Home > Scorch (Men of Inked : Heatwave #10)

Scorch (Men of Inked : Heatwave #10)
Author: Chelle Bliss

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

IAN

 

 

Karma.

It’s something I’ve never believed in until now.

My past was awful…filled with horrible words and even harsher punishment at the hands of my father.

But I wasn’t the only one to suffer. Each of my brothers had the same experience, all of us getting our turn being in my father’s cross hairs.

For some people who’ve experienced repetitive trauma at the hands of someone who’s supposed to love them, there comes a point when they eventually fight back.

We hit that day, the breaking point, years ago. Instead of gaining freedom from our abuser, we were imprisoned in another way.

The corrupt criminal justice system in our small town did nothing for years, turning a blind eye to our situation, and once my father was gone, they still showed no mercy.

My brother Nevin took the heat after confessing to causing the death of my father, explaining how it was self-defense. Not just in defense of himself, but the defense of all of us…the Walsh boys.

But no one believed us.

We had been spoken about in whispers since the day we were born. Many in town knew all too well what kind of person my father was, and they did nothing to stop him or rescue us from his clutches.

When Nevin was arrested and eventually put on trial, the whispers morphed into something different. They no longer talked behind our backs, but instead, they made sure we knew how much they disliked “our kind” and how we must’ve been the children of the devil to do such a horrible thing to our father.

None of us thought Nevin would go to prison. Isn’t the system supposed to protect the most vulnerable and the abused? That’s what I thought until I saw how the court system really worked.

After he was found guilty, even as a minor, he was given more than a few years of prison time. Not juvie. Not probation. Nevin would go to the place where real criminals lived.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about the hell he must live. It has to be a constant battle to survive, especially at only seventeen and surrounded by full-grown men.

Over the years, he’s pulled back, isolating himself from my brothers and me. He stopped calling two years ago. Stopped writing before that. He’s refused every visit we’ve tried to make, saying he wasn’t feeling well and to get rid of us.

He shut us out completely.

I haven’t laid eyes on him since the day I told him my cancer was in remission. I saw tears in his eyes when he heard the news. His shoulders relaxed, and his entire being seemed to shift when he realized I’d survive.

“Ian,” Thomas, my friend Luna’s uncle, calls to me, pulling me out of my thoughts. “You ready?”

I nod, running my hands up and down my legs before climbing to my feet. “Thanks for seeing me,” I tell him as I walk in his direction with a hand extended.

“I’m always happy to help my family.”

The words strike me. I’m not his family. My brother Dylan is by marriage, but not me—at least not technically. But that’s how the Gallos are. They’re kind people, willing to make their circle bigger, especially for those who have no one to call their kin.

He shakes my hand firmly as he places his palm on my opposite shoulder. “Angel, hold all my calls and ask James to come into my office too.”

“Sure thing, love,” Angel, his wife, says. Although she’s older, she’s still one hell of a stunner. The red hair frames her pale skin perfectly, and every feature on her face is beautiful.

Thomas steps back, releasing his grip on my hand and shoulder. “Now, what can we do to help you today?”

I take a deep breath, knowing what I have to do, and there’s no better time than now. I should’ve done it years ago, but I made a promise I couldn’t break.

But today, I’m finally ready to do what needs to be done to set things straight.

Confess.

 

 

1

 

 

NEVIN

 

 

I blink, confused. “How?”

“How what?” my brother Dylan replies.

“How the hell am I out here?” I lift my hands, motioning toward the bright blue sky. “I had time left.”

Dylan kicks at the cinders in the prison parking lot, sending them scattering in every direction. “Ian,” he breathes.

“What did he do?” I ask as my stomach turns, threatening to spill the contents of my last shitty meal.

I hadn’t spoken to a member of my family since I’d found out Ian’s cancer had gone into remission. I needed to separate myself from them, leaving behind all the reminders of the freedom and happiness I no longer had.

Ian has struggled with his health for years. I knew he’d never make it on the inside of a prison, and once he went in, the only way he’d get out would be in a body bag. It was why I didn’t argue when the cops pinned my dad’s death on me. The less they looked, the better chance my brother would have to get treatment and survive.

Dylan tips his face upward, his eyes barely meeting mine. “He confessed.”

“What the fuck?” I whisper. “Why? I barely had any time left.”

“He did what he thought was right.”

“That’s bullshit.”

“It is what it is.”

“It’s fucking stupid. What the hell is a month after ten years?”

“He didn’t want you to deal with parole, and he wanted your name cleared.”

“Fucker,” I mutter, trying to control my anger because now my life is fucked, and so is his. “And they just took him at his word?”

Dylan shakes his head. “He brought them the bat that had Dad’s blood and Ian’s fingerprints on it. He gave them the evidence they never bothered to look for before your trial.”

“I want to see him. I didn’t do this much time for him to grow a conscience and make a dumbass decision that’ll ruin his life.”

Dylan grimaces. “You can’t.”

I stalk toward him, wishing I could punch him square in the face, but I need answers more than revenge. “What do you mean, I can’t?

“Why didn’t you tell me or anyone?” he asks.

“Tell you what?” I lift my chin, hating my brother more than I have in years. “That I didn’t kill our old man?”

“Yeah, man.”

“Would it have mattered? What was I supposed to do, let Ian go to jail for protecting the rest of us, where he’d probably die? There was no other decision to be made, Dylan. The only shot Ian had at getting better was to stay out of prison and for me to go in.”

“Maybe things would’ve been different if it had been Ian on trial and not you.”

“The justice system is the furthest thing from fair. Shit would’ve happened the same way with Ian sitting in my seat, except he would’ve withered away to nothing and died alone. He would’ve been prey to all the sleazeballs behind bars. I couldn’t let it happen. Maybe you should’ve stuck around and helped protect us from the asshole. Maybe I wouldn’t have spent ten years in prison, and Ian wouldn’t have had to end his life.”

“I couldn’t stay. It fucked me up,” he admits.

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