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Duke: Chapter 38


Everyone has been on edge for the last two days. We’ve tried to maintain a relaxed presence, both at home and on campus. We don’t want a damn thing messing up the plan to take these fuckers down once and for all.

I’ve been upstairs in the attic since I got home from classes earlier, needing some time alone to work out my frustrations on canvas and paper. Get my fingers a little charcoal dirty. I can’t help myself. I draw and draw, thinking about some of the shit I’d seen in Hunter’s journal. He’s an idiot to have left that somewhere we could get our hands on it. I chuckle to myself. Not that the prick knew we’d be drugging him, beating the hell out of him, and tying his ass up. That journal is going to come in handy when we turn it into the police, as is our mother’s.

Her journal is much as we expected, the entries spanning the time I was born all the way through her death, so over eight years in total. Sometimes she went months without so much as writing a word. Other days, there were pages and pages. It details her affair with Isaac, including when she discovered she was pregnant and the fact that she was terrified of what Murdock would do if he ever found out I wasn’t his. I can’t claim to understand the pregnancy math Bear told me she’d written about, but it sounds like I really am Isaac Hauser’s son.

The worst part? She was scared. My eyes crash shut. At the back of the journal, it becomes very clear—Lily had discovered what was happening at the club. She confronted him the day before she died. My head spins and my blood burns, setting me off-kilter and blackening my insides. I open my eyes and draw her again. There are dozens of images of my mother with that long, long hair and the same sad, worried face. And in every drawing, her hand is practically coming off the page, reaching out to me. For my help.

My vision goes hazy, and I drop the charcoal, crouching down onto my haunches, covering my face with my hands. He doesn’t deserve to be out of prison. And I’m going to make fucking sure I send him back so he can rot there. I heave out a breath. Hunter’s journals might hold the key—he was much wordier than our mother, and it’s obvious there are probably more journals. In the one I read, the majority of the entries had to do with which young things he and Derek had on tap for each poker night. Derek obviously had been teaching Hunter his ways in Murdock’s absence. Apparently once the OGs were done with these poor girls, sometimes Hunter would get a turn at their sloppy seconds, so long as the girls were still knocked out.

Anger bubbles up inside me, and I rise, snatching the broken charcoal off the floor, then stroke hard on the paper, heavy and bold. There’s something festering in my head—Duke and Bear haven’t said anything yet, so I don’t know if they’re thinking the same thing or not, but I need proof because I want all these motherfuckers rotting forever.

Somehow, I doubt when my mother encouraged Hunter to journal she meant for him to leave an accounting of the underaged girls he was looking forward to watching get fucked every Friday night, but that’s exactly what he’s done. But hey, not everyone gets brains in the gene lottery.

I need to find the rest of Hunter’s journals.

This house. I fucking hate coming back here. After graduation, I’d escaped to Bainbridge Hall, which seemed like paradise in comparison. This beautiful house—where I grew up and my mother died—was never a home to me.

There are lights on inside, which doesn’t mean much. I would assume Murdock is already at the club … and I highly doubt they want Hunter’s mangled face showing up, so I assume it’s him that’s here.

I don’t fucking care either way. I’d have killed him the other day if we’d been alone. I truly believe I would have. It was the idea that Lennon would be stuck with that image in her head the rest of her life that’d stopped me. And that was before we knew half the hell she’s been through.

I blow out a breath. I’d like something in our hands that is at least close to a confession. Just in case things don’t go as planned tonight. The trick is finding the rest of his damn journals with all his evildoings written neatly inside.

I walk around the back of the house to the patio door that never locked right a single time while I lived here. I glance at the spot where my mother had taken her last breath and force myself not to freak out. Because this is for her. And for all the girls and women who have been harmed by the Bastards. And for myself, too. Because I didn’t get the life I should have had.

I check the knob, twisting it carefully. The door opens without a creak. No one set the alarm. I creep silently into the house, passing the huge den where the TV blares loudly and deep snores come from the direction of the couch.

Upstairs, I enter Hunter’s room and shut the door behind me. I check all the normal places, the nightstand, the heavy desk in the corner, under the mattress and pillows. Nothing. I look around, finally deciding to check his dresser drawers. I hit pay dirt in the first one I check. Not only are there a heap of journals—which is slightly concerning, because that means I’m going to have to read all of them, and quickly—but there’s a pair of panties lying on top like a goddamn trophy.

Lennon’s. Specifically, the ones she’d been wearing while I watched her getting dressed from our shared balcony one of the first few days she was living with us. They’re lacy, kinda sheer, and hell no, fucker—I’m the only one who gets to keep her panties. I stuff them into my pocket, snatch up all the journals, and leave this godforsaken house behind. I’ll never be back ever again.

I roll up to Bainbridge Hall to find everyone waiting on me. Duke is right there as I open the door and slip out of the SUV. It’s clear he’s not thinking straight because he grasps my head between his hands and tugs me close. “What the fuck, Mase. You scared us.” The wild beat of his heart pounds against my chest.

“I’m good. I wanted to get my hands on these journals.” I nudge him back so I can twist around and pick them up. “I think they’ll be important. Especially if we can find the one from four years ago.”

A throat clears behind us. We step away from the SUV so I can close the door. Kingston eyes the two of us, his arms crossed over his muscular chest. “Are we doing this, or what?”

I wink at him. “I needed reading material. I have the rest of Hunter’s journals.”

Cannon snorts, then holds out his hand, so I slap one into his palm. “You’re responsible for that one. We’re looking for more things the police need to know. Names, dates, assholery committed.”

“Got a good one for me, cousin?” Elliot’s warm smile is like a balm to my heart as she steps close.

I grin and hand one to her. “Yeah, thanks.”

I take the one that will likely be our best shot, then secure the remaining books in the back of one of the two vehicles we’re taking.

We split into two SUVs, one of which has Archer’s equipment in the back. He’ll use it to keep tabs on what’s going on inside.

I hope Lennon is ready for this. She’s not quite been herself since she looked at the horrific photos and nightie, then stood inside the room where she’d been assaulted. I can’t fucking blame her. She’d asked Bear to hide everything for her until she could figure out what she wanted to do with it all. I have no desire to see the proof of how they violated our girl. I hope she’ll turn in the photos as evidence to help put these fuckers away for good. We know they’re behind every bit of the hell Lennon has been put through, as well as Juliette and who knows how many other young girls. The trick is getting them to admit their wrongdoings. And that’s what tonight is about.

My gaze pins on her as she talks to Bear, getting some last-minute instructions. He gives her a hug, and she nods at him reassuringly before lifting to her toes to kiss him. My heart skips around in my chest. I’m so fucking nervous for her. And suddenly, I can’t help myself. “Lennon.” My throat sounds raspy and raw to my ears, and I cringe. “Can I talk to you for a sec?”

Everyone else has begun scrambling into vehicles so we can take off. Poker night generally starts around nine, so we have to get moving soon.

Duke’s gaze connects with mine, and he gives me an understanding nod. “Make it quick.”

Lennon looks like a complete badass. She’s wearing black shorts and a dark-gray ribbed tank top. Her hair is swept into a ponytail, her lashes long and dark, and her lips pink with a slick gloss. But it’s not really the clothes or how she’s styled her hair or makeup. It’s the attitude.

She joins me, immediately coming in for a hug, then holding tightly onto me. “I’ll be fine. I keep telling everyone. My heart is racing, but I think that’s a good thing. I know what I need to say and do. And then I’ll get the fuck out of there.”

“Kin, I know. You can totally handle this.” I look into her sparkling eyes, wishing we could sail away in that ocean of blue. “I want to make sure you understood something, because the last time I tried to tell you, I couldn’t get it out.”

Her lips twitch. “I love you, Mason.”

Dammit. “You’re supposed to let me say it first.”

“Who fucking says?” It’s clear she’s trying not to laugh.

I chuckle, shaking my head at our sassy girl. “I fucking love you, Lennon. I love you madly and hard and so fucking deep you’re embedded inside me. All your broken pieces with my damaged ones.” I thread my hands in her hair and kiss her the way she deserves—with all the chaotic love I have for her.


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