I heard the front door shut and rolled over to look at my alarm clock. Two-thirty in the morning. How pathetic was it that I was in bed streaming TV shows until the early hours at the ripe ol’ age of twenty while my parents were the ones out painting the town red? Not that this was unusual. My parents were party people and totally, sickeningly in love with each other after over twenty years of marriage. Whereas I was a dedicated homebody who had an unhealthy addiction to bingeing on Netflix. By myself. A year of college hadn’t upped my game at all. It was summer break, and I was in bed before my mom and dad.
I waited for the usual drunken whispers and giggles as my parents walked by my door, which was always followed by the sound of their bedroom door locking—shudder—but this time there was only silence. That was weird. But I also didn’t want to walk in on anything that would scar me for life, so I paused my tablet and listened. When the front door closed again and silence reigned a second time, I got out of my bed to investigate. Pulling the curtains aside, I watched my mom’s friend, Jessica, have a heated exchange with their other friend, Emily, before they both got into Jessica’s car and left.
Something definitely wasn’t right.
Leaving my bedroom, I cautiously walked down the hall. The house was eerily quiet. Was anyone even here? “Mom? Dad?”
I didn’t get an answer.
My heartbeat pounding in my ears, I reached the living room and found my mom all by herself just standing by the front door staring down at her hands. That alone was strange enough, but the really weird thing was her clothes. She’d been wearing a plunging, sparkly black dress when she left the house earlier. Now she had on a too-tight white T-shirt and stretchy black yoga pants. Clearly not my mom’s clothes because they lacked her usual biker bitch flair.
“Mom? What’s going on? Why are you dressed like that? Where’s Dad?”
Her head jerked up, and I knew. Something was wrong. Something was really, really wrong. Her expression was shattered. It looked like she’d spent the last hour crying. Her makeup was long gone, and her eyes were swollen and red. I stared into the face of absolute pain, and my whole body started shaking.
“Mom? What’s . . . What’s going on? Where’s Daddy?”
My mom shook her head. When she finally spoke, her voice was more of a husky whisper, almost like she was talking to herself. “He wouldn’t wake up. I thought he was just passed out—that he’d wake up and be fine if we just got him inside—but he wasn’t. He wasn’t.”
Tears silently poured down her cheeks, and she looked down at her hands like they held the answer or something. But they were empty.
My whole body shook with tremors as a burning sensation swept over my scalp. Dad wasn’t fine? That didn’t mean . . . She couldn’t mean . . .“Mom, where’s Dad?”
She shook her head as she stared down at her hands. “I don’t know. I think Axle was arranging something. The girls promised they’d tell me tomorrow. They said I could probably see him tomorrow.”
Now it was my voice that was a husky whisper as tears clouded my eyes. “Mama? Is he . . . Is he . . .”
Mom bit her lip. “He’s gone. I’m so sorry. He’s gone, honey.”
“No.” A roaring sound filled my ears. “No, he can’t be. I just saw him a few hours ago. He was fine. You guys were going out like always. He can’t be gone.”
“There was a Wild Rider in the parking lot of the club tonight. He had a gun. And your dad didn’t . . . There was just so much blood . . .” My mom trailed off as her breath hitched, then she held out her arms to me.
I wrapped my arms around my waist and backed away. “He can’t be gone. He can’t. He was just . . . And you were . . . No!”
The burning at the back of my throat made it impossible to say anything more. I dropped to my knees with a cry and buried my face in my hands. Tears burned my eyes and poured through my fingers. It couldn’t be true. My amazing, supportive, awesome father couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t.
He couldn’t.Return to Rough Ride