White Horse, Tennessee is fucking gorgeous in autumn. Surrounded by the season’s bright reds, yellows, and oranges, I lift my bearded face toward the cloudy sky and inhale the chilly air. The cold signals the arrival of another holiday season. The next few months will be the best time of the year. Unfortunately, autumn leads to winter when I’ll be faced with the worst holiday set forth by mankind.
This evil day’s primary purpose is to rub good fortune in the face of the lonely fuckers of the world like me.
I’m not a slob with food stains on his shirts or dried boogs under his nose. I’m a handsome fucker—according to my shallow mom who would never lie about beauty. Plus, I have money and a souped-up Harley. Everywhere I go, women check me out. Though considered quite the fucking catch in these parts, I’m still alone.
Just the other day, I told my brother how I didn’t think our father—a big scary fucker named Angus Hayes—would retire until he felt his three kids could run the business.
“I’m well past ready to run it,” Chipper said while feeding his six-year-old daughter hot dog chunks covered in mustard. “Cricket is too. Hey, maybe you’re the precious angel from above who’s holding up his retirement.”
Pissed at the thought of my failing our father, I growled in response to Chipper’s accusation, “I’ve killed and nearly died protecting our territory.”
“Nearly died,” my blond brother immediately snickered. “No, no, you’re a badass for sure.”
“Are you fucking done?”
Chipper only smiled because he’s an asshole and has the world at his fingertips. So, of fucking course, he wasn’t done.
“You know what I think?” he asked before instantly answering his question. “I think your lack of skills when it comes to the ladies is why Daddy Dearest doesn’t trust you. You’re not a chip off the old block.”
“Our father was forty when he met Mom.”
“Yeah, but he was fucking chicks left and right. You’re lucky his dick didn’t rot off long before he sired his angel-heir.”
All my life, my family has compared me to an angel. I used to think they were complimenting me. They fucking swear they are, but I’m beginning to wonder.
“I fuck divas, not dudes.”
“Well, you’ve never had a real girlfriend. If you’re gay, it’s past time you fessed up and found yourself a nice fellow to settle down with.”
“I don’t want my dick to rot off, so, no, I don’t fuck every random diva batting her pretty eyes my way.”
“Whatever. I don’t care if you die alone. That’s your decision, and I love you just the way you are, man.”
“Shut the fuck up.”
“Not in front of the fucking children,” Chipper growled at me before gesturing to his son who flicked his fry in my direction. “Have some class, cherub-cheeks.”
So maybe Chipper was right—not about having class or good parenting—but about our father expecting me to find Miss Right before he’ll officially retire from his position as top badass in White Horse.
I decide to choose this particularly fucking cold day to get my answer. My father’s mind focuses on business while we wait for visitors from Kentucky. Mom skipped the office, deciding instead to join Chipper’s wife at the park with my nieces and nephew. With Dad and me alone for the time being, I spit out the question while we wait in our bunker-style office.
“Do you think you can’t retire until I get married?”
“Where do you come up with these fucking questions?” he mutters, flashing his patented dark-eyed glare in my direction. “I swear your mother puts you up to this shit.”
My mom—the wonderfully snarky, staggeringly beautiful Candy—adores my father. They remain happily married after two decades together. Their bliss doesn’t mean she won’t mess with the old man just for a laugh.
“Why don’t you retire then?” I ask.
“Because I don’t fucking feel like fucking retiring.”
“Mom says when you use the word ‘fucking’ too much in one sentence that you’re, uh, what's the term she used? Oh, yeah, deflecting.”
“Fine, I’m waiting for you to find a woman and have a few kids. That way, I’ll know your balls have officially dropped. Having heard the tragic fucking truth, why don’t you find a fucking woman and have a few fucking kids? Then your mom and I can travel the world and leave the business to you and the OG twins.”
“When you say you want to travel the world, I assume you don’t include Australia, land of the kangaroos, right?”
“Asshole,” he mutters, sounding enraged, but I know he wants to smile. His thick, dark beard hides the corners of his mouth pretty well, but I’m not fooled.
Outside our office, afternoon takes hold and the temperature drops. My father and I stand near the doorway, our arms crossed, frowns on our bearded faces.
“When is the RUB arriving?” I ask in the too-quiet office with the only noise coming from the obscenely loud wall clock my sister bought to annoy Mom.
Dad flashes a frown at me. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Rich upscale biker,” I explain, describing our incoming guest—Reapers Motorcycle Club president, Cooper Johansson.
“I’m not a fan of today’s youth and their stupid fucking babble,” Dad grumbles, but he’s just talking shit because his back hurts after acting like a horse all weekend with four of his grandkids.
“I can pick you up some Bengay on the way home if you want,” I offer, fighting a grin.
“One day, you’ll know how I feel. Your son will mock your age, and you’ll want to knock him on his ass, but you won’t. You’ll just say what I’m saying now, so he’ll know how much self-control you have.”
“I’m proud of you, Dad.”
“I know you fucking are, Son.”
We share a smile until the sound of roaring Harleys approach our office. Neither of us moves from our spot at the office doorway. Dad taught me long ago to make people enter your space. Also, force them to follow your lead, never bow, don’t give in first, but always be willing to throw the first punch.
Two Harleys pull into the parking lot outside our standalone office. One of them is clearly Johansson. The head honcho from Ken-Marry-Your-Cousin-Tucky has a long semi-friendly relationship with my father.
The smaller figure remains hidden behind Johansson, and I think the other Harley sports pink camo. I ought to be surprised he didn’t bring more muscle as a show of force. No doubt Johansson figured my father wouldn’t be impressed.
Standing with his back to us, the blond middle-aged biker talks to the smaller biker. I’m admittedly curious about his partner in crime. Did he bring the wife or maybe one of his cute daughters I’ve heard about?
Cooper finally turns toward the building, revealing a brunette beauty too young to be Missus Johansson. She slaps a red cap over her obscenely thick hair complete with a small braid hanging from the left side. The Johansson diva isn’t fooling anyone with her ripped blue jeans, Ramones T-shirt, and red flannel top. The diva is hotter than the fucking sun, immediately warming up an otherwise frigid day.