Tatum walkedinto Savage Hell and looked around the bar for her brother. He had called her in to meet him there and all she could think about doing was going back to his house, running herself a hot bath, and soaking in it until her skin turned wrinkly and the water turned cold.
It had been two weeks since Ryder all but dismissed her, telling her that he needed a break—whatever that meant. She knew exactly what it meant—he didn’t call her, didn’t return any of her messages and for all she knew, he had moved on.
Jackson waved her down from his usual spot in the back corner of the bar and smiled at her. She didn’t return his smile, not finding much to be happy about lately. Tatum walked over to the booth and slid in across from him.
“What’s so fucking important that I needed to come right over here after work, Jackson?” she asked.
“Language, Sis,” he chided. She didn’t have time to sit around and be scolded by her older brother. She had a bathtub calling her name, followed by her nice soft bed.
“Can we cut to the chase, Jackson?” she asked. “I’ve just worked for fourteen hours and I’m tired.”
His smile faded, “You’re working yourself into an early grave, Tatum,” he said.
“Well, working helps take my mind off of Ryder and that’s what I need right now,” she admitted.
“You’re still feeling that bad about him tossing you to the curb?” her brother asked. He never was one who could win personality contests. He was too blunt and that often came off as mean and uncaring.
“Nice, Jackson,” she griped. “How about a little compassion? I can’t get him to return any of my calls and I’m worried about him.”
“He’s had a lot of work lately—you know flights that kept him out of town and all,” Jackson offered. “I’m sure he’ll get back to you as soon as he can.”
“Have you seen him?” she asked.
“No,” Jackson breathed. “Not since the day I got back into town.” He grimaced at his admission and she stared him down, knowing that he was keeping something from her.
“What are you not telling me, Jackson?” she questioned. “You only make that face when you don’t want to get caught in a lie or something you know I won’t like. What did you do?” she asked.
Jackson shrugged as if it wasn’t a big deal, but she knew it was going to feel like a fucking huge deal to her. “I told him that maybe he needed to give you some space—you know, so you could decide if he’s the right guy for you,” Jackson admitted.
“You told him to break up with me?” she asked. “You told him to break my heart and shove me out of his life? Is this what you wanted, Jackson? Me sitting across from you, crying my eyes out, missing Ryder so much that I can’t figure out how to go on? You know I cry myself to sleep every night and have trouble getting out of bed every morning?” Tatum hated the pity she saw on her brother’s face. That was the last thing she wanted from him.
“No,” he whispered. “I had no idea you were taking the break up so hard.”
“How would you?” she asked. “You got what you wanted and didn’t bother to ask me how I was doing. You know that job that’s working me into an early grave? Well, it’s the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning and I’m tired, Jackson. I’m tired of pretending to be all right. I’m tired of wanting to be with the man that I love but can’t be. I’m tired of this ache in my chest every time I think about him or see his face flash through my mind.”
“Sis,” Jackson breathed.
“No,” she shouted. “You don’t get to feel bad now, Jackson.” She grabbed her bag and turned to leave. “I told you to stay out of my relationship but you just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” Tatum walked out of Savage Hell not bothering with the many bikers who sent her pitying looks. The only biker she wanted to see wasn’t there, but she had a pretty good idea of where she’d be able to find him.
* * *
Tatum parked just outsideof his hanger and took finding his bike parked there as a good sign. Even if he was out on a flight, he had to come back at some point. She’d just wait in her car for him, even if it took days, she’d catch up to him and then, they were going to talk.
She walked into the hanger and found his plane in the back and Rachet working on it. “Hey, Tatum,” he said. “Haven’t seen you around in a while.” He was being just loud enough that she knew Ryder couldn’t be far out of earshot.
“Hi Rachet,” she said. “He around?” she questioned.
“I’m here,” Ryder said. She turned to find him standing behind her and Rachet tossed his tool back into his toolbox.
“I’m going to grab a coffee and give you two some alone time,” he said, waggling his eyebrows at her. Tatum giggled and waved to him as he left the hanger.
“I like him,” she breathed.
“Most women do,” Ryder grumbled. “They flock to the guy at Savage Heat.” He sounded a little jealous and she wondered if it was because she said she liked Rachet or because other women were paying attention to him and not Ryder.
“How have you been?” she asked Ryder. Tatum hoped he’d admit to being as miserable as she had been over the past couple of weeks, but she could tell that he wasn’t ready to admit to anything. He nodded and she smiled. “I only ask because I’ve been a mess without you, Ryder.” She took a deep breath and swallowed hard, mentally preparing herself for the rest of what she needed to say. “I miss you and well, I was hoping that you’ve missed me too.” She didn’t make a move to go to him but that was taking all her strength.