Our love was real. Her identity was not.
Brian “Butch” Kelly became the father of a toddler overnight. When his ex-girlfriend left their child on his doorstep with nothing but a note and a bag of clothes before she split for parts unknown, he knew he had to find a way to step up.
With his Club on the cusp of a turf war over their ongoing expansion plans, he doesn’t have time to raise a kid on his own. Thankfully his little sister’s new friend, Anita Carlucci offers to help. Only problem? She’s the secret daughter of their greatest enemy and she’s just stumbled onto enough ammunition to bring the Black Shamrocks MC to its knees.
As two unwitting pawns fall in love under false pretences, long buried secrets are revealed, and a choice must be made.
Who will win this struggle? The boy who has had his carefully plotted life thrown on its head or the girl struggling to put family loyalty before her own growing feelings.
Butch is the third book in the prequel series to the International Bestselling Black Shamrocks MC romantic suspense series.
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My sister, Alanah, and my best friend, Victor Kennedy.
If anyone had ever bothered to ask me, I would have said without hesitation that I would die for both of them. That was until my sister decided she loved Vic more than me, and my best friend chose her love over mine.
If you think I sound bitter, you’d be right.
My life has been one abject lessen in disappointment after another.
First my mum chose the highs of her manic episodes over the lows of staying medicated.
Then, my father decided that loving his wife ranked higher than protecting his children.
I survived all that with the Black Shamrocks MC and Vic by my side. The support of the Club was my saviour while Vic was the even keel to my unbalanced ballast. With an equally fucked-up childhood, I thought we’d have each other’s back forever.
Turns out, I thought wrong.
Vic went behind my back and stole my sister from me. Then I lost them both.
But it was all good. I’d survived their betrayal because I still had the Black Shamrocks MC at my back.
Until my ex dropped a bombshell in the shape of an eighteen-month old toddler and turned my life on its head. She left my kid on the doorstep of a vacant house with a note and a bag of dirty clothes, then split for parts unknown.
Now, I’m caught between my kid and the war brewing around my Club.
They say the measure of a man is how he reacts to power.
It’s the opposite for me. I’m about to discover how I react to having my heart exposed to the world.
Because the most valuable thing in the world is no longer protecting my own ego.
The most important thing to me has blonde hair and green eyes and calls me “dad.”
Within seconds of meeting my son, I knew I’d kill for him. He was the only thing in this world that was solely mine. Mine to nurture. Mine to protect. Mine to love.
And, God help any fool who tried to stop me.
The walls of the Clubhouse are trying to close in on me. There’s too many people, too much noise, and too little air for my liking. It’s a claustrophobic’s nightmare. Not that I’m any more scared of confined spaces than the next person with half a brain and sense of self-preservation would be—it’s more about the amount of coke in my system and the weight of my upcoming abandonment that’s trying to crush me.
My hands shake while I sew my top rocker onto my cut. The needle and thread feel alien in my hands. My fingers too big and inept to manage the simple task. My body vibrates from the buzz of the coke. My eyes can’t focus on one spot long enough to push the sharp tip through the thick leather.
“Fuck this,” I mutter. Tossing my cut onto the pool table next to the sewing kit my little sister, Alanah had handed me, I jam my sweaty hands in my hair and allow my tired eyes to flutter shut.
Patching into the Black Shamrocks MC has been my plan since I was old enough to understand that my dad didn’t go to a normal nine-to-five job like the other kid’s dads and I can honestly say that I’ve never wanted anything else. There was—is—no comparison. The freedom to ride when I wanted. The leeway to indulge my baser, more violent instincts. The alcohol. The easy women. The steadfast brotherhood. This lifestyle had always seemed like the answer to all my prayers.
Yet, one two-minute encounter between my sister and my best friend had changed everything.
I’d seen their connection with my own eyes. Vic was transfixed by my sister and she was clearly smitten. The laughter she had brought forth from him when they’d spoken had been the only authentic sound I’d heard him make all night. He hadn’t felt comfortable from the second he’d arrived and discovered that his mother hadn’t bothered to turn up to celebrate with him and his father was drunk as a skunk, like usual. I’d been too far gone to offer him more than my solid but silent presence at his side as a consolation and Bonnie was too self-absorbed to see that he was struggling.
His best friend and his kinda girlfriend. We’d both let him down and opened the door for him and Alanah to look at each other through a different lens.
Cole smacks into my side, and I reopen my eyes. I wish I’d kept them shut because then I wouldn’t have seen what came next…
My sister’s hand on Vic’s chest. His arm moving across her shoulders, pulling her close. Vic’s lips pressed against Alanah’s forehead.
And my world collapsing beneath my feet.
You see, everyone has their person. It might be their best friend, a parent, a sibling, that girl you meet who becomes your soul mate. Everyone has a person who is just theirs. Their support. Their other half. Their ally. Their perfect match. I was lucky enough to have two—Vic and Alanah—and I had just watched a new connection between them—one that wasn’t centred on their love for me—being forged in the fiery depths of empathy, understanding, and kinship.
It was now a simple matter of time before I found myself on the outside looking in; person-less, rudder-less, pointless, while my two persons found their person in each other.
The truth was clear to anyone with eyes.
Too late, Bonnie sees the danger and gracefully inserts herself between Vic and Alanah. She blatantly steals Vic’s attention for herself using her tight dancer’s body and her beautiful face as weapons, and I gain a momentary dose of relief when Alanah walks away without another word or a backward glance. My reprieve dies a quick death when Vic ignores Bonnie and keeps his eyes on my sister instead.
Time has never been my friend, however I’ve gotta make it my bitch tonight. It’s time to see where Vic’s allegiances lie, time to see how far down the path of disloyalty he’s already travelled, time to learn where I stand in this upcoming battle.
“What the fuck was that all about?” I demand the second he joins the rest of us with his cut, brand-new rockers, and sewing kit in hand.
Cole and Paddy has already sewn their new rockers on, but they stay put when they hear the hostility in my question.
“Fuck knows,” Vic replies, shaking his head. “Just Bonnie being Bonnie.”
He’s either truly clueless about what just happened or his ability to deceive is better than I ever imagined. My mind screams at me to play it cool, to accept him at face value because one thing Vic has never been accused of being is in touch with his emotions. Logically, I know this, yet my body and my mouth have other ideas.
Taking hold of the front of his shirt, I drag him closer to me and yank on the material clasped in my fist until he bows his head, so we’re eye to eye. Vic’s a few inches taller than me, although I’m bigger in size, and my hard grip forces him to stoop.
“Not Bonnie, fuck face. Alanah. Who. The. Fuck. Said. You. Could. Kiss. Her?”
Confusion clouds his face. Cole, always the level-headed one, pushes between us and plants a hand on each of our chests to keep us apart.
“Come on.” Cole continues playing peacemaker. “It was nothing.”
The dawning realisation on Vic’s face says otherwise. It sets my brain on fire—every fear I’ve ever had about being deserted by the only people I love comes rushing to the surface—and I barge past Cole to get back in Vic’s face. I’m not entirely successfully in my evasive manoeuvre and end up caught against Cole’s barrel chest while I glare at my best friend.
“Yeah? Didn’t look like nothin’ to me,” I say, hostility coating my challenge.
Holding his hands in the air, Vic surrenders physically and verbally. “Man, I swear to you. I was just saying thank you to her for making me laugh.”
His explanation breaks through the inferno in my head. I cool my jets a little and try to look at the situation objectively. My worries about people leaving me have never been public knowledge. If anything, I go out of my way to make sure everyone believes that my mother’s bi-polar craziness doesn’t affect me.
I’m making a fool of myself and no one here would understand why.
This time when I try to get past Cole, he lets me go. Opening my arms, I hug Vic with one arm and slap him on the back with the other.
“Dude, I shoulda realised you were upset about your dad.”
Vic’s body stiffens, then he tries to get away from me. “He’s a dick, but it’s not like it’s the first time.”
I hold him tighter and refuse to let him move too far from me. Vic makes enough space to look me in the eyes and I try my hardest to shield my true feelings from him. He purses his lips, disapproval flitting across his face, and I breathe a sigh of relief.
He thinks this outburst was caused by the coke.
That’s fine by me. I’d rather him believe that instead of the truth.
I’m a giant man baby who’s scared of being alone.
A white-hot rage at my own weakness catches fire within me. I try to swallow it down, but it won’t leave. Within seconds, I’m caught in a tug-of-war—give into the burning behind my eyes and let angry tears of self-pity fall in front of the entire Club or continue down the path of self-righteous outrage to mask my despair.
Man baby that I am, I choose the second option.
“I’ll let you get away with it this one time. Touch Alanah again and I’ll kill you.” Every word I say comes from a place of honesty, despite the false circumstances. Sweeping a hand through the air, I indicate the room we’re in to drive home my point. “She’s destined for more than this. She fucking deserves more than this and I’m not letting you, or anyone like you, stop her from reaching her potential.”
My allegations hit Vic in the heart, just like I knew they would. It’s a low blow. One that only a best friend would know to take.
His face flushes, and he steps closer to me.
“Fuck. You.” He spits each syllable at me. “And fuck anyone else who thinks I’m unworthy. I’m not interested in Alanah like that, but if I was, no one would get in my way. I’m not my father and I refuse to dance in his shadow for the rest of my life. I will be better than him. I am more than capable of making a run for VP, or even President if I choose.”
My girlfriend comes into view with Bonnie hot on her heels. I’d completely forgotten about Shari and one look at her face tells me that she knows it. Sure, she’s hiding it well by giggling with Bonnie, however I see the reproach that brings a little extra colour to her high cheek bones and stiffens her slim shoulders.
Seeing Shari reminds me that I have other options tonight. I have a way out of this mess so I can buy myself time to lick my wounds in peace and come up with a better game plan. Keeping Vic and Alanah apart just became my sole agenda—and there’s no one better to aid me in this than Shari and her position as one of Bonnie’s best friends.
After all, if there is one thing all women have in common, it’s their inability to see what’s right in front of them until someone else decides they want it for themselves.