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Ink Me: A Short Story (Queen of Hearts Ink Book 4) by M.K. Moore (1)

Chapter One

Miles

Monday, September 10th, 2001

It took one phone call to change my life and scare the shit out of me. I was a twenty-three-year-old kid and I thought I had the world by the balls. I was pre-med, and things were going very well for me. My fraternity decided to have its annual Back to School party for the beginning of the new semester.

It was some time into the party that I began to get annoyed because my cell phone kept ringing. The screen showed it was from an unrecognized number, but the first three numbers where the same area code as my home town of Bleak, Minnesota. After the fifth call, which was back to back, I decided to step outside and answer it. To this day I will never forget the details of the phone conversation for as long as I live.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Is this Miles Heart?” The question was being asked from a strange male voice on the opposite end.

“Speaking?” I reply with confusion, because I still do not recognize the voice.

“My name is Chief Gandy and I am with the Bleak Police Department. I am sorry I need to do this over the phone, but there has been an incident and I have two unaccompanied minors I need to know what to do with. Social Services has been called, but they cannot get here until morning and I need to know what to do with them tonight.” The Chief says. His voice sounds tired with a slight crackling of pain in it. When I look at my watch, I see it is already after five in the morning.

“Excuse me? What kind of incident? And why has Social services been called?”  The fact that he said incident and not accident is starting to make me panic.

“You are going to need to come home, son. We need someone of age to identify the bodies.” He states.

“Bodies? Are you saying both of my parents are gone?” I ask.

“We should really discuss this more face to face, Miles.”

“Are my brothers and sister okay?”

“They are fine, but understandably shaken up. I just have Chip and Kitty. I am not sure where Dexter is right now.”

“Baseball camp in Wisconsin. I can and will be there in a few hours.”  I say and hang up.

Even though it was the first party of the school year, I did less drinking and more talking to those who attended.  Thankfully, I had not had anything to drink in a few hours. I left everything behind and called a cab to the airport.

During the plane ride home, it seemed my mind was racing faster than the damn plane. I kept thinking about what could have happened to my parents and I was concerned about my siblings.

Dexter is thirteen and prone to anger outbursts, but he is at baseball camp. He called me on Saturday to say he had three home runs in the practice game they had versus another camp.  Kitty is six. Chip is a baby.

I pulled into the sheriff's station four hours later and took a deep breath, before I could even try to get my body out of the vehicle. I realized then and there that my life would never be the same. Getting out of the car and walking in seemed to weigh me down. But, one look at my little sister with tears streaming down her face.

She was trying to eat a bowl cereal, which means she had to be starving because she hated milk. In her opposite arm, she is holding a sleeping Chip, which broke my heart and strengthened it all at once. I took Chip from Kitty and kneeled to pull her into a hug. I promised her as soon as we were out of here, we would get McDonald’s on the way to pick Dex up from camp.

The second hardest thing I did that evening was to identify their bodies. In speaking with the medical examiner, I learned my mother was pregnant again. It was more than likely she didn't know. I kept the information from my siblings because it wouldn't do any good to bring it up.

The best the cops could figure out at the time is my dad killed my mom and then himself. They were having trouble with why he would do something like that, but I knew.

The front my parents put on for the world was not how it was at home. They did love each other and provided for us. It was because they loved each other too much and they were too dependent on each other. I vowed I would never let that happen to me. The jealousy my dad always had about my mom was what she loved most about him. He let it eat him though. What the fuck was my dad thinking? I'll never understand the way he chose to end it.

We went through social services in a day. They asked if I wanted to raise my siblings and I said of course I do. We were not going to be separated. There is the money our parents left us, divided equally with me in charge until the others are of age. Unfortunately, September 11th happened the very next day and we were forgotten about.

Four days after my parent’s funeral, I walked into Blessed tattoos in Bleak and got my first tattoo in memory of my parents. It is a solid oak tree with branches that has their names on one of them. By the time I left, I had an apprenticing job. Mack is a good man. He taught me everything I know, and I will be forever grateful. He gave me the opportunity to work around the kids and earn my hours required to be licensed in Minnesota. When he retired, I opened Queen of Hearts Ink and never looked back.

I took a little out of our joint money for the household expenses and invested it four ways. We made a lot of money that I deposited into each of our individual trusts quarterly. My siblings never have to worry about a thing, but I continued to raise them the way our parents did. Down to earth.

The one thing I did splurged on for all of us, and out of my share was a couple of giant TVs and gaming systems as the years went on.  Just because you have money, doesn’t mean you should waste it. There were several problems with the house thru the years, but I never sold it. My brothers and sister would always have a place to call home.

◆◆◆

 

Fast forward eighteen years, and everyone is grown. Kitty is a fantastic tattoo artist, even though she seems lonely.  Dex is hollow. I know something happened to him in New York last year, but he hasn’t said anything about it. And Chip. Well he’s alive, but with so much pent up inside of him that I don’t know how he will ever overcome it. I hope he finds an outlet to relieve some of his anger, and soon. 

Then there is me. I have always thought the crazy jealous nature of my father was hereditary. Because of that reason I have steered clear of women since that night. I have focused all my energy on the kids and then the job. Now that they are all grown, I am feeling lost.

As I was doing a tattoo for women, who was getting her husband’s name inked on her body, the woman with her caught my eye. She introduces herself as Jacquie Sherwood and in that moment, I knew I had to get to know her. That has never happened to me before.

She’s wearing cutoff shorts, a tank top and looking so damn beautiful, while causing an instant hardon. When I found out later that she is Kennedy’s mother, it floored me. She doesn’t look much older than Kennedy.

I hated that Dex was able to see her looking like that, not to mention the other men out in the world. I have never felt this way before. To be fucking honest, I don’t like it and I do not like what it could mean. She left that day but came back for herself the very next one. I gave her a job as my assistant at a tattooing convention I was going to in Denver.

I stepped up and did my duty. It has been an honor raising my siblings, but I’ve gone seventeen years without a woman. Suddenly, all I can think about is sliding inside her and breeding her. I know that thought has never crossed my mind before. My hand has gotten more of workout than I care to admit thinking about her smooth, pale skin. Her brown hair grazing my chest.

Fuck.

It should be easy to keep it professional.

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