52. I Can't Breathe

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Awesome song: I Can't Breathe by Bea Miller.

Chapter dedicated to LadyCelestiaX. Thanks for reading! And you are quite a little perceptive thing. Well done, you.

Chapter 52—I Can't Breathe

Hycinth

Harley engines roared on all sides of us. Tommy, highest ranking as Sgt. in Arms, rode point, with Leroy the MC's Road Capt., by his side. Frank, their Tail Gunner, took up the rear while seven Grimm MC Enforcers held our flanks. I kept my head tucked down in the back of Lucky's neck and clutched his torso tightly. Squeezing my eyes closed, I let the familiar rev and vibration of the motors block out my chaotic thoughts.

We needed to give Tommy some sort of explanation, both for our absence and our call for assistance, but when the bikers had arrived at Leander's front door, Lucky had quickly shut down his questions, grunting, "Not here."

Tommy's eyes had opened just a fraction wider before narrowing, and then he nodded hard, barking out, "Let's ride."

But now, as we pulled into a diner nearly two hours later, we couldn't avoid their questions any longer.

Lucky slowed and eased the motorcycle to a stop. Climbing down from behind him, I desperately worked to pull myself together, swiping my thumbs over my damp cheeks and smoothing hair out of my face. As we walked together into the diner, Lucky kept his body positioned slightly in front of mine. His frame was locked tight, stretching to his full height, chest puffed out, presenting himself as a formidable deterrent to anyone who might make the mistake of coming near me.

The diner was a traditional affair, complete with a neon sign letting us know we'd arrived at Big Al's Diner. Rounded corners made the building appear more like an oversized vintage train car than a rectangle brick and mortar restaurant.

Entering the restaurant just ahead of us, Frank held the door open for me. Sharply intelligent blue eyes met mine. "Good to see you again, Abby." The warmth and ease in his expression were in prominent contrast to his rough exterior appearance, tatted bald head, long beard, and burly muscles, kind of like the soft chocolate center inside a hard candy shell.

"You too." I tried to muster up a small smile as we walked past, but I wasn't sure I'd been successful.

If he noticed my less than welcoming response, he didn't react.

Inside the diner, a long row of booths lined the exterior windows opposite an equally long stretch of high backed stools facing the sleek, polished-steel countertop to accommodate the many patrons who frequented the establishment alone.

Without a word of coordination, Tommy and Leroy joined Luca and me at a booth toward the back, while the other bikers spread out around us, forming a protective perimeter.

A pert blonde waitress strutted to the table, small notepad, and pencil in hand. Hip popped out, she eyed Tommy with open interest, snapped her gum and asked, "So, what'll you boys have to drink?" I disregarded the fact she didn't include me in her address. The men outnumbered me eleven-to-one, so it made sense she just went with the generality.

Under normal circumstances, Tommy would have been amused and enamored with her overt attention. At the very least, he would have flirted shamelessly with her, even to my embarrassment at his unrestrained vulgarity, but not now. Now, this was business, not pleasure and he barely looked up from the menu before grunting, "Coke."

The drink orders proceeded around the table and then to the rest of the group before she tottered off behind the counter.

Pressed securely between the wall and Lucky's imposing frame, I stared unseeing at the laminated menu. The idea of putting anything into my stomach made me want to gag.

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