One year earlier
Luna knew it was time to leave Defiance when she saw Tru being marched up to the front gates of the motorcycle club.
She didn’t know for sure at that moment if Tru was coming back into the MC she’d grown up in against her will or not, but being half dragged through the gates by the leader of a rival MC didn’t bode well, for any of them.
That feeling of being trapped, of needing to escape had been brewing inside Luna for months, years, but she’d managed to tamp it down, mainly out of fear. The post-Chaos world wasn’t the place for a woman alone. The pre-Chaos world hadn’t been either, though, and seeing the woman who’d been one of her best friends being forced back inside made the dread grow in her belly.
What if there’s really no escape?
For the week prior, she’d had the feeling of some kind of impending crisis, had spent most of the time assuming it was another big storm coming down the pike and trying not to panic too badly. But the feeling of doom intensified and even now, looking at Tru’s march back through the Defiance gates, Luna wasn’t sure if this was the event that had been weighing on her so heavily.
She’d had this foreboding feeling before, many times in her life… most importantly, right before the Chaos hit, and that series of storms had changed the world as she’d known it. It was an intense event that took her parents, the sunlight, many forms of communication. It changed her entire way of life and left her in the cradle of the Defiance Motorcycle Club, a place where she’d grown up, one she’d been forced to depend on for her complete survival.
Defiance MC was in a chaos of its own with Tru’s return. The one-time princess of the MC was causing a ton of trouble with other MCs, with Caspar, with the leaders of Defiance. Although the MC had thrived during the three years following the Chaos, thanks to their doomsday prepping club founders and their system of underground tubes, there were still an awful lot of challenges that came with daily living.
Luna spent a lot of her time during the next evenings after Tru’s arrival in one of the smaller garages, working on her truck. She’d been rebuilding it, nearly from scratch after it had been caught under the partial collapse of her childhood house. She’d smoothed out the dents on the bumpers and the hood, but didn’t bother with new paint and the like, because she didn’t want it to stand out on the roads.
A tremor went through her—she looked up at the sky as if an impending storm was on the way but it was dark and clear. Goose bumps rose on her arms but she didn’t pull her shirt on over the tank top she wore. Her hair was half wrapped in a bandana, a braid over her shoulder, grease on her arms. She drew in a couple of deep breaths and mentally cursed that her truck wouldn’t be ready to leave that night—the timing would’ve been perfect. But she couldn’t risk getting stuck on the road.
In reality, she couldn’t risk leaving at all, but she would. She had to, or she’d shrivel up and die here.
“God, maybe you could be more dramatic,” she muttered, went back into the garage and continued to work on the engine until her eyes blurred. And then the feeling covered her again, like some kind of blanket. Her skin tingled as if electricity burned through her.
When she looked up, he framed the doorway, filling it. There was light shining in from behind him, which she didn’t understand since there was no light out, and she drew in a sharp breath.
It was, she imagined, a lot like being struck by lightning. Painful but somehow thrilling at the same time.
Honestly, for about two seconds, she thought he was an illusion, an angel, with the song “Patience” blasting in behind him that she’d later learn was coming from his van.
Rebel had left her some pot earlier, and she’d smoked while she worked. It might’ve been particularly strong or maybe it was just the night’s magic—or the man it ushered in—but she was higher than she’d ever been in her life.
The pull toward him was indescribable. The fire burned in the corner stove, the music pounded and she’d dropped the wrench and walked toward him.
He’d moved toward her as well. When they were close enough, she noted that he looked haunted, as haunted as she felt. She went up on her tiptoes, threaded her hand through the back of his hair and pulled his head down. She pressed her open mouth to his and kissed him with abandon.
He tightened an arm around her waist—not enough to frighten her, but rather, to add to her excitement. Somehow, his arrival was what she’d been waiting for, what she’d needed. And as she moaned against his mouth, they swayed together.
This had to be a dream. A slow-dancing, sinking-to-the-ground dream, where they lay together, fully clothed looking up at the fluorescent paint Rebel had put on the ceiling. Axl Rose’s rough voice and promises soothed her almost as much as this man’s arms. And that’s all it was—kissing and lying in the tall, tattooed man’s arms but it felt far more profound, like they’d connected on a level she’d never connected with anyone before.
If she’d woken in the morning and found it had been a dream, she wouldn’t have been surprised.
She spent a lot of time staring at the phoenix tattoo on the inside of his forearm. She swore she saw the wings move.
Was he who she prayed for?
“I wanted someone to come rescue me,” she murmured.
He looked concerned. “Are they hurting you here?”
Yes, they were, but not in any way she could encapsulate at the moment, not enough to make him understand. She should’ve given him more credit, because somehow he knew. He was like her in more ways than she’d understood at that moment—the connection was immediate, impossible to ignore and it was forever.
“Not really,” she lied.
“Well, I’m here, babe. And fuck, you’re beautiful,” he murmured, brushing her cheek with his knuckles as they lay on the blanket in the middle of the garage.
She smiled. And then she fell asleep.
The next morning, she woke, blinking, confused and thinking it all must’ve been a dream. Until she saw the man with the phoenix tattoo at the diner with another new guy. He glanced over at her, his eyes full of the same intensity they’d born toward her last night and her heart squeezed tight.
She didn’t even know his name.
* * * * *
The next night, he’d broken into her place, climbed right through her window.
It had been the middle of the night and she’d been reading by candlelight. She hadn’t had time to react before his entire body was halfway inside and then she’d been too stunned to say anything right away.
When she finally found her voice, she managed, “Most people knock.”
“I’m not most people. Besides, do you kiss everyone the way you kissed me last night?” There was no teasing in his tone, no censure—he was completely serious, like he knew her answer would be no. Like he was telling her that this was the way it was going to be.
He scared the shit out of her for that. Her cheeks burned. “I don’t even know who you are.”
“I’m Bishop. You’re Luna.”
“I’m with Rebel,” she blurted out.
“What are you even doing in here?” she demanded
“Talking to you,” he said reasonably.
“That’s not…you can’t just do that.”
“Really? But I’m here.”
“If you don’t leave…”
“What? You’ll call your boyfriend?”
The way he said the word, she knew he wasn’t buying that anything was happening between her and Rebel. But she said “Yes” anyway.
“But you don’t love him. Not like that. Although you pretend really well. Why do you want people to think you’re in love with him?” he asked, tilting his head.
“It’s complicated,” she muttered, keenly aware of how little clothing she wore. Rebel rigged the heat in the house to blast most nights, since she refused to come down to the tubes unless there was a storm. So she wore a sleeveless tank and her underwear…Bishop was in jeans and a black leather jacket, a navy blue bandana wound around his head that made his blue eyes stand out even more.
His hands…they were so big. Everything about him was big—she knew when he was pressed against her last night.
Now, he sat on the edge of her bed and then laid back and stared up at the ceiling. “You don’t like it underground?”
“I don’t either.”
“You can’t stay here.”
“Rebel said I could.”
“He did not,” she said, but knowing Rebel…”Dammit.”
He laughed then. “Luna, you made this whole goddamned thing worth it.”
From that night, he’d refused to be ignored, and even though his presence was often silent, that made it no less demanding. And as much as she’d thought she’d hated it…she’d really also loved it.
She realized he could break down her walls, and in response, she worked on building them higher, using Rebel as a shield and pretending that things could get back to normal. But in reality, things were never normal, even when people thought they were.
Bishop was like magic to her. She was embarrassed to say it to herself, but every time she caught sight of him, she felt as thought there was something so mystical inside of him, it made her want to crawl into bed with him and never come out.
He made her restless, more than she’d been, because everything was shifting and changing. Bishop and Mathias showing up in their big, black van had given her the imminent sense that something was going to happen soon, and it would be big. Bigger than all of them.
Even so, she remained convinced that loving him wouldn’t protect her from anything in this world.