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She hadn’t heard a peep from him since the night before. Though, to be fair, she’d been the one to make him leave.

“Oh, sweetie.” Liv rushed over and gave her a side hug. “There is no normal, especially not here within this club.”

“She’s right,” Brooke added. “Unless you want to say that our normal is fucked up.” Her expression held understanding and compassion. “Everyone of us was brought here under different but no less extreme circumstances. I think it’s why our family fits together so well. There’s no judgment, no expectations beyond loyalty and love.”

Liv rested her head on Harper’s shoulder. “We’re all broken toys, Harp.”

That had the three of them chuckling.

“He told me he’d be there when I was ready,” she shared after they’d silently passed the bottle a few times.

“See?” Liv bumped her shoulder. “Trust me, that man isn’t going anywhere. Just talk to him. It’ll be fine. You two are meant for each other… I can feel it. Besides, we aren’t letting you go from our ladies’ group, so you two have no choice but to work it out.”

“What she said,” Brooke added with a smile.

If only she had their confidence. But they were right. After what she’d been through, she might always have trust issues. But the only way to handle them would be to deal with it head-on and talk it out with Jinx. If she was going to be his, and this distance showed her she really wanted that, she needed to put in the effort. With the reward being nights in Jinx’s bed, days on the back of his bike, and the rest of her life enjoying him, whatever she had to do would be well worth it.

Now that she wasn’t so worried Jinx was lying dead on a gurney in the ER, she could think more rationally. Still, a small voice whispered a relationship would never work, she’d never be able to give him her trust, and he’d be guaranteed to hurt her. But today, with a fresh perspective and help from her friends, she could close her eyes and imagine boxing that intrusive voice straight out of her head. A visualization technique she’d learned while getting her degree and one that had worked in prison whenever dark thoughts crept in.

A peace settled over her as a game plan formed in her mind. In some ways, she felt decades older than her twenty-five years since she’d seen and heard so much while behind bars. It was enough to feel as though she’d lived three lifetimes. But then there were some basic experiences she’d completely missed out on, including learning to communicate in a healthy relationship.

“Thank you, ladies,” she said, shooing away tears with rapid blinks. “I wish I could express with words how important you’ve all become to me, but I don’t think anything I say will be enough.”

“Oh, Harp.” Liv sniffed and wiped away a tear. “You’re making me cry. You don’t have to say anything. We all know because we feel it too.”

Brooke looked a little misty as well. She fanned her hand by her eyes and stared at the ceiling. “Don’t you dare make me cry.”

“Group hug,” Liv called out and spread her arms wide.

Chuckling, Harper joined her and Brooke in a crushing girls’ hug.

They stayed there for another half hour or so, polishing off the bottle of wine and moving on to lighter topics. Around five, Brooke stood. “Okay, girls, that’s enough for one day. I’m heading home, but I’ll be back at the clubhouse in a few hours. I think Curly said something about a bonfire.”

“Yeah. Spec mentioned it. I’m meeting him at the gym when they’re done with church, then we’re grabbing dinner, but we’ll be there. What about you, Harp? You’re going to talk to Jinx, right?”

Both women stared at her.

She glanced at the time on her phone. The men should only be another fifteen or twenty minutes. “Yes. I’ll hang here until they’re done in church, then I’ll wander over to the clubhouse and grab him for a chat.

“A ‘chat,’ ” Liv said, crooking her fingers in air quotes. “We all know how these boys like to chat.”

The three of them giggled.

Brooke grabbed the empty wine bottle and brought it to the trash before gathering her belongings. “I’ll see you troublemakers later. Careful at the gym, Liv. We’re all a little tipsy.”

“Hmm…” She tapped her lips. “Maybe I can convince Spec to burn off some calories with a chat of our own instead.” Her face lit up. “Yeah, that’s a fantastic idea. Catch you later.” She snatched her purse off her desk, then practically ran out of the trailer.

“Bye,” Harper called after her.

Brooke waved, then followed a bouncy Liv out the door.

Once alone, Harper took a breath and tried to concentrate on work, but with each passing minute, she grew more anxious to talk to Jinx. Nerves popped and fizzled under her skin, and her stomach fluttered, making it impossible to focus.

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