Dizzy about an idea that she’d had.
She parked up near the school, checked her phone again, and settled in to wait for Josh. She nearly jumped out of her skin when there was a tap at the window. Her heart sank to the floor so fast she felt nauseous. It was the Principal. Instead of only winding the window down, she got out of the truck.
“Good afternoon, Ms. Colby. Would you join me in my office for five minutes, please?”
“Afternoon, Principal Schneider. What’s happened?”
“My office, please, Ms. Colby. Its much more...” he looked up and down the teeming sidewalk, “comfortable.”
Thea trailed after the Principal wondering what the fuck had happened and if she’d allowed her hopes to get too high. Was the cosmos about to kick her in the guts? This week had been amazing, awesome, wonderful, blissful. There weren’t words to describe how good this week had been. She’d thought they had a chance of getting themselves back. This couldn’t be the day they took Josh from her, it just couldn’t, it couldn’t.
By the time she entered the Principal’s office and accepted his invitation to take a seat she was ready to cry.
Principal Schneider started to speak almost before she’d finished lowering herself into the chair.
“Thank you, Ms. Colby. Look, I don’t know what’s happening, what has happened to Josh and yourself, but there has been a remarkable change in Josh this week. It’s been really quite startling. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the change might have had something to do with those bikers.”
Thea couldn’t make her brain work. They were going to take Josh away from her. They’d pegged her as a tattooed biker whore and they were going to take her son.
“Principal Schneider ...”
He held up a hand and interrupted her. “Ms Colby. I did not call you in here to judge. I cannot begin to fathom what resulted in a decline as drastic as Josh’s or the miracle that halted and reversed it so suddenly. But it is in reverse and he is almost back to his old self. I called you in here to tell you to keep doing whatever it is that you’re doing.”
Oh. Oh. Oh. She hadn’t been expecting that. She hadn’t been expecting kindness. She stared at the Principal. A benevolent smile transformed the face that she’d previously thought of as gnomish. She felt the first tear fall down her cheek.
“Here, Ms. Colby.” He tugged a tissue from a pastel-patterned box on the corner of his desk and reached over to hand it to her. Thea took it gratefully, wiped the tear away and pressed the tissue into the corners of her eyes to stem the threatening flood.
When she thought she could speak again, she looked up. “Thank you, Principal Schneider.”
“My pleasure, Ms. Colby. Josh will be waiting outside.”
She nodded, not trusting herself to speak again, rose and walked out of the office. Josh was sitting on the same hard plastic orange chair that he’d been sitting on the last time she’d been called in about him. He was looking at her expectantly and nervously. He thought he was in trouble.
“Come on, bud. Let’s go home.”
She’d automatically started referring to Dizzy’s house as their home.
“I didn’t do anything, Mama. I swear. What did he say I did?”
“Come on, bud.” Thea put her arm out, and Josh rose. She ushered him in front of her and out of the school. She didn’t say anything until they were in the crisp December air.
“You’re not in trouble, bud. He just wanted to tell me that you were gettin’ back to yourself, and that he was happy about that.”
“Oh.” Josh paused as he got into the truck. “That’s good, right?”
“Yeah, that’s very good.” Thea agreed as she turned the ignition and pulled out into the street.
Josh turned the radio on and watched the passing scenery as she drove.
‘... keep doing whatever it is that you’re doing
.’ The Principal’s voice kept repeating in Thea’s head.
What she was doing was letting Josh get drawn back into the family of the MC. She was letting herself get drawn back in. And it didn’t seem to be a bad thing. She knew it wasn’t always unicorns and rainbows. Fuck, after all was said and done she had seen the worst, short of death, that could happen as result of them being associated with the club. But now she was seeing the best side of that association.
And it was there for the taking, for them to keep, if they wanted it. If she wanted it. If she hadn’t pushed Dizzy too far away.
She didn’t think that she had. He hadn’t attempted to be intimate with her, hadn’t attempted to hold her at all since the day she’d been fired. But it felt to Thea more like he was trying hard not to touch her than that he was going out of his way to avoid her.
But it would be taking advantage of him. It would be arrogant and selfish of her. He’d done so much for them already. It would be egotistical to tie him to them, to claim him.
He’d given her a home, given her a job...
Thea nearly rear-ended the Volkswagen that had paused in front of her, causing Josh to squeak as she slammed the brakes on.
Josh nodded. The traffic started moving again, so she gently pressed the gas.
The daylight seemed a little brighter, a little clearer in light of that sudden revelation.
She wasn’t going to claim Dizzy.
He had already claimed her.
As a whimsical fancy rather than any sort of actual planning, Thea tried to imagine packing her and Josh up and leaving Dizzy’s house. Only then did she realize that if she tried any such thing she would have a hell of a fight on her hands. And it wouldn’t just be Dizzy she’d be fighting. Josh wouldn’t want to leave, she’d have to take on damn near the whole fucking MC.
She realized that her obsessive phone-checking was her missing him. And that empty, impatient feeling immediately got a whole lot worse with the revelation.
Now she was desperate to see him, desperate to the point of crazy.
“Come on, bud.” Thea pulled a U-turn in the fortunately quiet street. Josh squeaked again. The wheels of the truck squealed.
“Mama?” Josh looked at her like she’d lost her mind, and maybe she had.
“We’re goin’ to the store.” That meant they were going to the out-of-town market. She was going to have to make specific visits to Val’s house to see her friend, because she was not setting foot in the shithole that had been her previous place of employment ever again.
“Okaaaay.” Josh drew the syllable out, making it clear he thought she was insane. “What for?”
“Let’s get some nice eats in, steak and shit. We’ll make a nice meal for Dizzy for when he gets back.”
Josh’s face lit up. “Can we get cheesecake?”
“Yeah, we can get cheesecake.” She answered his beaming smile with one of her own.
Josh had giddily helped her to collect groceries at the store, and they’d ended up getting way more food than the three of them would ever have been able to eat. But that hadn’t mattered because they’d ended up with a few unannounced guests for dinner. Only Nut, Ferret and Cage had been missing, citing previous plans. Nut was eating with his parents. Ferret had been left alone, of course he’d been going home to Lyla, but Cage had taken some shit. He hadn’t elaborated on his plans at all, though.
Dizzy and the others had walked in as Thea had been getting ready to start grilling the steaks. Josh had been in the middle of preparing a salad, under her instruction. The homemade fries were spread out to dry on sheets of kitchen paper.
Dizzy had been pleasantly surprised, and pleased. Fitz, Scooby, Shaggy and Easy had immediately made themselves comfortable with no obvious intentions of leaving. Even though they’d had to spread out around the room, since Dizzy didn’t have a dining table big enough to fit them all around, the meal had still been a loud, slightly crazy, family affair.
Thea couldn’t remember being so happy, and so impatient, at the same time. Maybe not since Christmas Eve when she’d been a small child, waiting on Santa Claus. Josh had been joyously in his element, and it had almost brought Thea to tears to watch him. He’d fallen asleep propped against Shaggy’s side with a ridiculously large arm wrapped around him. Even when they’d extracted him to get him into bed, he hadn’t stirred. He’d been thoroughly exhausted by the excitement and the company.
The others had left not long afterwards. They’d had a long day on the road, and they were heading back to the clubhouse for company of the female kind and copious quantities of harder liquor.
Once the house was empty, Thea hadn’t lost her nerve exactly, but the suddenly echoing space had seemed too large, and her plans had become intimidating. So she’d said a hasty goodnight and now she was lying in her own bed, praying that Josh would sleep without nightmares and that it was indeed disappointment that she’d seen flash across Dizzy’s face.
She thought about getting dressed up, but she didn’t have any fancy underwear to put on, only her usual mismatched collection, so she decided to go just as she was. She left her room, finding the living room in darkness, and crept across it. She paused with her hand on the handle of Dizzy’s door, and took a deep breath before she entered the room.
He was in bed, but he hadn’t been asleep. He sat up as she entered.
“Ssshhhhh.” She climbed up onto the bed, onto Dizzy, and put her forefinger against his lips.
“Thank you.” She whispered. It was dark, the moonlight was held at bay by the heavy drapes, but she was close enough, since she was now kneeling, straddled across his hips, that she could see his face. She could definitely feel his body, even though its reaction was blunted by the covers. His body was very happy that she was there, but his eyes were flashing with irritation and his brows were drawn down in confusion.
“Thank you, for giving us our lives back,” she continued in a whisper.
Dizzy caught her wrist and pulled her hand away from his mouth.
“I told you. I don’t expect payment, not of any kind.” Thea felt the harsh rasp of his voice in places low in her body.
“This isn’t me payin’ a debt, Dizzy.”
“No? Then what is it?” He had hold of her hips, tight enough that his fingers might leave bruises.
“It’s a promise.” She leant forward and kissed him.
Thea started the kiss as a gentle touch of lips, but almost immediately Dizzy shifted, sat straighter, and wrapped his arms around her back, crushing her to him. That was fine by Thea, closer was good, closer was better. She slid her own arms around him, so that she could hold onto his shoulders, and match the intensity he gave her.