“I know.”

“And yet, you still continue to do it,” Bear said. “You think this doesn’t break my heart? My little girl is out there in the arms of a monster. We know what Reaper’s like and he’s been wanting to make you pay for a long time. Robin was your one weakness. You never should’ve let him see how much she means to you.”

“Do you really think I planned this? That I wanted anyone to know how I felt about Robin? I thought I hid it well. Do you think this is easy for me? She was eighteen. After everything that happened, she should hate my guts, not want me. This was all new to me too,” he said. “I didn’t expect to want her, Bear. I’m not the kind of man to feature in young women’s fantasies.”

“I know. Robin’s special. You’ve got to face the fact, though. She’s gone and she’s not coming back,” Bear said. “You’ve got to stop looking.”

“No.” He would never give up. She wasn’t dead. He knew deep in his heart, she was still very much alive.

“Come on, Preach. Look at us. We’re a mess. We can’t keep doing this to ourselves. I see the way you fill with hope. You are constantly going further away. You can’t keep doing this. The club needs us here. We have to stay here. You don’t think this makes us look weak, chasing after ghost stories of a girl we used to know? Robin, if she’s still alive, would be twenty by now. She wouldn’t want you to give everything up for her. She knows the club is important.”

Preacher stared into his whiskey.

Bear had been wanting to give up over six months ago. They’d gotten a hit through Dog’s crew about a sighting of Robin. When he went there, it had been a dead end, a dead motel.

People just wanted money, and well, Preacher was throwing it at people in the hope of finding out the truth. He was being foolish, he knew this. Over the last two years, he’d made plenty of mistakes, but getting Robin back wasn’t a mistake. She didn’t deserve whatever Reaper was putting her through. He couldn’t even bring himself to think or to guess what it was. That man would hurt her just for the fun of it.

A knock at the door pulled his attention away from the dark amber liquid. The only time he didn’t feel any pain was at the bottom of a bottle. He liked to be completely numb, to forget about his troubles and only focus on his burning need to have Robin, not that it really worked. There were times he’d dream about her and imagine her in his arms, where he could hold her, make love to her, even fuck her.

He was a forty-seven-year-old man and he was having wet fucking dreams about a woman who’d been taken from his life two years ago. A woman he loved more than anything else in the world but would never get the chance to tell her.

“Any news?” Bishop asked.

Preacher snorted.

“Dead end,” Bear said.

“Another one?”

“Yes. Another dead end. No sign of Robin or Reaper. When I get my hands on him, I’m going to destroy him and it’s not going to be pretty.”

“First, you’ve got to get your hands on him.” Bishop stepped into the room, taking a glass and holding it toward Bear for him to fill. After Robin was taken, Bishop moved out of his home, and he was really fucking pleased to see the back of him.

Bishop had been broken and bleeding, but Preacher still felt his son was responsible for Reaper taking her. Even as he thought it, he was struck by a little guilt for even thinking the worst when it came to his son, but he couldn’t help it. Bishop should have done more to keep her safe.

If Bishop hadn’t seen them kissing, would he have tried even harder to save her? Preacher would never know the answer, but he didn’t know what to think of his son right now. Bishop had only come on a couple of their trips to find her. Considering he claimed to love her, Preacher doubted his son’s true integrity. Staring at him now, there was nothing there. No fear, no sadness, nothing. It was like they were talking about the weather. Robin had been Bishop’s friend since they were fucking born, and yet, nothing.

“Oh, I will,” Preacher said. Getting his hands on Reaper was exactly what he was going to do, no matter how long it took.

“So you’re not going to give up?” Bear asked.

“Give up?” Bishop looked between the two of them.

“Bear believes she’s dead and it’s not worth me constantly going out of my way to find her.”

“Come on, Preacher, we would have found her by now,” Bear said. “When are you going to realize the truth? She’s gone. I’m a realist here. Even as it hurts me to say it.”

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