Unbreakable: An Unacceptables MC Standalone Romance, page 2
I tugged at the tight-ass collar of my dress shirt as Crickett and Collin walked in through the front doors and down the makeshift aisle. My soon-to-be mother-in-law walked up to me, kissing me on the cheek. “You look like you’re shitting bricks, Ryder. Try to take a few deep breaths or something.”
I could always leave it to Crickett to help me relax in her own blunt way. “Thanks, I’m trying.” But there was no way it was going to work this time. I was nervous as all hell.
And then I saw her. Everything faded. Nothing existed except the woman walking through the wooden door. The world seemed to stop spinning—Raine was that damn stunning. She slowly ambled with the biggest smile on her face in a simple lace gown hugging her curves. Abel was being his normal, stoic self as he escorted his little girl in; I knew he was putting on a brave face for the crowd and would tear up sooner rather than later.
It felt like forever before they finally made it to the daisy-covered alter, and Raine practically bounced her last step to me.
“Holy! Fucking! Shit!” Raine was laughing her ass off while I was fighting waterworks like a damn pansy. “We’re actually doing this!”
The bar was decorated in something that Crickett and Raine called shabby chic. We were standing in the middle of the bar with Abel next to us as our wedding was about to start, and there Raine was being her goofball self.
“Honey, hush.” Abel cleared his throat. “We’re supposed to be taking this seriously.” Abel shook my hand. “Ready son?”
I nodded. “Fuck yeah I am.”
After Abel hugged Raine, he took his spot in between us. Abel put his hand in the air, motioning for everyone to take their seats and be quiet. “As all of you know, Raine asked me to get ordained, and even though my knee-jerk reaction was to say ‘hell fucking no’, here I stand about to marry my precious daughter and one of the best men I know. Ladies and outlaws alike, we have come together today to witness and celebrate the union of Raine Hellock and Ryder Walsh.”
Raine sniffled and whispered, “I love you Daddy. Thank you.”
He flashed a closed-lipped grin over to her before he continued, “Raine and Ryder have been on this journey for longer than I care to know—yes, I knew you were climbing through my daughter’s window long before you thought I did.”
I could feel my cheeks prickle as I looked over to my president and soon-to-be father-in-law. “Well, at least I’m about to make an honest woman out of her.”
Everyone laughed, thankfully.
Abel put his hand on my shoulder. “I should have wrung your neck all those years ago, but in some ways, I’m glad I didn’t, because I have never seen my little girl as happy as she is when she is looking at you. Ryder fought to prove himself worthy of the cut, and that love has led us here today. Their road has been paved with rough patches and fond memories, and their experiences of that togetherness have led them here, to make a public pronouncement that they have each found their one true love.”
I could hear his voice start to catch as he read from a binder clutched in his subtly shaking hands. “When you say to each other ‘I love you’, what you are saying is, ‘Hold on tight, the ride is long.’ Be empathetic to your partner’s wants and needs. Hold each other in the highest regard, always. Have a sense of humor as you meet life’s challenges. Honor one another when you are together or apart. Respect each other’s differences and embrace them. Enjoy the good times, and endure the storms. When your heart and the wide-open roads call to you, follow just to see what awaits you both. Don’t be afraid to satisfy your dreams with new and different experiences. Make your dreams come true, together. Most of all, love one another without limits or restriction. Raine? Ryder? Are you ready to make your promises to each other?”
Raine and I locked eyes as we responded in unison, "We are."
I closed my eyes, taking a slow breath in, silently praying I wouldn’t forget the vows I wrote for Raine. Grabbing her hands a little tighter, I looked into the eyes of my love as the words leapt from my soul. “Raine, I love you more than the wind whipping through my hair, but never ask me to take back seat while you drive and we will be happy forever. As we take our vows of marriage, I promise to love you and take you anywhere we can ride on two wheels. Please take my heart and ride with me forever.”
Raine wiped a tear from her cheek before replying, “I love my leather, and I love the way I can cuddle up with you on the back of your bike. Being with you, holding you close as you take the turns tightly, I can feel a connection with you, with your spirit, and I love that feeling. I want to hold you forever, riding off down any highway we come to. Our marriage and love will take us through any weather, and it makes me overwhelmingly happy to now become your old lady.”
Abel’s gruff voice boomed, “May I have the rings, please?”
Holt pulled them from the inside pocket of his cut. “Here they are, brother.”
Abel continued. “Rings are a precious metal, and they are also made precious by us wearing them. Your wedding rings are special because they enhance who you are. They mark the beginning of your long journey together. Your wedding ring is a circle, a symbol of love never ending. It is the seal of the vows you have just taken to love each other without end.”
Before handing Raine and I our bands, Abel stared at them for a few seconds. With a kind smile on his face, he gave us each other’s rings.
I slid the ring onto Raine’s dainty finger. “I offer you this ring as a symbol of my love. With this ring, I thee wed.”
Raine’s eyes filled with tears as she placed the band onto my finger. “I offer you this ring as a symbol of my love. With this ring, I thee wed.”
Crickett came up next to her husband as his voice started to shake. “May your love grow ever stronger as you share your lives together, and may your future be even more wonderful than you ever dreamed possible. You have made your promises and exchanged your rings. Family and friends, we have been waiting for this moment for what feels like a lifetime. So, get ready to put your hands together and make some noise. By the power vested in me by the world-wide web for a small fee of twenty-five dollars, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Ryder, you may kiss your beautiful bride!”
Everyone leapt to their feet, cheering and hollering for us. I grabbed both sides of Raine’s face and crushed my lips to hers. It was the best kiss of my life. It was the most important kiss of my life. I knew right then what people meant about seeing fireworks. In that moment my heart exploded into a million, love-filled pieces, igniting my soul.
Abel yelled over the roar of celebration, “I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Walsh!”
A few weeks later
The thunder rolled outside while I cleaned up the kitchen from making dinner. I couldn’t tell if the shitty weather was affecting our mood or what, but Crickett and I were both feeling kind of blah. It was another late night and Ryder and Dad were not home from the shop yet. Crickett was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper.
“Anything interesting?” I asked while putting a giant bowl of garlic mashed potatoes down in front of her. I took my seat after making sure the table was set for everyone and all of the food was set out. It wasn’t my most shining culinary moment, but it was good enough—baked chicken with snow peas and garlic mashed potatoes.
“Nah, just the same old shit. Pretty boring if I’m being honest.” She folded the pages and started to serve herself. “Heard from the guys yet?”
I shook my head with a piece of chicken rolling around in my mouth. “Not since lunch. They’ve been pretty busy I guess. You know how little Ryder actually tells me.”
Crickett pursed her lips. “Trust me, sweetie, that’s probably for the best.” I could read my stepmom like a book and she knew it. Before I even had to start prying, she continued, “I just have a weird feeling, that’s all.”
“Has Dad said anything to you?” Before she could reply, Ryder and Dad came striding through the front door.
“Something smells mighty tasty in here.” My dad’s toothy grin lit up as he walked into the kitchen. “How’re my two favorite girls in the world doing?”
Crickett got up and kissed her husband as Ryder took a seat next to me. I pecked his scruffy cheek before teasing, “You better not be thinking about eating a damn thing with those dirty-ass hands.” His fingernails were black from God knows what, and he looked like he had been digging ditches all damn day from the sweat streaks running down his face and the grime covering most of his body.
“Yes ma’am.” Ryder shoved away from the table and washed up in the kitchen sink after my father.
“Where’s Collin?” Crickett asked. We all knew he was working at the bar that night, but I just assumed she was trying to get the guys talking.
“He’s going to learn how to close up tonight. Holt’s there with him now,” Dad responded, piling a heaping helping of mashed potatoes onto his plate.
The tension between them could be cut with a knife. Crickett was the strongest woman I knew. She never took shit from my old man or any of the club members, but I had never seen her this cold toward my father. Something was seriously up and I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
We sat eating in silence for a few minutes, and I couldn’t take it. Thunder boomed again as rain started pelting the windows.
“Can you believe all of this rain and crazy ass weather we have been getting?” Crickett glanced around while everyone had their heads down, noshing away at their males.
“Crazy doesn’t even describe it.” I responded. Dad and Ryder continued to just shove bite after bite into their mouths. I was starting to antsy. Their silence was driving me up a wall.
“I heard that the old farmhouse just up the road was put on the market this week.” I was desperately grasping at straws to distract from the awkwardness I felt.
Ryder glanced up at me from his plate. “We can go look at it in the morning if you’d like.”
My father stiffened up as he forcefully coughed a little.
“What?” I snapped at him. “You know we’re not going to live here forever.”
“Raine, I just don’t understand why you two need to be spending that type of money when we have a perfectly good home for you guys right here.”
“Abel, stop,” Crickett huffed. “They wouldn’t be far, just up the road.”
Dad slammed his fist onto the table. “We’re safer when we are together,” he growled, narrowing his eyes at her.
I felt like I was a little kid again, watching Mommy and Daddy fighting. I stared downward as I pushed peas around my almost empty plate.
“There’s no harm in just checking to see if it is a good deal.” Ryder put his hand on mine, thumbing my diamond ring.
Dad stood, towering over the table. “I’m going for a drive.”
Crickett snatched the truck keys from his hand. “If you think you’re walking out of this house without me, you’re fucking insane.”
She was toe to toe with him, glaring up into his eyes. Through his graying beard, his lips pulled into a gentle smile. He picked Crickett up, throwing her over his shoulder while she cried out, “What the fuck are you doing?”
“I’m going to fucking take you with me, then. I need to clear my head and if I can’t leave without you, you better get your ass in the passenger’s seat.”
He shot me a quick wink and walked out the back door.
Once I knew they were out of earshot, I turned to my husband. “What is going on? Why is everyone on edge right now?”
He shrugged, taking a sip from his beer. I hated when he didn’t answer me. I knew it was club business, but it was affecting my family and that was something I was not going to be blind to.
“Ryder! Fucking talk to me!” I yelled.
“I don’t know what you want me to tell you, babe. Everything is fine. There’s nothing to worry about. Trouble in paradise with Abel and Crickett is none of our damn business. Fucking leave it alone.”
I knew by the narrowed stare and the churning of Ryder’s jaw that I needed to just listen to him. I knew that was the best thing to do, but I just couldn’t. “Are we going on lockdown again? I feel like we’re in danger and everyone knows it for a fact and I am left here speculating like a damn child. I’m not some delicate flower that needs to be protected and sheltered from the dangers of our world.”
Ryder got up. “I’m taking a shower.” He waved a dismissive hand at me and walked away.
With that he left me in the kitchen alone, stewing. I cleared the table and washed the rest of the dishes after putting the leftovers away and making a plate for my brother to have when he got home from work. I was almost in rage mode, practically slamming the dishes down as I loaded the dishwasher.
“Damn, babe. What did those dishes ever do to you?” Ryder’s low voice roared through the still house as he came back into the kitchen wearing only his jeans and boots. He wrapped his arms around me from behind, kissing my shoulder.
“I just hate feeling like everyone is handling me with kid gloves.” I sighed into him as he hugged me tighter.
“I know sweetheart, but you’re blowing this completely out of proportion. Sometimes we just have to let shit run its course.” His teeth playfully bit at my neck. “Let’s not waste our alone time being upset.”
His hand started to slide up under the thin fabric of my tank top, but I stopped him. Turning in his arms, I leaned back against the counter. “Promise me I have nothing to worry about.”
He rubbed his hand over his face. “Raine, please believe me when I say that everything is fine.”
“Promise me!” I demanded, stomping my foot.
Ryder kissed the tip of my nose before locking his eyes with mine. “I promise you have nothing to worry about.” The softness of his tone soothed me a little.
“Thank you,” I muttered.
Right as I was about to nip at Ryder’s shoulder, Crickett and Dad came in through the back door. They both were laughing, and the mood switch was so strange to me. In an instant, poof, everything was back to normal again. I didn’t know how it could be that easy for everyone to ignore the drastic change, but that was just how life was in the Hellock house.
“What’s so funny?” I asked as Crickett threw her arm around my neck.
“Your father just damn near jumped out of his skin because a bat flew past him when we got out of the truck.” She was still giggling at him.
Dad grabbed a beer out from the fridge. “That fucker dive-bombed my head.”
Crickett rolled her eyes. “Whatever you say, honey.” She sat in his lap, taking his beer from him. She took a long swig then turned to me. “Your father has a surprise for you two.”
“Dammit Crickett, I was going to fucking tell them in the morning.” My dad threw his hands in the air before playfully shoving his wife.
She bounced a few times with eagerness. “I just can’t contain my excitement!”
“Well, don’t keep us waiting.” Ryder handed me a beer before opening one for himself.
My dad dug keys out of his pocket that I didn’t recognize and threw them over to me. “Think of it as a belated wedding present,” he said as a triumphant smile spread all the way to his light eyes.
I stared down at them, confused.
“I just bought you the damn farmhouse. That’s what we just went and did.”
I froze. My father was a generous man, but I never thought I would see the day he would give me the blessing to not live under his roof.
“What the hell? Dad, you didn’t have to do that.” I hugged both Crickett and my father as tears started to roll down my cheeks.
“I’ve had the deal in the works for a few days, and I got the call that it all was final right before I left the garage today.” His chest was puffed out with elated pride as he watched me practically jump for joy.
“But you just sat here and yelled at us about even thinking about moving out.” I felt like this was all too good to be true and
“I had to put on some type of a show or I would have fucking spilled the beans too early.” My dad laughed a little. “I had you really going for a bit, didn’t I?”
Ryder ran his hand over his face. “You definitely had me going.”
“Can we go see it?” I pleaded, but Ryder and my father both shot me down instantly.
Crickett got up and patted my shoulder. “We’ll go check it out first thing in the morning.” She cooed to me in a sweet voice then turned to Ryder and my dad, and her tone switched to almost threatening as she spoke to them. “Is everyone happy with that?” She glared at both of the men as they nodded. “Perfect. I’m off to bed.”
My dad jumped up. “That’s my cue. Night kids.”
“Holy fuck.” Raine’s excitement laced her words while staring down at the keys still clutched in her hands. “Did this really just happen?”
I pulled my gorgeous wife into my arms, kissing the top of her head. “You thought the world was ending and here they were just trying to not spoil the surprise.”
I could feel her body relax as the stress she had built up melted away. “You were right. I’m sorry for overreacting.”
“Babe, if I couldn’t handle your overreactions, I wouldn’t have put that damn ring on your finger,” I whispered into her ear.
The relief I felt in that moment was more than Raine even knew. The shitty thing was that I was keeping a secret from her. We were in danger—we were almost on lockdown, but I couldn’t tell her. I hated keeping things from Raine, but it was for the good of the club and for her. Crickett was privy to minor details, but even our queen was in the dark; that was how bad it was getting. We were doing our best to handle everything, but I didn’t know if it was going to be enough. Standing there in the kitchen with Raine, I didn’t want to think about any of that—not about the fact that one of our gun shipments had gone missing, or that Bear was on his way up from Atlanta with reinforcements for us, or that the Sinners were making our lives hell again.
KRISTEN HOPE MAZZOLA SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Off Duty (Shots On Goal Standalone Book 6)Donut Be Easy: A Standalone Romantic ComedyUnfixable: An Unacceptables MC Standalone RomanceGin & Tonic: A Romantic Comedy Standalone (The Happy Hour Series Book 2)Special Forces: Operation Alpha: Uncut: An Unacceptables MC Standalone Romance (Kindle Worlds Novella)Tis The Season: An Unacceptables MC Holiday NovellaUnstable: An Unacceptables MC StandaloneUnkillable: An Unacceptables MC Standalone Romance
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