And it’s a shame what we’ve become,
When we hurt the ones we love,
And it’s a place I cannot go,
When we collide we lose ourselves.
When we collide we break in two.
And as we push and we shove and we hurt the ones we love,
It’s a hard mistake.
When we collide,
“Sit down,” Clay hissed through his teeth. His bushy eyebrows drew in towards the creases forming in the center of his forehead.
Neither Tig nor Juice showed any signs that they were even listening to him. And if they’d actually heard him, his quiet demand had gone unfulfilled as they continued standing on either side of the metal picnic table bench between them. Their attention, or more specifically, their deadly glares were focused on the other side of the large, fairly empty room. Two pairs of narrowed eyes, one dark brown and the other a husky blue were fixed on the men swaggering towards them.
These men took their time. Their footsteps echoed along the pin-drop quiet cafeteria floors. The smell of bleach and a faint hint of lemon filled the air, although the scent wasn’t nearly as thick as the tension already building up when the mismatched group of men drew closer—two of them in orange jumpsuits like theirs, and two wearing a correction officer’s uniform. As they slowed to a stop several tables away, Tig finally turned to look down at the angry MC President scowling up at him.
“I don’t like it, Boss,” Tig declared.
Juice nodded stiffly, echoing his sentiments. “This is bullshit,” SAMCRO’s youngest senior member fumed under his breath. He shook his head at the two officers who’d began patting down both the Russian and Mexican prisoners who’d entered the room with them. “We don’t even know if Jax is gonna pull through and we’re making deals with the asshole who’s responsible?”
“It’s called a long con for a reason.” Bobby explained gently, but no less urgency in his tone, insisting his patch brothers take their seats with a subtle waving of his palm towards the empty bench on their side of table. “We do what we have to do inside. We play it smart and when the time is right, it’ll be business as usual. And you know what kind of business we’ve got with them.”
Tig shook his head, wild hair bouncing along the sides of his face. “I still don’t like it. I say we kill this asshole now,” several greasy curls grazed his forehead as he nodded towards the Russian scowling at the backs of the two officers now making their way towards them—alone, while he and the Spanish man he recognized from earlier that day remained where they were. “And then we get Hap and Kozy to take care of Putlova.”
“Somebody has to bleed for this shit,” Juice agreed.
Clay slammed a meaty fist against the table. The boom reverberated through the room as he growled out, “If you don’t sit your asses down I’ll be making sure it’s the two of you bleeding out on the floor! Which one of you morons let him go off on his own in the first place?”
The two guards spoke almost in unison, one right after the other.
“Let’s go, Morrow.” “You, too, Munson.”
Clay leaned back just enough to crane his neck to see one of the two Hispanic officers curling four of his fingers in and out from the center of his palm, gesturing for him to stand. The shorter one made his way around to the side of the table where Juice and Tig were already standing as the former CO gave both Clay and Bobby a thorough pat down.
Officer Torres, the shorter one nodded once at the almost freakishly tall prisoner—the man clearly in charge of their crew—from across the table. He finally slid his palms away from the apex of Juice’s thighs after confirming that the only deadly weapon he possessed currently was of the ‘If looks could kill’ variety.
“Alright,” said the other officer, who’d conveniently forgotten to re-stitch his name-tag onto his uniform. “Keep it civil, Fellas.”
“And make it quick,” Officer Torres’ eyes were fixed on the face of the larger prisoner, who stopped just shy of where Bobby was once again seated. “After the shit that just went down, me and you are gonna need to have another conversation.”
“I wonder what about,” the large Latino prisoner droned, making a show of rubbing his thumb against his three middle fingers. Rolling his eyes, he waved off the retreating officers. He turned his freshly groomed face towards the men already seated as the Russian man behind him eased his way on over to join the party, without any of his friends to back him.
Clucking his tongue, Eduardo “Special-Ed” Alvarez cocked an eyebrow at the curly-haired man he recognized from his shop earlier that day. Hand on his hip, he clucked his tongue, speaking from one side of his mouth when he mused, “Out of all the white boys in your crew, y’all had to let the pretty one get shot?”
“How do you think your son and his loyal club’s going to feel when they find out that you and your new husband killed his father?”
Lowen froze mid-squat, her hand hung at her side, no longer trying to retrieve her purse from the dining room floor. Wendy’s mouth snapped shut, with only a gasp escaping it before she momentarily forgot about the gaping hole in her shoulder. Nursing one arm in her other, her brown eyes widened as they bounced from the peripheral view of the lawyer standing beside her and the eerily still woman standing on the other end of the table.
“What are you talking about?” Wendy’s question went unanswered, as did the one posed by the pregnant doctor standing in front of her. In and out, the lids of her eyes narrowed and widened, her lashes fluttered as she tried to blink away the fog in her brain that was stopping her from making sense of the question Tara had asked. When that didn’t work, she turned her gaze on Gemma, amending the question when she muttered, “What’s she talking about, Gemma? What does she mean you killed…you..he was in motorcycle accident. He was drunk…his bike collided with a truck, right? That’s what Jax said—that’s what everyone said…she’s full of shit…right?”
“I knew it,” Ally whispered to herself, shaking her head.
Her voice wasn’t low enough.
Three pairs of eyes quickly darted in her direction. And before she could even contemplate answering the question in her girlfriend’s eyes, the voice of the accused shattered the deafening silence. “You don’t know shit!”
“Gemma’s right,” Tara cooed, smirking at the three startled woman turning their attention back towards her—the woman with the gun. Aiming it at her paling face, she told her, “The only thing you know is how to violate attorney-client privilege. I’m looking forward to your disbarment hearing. And whatever’s left of your girlfriend’s custody case without the only lawyer dumb enough to represent a junkie whore trying to win back the child she tried to kill.”
“I don’t know what Jax did to turn you into such a heartless bitch.” Wendy winced as she dropped the arm attached to her injured shoulder, raising her other hand to swipe away the angry tears sliding down towards her flaring nostrils. “You were the one who sat there with me…you held my hand and you told me you understood…I never meant to hurt my baby. Abel—”
“—is no longer your concern,” Tara interrupted, cutting her wild eyes towards Gemma. “He isn’t yours either. Abel is my son and I don’t want him around you. I don’t want either one of my kids to have to endure their psychotic grandmother—a woman who sleeps just fine every night, after taking her son’s father away from him.”
Gemma ignored the gun Tara now aimed at her face as she stepped closer. The lone finger she pointed back in her direction would have been laughably benign if it were attached to anyone else’s hand. Her hands had more blood on them than a donor bank could ever hold. “You want to be real careful, Sweetheart. That bun you got in the oven only protects you but so much. And that tattoo across your ass? It means even less.”
“Do you remember what I said to you the first week I came back here?” Tara briefly turned smiling eyes towards Wendy, who was once again nursing her weak arm. The recovered addict leaned into the caress of her former attorney’s fingers as Lowen brushed back the hairs sticking to her sweat-sheened face. “No one is untouchable,” Tara continued, green eyes darting back towards the woman standing within lunging distance in front of her. “You might want to spend less time threatening me and more time….”
Silence followed the abrupt halt in her sentence. Beads of sweat steadily pumped from Wendy’s pores, sliding down her face, slithering down her neck and along her chest. Her T-shirt clung to her like a second skin, and her body cried out from the pain of her wounded shoulder, while her mouth remained tight-lipped. Lowen had long since forgotten about her bag or the weapon of opportunity tucked away inside of it as her eyes bounced between the matriarch and the daughter-in-law that never was. Both women waited with bated breath.
The gun in her grip followed the slight tilt in her head as she cocked it to one side. “How’s your best friend Unser doing?” Tara’s knowing smile shot all the way to the fire crackling behind her eyes when Gemma’s hardboiled exterior vanished for a fraction of a second. It was just long enough for the heat-seeking missile that lay in her arsenal to lock in on its target. “He fake any accident reports lately?”
Several things happened at once.
The legs of Wendy’s chair scraped across the floor, the bars across the back of it knocked Lowen off balance when the wood slammed into her knees. And both Ally and Wendy shut their eyes, screaming in unison when Tara pulled the trigger for the second time that night.
Ally pulled her knees up to her chest, scooting under the table, pulling her purse along with her. But the only hand she reached with was the one she slid into Wendy’s trembling one as she finally braved a glance towards the other woman who’d fallen to the floor.
Gemma’s mouth sprung open, but it wasn’t nearly as wide as her eyes when she looked up at the only woman still standing in the quiet room. Involuntarily her hand flew to her chest, palm pressed against her rapidly beating heart as she dared tearing her eyes away from the gun aimed at the back of that very hand to look behind her, at the dining room wall—and the bullet wedged into it, just inches away from where her left ear had been.
“You know, I met the loveliest couple at the grocery store the other day…” Tara’s voice was almost sing-song, a heavy contrast from the murderous glare she leveled at the woman who’d gone from charging at her to ducking, and falling back on her ass. “There’s a new sheriff in town and something tells me he won’t be up for playing lapdog to Clay Morrow and his Old lady…forgive me pointing out the obvious, Gemma but I want to make sure we’re real clear on what just happened here. That was a warning shot. The next one won’t be….the next one…” Tara scoffed, dark humor brightening her eyes. “…the next time…I guess I’ll have to take a page out of your book. Jackson spent the past fifteen years of his life believing his father’s death was an accident…so somehow I think believing I killed his mother to stop her from killing me would be an even easier lie to swallow.”
“It won’t be a lie.” Wendy flinched, regretting the words she’d blurted out when Tara’s attention turned towards her for the last time. It was word vomit that couldn’t seem to be helped when she answered the question laced within the eyebrow Tara raised in response to her outburst. “If you’re actually lucky enough to kill her before she kills you, it won’t be a lie. But the way I see it, you’re already dead.”
Ally Lowen—a front row viewer to the criminal activity of SAMCRO and the matriarch seated at the helm with it’s President—seemed to nod her head in agreement. Tara’s smile lacked the some of its earlier mirth, but still she nodded towards the woman who’d given her a gift she’d sooner die than give back. She wouldn’t gave Abel up for anyone. Pointing the gun in her hand towards her injured shoulder, Tara laughed at the gasp of terror that wheezed past Wendy and Lowen’s mouths when she aimed the gun. But she didn’t pull the trigger.
Not that one.
It was her tongue that fired the final shot as she took several steps backwards, turning slowly, Her hand twisting the knob to Gemma Teller’s front door. From the distance, she pointed the gun again—at the same spot. “I hope that’s not the arm with your favorite vein.”
Tara didn’t realize she was shaking until she neared the patch of neatly manicured Kentucky bluegrass where she’d parked. The tremors started from her shoulders, working their way down her body until the gun fell from her shaking hand, and her knees wobbled underneath the weight of her actions and what they could have cost the tiny human playing soccer with her bladder. Her body craved an entirely different release as she pressed her gun-free hand to her stomach. Her other hand slammed down against the hood of her truck, her fingers curled inward as she braced against it, leaning over towards the street—emptying the contents of her stomach onto the asphalt.
Her breath came in labored bursts—too slowly for her consciousness to slip, and too quickly to stop the blur in her vision, the pain stinging the corners of her eyes as her lids threatened to split from spreading too wide. “What the…wh…what the fuck did I just do?”
IS THAT OLD LADY ENOUGH FOR YOU?
The memories speared through the chaos swarming in her head. The visuals dilated within her corneas until her emerald eyes were no longer staring at the vomit splashed all over her hospital crocs, the puke stained left pant-leg of her scrubs. The audio boomed in her ears, hammering against the drums of them, matching the pounding of her temples.
No, this wasn’t about proving herself to anyone, least of all the sixteen-year old biker she fell in love with—the thirty-year old man who, as it seemed, had yet to mature in any way that wasn’t physical.
Every moment over the past eleven months, every single instant she went against the fear she felt everyday to be the woman he needed her to be.
A loving mother—a selfless woman who went beyond hosting Sunday dinners for a charter of patch brothers. She’d loved and nurtured Abel Teller as her own, too. She’d loved him until the insurmountable moment that little boy became her family, too. And he’d become a part of her without the need of a patch or a crow tattoo.
A fiercely strong woman—the only other who could rival his own mother when it came down to being someone he could rely on. She’d even been willing to let her hair down, toss her PHD aside, along with her scalpel—all so she could be the sexy, biker-chick badass who fucked her man in public places, where all the crow eaters and townie whores could see exactly where Jackson Teller and his dick wanted to be. Over the decade they’d spent apart, Tara had matured, returning to proudly assume her role as Jackson Teller’s Old Lady, the ride or die who had nearly done the latter after the danger his lifestyle put her in.
She’d done everything he could ever ask of her and more and it still hadn’t been enough. She’d listened to him. Tara refused to let any of it get to her, only to walk in and see that she was right in believing that something, or someone would eventually get to him. He’d rewarded her faith in him by fucking a porn star.
Now barely above the club hang-arounds who were happy to suck dick and pull beers, she was being treated like a glorified nanny. Gemma expected her to just black out the tattoo etched in her heart? Unlike his name engraved on his father’s chest, Abel couldn’t be removed. And there would be no voting her out because she would never stop fighting. Abel would always be a part of her—knife or fire. No, this wasn’t about being Old Lady enough for anyone. It was about the gift Jax had given her, the one he couldn’t take back. It was the single imprint on her being that she would never black out.
Tara fought for Abel Teller.
And it was a losing battle.
Tara was all alone.
Jax couldn’t protect her.
Opie’s heart didn’t seem to be in anything but the club that would be gunning for her, the second they learned of what she’d done. She’d threatened their matriarch, their President’s number one.
And with the way she’d been treating Piney lately she doubted he’d even bother trying to help her. She knew the rest of them wouldn’t be on her side, even if she hadn’t been showing them her ass to kiss these past few weeks. Margaret, a woman firmly against everything she wanted was the only person she could truly rely on. Before she’d left the hospital she’d told her that death was the only way she’d ever leave Abel behind. Her actions tonight surely made that a forgone conclusion.
Tiny sips of air, breaths more labored than the way she imagined every contraction she had to look forward to, they filled her lungs as Tara finally made her way around the hood of her car to slide her key into the driver’s side door. Her hands were still shaking, making the simple task a challenge.
The light click of her seatbelt was shortly followed by vibration that pulsed against the floorboards of the front passenger seat. Kneeling over the glove compartment, she leaned down, scrunching her face in determination as she grabbed at the elusive cellphone buzzing underneath the chair. Pulling it out, Tara welcomed the distraction of missed calls and messages in her voicemail box.
“Please enter your password…then press pound.”
She sat the gun on the chair beside her, then slid her thumb along the keys as she slowly pulled off from the curb.
“You have thirty new messages…..New message…”
“I can’t believe this shit,” Ally Lowen hissed, breaking the silence. As she crawled from underneath the table, the oversized purse she’d been reaching for came up with her. “Come on,” She said, holding her arms out to help her girlfriend out of her chair. “I should be dialing nine-one-one right now.”
“You know you can’t do that,” Gemma answered, blinking hard. In the seconds that passed since Tara stormed out of the house, she’d found her way into the chair at the corner of her dining room table. As she spoke, she stood up, heading further into the adjoined kitchen, pulling a handful of towels from a drawer. “The cops will get here before the ambulance does. I’m not letting you fuck up my plea deal.”
Lowen snatched the towels being held out to her, briefly glancing up at the look of surprise on Gemma’s face to glare. “I already know your house arrest order is at risk of being revoked. And Tara being the calculating cunt that she is—she knows it, too. She wouldn’t have pulled this shit in any other scenario.”
“What the Hell are we going to do now, Ally?” Wendy wheezed. She shrugged Lowen’s grip from her shoulder, still leaning against the table for support. “What are we going to do about Abel? And what the Hell do you mean, you knew it? Is it true, then? Is what Tara said about JT true?”
“Come on, Baby.” Lowen tried and failed to pull her up from the chair. “We gotta go—now. You’ve lost a lot of blood. We’ll figure out this shit with Abel and everything else later.”
Wendy shrugged her hands away again, turning her gaze on the other woman standing next to her. “How the Hell would Tara even know that?”
“She wouldn’t know because it’s Bullshit,” Gemma snapped.
Lowen’s hand was on her shoulder again. “Wendy, I need to get you to a hospital.”
“No hospitals,” Gemma said, shaking her head at them. “I’ll call Chibs and tell him you’re on your way. Take her by the clubhouse and he’ll patch you up. Doctors have to report every gunshot wound that walks into the ER to the cops. With Unser out of play I can’t afford any cops asking questions.”
“Well I really don’t give a shit what you can or can’t afford,” Wendy said. “And even I did, Tara’s the one who’s gonna pay for this shit. Crazy bitch will be lucky if she gets to keep her career, or the kid she’s carrying—let alone my kid.”
Lowen scraped a hand through her hair, pulling at the strands when her fingertips reached the ends. “Oh, fuck me.”
Wendy stopped struggling with the sleeve of her jacket that she’d been attempting to hook over her bad shoulder by the bend in her elbow. “What?”
“She filed a restraining order against you, Wendy.” Lowen’s eyes were wide and apologetic. “If you tell the cops she shot you she’ll just say it was in self-defense–that you showed up trying to take Abel or something. And if she has an eyewitness to back up her story they’ll believe her.”
“Where the Hell is she going to get an eyewitness?”
“Do you remember what you said before? About not being able to fight them both? About Gemma backing the winning side?” Both Lowen and Wendy’s eyes landed on Gemma at the same time. “This is what the losing side looks like, Wendy. She’s going to go along with whatever Tara says because it’s in her best interest. We’re right back to square fucking one.”
Gemma’s hands flew to her hips, she stepped back on her heel. “I don’t know what the Hell you to are talking about but—”
“—Just like you don’t know what Tara’s talking about when she says you had Jax’s father killed?”
Gemma’s house phone began ringing.
“If I were you, I’d be real careful, you little cunt.” Ignoring it, she answered the angry Blonde in her kitchen instead. “I haven’t called Chibs yet. And I might decide to call Tiggy’s friend Bachman instead.”
The phone rang two more times—then it stopped.
Wendy’s shoulders were once again shrugging away from her girlfriend’s grasp. She stepped forward until the tips of her wedged sandals were pressed against Gemma’s boots. “Fuck you, Gemma. At the end of the day you’re just an Old lady. You don’t give orders for shit and right now you’re an old lady who can’t even take two steps out of your house without Five-O showing up. Jax and his club is the real threat and I’m pretty sure he’s a little busy at the moment.”
“And you said all of that to say what?” Gemma stepped closer still, the foot she leaned forward on crunching down on the toes of Wendy’s right foot. “That you’re not afraid of me?”
Even as sweat continued pour down her face, and the throbbing pain shooting through her shoulder refused to let up, Wendy stood taller than she ever had against SAMCRO’s Old Lady. Things were different now. She’d seen the look on her face. And she didn’t have any proof, but some way, somehow, Gemma was responsible for Johnathan Teller’s death. “It was never really you I had to be afraid of. It’s your son. You and I both know you like to get other people to do your dirty work. People like Unser….and Clay. And you said it yourself. Unser’s out of play—and so is your Old man for the next year at least…probably for good if his stepson finds out what really happened to his father. It’s a good thing I’ve never had a bike for you to tamper with, Huh? That’s how you did it, right? Or was Bachman the man driving the truck?”
The house phone was ringing again.
Gemma’s arm snapped back, her tightly-balled fist shot forward—And Lowen’s hand was reaching into her bag before Wendy’s hit the floor, still somehow nursing her arm while now clutching her face.
“Back the fuck off,” Lowen barked. The distinct sound of a gun being cocked was the only thing that kept the foot Gemma intended to kick her with rooted to the hardwood tiles she stood on.
The ringing stopped.
Gemma laughed, shaking her head at the criminal defense attorney brandishing a gun in her dining room. “Everybody wants to be an outlaw today.”
Then the answering machine started.
“Hello, Mrs. Teller?! This is Margaret Murphy. Your son Jackson Teller was brought into the ER about an hour ago. I don’t know how or why but he was shot and it is not good…He’s in surgery now and I haven’t been able to check on him because I promised Tara I’d watch Abel….I still have him with me now and he’s fine but I can’t get a hold of Tara. I’ve tried leaving several messages but now her cell is saying her inbox is full. Where the Hell is she, Gemma? I know she was coming over to see you and I know what it was about. So you need to make sure she calls me back right away. If I don’t hear from Tara—not you—Tara in the next five minutes I’m calling the cops and your home is the first place I’m telling them to look!”
“Jesus Christ,” Lowen muttered, shaking her head in disbelief. Jax was shot, while in prison? While the three women in his life fought over his son, who’d been kidnapped just weeks before? She couldn’t say she particularly loved any member of SAMCRO. At the end of the day they were just billable hours to pay for her condo. But out of all the members, Jackson Teller really was the last one she’d wish such shitty luck on.
Gemma hadn’t moved an inch, and Wendy didn’t either. Both women stared at the phone mounted to the kitchen wall, eyeing the speaker box that had abruptly gone silent. Gemma’s face was an influx of warring emotions, none of which she could seem to stick to. Shock, Rage, Anxiety—and was that last one Relief? It passed by too quickly for Ally Lowen to decide for sure. But one thing was certain as she felt her arm slowly lowering the gun still in her hand.
No one could mistake the renewed hope in Wendy Case’s eyes. “Oh my God.”
The three women flinched when the banging started. Apparently they hadn’t heard the first few gentle knocks against the door, or the voices that called out to house’s owner.
They heard a chorus of Opie, Happy, Kozick and others shout through the closed door. That same door swung open with a bang three times as loud, cracking on its hinges as it hit the wall. They were everywhere in no time—men in leather, guns out and cocked towards every direction of the house, hard eyes scanning for more trouble after the day’s events, chests heaving with anxiety from the fear of being too late when the matriarch hadn’t answered them.
Opie lowered his gun first, stepping forward as the men behind him followed his lead. “What the Hell happened to your prepaid? I’ve been calling you and the shit’s going straight to voicemail. Something happened up in Stockton. Jax took two in the chest and—“
“What the fuck?”
Happy Lowman brushed past him, cutting the bearded man’s words with the click of his gun being cocked again—and this time aiming at one target in particular.
Ally Lowen hadn’t been conscious of the gun still in her hand. It was dangling idly in her half-numb hands until the moment SAMCRO’s most lethal member pointed the one in his at her face. “Oh shit!.”
The gun in her hand hit the floor.
It went it off as it fell.
Every gun in the room, except Opie’s was immediately raised and trained on her and the shaking blonde next to her as the bullet lodged into the floor.
“Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!” Wendy and Lowen both squeezed their eyes shut, waiting for more bullets to start flying.
“Put it away,” Opie demanded, rolling his eyes. “You asshole’s trying to get Gemma locked up for the next ten years? Her probation hasn’t even started yet. She’s still on house arrest.”
Kozick and the two prospects standing on either side of him lowered their weapons first. “Down boy,” Kozick urged, when Happy still kept his finger on the trigger.
His crosshairs were set on the crying lawyer, holding her shaky hands up in a stance of surrender. And it certainly wasn’t the pleading look, the beg for mercy in Ally Lowen’s eyes that got him to stand down. It was the stiff nod Gemma Teller-Morrow gave him when he snuck a swift glance in her direction. “You bitches need to go. Now. This is club shit. It’s got nothing to do with you.”
“Look at her shoulder, Bro,” One of the prospects said, stepping into their path before they’d taken two steps. “I think Gemma shot her. What if she talks?”
“Gemma didn’t shoot me!” Wendy’s wild eyes shot to Opie. “It was Tara!”
Opie joined the line of the men blocking them from leaving the dining room.“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Why the Hell would Tara shoot you?” Kozick asked.
“She thinks she can keep me away from my son but she can’t. And if Jax doesn’t make it…”
“Your son?” Kozik cocked an eyebrow.
“YES!” Wendy screamed, losing all sense of the danger she was in. “Abel is MY son. I’m his real mother.”
Kozick nodded his head, turning to share a grin of amusement with Opie.
“Y’uppp.” Opie nodded with him, lowering his gun. “That’s why she shot her.”
Smoke was shooting out of Gemma’s ears as the men in leather became a choir of chuckles, and elbows being thrown into sides. “You shitheads done? Someone needs to tell me what the fuck happened to my son!”
The prospects were still too busy commiserating over their bikes and the time Tara sliced their tires when she caught them tailing her. They wondered if the doctor had done it with one of her scalpels.
“Jackie-boy would be proud,” Chibs commented, breaking his silence for the first time since they’d arrived. He didn’t smile or laugh like the others though. Instead he looked around, taking in the blood stains all over the floor, the bullet lodged in the cracking dining room wall—and the complete absence of the other woman they’d come to find. “Where is the lass? We checked her Da’s house and Jackie’s place. This was the last place she could be.”
“And the last place she’d want to be,” Ratboy said to Kozick, talking from one side of his mouth as he held a hardly insulating hand in front of it. Gemma wasn’t the only one who still heard him.
The truth behind the joke had a sobering effect, one that quickly ended a brief moment where they allowed themselves to be entertained by the usual violence that came with ‘the life’.
“Where’s Tara?” Kozick asked.
Lowen caught Wendy by her elbow as she began to sway on her feet. “Okay, unless you’re planning on killing us—we have to go right now.”
“I’m overdue for a smiley face,”Happy remarked, but when no one else said anything, she threw Wendy’s arm over her shoulder, curled one of hers around her waist, and began helping the dizzy blonde forward. Everyone, including a reluctant Happy slide aside to let the two women pass.
Everyone except Opie Winston.
Wendy gasped for air, struggling to breathe it in when SAMCRO’s most levelheaded member pointed his gun right in her face. The butt of the pistol was almost close enough for her to feel the coolness of the steel against the bridge of her nose.
“J-j-j-jesus Christ, Opie!” Lowen cried. “Adrenaline isn’t g-g-g-gonna keep her upright much longer and I kn-kn-know you’re not going to let me c-c-call an ambulance. Please just let us g-g-go.”
“We don’t know where Tara is!” Lowen shrieked. “She shot Wendy, forced her to sign away her parental rights, then right before she took off she threatened to tell Jax what Gemma and Clay did to—“
“JUST LET THEM GO, Damn it!” Gemma shouted, cutting her off. “They’re not gonna say shit. And I need to know what went down in Stockton right now. I need someone to get Rowan on the goddamn phone so he can go to judge and get me a pass to go to the hospital to see my son—the one you morons let get shot on your watch!”
Ratboy scratched his head. “We’re right out here with you, Gem. What you blaming us for?”
“I still don’t hear anybody telling me where the Hell Tara is,” Opie growled. His eyes sought Gemma’s only when he spoke this time. The others might have, but he hadn’t missed how quick she was to interrupt Lowen’s recap of the night’s events.
And if Tara had really threatened her…he knew exactly how Gemma Teller handled anything that was a threat to her. It wouldn’t take much to get a terrified attorney and a former crow eater to help her cover it up either.
Somehow Gemma was able to push her anger and fear, and the nerves that came with it aside just long enough to roll her eyes and smirk at the suspicion she read in Opie’s expression. His voice was even louder when again he asked, “Where the Hell is she, Gemma?”
“New message…Hi, Doctor Knowles. This is Pamela Reaves, calling from Boston General. I’m sorry for calling so late but I figure us surgeons hardly ever sleep at this time anyway. You have no idea how excited I was find out that you might be interested in coming to work here. We were upset when we didn’t get you the last time, but I understand you’ve moved on from Chicago since completing your ped’s fellowship…I, for one, would really love it if you—“
“Message deleted…New message…Doctor Knowles? This is Lexie, you know your intern from Saint—look I realize how inappropriate it is to say this but Dr. Chamber’s is a real asshole! He refuses to teach us! He keeps stealing all the good doctors—like you—Hey, are you leaving, too? Are you joining his practice? (Lexie! The patient!) Oh yeah—right! Dr. Chambers needs you to get here, like, right now, right now. One of the GSW’s that just came in keeps flat lining so he needs as many hands as he can get and you were on the cardio track before you switched specialties. He seems to know a lot about you actually. And the way he looks at you sometimes—(LEXIE?!) Crap, I didn’t mean that. Look, just get here soon…and don’t tell him I called him an asshole, please!”
Despite her mood, Tara felt the corners of her mouth turn upward.
“New message…Hey, Tara. It’s Rowan. Sorry for getting back to you so late. My assistant is on maternity leave and her fill-in doesn’t know to ignore my no business after office hours rule when it comes to certain clients. Regina called herself finding me the perfect Temp while she’s at home bonding with her new Rugrat but I gotta tell ya. This woman is a complete fuckin idiot. Gina probably did this shit on purpose. She must be worried I’ll replace her if her stand-in’s too good. Or it could have been the comment I made about her being a MILF now… Anyway. I just wanted to let you know that I take your complaints about my associate very seriously. I’m looking into it as we speak and if I find out she’s been violating attorney client privilege I’ll report her ass to the Bar association myself. Oh, and do me a favor will ya? Ask your Old man to have a talk with his mother. That woman will not stop calling me. The only way she gets a better deal than the one she got is if she gives the judge one Hell of a hum—(office hours are over Steven!) You think I don’t know that? Why else would I be at home begging you for a blowjob instead of getting one from my secretary? Aaww come on, it’s a fuckin joke! Look at, look Baby, the pills kicking in! It kicked in! Come on! Would you—(You can take care of it yourself, Asshole! Or better yet, call your secretary!) Shit…I’ll call you when I know something alright? I gotta go.”
“Message saved…New message! Tara, this is the third message I’m leaving you. I was worried before, but now—oh, for the love of GOD!”—Tara white-knuckled the steering wheel when the sound of Abel crying blasted through the phone’s speaker. His piercing scream had come shortly after the loud banging of, if she had to guess, the door to whatever room they were in hitting the wall as someone rushed inside—“…I just got him back to sleep! (It’s fine, Margaret. I’ve got him…)”—Tara’s grip loosened from the shock of the familiar voice she heard in the background. Alicia? “….Tara something’s happened,” Margaret groaned into the phone. “…I don’t know why or how it could have even—“
The rumbling of motorcycles made her jump.
Her cellphone slid from her lap, onto the floor between the breaks and the gas pedal, her right knee slammed into the thermos of cold coffee in one of her cup holders.
It was them.
“What the fuck did I do?” Out loud once, then over and over again in her head, Tara asked herself, braving a glance through her rearview mirror.
Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original.
They were coming fast—they were coming for her.
Hadn’t she known this would happen?
She reached her hand over to the front passenger seat as the rows of bright lights drew closer, the raucous vroom of their Harley’s grew louder. The gun she’d aimed at the cause of her impending demise just ten minutes earlier was in a death-grip on her lap as she slammed her foot down as hard as she could on the gas pedal.
ST THOMAS HOSPITAL, 2 MILES.
Tara’s eyes daggered towards the sign to the right of the dark, empty road. Would she make it there? Or would she die right there, on the highway like Johnathan Teller? What lie would they tell Jax? Or—Tara shuddered at the thought—would the truth of what she’d done to his mother be enough for him to finally pick a side?
“He’s a man now. The man I raised him to be. I’m the one he sacrificed for!”
How many times had Jax sacrificed her love for his mother? For the club his mother always seemed to cherish more than her own son?
Even in the darkness, he could make them out as the two bikers leading the pack.
The hospital entrance was up ahead, faster than she could have ever hoped.
She didn’t immediately notice the swarm of police sedans crowding the parking lot as she blew past the gates—hitting the breaks hard when she saw the two and a half people standing in front of the emergency room’s automatic doors.
And the tall, denim-kutte wearing man walking towards them, with a Prospect on his six.
Piney was walking towards Margaret Murphy. And standing next to her, Alicia Florrick, her best friend from college hugged the world’s most handsome little boy to her chest. SAMCRO’s founding member was holding his arms out to take Abel from the pretty stranger.
He was there to take Abel from her.
“Doctor Knowles, are you—“
Sheriff Roosevelt’s voice didn’t register, Tara didn’t even spare him a glance as she leapt from her truck, car door still swinging open when she ran the short distance from her car to the sidewalk. “No!” She screamed, out loud this time. With purpose, as she shoved Piermont “Piney” Winston’s arms away in favor of her own.
Margaret’s eyes widened in surprise, her hand flew to her chest. “Tara!”
“Finally,” Alicia said, releasing a deep breath.
“We’ve been looking all over for you,” Piney explained, sighing with relief.
The only words Tara could hear over the heart pounding in her chest were her own. “He’s…he’s mine.”
“What?” Piney’s brow furrowed.
The rumbling engines of motorcycles were louder and nearer than ever, until they all stopped one by one, until she could hear their footsteps pounding against the parking lot pavement. She heard her name multiple times. So many voices blurring and jumbling into one another.
Abel Teller’s tiny voice, barely above a grown-up’s whisper was all she heard. Squeezing her eyes shut, she rocked back and forth on her heels. She wanted to go home, too. She was home. Home was wherever she held her son in her arms.
“Everything is going to be okay, Tara.” Margaret’s voice pierced through, but Tara hummed Abel’s lullaby still—tuning everything out. “Dr. Chamber’s is doing everything he can.”
Tara flinched, not at hand that nudged her shoulder, but the deep voice in her ears when she felt it. Piney was standing directly in front of her. Opie and every other leather-clad member had stepped forward with him, crowding her.
“I’ll take Abel,” Piney told her, holding his hands out again. The older man frowned when she quickly took several steps back, away from them all, shaking her head frantically like a bobble-head doll on a Nascar racer’s dashboard. “Tara?”
“I c-c-can’t believe you’d take her side,” Tara growled, squeezing Abel tight against her chest. “You of all people, Piney… Do you remember those letters I tried to tell you about? You have no idea what she’s done to you. You and Jackson…all I’m trying to do is protect him..”
Kozick stepped forward next. “Doc, Listen—“
“DO NOT TOUCH ME!”
“Is everything okay over here?” Sheriff Roosevelt, and two of his Deputies parted the crowd. He fixed his eyes on the brunette still clutching her child like one would a lifeline. “Doctor Knowles?”
Alicia moved to stand next to her, fluttering her palms out towards them all. “I think everybody just needs to back up and give her some space.”
“Who the fuck is this bitch?” Happy growled, jutting a thumb towards her.
“I’m the bitch that can have what I said put in writing and have it filed with the court so that it’s no longer a suggestion.”
“This another one of Rowan’s people?” Ratboy asked no one in particular, before his eyes landed on the other prospect. “I want her the next time we get popped,” He mumbled. “This one’s hot.”
“Mrs. Murphy, there you are!” The crowd of them turned towards the entrance as the double doors slid shut with a loud swoosh, behind the young surgical intern rushing towards them. “Dr. Chamber’s sent me to find you and give you an update. He’s going to be in surgery for a few more hours, but the patient is stable and—well, alive obviously. Would you like me to contact his family now? Doctor Knowles, the neonatal specialist is actually…”
Cristina Yang paused, finally noticing the other people standing there, her slanted eyes stopping on one woman in particular. “I’m not on call tonight,” Tara announced, kissing the top of Abel’s head.
Dr. Yang shook her head. “It’s against hospital policy for doctors to treat family members so you wouldn’t be able to scrub in anyway. I was just going to ask Mrs. Murphy if she knew you were listed as one of the patient’s emergency contacts.”
“What?” Tara’s nose wrinkled. She quickly glanced around, taking in all the familiar faces around her. She didn’t have any other family. Her family was babbling away in her arms. Her family would be dancing a tango in her belly if she ever found the time to eat something later on. And she couldn’t think of a single club member who wasn’t present. “Who’s emergency contact?”
“Jackson Taylor?” Dr. Yang looked over at Margaret, who immediately shook her head.
“It’s Teller…Jackson Teller.”
“What are you talking about?” Tara’s chest felt tight again, her heart was pounding again, and someone just wouldn’t stop kicking her—kicking her hard, until her palm flew to her stomach. Even as she winced at the sharp pain, her eyes never stopped moving. One by one they landed on every face. All the sad, worried, and angry eyes that didn’t hold even a hint of surprise in them as they stared back at her. “Jackson? Something happened to Jackson?”
Everyone began talking at once, while a few others, men in uniform joined the crowd.
“Tara, you didn’t get my messages? I—” “—We’ve been calling you all night—”
“—Sir, look what we just found—“ “—Tara, I think you need to sit down—“
“— it was on the front passenger seat of her car.” “—Ms. Knowles, I need—“
“—Dr. Knowles, Doctor Chambers has been working—“ “—Tara?”
“—Tara?” “—Doc doesn’t look so good—”
“—Tara, look at me—”
“Everybody SHUT UP!” Alicia Florrick yelled. Her voice trained to object loudly, silence followed her outburst, there in the courtroom of her own making. The Chi-town lawyer turned her undivided attention to the woman who’d yet to show any sign of having heard any of them speaking. “Tara, come on. Let’s go inside and find somewhere—“
“What happened to Jackson?” Tara hugged her son closer to her chest, willed her other son to stop kicking her and behave. She refused to move. “I don’t understand…Jackson… he’s in prison…he’s at…he’s in Stockton. I just saw him. Something… something happened to him?”
“Someone shot him, Tara.”
She wasn’t sure who had finally answered her question.
Just like she hadn’t realized just how tightly she’d been holding on to Abel until she felt her grip loosen. She couldn’t stop it, no matter how badly she wanted to. Her vision was blurring, losing focus. Her legs, her arms, she couldn’t feel a single limb. Her lungs good as collapses on their own. And then she was falling.
Several voices shouted her name, over and over but she couldn’t hear them over Abel’s crying.
“Someone get me a gurney!” Dr. Yang looked further down, noted the palm resting over the tiny bump peeking out from Tara’s scrub top. “And someone page Doctor Montgomery like right friggin now!”
Dr. Cristina Yang knelt down by her side, waving the penlight in her hand in front of Tara’s eyes but all she could see was Alicia barely catching Abel in her arms in time. He’d slipped right through her fingers.
How the Hell did this happen?
When the cold comes crashing down,
And the fight lost what it’s about,
I could tell that you’d left.
It’s a shame what we’ve become,
When we hurt the ones we love.
It’s a place I cannot go,
When we collide we lose ourselves.
When we collide we break in two,
And as we push and we shove and we hurt the ones we love,
It’s a hard mistake…
When we collide,