Broken Wings (Broken Chains MC #3) - E.M. Lindsey
Kicks understood the concept of peace, but he hadn’t experienced it in so damn long, he wasn’t sure he remembered what it felt like anymore. His dreams had been plagued with adrenaline spikes—sending him bolting awake with his heart in his throat and his stomach heaving—for longer than he wanted to even think about.
Being with the Chains took some of the edge off it, of course. It gave him a purpose and a reason to keep going forward. It gave him an outlet for the pressure building inside him that convinced him one day, he would lose it. Entirely.
But he was damn well aware there was no cure. He would never be able to outrun his nightmares.
Kicks had grown up a military brat, nomadic for short bursts, then stuck in a strange town with a bunch of strange people he pretended to be friends with. He started different schools and rode bikes with kids who lived down the street and never told them that at any given moment, they’d be throwing their shit into a moving truck and heading to some new base. And he never did look back.
It was easier that way, especially when his dad was deployed. Those long stretches made him more antsy and a little meaner, while it made his brother more reckless and willing to do anything to keep their mom’s attention. He hated it. He hated the way he would wake up in the middle of the night and find his mom sitting in the living room with all the lights off, staring into space. He hated that she jumped every time the phone rang. He hated that his brother was such an asshole and never let her just breathe whenever months passed, and they didn’t hear from their dad.
He was smart enough to learn from an early age that it was the reason he never felt settled—why he put up with his brother’s bad temper and his mom’s apathy. It was why, when his dad finally came home for good, taking an office job in DC, Kicks just sort of accepted that the vicious man who replaced the one with laughter in his eyes was going to be his new normal.
The only thing steady in his life was that broken little family, and he would do anything in his power to keep them together.
And they weren’t bad people. At least, they never meant to be bad people. But it was hard to feel like they were good people when they spent hours screaming at each other. When Kicks smelled whiskey on his dad’s breath. When his brother dropped out of school and no one cared.
His dad was a lifer, he knew that much. He’d heard it on the lips of his parents and their friends. It was usually accompanied by laughter and a lot of room temperature beer and surreptitious looks his way because he was the only one of the two kids with any potential.
“You’re gonna be just like your old man, aren’t you?” someone had asked him once. He didn’t remember the guy’s name. He was some big-shouldered white dude with a shaved head and a smile that looked plastic.
“Emilio thinks he’s gonna be a scientist,” his dad joked—because it was something he’d talked about once when he’d won second place in the state for the science fair. And he’d been proud until his dad had spent the next six months subtly digging at him for being a ‘fuckin’ nerd’.
He joined the baseball team his sophomore year just to shut him up, and his dad let up a little bit, but it didn’t go anywhere. Three weeks before the championship, his dad got transferred to California, and Emilio had long-since stopped feeling anything when he watched the town fade behind them.
Still, that life was the last thing in the world he wanted. While his friends dreamed of making it big in Hollywood or becoming some asshole professional athlete—or hell, even ones that wanted to join NASA and work on the space station—Kicks dreamed of a house. Of owning a home with a little fence and maybe a dog. He dreamed of a life where he wasn’t living out of half-unpacked boxes and making sure all his clothes fit into two duffle bags. His idea of paradise was a little patch of land on the edge of a small town where everyone knew everyone, and people smiled when he walked by.
Not that he ever told anyone that, and of course, he never really