We had a police station. We had a firehouse. We had an excellent school system and several bars. Hell, we even had our own transit system, even if it was just vans instead of real buses.

And the club was responsible for making this town what it was today.

Though technically, we were affiliated with the Dixie Wardens, we had broken off from the main club to become more independent—or at least a few of the original founding members had. I’d come later, once all the fun stuff had happened—like telling the Dixie Wardens that we didn’t actually want to be Dixie Wardens. We were the Bear Bottom Guardians MC through and through, now.

And I wouldn’t even have the Bear Bottom Guardians MC if it wasn’t for my ex-teammate, Linc James. Linc had given me a gift, and he didn’t even know it.

I’d been struggling with life eight months ago.

I’d lost nearly everything. My child, my reason for living, had been diagnosed with leukemia. My best friend, the man who had been a constant in my life for the majority of it, hadn’t spoken to me in over four years because of Tara.

Tara was a lying, deceitful bitch, and the catalyst that caused my life to go down the shitter.

Then Linc had taken me to a party while we were home that just so happened to be at the Bear Bottom clubhouse.

That night, I’d made some friends. The little idea of becoming a member of a motorcycle club—a part of a club like Tyler and I had promised each other we’d do one day—had taken root.

When I’d gotten out of the NFL, retired early due to an injury that just wouldn’t go away—at least that was what the media thought, anyway. The real reason was due to my son being extremely sick, and me not wanting to chance not being able to see or spend time with him while I was working and gone for days and weeks on end.

I’d been floundering.

Then one morning, I ran into Liner while I was having breakfast at a diner, and he’d fanned that ember, reminding me that I didn’t have to be alone.

That was when I started to prospect.

Six months later, I was a full-blown member of the Bear Bottom Guardians MC, and that was all she wrote.

My phone pinged, and I looked down at the screen to see a message from Tyler.

Grinning at the meme he’d sent me, I replied, then dropped my phone onto the coffee table.

The coffee table that I had to leave clean every time Tara left me with Matias, or else I’d face her wrath.

Tara hated me—even more so lately—and that was because of one man, Tyler.

Tyler, my best friend since before I could walk, had been stolen from me. How had he been stolen from me? Because of Tara.

Tara was a greedy, devious, and cunning woman who didn’t care who or what she had to trample over in her rush to get what she wanted.

Sure, I wasn’t completely innocent in what happened, but I was only guilty of being stupid, careless and reckless. Stupid for thinking only with my dick that night and careless about who I took to bed. I hadn’t cared who she belonged with, just as long as I was taking someone there. It was ultimately my recklessness, though, for letting a woman that I knew nothing about lead me by my dick to my bed that was my demise.

I’d been celebrating at my home with a couple of the boys from my team when she walked in. After a few drinks, I’d been drunk and happy, and Tara came on to me.

Not one to turn a pretty lady down, I took advantage of the easy pickings.

As it turned out, those easy pickings also happened to be dating Tyler—although I hadn’t known that at the time seeing as we hadn’t exchanged a single detail about each other before we’d hopped into bed.

The next morning, as I was walking her out, Tyler had been walking in.

That’s when my friendship with my best friend in the entire world had blown up right in my face.

Words were said by both parties, me trying to salvage a friendship that I needed more than anything, him saying that what I’d done was unforgivable. And before I could backpedal, Tyler was out of my life.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for Tara.

Forty weeks later on the dot, a bouncing baby boy had been delivered into the world by a pleased Tara. Although, that had more to do with money and less to do with the fact that she just became a mommy. Unfortunately for me, in her mind, my son would net her a lot of money and influence.

The sad part is that I wanted nothing to do with Tara, and I never really did.

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