Moving On by Erin Osborne
IT’S BEEN TWO weeks since the club lost someone very close to us. My son, Zander, was about to have everything he’d ever wanted. A full patch in the club, his woman by his side, and our huge family all witnessing me patching him in. As a father I couldn’t be prouder than I am as I walk into the clubhouse.
I’m proud as fuck of the man Zander has become. He’s intelligent, caring, thinks situations through with a straight head, and doesn’t let much rattle him. Zander doesn’t hold grudges with anyone unless they hurt his family, and he lets any arguments with other members of the club roll off his back. With as many men in the club, either full patch members or Prospects, there’s a lot of testosterone and alpha tendencies to compete with. The newer generation settles their arguments in the ring and then forget about it over a drink when they’re done.
It’s almost time for the next generation to begin taking over for us. We want to spend more time riding for fun with our old ladies and eventually spending our days spoiling any grandchildren we have. I know Bailey wants to go on vacation away from Clifton Falls for a while. The thought has been crossing my mind more and more as of late. We’ll be a part of the club until the day we’re buried, but we all want to step back. The young guys have a vision for where they want the club to go and we’re more than ready to let them take the reins.
Knowing I still have a few hours before we patch in Zander and a few other kids who have grown up in the club, I make my way to the office so I can get some work done. There’s always so much to do in order to keep the club on track and know if any of our businesses are bleeding money. I choose to do most of the paperwork and look over the work of others to keep everyone honest. It helps deter anyone from stealing from us.
Sitting down at my desk, I pull the folder out with the newest paperwork to go over. It’s already been separated and ready for me to make sure everything is paid before entering it into the computer I have yet to fire up. I’m going to need a damn drink to get through the mound of papers I’m scattering out over the top of my usually clean desk.
It’s not long before I’m joined by my brother-in-law Joker. He takes a seat in the chair opposite me and waits for me to look up at him. I tend to ignore his smart-ass comments for the most part.
“What do you need?” I question him, sitting back in my chair and forgetting the papers.
“Just want to make sure you’re ready for tonight. The new cuts and patches are here?” he asks, leaning forward with his hands resting on his knees.
“Of course I am. Are you ready for the twins to patch in?”
“They are. That’s all that matters, isn’t it?”
“Yep. Our time to run the show is comin’ to an end. I’m ready for them to take over.”
Joker nods his head as my phone begins to ring in my pocket. Pulling it out, I notice Bailey’s name on the screen. Answering it, I immediately know something is wrong because she’s hysterical and I can’t understand a word she’s saying.
“Bailey, calm down. What’s wrong?” I ask, trying to figure out what she’s trying to tell me.
“Grim, you need to get to the hospital. Now!” she demands in a shaking voice. “It’s Aryn. She’s been in an accident and Zander needs you. We need you.”
“Is she okay?” I question jumping from my seat to race out of the clubhouse.
“It doesn’t look good. She’s coded more than once already. Zander is losing his shit. We need you,” she sobs into the phone.
Joker is on my ass as we race to our bikes. Quickly getting on mine, I don’t bother with a helmet as I turn on the engine and tear out of the parking lot. The ride into town is a blur as I push my bike faster than normal to get to my son and wife. Zander is not one to lose his shit even under the worst conditions. He’s always level headed and ready for anything to pop off. If Bailey says he’s not good, then he’s jumping off the rails and it will take all of us to reign him in.
We pull up to the hospital in under five minutes. I barely take the time to put down my kickstand before racing into the emergency department. Bailey and my son are standing in the hallway. Her arms are wrapped around him with sobs shaking her body. Zander’s face is bright red with wet eyes and tear tracks covering his cheeks. I walk right up to them and wrap my family in my arms. They need my strength and that’s what I’m going to give them. I can find out what’s going on soon. Right now, Zander needs to know I’m here for him.
“Dad,” he moans out, his voice cracking and fading away on a groan filled with pain and anger.
He’s hurting so bad right now and there’s nothing I can do to take his pain away.
“I got you. I’ve always got you,” I promise him.
I don’t try to move him from the hallway as he removes himself from our arms to slide down against the wall. As soon as his ass hits the floor, he drops his head into his legs and his body begins to shake with barely controlled sobs. Joker sits down next to his nephew but doesn’t touch him or try to talk to my son. He’s silently letting him know he’s also there for him as the rest of our family begins to pour through the doors to fill the waiting room. Everyone is here to rally around Zander in his time of need.
Hours have passed before a doctor comes out. When Zander notices him, his scrubs covered in blood, he’s immediately back on his feet to rush up to him.
“How is she? When can I see her?” Zander pleads with the doctor, his voice hoarse.
For several seconds the doctor doesn’t say a word. His face is tired and filled with dread and pain. A look that’s only going to bring us bad news. Already anticipating what we’re about to hear, I place a hand on Zander’s shoulder while Pops, Joker, and Cage walk up to surround my son. Bailey and the old ladies step back while remaining close, with the rest of our family at their backs.
“I’m so sorry,” he begins his face falling. “The damage was too much for her body to bear. We tried everything but couldn’t save her.”
The doctor walks away as Zander completely falls apart.
“Aryn!” his anguish filled screams echo off the walls causing everyone else to leave the waiting room.
Cage and I catch him as he falls to the floor. He’s dead weight, not being able to support himself with the news of losing his girl. We walk him from the hospital so we can get him back to the clubhouse. Pops drove his cage here and I’m grateful as we put him in the backseat. I climb in with him not caring who gets my bike back to the clubhouse right now. Bailey is in the front seat, her body shaking with her sobs. She turns around to face our son with such a lost, hopeless look on her face. She has no better idea than I do of how to help him right now.
Cries and screaming fill Pops' truck as he pulls out of the hospital parking lot. As I hold my son, my mind wanders to the day Zander met Aryn. They were in tenth grade when she moved here with her mom. Zander was immediately smitten with her, talking about her nonstop. It took us weeks to convince him to talk to her because he was afraid she’d either run or use him when she found out about the MC. Neither of those scenarios happened.
Aryn and Zander quickly became attached at the hip. Between school and any free time either one had, they were together riding around on Zanders bike or hanging out in the field behind the clubhouse. He even took her to sit at Ryan’s memorial several times. She was such a sweet, loving girl. Reminds me a lot of Bailey when she was younger. Aryn knew when to give Zander shit and when to wait until they were alone. She also understood exactly what being in the club and Prospecting entailed after Bailey talked to her. Never did I hear her nagging my son to give her more of himself or ditch his responsibilities. Instead, she’d hang out at the clubhouse with us. Every person there loved her and respected her for how she treated us all with love, respect, and loyalty not many teenagers have.
Pops pulled into the clubhouse parking lot, shutting the engine off as the rumble of bikes filled the air. Still, my son’s anguished cries were overpowering the noise of so many motorcycle engines filling the air and vibrating the ground with their power. My heart is breaking because as his father I want to take away his pain and fill his heart with the joy and strength he’s always had.
Cage and Pops open the back doors to help me get Zander out of the backseat. He has no will to leave the truck and make his way inside to let his family surround him. Knowing they have him, I quickly jump out and help Bailey from the front seat. She wraps her arms around me for a second before letting me go as Alice and Skylar pull her away and inside. I jog around the truck to help my son. He’s limp in our arms as we manage to get him from the truck and lead him inside. I don’t stop until we have him in his room here at the clubhouse with the rest of the Prospects.
Bailey and Pops are the only other two in the room when Cage leaves us and closes the door behind him to give us some time with Zander. He opens his eyes long enough to grab the picture of Aryn and him taken at a family cookout in his hands before laying against his pillows with it cradled to his chest. Bailey sits on the bed behind him and pulls her son into her arms as much as he’ll let her.
“Go make the announcement,” Pops tells me, already knowing the patch in ceremony for tonight is going to be canceled.
Nodding my head, I lean down to let Z know I’ll be right back. He doesn’t move a muscle as I keep my eyes on him while leaving his room. Silently shutting the door, I hang my head in order to try to control my emotions and capture my breath. Our family is taking a big hit. Zander was going to make Aryn his old lady and marry that girl. They had everything figured out and I knew, despite their young age, they’d make it last a lifetime. Now, his dreams are crushed and he’s not going to know what to do with himself. None of us are going to know what to do without her beautiful, smiling, loving face around here.
Finally, I gather myself enough to walk out to the common room of the clubhouse. Everyone is sitting around the room in various places as I stop just beyond the hall for the Prospect’s rooms. There is no talking, laughing, or joking around as each member of our family is lost in their own thoughts of what has transpired today. Clearing my throat, I gain their attention before speaking.
“We all lost a member of our family today. Zander is not doing good, and I ask that we all give him some space as he tries to wrap his head around what has happened. Tonight, we were set to patch in several members. Unfortunately, that’s going to have to take a backseat as we prepare for Aryn’s funeral. Her mom is gone and there is no other family except for us. Bailey and I will be making arrangements as soon as we know Z will be okay enough for us to leave him. Skylar, can you make sure there will be food for the memorial?”
“Of course,” she replies, her voice clogged with emotion.
“Anythin’ you need, we’re on it,” Cage says before I get ready to make my way back to my son.
Nodding my head, I leave everyone to go back to my son’s side. When I enter his room, Bailey is asleep with him in her arms as I used to find her so many nights when he was a baby. Pops is sitting next to the bed with his hand on Zander’s head. If anyone knows how my son feels in this moment, it’s him. He lost Ma, the love of his life years ago. Yes, he’s moved on and found love again, but it took him some time. He’ll be the one to guide us in how to help his grandson grieve and deal with his loss.