Zodiac – Quinn Ryder, Annelise Reynolds

I ignored the whispers as I walked into the clubhouse. I’d been there a million times before, but this was the first time I came in and felt as if people were watching me. Last night, I told my grandmother I was staying here to go to a state university instead of Columbia University in New York. I didn’t want to be away from Ulrich or my home. Columbia was too far away, and I knew I’d never fit in at a place like that. I may be smart and have been the Valedictorian of my High School, but that’s not really impressive if you’re coming from a small town like Rising Star, Texas. It was actually my SAT at 1560 that caught the attention of the Ivy League University—and really the only reason I got in. Grams had fought me hard on my decision, but I didn’t want to leave Ulrich. I loved him, and we had plans for a future together. A state school closer to home was just fine for a small-town Texas girl like me. I turned around, chills running up my neck as I looked at the club members around me. It wasn’t my imagination; all of them were staring at me as if they were waiting with bated breaths for what was about to happen. A knot the size of Texas formed in my stomach. Something was wrong and everyone knew it but me. Swallowing hard, I turned and went down the back hall to the club’s VP’s bedroom—Ulrich’s room.


My hands were sweaty, and my heart was pounding in my ears. For the first time, I was nervous to go into my boyfriend’s room, afraid of what I might find behind his closed door. He’d never cheated on me, never even given me a reason to worry, but with the way everyone had been acting in the clubhouse lounge, I was terrified of what I’d find. It turned out my instincts were right on. I didn’t think it was possible to die from a broken heart, but I wanted to right then and there. The man I loved—the one I was going to give up everything for, was in bed with another woman. To make matters worse, it wasn’t just any woman, it was my baby sister. He was naked and asleep, but when I saw her face, eyes that were so much like my own, were filled with equal parts of contempt and pure satisfaction. It was a betrayal so deep it sucker punched me, stealing the air from my lungs, making it so I couldn’t breathe, much less form any coherent words. “Do you mind, Tess? We’re still exhausted from our last round. He’s sleeping it off so we can go for round four.” Her gloating words held so much enjoyment. It was almost like she got a kick out of the pain she knew she was causing me. Wordlessly, I nodded as my eyes filled with tears and I fled the room, a total mess of emotions. I hadn’t felt pain that intense and all-consuming since finding out my parents weren’t coming home.

This wasn’t an accident though; this wasn’t something I would get over. What Ulrich and Tara did was a choice. I would never forgive them for this. “Whoa.” I ran into the hard, muscular wall of Zenith’s chest. He was built like a boulder and if he hadn’t cushioned my impact with his hands, I might have hurt myself. “Tess?” His voice was full of pity and understanding. I hated it. “Why didn’t you warn me?” I asked, my voice cracking on my choked sob. “Why didn’t you stop him?” I pounded on his chest; aware I was making a scene but not caring. Anger and hurt pulsed in my veins like an electric current, ready to shock anyone who dared to come close. “He’s my brother and my best friend, Tess. My loyalty is always to him, no matter what shit decisions he makes. Nothing is going to change that.” I nodded and swallowed hard, pushing back from his grasp.

“Go ahead, stick by his side while he makes the biggest mistake of his life. You may be able to do that, Zeke, but I can’t. I won’t.” My phone rang again, but I sent it straight to voicemail. My box was already full of the dozen or so messages he had already left me. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much or so hard in my life. I heard the sound of his motorcycle headed toward the house long before it reached the curb. The rumble died right in front of our house like it did so many times before, but he wasn’t coming in. I couldn’t see him. The decision had been made, and I had my ticket ready to go. I had a few hours until I left for Columbia. “TESS!” Ulrich was standing on my Gram’s front lawn screaming out my name. “TESS! I’M NOT LEAVING!” Some of my bags were already in the car downstairs, packed and ready to head to the airport. I was just grabbing the last-minute stragglers. “Do you want to talk to him?” Grams asked me, sticking her head into my bedroom.

“No.” I ground my teeth together. “I never want to speak with him or Tara again.” Grams sighed. “She’s your sister, Tess.” “Right, she’s my sister who chose to sleep with the only man I’ve ever loved.” “You’ll love again Tess. You’re young. She’s always going to be your sister, though.” “No, Grams. What she did… she’s… she’s dead to me. I’m leaving and I’m not coming back.” Her eyes filled with sorrow as she looked at me. I hated that I was hurting my Grams, but I felt like everything inside me was dying. The emptiness and decay their betrayal left me with had me on the verge of a breakdown, and I wouldn’t let that happen—I wasn’t going to let them see me break.

“I’ll drive you to the airport. Get the rest of your things and take them out to the car. I’ll send him on his way.” I grabbed the last of my bags and headed out the back to the garage, ignoring the fist banging on the front door. The banging stopped when Grams went outside to confront an angry Ulrich. Why was he so upset? Like he had a reason to be angry. He wasn’t the one that walked in on me with another man. I heard him repeatedly shouting that he didn’t remember anything about last night. He kept saying it like it would change something. It wouldn’t. “Let’s go,” Grams said, coming into the kitchen with her keys and purse. My heart ached. I didn’t know how much pain loving someone could cause. And because I loved him so deeply, I literally felt a hole starting to form where my heart used to be. It was an Ulrich sized hole, one that was covered by a grove of prickly thorns and heavy barbed wire, unable to be mended.

“Thank you, Grams,” I replied weakly as I buckled into her car. “I always thought that you were destined for better than this small town, Tess. Maybe it’s a good thing that this happened?” “Good? My little sister had sex with the man I loved—the man I was willing to throw away everything for, Grams. Nothing good has come out of this besides me realizing that you can’t trust the people you love, especially the ones who share your DNA.” “Tara has always been jealous of you, Tess. It’s because she knows that you are destined for more than what Rising Star has to offer, and she’ll probably stay here the rest of her life. Just think about forgiving her, okay? She needs you, Tess. We’re the only thing good in her life.” I knew she was right. Tara had always been the bad apple—the one who got into trouble constantly. She’d been that way since we were young, and when we came to live with Grams, it only got worse. The problem was, I couldn’t even think about my sister anymore without seeing the image of her naked in bed with Ulrich burning my mind. Leaving was the only option I had to get rid of my demons. And that’s what they were, demons that could both go straight to hell for all I cared. “It’s too late, Grams.

What she broke can’t be fixed. I’ll never forgive her or him for what they did.” There was so much pain in my grandmother’s eyes as she started the car and the garage slowly opened. She didn’t say another word because she knew there was nothing she could say that would make me change my mind. I was leaving Rising Star and never looking back. The second the car started to back out, my heart dropped. There he was, standing right next to the garage, his eyes filled with regret and sorrow as he silently begged for me not to go. I looked at my lap, unable to take his pathetic gaze that had me on the verge of crumbling and giving in. I was the one hurting. Those tears falling down his face were not as empty as the heart he left me with. There was a bang against the window. It wasn’t hard, but enough to make my head shoot up. “Please, Tess, listen to me. I don’t know what happened… I don’t remember anything. I’m sorry.

Please don’t go. I love you. I’ve always loved only you. Don’t leave me. Let’s talk this out. Fuck! I don’t know what happened, but don’t let this be the end of us.” End? The end happened when I walked in on him in bed with my sister. That’s what’s ending us, not me leaving. His hand squeaked against the window as my Grams backed away, almost like he was trying to hold the car in place to keep us from going any further. It took everything in me not to tell Grams to stop the car so I could hold him one last time—to wipe away those tears his mistake had created. But what good would that do? We were done, and he knew it. He didn’t try to stop us as we pulled down the driveway, but he did follow us into the street. The last thing I saw as I took one last glimpse over my shoulder at the past I would never look back on, was Ulrich standing in the middle of the road, his gorgeous body collapsing as he fell to his knees in a miserable heap of guilt and loss, watching me as I rode out of his life forever. Chapter One I pulled a long swig on my soda, watching some of the Fallen Stars tease my fellow brothers with their glorious tits and fucking round peach shaped asses. This kind of shit did nothing for me anymore.

I had my fair share of women over the years, but every single one of them never measured up to her— Tess. She was the woman who took my heart and stomped all over it the second she picked up her boots and left town without letting me explain the biggest mistake I had ever made in my life. Most people didn’t know how to keep their damn mouths shut when it came to gossip, so it didn’t take long for their whispers to catch up with my ears. The walk of shame I took when I left that room, groggy and practically incoherent, was horrifying. I’d never seen my brothers look at me with such disgust before. But I could feel their looks of disappointment shoot through me like arrows on a firing range. Each one of them shook their heads, barely able to look at me as I escorted Tess’s little sister Tara straight out the front door. I was confused and fucking pissed. I had no idea how that bitch ended up in my bed. Hell, I couldn’t remember a goddamn thing about what happened that night. Only what happened the next morning when I woke up in bed naked next to Tara with no condom on and her wrapped possessively around me. I knew what had happened; we fucked. But how we got to that point, I had no clue. Everything was a fucking blur, and when Zenith told me that Tess had showed up after she got off work and found me in that state of undress with her sister, my heart literally stopped beating. It had been just another one of our many parties.

All my brothers were hanging around the clubhouse, drinking and having a good time. The fallen stars were always milling about somewhere, and I was waiting for Tess to get off work so I could do something I had always dreamed about… dropping down onto one knee, taking that slender hand of hers, and finally making her mine as I slipped the giant engagement ring that I had spent too much money on, up her finger. I had it all planned out. Everything was going perfectly. Then I woke up the next day with a different woman in my bed—her sister—the only person she had left in her family besides her grandmother. The fucking triumphant look on Tara’s face when I jumped from that bed the next morning, realizing what I had done, still twists my gut when I think back on it. I had absolutely no clue how we ended up where we were. I remember slinging back a few beers to calm my nerves, revealing to a couple brothers what my plans were for the night, and then nothing… not one fucking damn thing until the next morning. Everything about that morning was completely fucked up. The conversation, the aftermath, the guilt I’ve never been able to let go of. It all messed with me. Somehow, Tara had gotten her wish, fucking me like she’d been trying to do since she was fifteen years old. I always managed to thwart her advances and make the horny bitch go away, fucking reminding her that I had eyes for one woman and one woman only… her sister Tess. But somehow, that fucking night she ended up in my bed and all over my dick, and it wasn’t just that… I could taste her, too. I didn’t just fuck Tara; I drank her in —every damn evil drop of her poisonous pussy.

I didn’t even fuck Tess without a condom; I was saving that shit for our wedding night, but somehow, I ended up fucking her sister without one. How? Why? I didn’t fucking know. Everything about that night was foggy, almost like I was on something. But that was impossible. I never did drugs—not fucking once. That was one of the few rules of the club, rules I personally helped enforce when me, Scales, Archer, and our late Prez Zenith founded it. The Celestial Sons MC wasn’t a one percent club. We were a band of brothers who rode down the road on the right side of the law. We wanted to do something symbolic to set us apart from all the other MC clubs in the area, so we chose to ride under the symbol of the Zodiac, using the constellations and astrological signs to guide us down the open road. It was my idea to use the Zodiac signs for our road names, and it just so happened that every member who joined us since then had been born under a different sign—it was kismet, really. The reason Zenith chose something different was because he and I were the only ones that shared the same sign, and with both of us being Virgos, it didn’t make much sense to both be called by the same road name. Instead, he chose the name Zenith, naming himself after the highest point reached by a celestial object, which was kind of fitting since we chose him as our first Prez. I was given the name Zodiac, since it was my idea to name our club after the zodiac signs in the first place. Not every sign made a good road name, which is why Scales chose his name instead of Libra, representing the scales of justice that were often associated with his sign, and Archer chose to call himself Archer instead of Sagittarius or our favorite nickname for him… Sag.

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Updated: 14 January 2022 — 11:35

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