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Madison -- My parents died and left me with my older brother. At one time, he’d been a nice guy. Then he let drugs and alcohol destroy his life. Now I walk on eggshells every day, and hope for a way out of this nightmare. Growing up, no one wanted to be friends with the deaf girl, much less date her. Now I’m an adult and haven’t been on a single date in my life. I should run from the big biker called Truth… so why does he make me feel so safe?
Truth -- Women are all the same. Can’t trust them. I’ve been screwed over enough times to know better than to fall for the lies that drip from their lips like honey. But Madison doesn’t seem to be the same as all the others. It’s not just because she’s deaf. There’s a sweetness to her, a vulnerability that makes me want to protect her. I never thought I’d get the chance, but once I find out what her brother is up to, I’ll stop at nothing to make sure no one hurts Madison. Whether she knows it or not, she’s mine.
WARNING: Guaranteed happily ever after, no cliffhanger, no cheating. Recommended for readers 18+ due to adult situations, language, and violence.
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Truth (Savage Raptors MC 4)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Harley Wylde
The stench from the house nearly made me gag. I’d often thought I couldn’t keep living like this, but what other option did I have? I had the world’s worst brother. He’d been a good kid, if a bit quiet. Now he was a total wreck. If his friends in high school hadn’t convinced him to try drugs in the first place, he might have led a very different life. Would he even live long enough to see thirty? I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen him when he wasn’t high or drunk off his ass. Since our parents were gone, it was just the two of us. If they hadn’t left the house to him, I’d have thrown him out. As it was, I should be grateful he’d let me keep living at home. Since I’d been underage when they passed, I’d been left in my brother’s care.
My brother being a piece of trash wasn’t a big secret. Everyone in town knew about his problems. Hard not to when you lived in such a small place. And yet, he’d been granted custody without any issues. I wondered if it had more to do with the social workers having too many cases and not enough homes for all the kids. In their eyes, it was probably better to leave me with family than shove me into a house with four other foster kids and strangers for guardians. From what little I knew about being in the system, this probably had been the better choice. I’d heard some horror stories back in high school. No idea if any of it was true or not, but I hadn’t been eager to find out firsthand.
The world could be a cruel place, especially if you weren’t perfect. Because of my disability, I could have gotten into Section 8 housing, but the duplexes we had in town weren’t any better than our house. In fact, they were in a much rougher area of Bryson Corners. Dealing with my brother had seemed like the safer option. Although, as I looked at the beer bottles strewn across the living room, the overflowing ashtrays, and his various drugs scattered on the coffee table, I had to wonder if living on the street wouldn’t be better than this.
I didn’t understand how he could afford his habits. He seldom worked, and when he did, he immediately drank his paycheck, smoked it, or snorted it. If it weren’t for my part-time job working in the office of the local bakery, we wouldn’t have electricity or water, and I would have certainly starved to death by now. Speaking of work… I looked at the clock on the wall and realized I was going to be late if I didn’t leave right this second.
My brother slept on the couch, his mouth open, and one of his legs falling off the cushions. I didn’t dare try to cover him with a blanket. Instead, I grabbed my purse and house key, then hurried out the front door. I locked up and started my walk to work. The bakery was nearly ten blocks from my house, but it could have been worse. At least I’d found something relatively close.
The sweltering heat left me sweaty and gross by the time I got to the bakery, but Mrs. Johnson merely waved as I rushed to the back. I could smell the bread she’d baked early in the morning, as well as the Danishes and other goodies. My stomach rumbled, reminding me I hadn’t had time to eat breakfast. She allowed me as much coffee as I wanted, and a muffin or Danish each day as part of my employee perks.
I stashed my purse and stepped into the bathroom to freshen up. I splashed water on my face, used a wet paper towel to wipe down my arms and the back of my neck, then cleaned my armpits. Thankfully I kept a small bag stashed here with some deodorant and body spray. I used both before smoothing my hair and went to get a cup of coffee. I poured the strong brew and peered at the choices in the glass cabinet.
Mrs. Johnson caught my attention and signed her question. What will it be this morning?
I signed and spoke my answer, even though I knew my voice could be loud and off-putting to some people. “Blueberry.”
She smiled and gave me a nod. Once she’d plated the muffin for me, I took my breakfast to the office and got started on my work. I paused between tasks to nibble on the muffin and take a swallow or two of coffee before getting back to it. I helped with her bookkeeping, inventory, and organized her files. As Mrs. Johnson once said, she loved the people and baking part of her business, but not so much the rest of it.
I couldn’t call the vendors for her, but I did tackle the emails that came through, and I maintained her store website. In fact, I needed to go snap a few pictures for the shop’s social media accounts. I grabbed my phone and peered out into the front of the shop. Only two men stood at the counter, both wearing the black leather vests of the local motorcycle club.
Even though they made me a little nervous, I pasted a smile on my face and stepped out front. Neither one acknowledged me, even though I did feel someone’s eyes watching me as I took a few pictures. If it hadn’t been for Mrs. Johnson’s frantic waving, which I caught from the corner of my eye, the shouted hey would have scared the crap out of me. While it wasn’t as loud to me as it would be for others, I still hadn’t expected to hear someone speaking behind me. And for his voice to come through so clearly, I knew he’d yelled the word.
I paused and turned to face the men. One of them was speaking, but he was talking so fast, I couldn’t catch everything. I had a hearing aid in one ear, which allowed me to hear a small amount. Still, I relied heavily on lip reading and sign language. Except this man’s mouth was covered by a moustache and beard. I couldn’t make out what he was saying. I tried to turn my hearing aid up a little.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you,” I said. The man’s eyebrows rose, and he came closer, moving slowly. Had he not realized I was deaf? I’d thought that was what Mrs. Johnson had been so frantic about.
“Why are you taking pictures?” he asked slowly, making sure to enunciate each word, and speaking loudly.
I showed him my phone, where I’d been in the process of loading a few images to Instagram for the Etta Mae’s account. I turned so he could watch as I typed, added my hashtags, then posted the images. Next, I did the same for Facebook and Twitter. I’d save TikTok for another time, since I’d need to create a video of the items on display. I never liked doing that when people were present.
The other man came over and started signing. He didn’t mean to scare you. We didn’t realize you couldn’t hear.
I signed my response back. It’s okay.
“Can you say that out loud?” the first man asked. “I don’t know how to use sign language.”
“I said it’s okay.” The way Mrs. Johnson winced, I knew my volume had been a little too loud. “Sorry.”
“I’m Truth,” the man said. “And this is Knuckles.”
The one he called Knuckles signed his answer as Truth spoke. So I did the same, both speaking and signing. “I’m Madison.”
Knuckles patted Truth on the shoulder. They took their order from Mrs. Johnson and walked out without another word. But I did see the way Truth looked back at me over his shoulder as he approached his motorcycle. Butterflies swarmed in my stomach, and I wondered why they’d stopped to speak with me.