Home > Diamond in the Dust (Lost Kings MC #18)(2)

Diamond in the Dust (Lost Kings MC #18)(2)
Author: Autumn Jones Lake

Jensen stepped up next to me and punched my arm as if to punctuate his father’s mini sermon.

“Oh, yes.” Mom nodded in vigorous agreement. “My husband and I would love to find a place like this out in the country.” She pulled me closer and ruffled my hair. “So Logan could be closer to nature.”

I squinted up at her. We had a perfectly fine backyard with plenty of nature in our normal, not-weird neighborhood.

My gaze skittered to all the other folks roaming around the property. Jensen was never clear if they were relatives, farmhands, or what.

“You’re welcome to attend our prayer meetings anytime. Bring Logan so he can get to know the other boys better. Your husband is of course also welcomed.”

Didn’t sound very welcoming to me.

“Thank you so much,” my mother gushed as she edged toward our car. “We already attend Valley Christian over in North Creek.”

We did? As far as I remembered, our family hadn’t been inside a church since Grandma Randall passed away.

He grunted. “That’s good. A good start.”

“Well, I need to get home and start dinner…” My mother pushed me toward the car.

“Bye, Jensen!” I called out. “See you Monday!”

He returned a half-hearted wave, collected his little sister, and stomped into the house.

Now that it was just the two of us, I climbed into the front seat.

My mother didn’t speak until she stopped the car at the end of the driveway. “Lord, that man gives me the willies.” She pressed her hand to her chest and briefly closed her eyes. “Poor Jensen.”

His dad gave me the willies too. Always popping out of nowhere, preaching scary Bible quotes. Not that my own dad was a prize, but at least there were no lectures about hellfire in my home.

As we turned onto the road leading back to civilization, my stomach knotted. I glanced at the clock. Why was fear doing backflips in my stomach? We’d be home on time. I stared at the road ahead, willing the dread to go away.

“Mom, do you ever want to keep driving? Stay on the highway and see where it takes you? Leave everything behind?” I knew I sure did. Like, right now.

She glanced over at me. “I’d never leave you. What makes you ask that?”

Never knowing what mood Dad will be in when we get home.

“I dunno.” I shrugged.

“Soon, you’ll be old enough to follow the road wherever it takes you. I hope you’re still friends with Jensen, so you can get him out of that house,” she said under her breath, but I still caught the words.

“We’ll still be friends,” I said defensively. How could she suggest otherwise?

She hesitated. “I’m sure you will, honey.”

“Are we really going to visit Uncle Boone and Aunt Em?” Aunt Em always made the best chocolate cake. Uncle Boone would talk football with me all afternoon. He taught me how to throw a ball last summer. He said I had a good arm. I planned to try out for the football team one day, even though Dad said it was a waste of time.

“Yes. I spoke to Emily last night,” my mother answered.

I couldn’t wait. Uncle Boone always sneaks me into the garage so I can sit on his Harley. It was huge and loud. Mom said motorcycles scared the crap out of her. Uncle Boone promised that he’d teach me to ride when I was older—as long as I never told her.

“Is Dad coming too?” Every single time Dad came with us, he got into a fight with Uncle Boone, forcing us to leave early. It was always better when it was just Mom and me.

“No, not this time. I think he has to work.”

I blew out a sharp breath. Good.

My mother clutched the steering wheel tighter, sitting forward and staring out the window like she was navigating through a monsoon instead of a still-sunny early evening.

“I liked the sketch you did at the beach,” I said to take her mind off whatever had her so edgy. “You think I could get a frame for it and hang it in my room?”

She beamed. “You’d really want to?”

“Yes.” Duh. Mom was crazy talented. That talent hadn’t passed to me. I could barely draw a stick figure.

More tension churned my stomach as we approached our house.

Smoke rose in a black plume from the backyard. I sat forward to get a better look. “Is Dad grilling or something?”

“I don’t know.” My mother’s nervous murmur did nothing to ease my worries.

Colorful blotches dotted the front yard and my father was busy bending over to collect them, throwing them in a pile in front of the porch steps.

My mother pulled into the driveway and stopped short, flinging her door open before she put the car in park.

“What are you doing, Ed?” She wasn’t quite shouting. My mother rarely raised her voice. Certainly never to my father, even when she should have.

In response, my father lit a match on the pile of what I now recognized as some of my mother’s clothes.

Jesus Christ. Here we go again.

“Where the fuck have you been?” he screamed at her.

Red-hot anger streaked across my cheeks. I slammed my car door shut hard enough to get him attention. “We were at the beach!” I yelled. “Mom took me and Jensen to the beach today. We told you this morning!”

“Bullshit, you little fuck!” he roared, jabbing the bottle of lighter fluid in his hand toward me. “You’re lying for your whore mother again.”

“Don’t you dare call her that! I’m not lying!” I slipped off one sneaker and poured the sand onto the driveway. “Got sand everywhere, even my damn ass crack!”

“Logan, honey, go inside,” my mother said in a soft voice without taking her eyes off the fire.

I wanted to push my father into the fucking fire. Watch him burn for a change.

I stared into the blaze—yup, Mom’s clothes, her favorite boots, and a handbag—all being consumed by the flames. What could I do to save any of it?

“Mom?” I started to ask but the question lodged in my throat.

A single tear slid down her cheek.

“I’m sorry, Leigh.” Dad dropped to his knees in front her. “I was worried about you. I can’t help it. You know how I get.”

Worried my ass.

Not wanting to witness another second of the drama, I stomped through the house, slammed my way out the kitchen door and stormed into the backyard.

I stopped dead in front of an even bigger smoldering pile. More clothes, shoes, hell even the pink bath towels he’d bought especially for her last Christmas were all blackening under the flickering orange flames. Her makeup and jewelry were in another heap, consumed by flames.

The plastic from an eyeshadow case melted and twisted in the grass. Tubes of lipstick bled into the dirt. The sharp, chemical stench stung my nostrils.

At least he hadn’t touched her paintings. Clothes, makeup, shoes—those things could be replaced. Her artwork couldn’t.

Sighing, I trudged over to the garden hose and unwound it from its wheel. Turning the water on full blast, I dragged the hose to the smaller fire and sprayed. Maybe her jewelry could be saved. I could find some metal polish or maybe take it to that store downtown—

“Logan, it’s okay,” my mother said from behind me.

I spun around. All the fear and anger lodged in my throat burst out of my eyes.

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