Home > Diamond in the Dust (Lost Kings MC #18)

Diamond in the Dust (Lost Kings MC #18)
Author: Autumn Jones Lake


Chapter One






Life is the dirt where I’ve buried all the secrets of my past.

A long time ago, I discovered that in order to rebuild yourself, first you have to destroy the old you. After a few years go by, it’s easy to convince yourself the one thing from your past that could decimate your present will stay buried forever.

But I should have understood that unspoken secrets have the power to sabotage everything you’ve built. I should’ve anticipated there’d be someone waiting to dig up the worst of my decaying history.

“Ashley, what are you doing here?” My voice comes out hoarse and raw as memories slam into me like a car pileup.

I was thirteen when my world was viciously ripped apart and I lost everything.

Sharing your darkest family secrets with someone who hasn’t earned your trust can ruin you—I learned that the hard way at sixteen years old. The woman standing in front of us taught me that lesson in the cruelest way possible.

I never expected to see her again. And showing up here to dig up the rotting corpse of my past in order to mess with my present is unforgivable.

For years I’ve focused on healing the past by living in the present. The club has allowed me to live outside the box of civilized society and expectations. After earning my patch, I buried the skeletons of my past deeper and deeper, until it was easy to pretend they belonged to someone else.

Ashley’s nothing more than a pathetic ghost digging up old bones to toss at the feet of the woman I love. For what? Jealousy? Revenge? Or does she really somehow think she’s saving Shelby?

I was never the monster she accused me of being.

Twice in my life, I’ve lost everything that matters.

It won’t happen again.

Back then, I was helpless to stop the chaos around me.

Now, I’m not.

After the horrors I survived as a kid, I never expected to love someone as deeply as I love Shelby.

I won’t let her go without a fight.



Chapter Two






Logan, 11 years old…

“Today was a good day,” I announced as I buckled myself into the back seat of my mom’s car.

I leaned over and checked Jensen’s seat belt. He wouldn’t bother to do it and I didn’t want my mom gettin’ in trouble.

She turned and flashed a warm-as-the-sun smile at us. “You boys want to stop for ice cream on the way home?”

“Yes!” I punched my fist in the air.

Jensen frowned and squirmed. Bet his nutty parents didn’t let him have ice cream. Everything they did was weird. Just like they’d sent him to the beach in what could only be described as a striped onesie. The shorts came down to his knees and the top of the jumpsuit had actual sleeves. For the beach! My mother immediately forbade me from making fun of the strange getup.

“Jensen’s your best friend.” She gripped the tops of my arms just hard enough to make sure I was listening. “Some humor’s good for the heart but never tease him about things out of his control. It’s not fair.”

I cast a glance over my shoulder to be sure Jensen couldn’t overhear us. “But why do they make him dress like an old-timey prisoner?”

“I don’t know,” she sighed. “I’m just grateful they allowed him to join us today. So be happy about that, okay? Don’t make him feel ashamed or embarrassed.”

“I won’t,” I swore, sweeping a large X over my heart.

It was a struggle but I kept my promise to Mom and didn’t tease Jensen once. Well, not about the outfit, anyway.

We happily slurped our cones at a picnic bench outside the ice cream shack. My mother cleaned Jensen’s face spotless before letting him return to the car. Maybe she was worried Jensen’s parents would be mad about the ice cream or maybe she wanted to return him in immaculate condition so he’d be allowed to go on future outings with us.

Jensen fell into silence on the way to his family’s farm, staring out the window.

“I wish I lived at your house,” he mumbled as we turned down the long dirt driveway.

Jensen had never been to our house when Dad was in one of his moods.

A cloud of dust followed us as we bumped along the driveway. As we got closer to the house three women ushered goats away from the car.

The women wore bonnets on their heads and had dresses that swept the ground. Like showin’ an ankle might invite a lightning bolt to strike ’em all dead or something.

Mom stopped the car near the old white farmhouse’s front porch.

A man in a white shirt, black pants, and suspenders strode over. All the men around here wore white shirts and dark pants. I’d only ever seen people on old TV shows or in history books who dressed so weird. The one time I’d tried to ask Jensen about it, he’d squirmed while mumbling about modesty, vanity, and standards. I hated how uncomfortable it made him, so I never asked again.

Jensen’s father was tall, lean, and terrifying. Always scowling or scolding someone. He reached our car and opened Mom’s door, tipping his head in hello.

“Oh, thank you.” I don’t think she’d planned to get out of the car but now she had no choice.

I stepped out too. Jensen took his time collecting his things, and finally shuffled over to join us. His father immediately gripped the back of Jensen’s neck, holding him still.

“Did he behave?” Mr. Killgore asked.

Suddenly, it felt like we were all on trial.

“Oh yes!” My mother was quick to answer. Her hands fisted at her sides. With wide eyes and pursed lips, she stared at where Mr. Killgore was gripping Jensen’s neck. “Jensen’s always so well-behaved. It’s a pleasure to have him with us.”

If only she knew what a little shit he could be when he wanted to.

As if he’d had the same thought, Jensen tilted his head and caught my eye, a slight smirk curling one corner of his mouth. I stuffed my hands in my pockets and held in my laughter.

“You can tell me,” Mr. Killgore insisted.

“I absolutely would,” my mother answered in a firmer tone. “But he’s always polite and respectful.”

His father grunted and released Jensen. “Good.”

Jensen shook off the rough treatment and scanned the yard. Looking for his little sister, I figured. I spotted her clinging to an old metal climbing frame that looked like it’d come straight from a school’s playground after fifty years of intense use. He marched over and plucked her off the metal bars. Her loud squeal of delight echoed over the yard as he spun her in a circle before setting her down. She toddled through the grass to one of the women corralling the goats. Her purple overalls and brightly striped long-sleeved T-shirt stood out against the dry grass. No bonnets and pilgrim dresses for Jezzie yet.

“We were, uh, planning to visit my brother in a couple weeks,” Mom said, drawing my attention to Mr. Killgore again. “He lives about an hour north. We’d love to have Jensen join us if that’s okay?”

“North where?”

“Outside Bent Rock.”

“Good. Not the city. You should stay clear of all unholy cities. God has already determined the cities will fall.” He shook one long, bony finger in my mother’s face. “We either play by the Lord’s rules or Hell is our consequence.”

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