T-Bone - L. Wilder Page 0,2

to be here for him, but parties really aren’t my thing.”

“Oh, really? Why’s that?”

Alyssa took a long drink of her beer before answering, “I just have my reasons.”

“Maybe you can share those reasons with me someday.”

“Maybe.” A slight smile slowly crept over her face as she looked at me for a moment, then quickly glanced over her shoulder at a couple of the brothers playing pool. “You been a member for long?”

“Yeah, you could say that.”

The tiny freckles across her nose crinkled as she studied her brother. After several moments, she turned her attention back to me. “You like it here?”

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t,” I said, then continued. “Becoming a brother was the best decision I ever made, and if I had to guess, I’d bet your brother would say the same.”

“I think you’re right. I can’t remember the last time I’d seen him look so happy.”

“He’s found his place. Not many out there can say that.” Alyssa’s dark eyes met mine when I asked, “What about you?”

“I’m working on it.” She gave me a small shrug. “I’m actually moving here in a couple of weeks.”

“Here ... as in Memphis?”

“Yeah. I applied for a culinary internship at Chez Philippe at the Peabody. I never dreamed that they’d actually consider taking me on, but I was accepted into their program.”

“Culinary? You a chef or something?”

“I’m aspiring to be—someday anyway.” I could hear the hope in her voice as she added, “If this internship goes well, they might offer me a permanent position.”

“That’s awesome. I’m sure you’ll do great.”

“I hope so. I’ve dreamed of being a chef since I was a little kid.” Her face lit up as she went on, “Growing up, I was always making up all these wild concoctions for Mom and Clay to try.”

“That must have been awesome. I’m sure they loved seeing what you’d come up with.”

“I don’t know about that. Some of them were pretty awful, but others weren’t so bad.”

“Maybe once you’re here and settled, you could let me try out one of your concoctions. I could be your test critic for new recipes or something.”

“I’d like that.” She let out a heavy sigh. “I’ve just got to get moved first. I’m supposed to start working in two weeks, and I haven’t even found a place yet.”

“What kind of place are you looking for?”

“I’m not really picky.” She shrugged. “Maybe an apartment or a small house that’s in a safe neighborhood.”

“I might be able to help you out with that.”


“Yeah. I’ll make a few calls and see what I can come up with.”

“That would be incredible. Thank you so much.”

“No problem.”

We continued on with our small talk, and I was surprised that Alyssa was so easy to get along with. It felt like we were old friends, sharing stories about this and that, and I genuinely enjoyed getting to know her better. That was the very reason why I suggested that we go outside and continue our conversation without having to shout over the loud music. When she agreed, I grabbed us another round of drinks, and then she followed me out to one of the picnic tables next to the bonfire.

We’d been talking for a while when a smile crossed Alyssa’s face. “So, tell me, what’s your story, T-Bone?”

“My story?” I scoffed. “I don’t know. Not much to say … Besides, I doubt you’d be interested.”

“I’m sure there’s plenty.” When Alyssa smiled, it got me right in the gut. Her full pink lips curled into a bashful smile as she looked me right in the eye. “Anyway, I wouldn’t have asked if I wasn’t interested in hearing it.”

“In hopes of keeping you from dozing off, I’ll give ya the basics.” I took a drink of my beer as I settled into my seat. “I was raised in Washington with my folks and younger brother. Pretty simple life growing up, but it was a good one. Had two parents who did what they could to give my brother and me a roof over our heads and food on the table. When I turned eighteen, I ventured out to make a life of my own, and that’s when I met Saul and some of the other brothers of Satan’s Fury.”

I went on to explain how I ended up prospecting for the Washington chapter only to end up coming to Memphis with Gus to set up the club here. I didn’t go into any great detail. Just gave her enough to understand that a