I own nothing you recognize. All original characters and storylines are my own.
This story is dedicated to Verda Napoli who caused the Opie bug to bite my muse and has offered support and criticism when I needed it. I only hope that I did Opie justice to her discerning eyes.
I sat in the darkest most secluded corner of the clubhouse. I had managed to escape the house without Mom being any the wiser. Soon enough the party would start and I'd be part of it. I had grabbed a coke from the unattended bar before I sat down, being sure to remain hidden. I was fifteen years old, a damn woman, but I was still banned from the after church parties. Apparently some "unsavory" activity went on and I wasn't supposed to be a part of it. Well tonight I was going to see for myself what all the fuss was about.
"What are you doing here kiddo?" I looked up to see Luann sitting in the chair that I had dragged near me to look less out of place.
"Ummm, Dad said it was ok. Said I was old enough to see for myself what went on." She gave me a look that clearly said she wasn't buying it.
"Uh huh. Listen I'll sit with you until Church is done, let Clay know you were helping me with something then he'll probably send your ass home. You came by cab didn't you? I doubt your ten speed's out there." Dammit, Luann could predict my movements about as well as Mom could.
"Please let me stay Luann. It can't be as bad as Dad said." I begged and pleaded but she simply shook her head.
"If it were up to me I'd have you by my side all night, gently introduce you to things but that ain't gonna happen Doll. Clay said he doesn't want you here so you aren't gonna be here, no other way around it." She gave me a sympathetic look and I nodded, Dad was President and his word was law.
"Fine, but can you tell me what goes on that's so bad. I know they hook up with the croweaters, I know they do every kind of drug imaginable and get drunk. They go to the ring and beat the shit out of each other. Why can't I be here?" She tilted her head and gave me an appraising look then she smiled.
"Lots of out of town brothers doll. You're young and cute and innocent, who's to say one won't have clouded judgment and slip you something, then your Dad would have to kill them and it would be a Club wide incident. Better to have you home and safe until you're old enough and mature enough to navigate your way around here." I looked at Luann with a new layer of respect. She gave it to me straight, no bullshit. I surprised her with a hug which she returned enthusiastically. I knew I had my Mom's love and that she was proud of me but Luann gave me something I couldn't get from Mom much…undivided attention and lots of affection.
"Ok, I'll stay here and be good." The doors to the Chapel opened and the guys started filing out. I stayed seated proudly with Luann when Otto came out and walked up to us. He gave his wife a kiss on the cheek and looked at me with a stern look.
"You shouldn't be here Tiny." He said as Luann got up and melded to his side while I put my head down.
"I know sir." I was always the epitome of the respectful, polite child when I was around Otto. He was Club enforcer and any disrespect, even perceived, could mean harsh consequences.
"She was helping you with something and you lost track of time. That the excuse you're gonna use with Clay?" I looked up at him in shock to see that he was giving Luann an indulgent look. She could get away with things no one else could because she was his Lu, the only person he truly loved in the world. Hell, she was his world. Someday I wanted to be loved like that.
"She was curious; I laid down the law though. Right Sweetness?" She asked using one of her favorite terms of endearment with me.
"Yes Lu." I was respectful but if I called her "Ma'am" she would have given me an earful but Otto nodded.
"Good, we don't want Tiny doing anything she'd regret later." He gave me a smile. He was a gruff man with a hell of a temper but his Lu loved me and that meant that he gave me his version of affection. "Clay, we've got a stowaway!"
He shouted it to my Dad who looked puzzled, then angry when he sauntered over. He gave me a look then let out an exasperated sigh.
"Milla, what the fuck are you doing here?" He'd come to terms with the fact that I'd be as challenging as Mom years ago so me being here wasn't exactly a surprise to him.
"I wanted to see what was so bad about the parties. Don't worry, Lu explained why I shouldn't be here. Think I can get a ride home?" I asked him and he gave me a smile and nodded to Luann. He was always extra proud when I committed a new club law or rule to memory.
"Opie, get your ass over here!" Dad shouted and Ope came bounding over. He was tall and built powerfully enough that even some of the patched in members gave a second thought to teasing him. When he saw me he gave me a brotherly smile that was almost immediately replaced by a look of concern but he turned his attention to Dad quickly.
"Get her home Prospect." With the command Opie nodded and gave me a look that clearly said "get up" so I did. Lu separated from Otto just long enough to give me a hug and a kiss.
"If you're not grounded we're going shopping tomorrow Doll." I nodded and looked at Dad. He simply shrugged but gave me a stern look and I got my answer. I wasn't grounded but I'd be getting a talk.
"Ok, I love you Lu." I kissed her cheek and she smiled. Otto leaned down and I kissed his cheek too before I moved to Dad. He rolled his eyes and enveloped me in a bear hug. He knew how to make me feel bad about going against a direct order and that was to show me affection. Once the goodbyes were concluded I walked with Ope to his bike and he handed me his helmet making sure I had it on correctly before he nodded to me to get on. I climbed on the back and held tight as we pulled out. Rather than going home he took a detour and we found our way to the foothills.
"Where are we going Ope!" I yelled above the wind.
"You'll see!" He shouted back and I continued to hold as we climbed the roads and eventually made our way to a small outcropping hidden by trees. Once we were there. He stopped his bike and had me get off then he walked it behind some shrubs to keep it hidden from any cops and prevent any damage to it. "Come on."
He led me through a row of trees, thick with underbrush and I smiled when I realized that this was his and Jax's "Spot". Donna had let information about it slip the last time she hung out with me. In reality Mom and Dad paid her to spend time with me so I wouldn't sneak out and head to the Clubhouse or The Ranch. I almost rolled my eyes, it wasn't like I was going over to Lee's to get laid, the boy didn't want anything I had to offer. He was in love with Jax though and that did cause a few problems. I followed him to a stone table with benches that was positioned in the middle of the outcrop. He sat down and waved me over. I joined him and we sat quietly for a few minutes before he pulled a joint from his pocket and lit up. I watched wide eyed as he took a deep pull of it then handed it to me. My eyes widened further and I stared at him in shock.
"Are you offering me pot?" He chuckled and continued to offer.
"Go on, you wanted to be an adult tonight so here's your chance." I took the joint and experimentally breathed in. My lungs burnt and my throat felt scratchy and I started coughing. Ope laughed and took it from me. "Don't waste it. Watch me then do what I do."
He breathed in until the cherry glowed bright then held the breath for a few seconds before he blew the smoke out of his mouth. He handed it to me again and I breathed it in, this time more used to the smoke going into my lungs, I held it in until I couldn't anymore then breathed out and handed it back.
"Congratulations, you just took your first real hit." He smiled and I smiled back. One rite of passage down about a dozen more to go.
"Thanks Ope." He nodded and finished off the joint before he took another out of his pocket. "You know Dad's going to kill you for getting me high."
"What he doesn't know won't hurt him." He passed it back to me and I grinned. It was times like this that reminded just how good of an older brother Opie was, so much better than Jax at times.
Mom tipped the bottle of champagne and poured a small bit into my glass. We were sitting at one of the front tables in the tent, close enough to show our importance but far enough away to keep the Lerners at ease. I tried to keep my face a blank mask but I was hurt. Sitting at the head table there was Opie and Donna happy and in love, sitting with them were Jax, Koz, and Bobby and for Donna's half of the wedding party there was her sister Marie and two cousins that I didn't even know existed until a few months ago. I should have been up there, Donna was my best friend. Unfortunately, the Lerners didn't want the party to be too "dominated" by the extended family that was the Sons. Donna didn't want any more discord with her family so, being the good friend that I was, I stepped down. It still hurt like a bitch though.
"Drink up baby, you deserve a little treat." I took the champagne and sipped, found that I liked the taste, then downed it. I looked at Mom and noticed that she looked amused rather than her usual look of disapproval. She tipped the bottle to my glass again. "Go easy on this; you're not getting any more."
I nodded and sipped at my drink, still enjoying the taste of it. I watched as the waiters Donna's parents had hired went bustling around delivering appetizers to the tables, one good thing about this wedding was definitely the food. The Lerner's certainly knew their caterer's. I popped a mini quiche in my mouth and squared my shoulders. I may have been hurt and a little angry having to stay on the sidelines but I wasn't going to make this about me. Today was Opie and Donna's day and I was going to do everything in my power to make it a special one.
"Hey kid." I looked up and grinned at Ope. He looked good in his cut with a dress shirt underneath and his longish hair brushed back from his face. The short trimmed "beginner's beard" that graced his face made him look so handsome and proved what Piney had been saying all along that Ope was a "beard man". I stood up and accepted a hug before Ope set me down again and sat with me. Mom and Dad had vacated as soon as was polite so now I was hitching a ride with Koz since I didn't want to miss this.
"Hey yourself. How does it feel to be an old, married man?" I asked and Opie got that smile on his face that he always did when talking about Donna, it was the face of a man in love.
"It feels good. You shoulda been up there with us." He said by way of apology and I shook my head.
"No, here's perfect. I get to watch everything and keep things under control, though I will say that Tig seemed to be on his best behavior." This earned me a chuckle.
"I'm glad you're here. I know you didn't say anything to Donna but we both know you wanted to stand with us and I wish you could have. Donna just loves her family and they were, insistent." I smiled wider and patted his big hand.
"Like I said I get to watch everything from here." He nodded, understanding that that part of the conversation was over. I wasn't mad and he'd said his piece, we were good.
"How long are you sticking around? I noticed Clay and Gemma took off." He asked and I shrugged.
"For a while. It looks like Koz found some entertainment." I pointed to Koz who was trying to see just how invested Marie was in keeping her dress on. From the looks of things, not very.
"Dammit, I said she was off limits at least until after the folks left. I'll be back kid." I nodded and enjoyed the show as Opie went over and talked to Koz. Marie pouted but eventually conceded. She didn't want to get on her parents' bad side. While everyone was watching the show I found a half empty bottle of champagne on another table and quickly grabbed it. I had almost polished it off and was starting to feel the effects when Ope wandered back.
"How much did you have?" He asked as he resumed his seat and I moved my fingers about four inches apart and he shook his head with a smile. "I think you're done. I'll get Koz to take you home."
He made a move to get up and I tugged him down by the sleeve of his dress shirt. He sat, sensing that I needed to tell him something.
"Opie, I love you. Love you like a brother, hell sometimes more than my actual brother. I want you to know that no matter what happens I support you. If anything happens you can count on me to have Donna's back and yours." He smiled before he leaned over to give me a hug and a brotherly kiss to the top of the head.
"Same goes for me kiddo. I'll always have your back." I grinned and he squeezed tighter before he let go. I was starting to feel the effects of the alcohol and by the time Koz got there I wasn't exactly steady on my feet. With Ope's help I was secured on Koz's bike and with a final kiss to the forehead was sent on my way. I didn't know how much I'd remember in the morning but I did know that I'd never forget just how much Ope meant to me.
I sat on the roof of the clubhouse, watching everything happening with a sick and twisted feeling in my gut. Tomorrow I'd be moving to Dunston for the school year, starting my first year at Ravencroft College a school that I, by right of birth, never should have gotten into but my grades, test scores and interview had made the impossible happen. Until now I was excited, I was going to have my generals finished by the end of the first semester and be able to add my minors by the end of the year. It was exciting, a chance at a new life but now I was terrified. I didn't want to leave my home, my family, the club… I just wanted to go home, unpack and stay here forever. I knew Mom wouldn't have a problem with that and Dad would be relieved but I couldn't do that. So I sat up here, scared and sick. I took a joint out of my pocket and sighed, I wouldn't be able to enjoy these for a while. As I lit up I heard some movement from the ladder and looked over in time to see Opie climbing over the edge. He raised his eyebrows at me and I handed him the joint. He took a quick hit then handed it back.
"I never would have given you that first one if I knew you would make it a habit." He said as he looked out over the lot with me.
"This is just my "one for the road" can't have weed on campus." He chuckled then took the joint back from me.
"Don't accept Pops' going away present then." I smiled of course Piney would give me contraband, he felt that all of Dad's rules regarding me were bunk and that I should be allowed to make my own mistakes.
"I don't know if I can do it Ope. Don't know if I can leave. A hundred miles is a long way." I took a large hit and he retrieved it from my fingers once the joint left my lips.
"Not so long. You can do this Mills, if you couldn't there's no way we'd let you go. You need to get away, need a chance to be more than a Club kid." I looked at him steadily.
"What if I'm not meant to be more?" I asked and he crushed the cherry on the joint between his fingers and put it in his pocket.
"You are and you need to get out of here. You'll be back but you need to see life outside of "the life". There are a lot of people counting on you to do something big, now's your chance." I smiled Ope was always the wise one, so strong in body and in mind.
"How am I gonna live without you and the rest of the guys?" I asked and Ope smiled.
"A hundred miles isn't that far to ride. Just call and I'll be there. Don't forget, I've got your back." He threw an arm around me and we stayed on the roof until the sunset and the party started. Dad didn't want me leaving without the proper send off. I climbed down the ladder after Opie and stopped him with a hug to his midsection.
I think I'm gonna miss him the most.
I smoothed out my sweatpants as I waited for the guard to let me into the visitor's room in Chino. I hadn't gotten up the courage to visit Ope yet but Donna needed me to take over her visit today. She had to work a double and since Mrs. Lerner had the kids for a couple of days this meant that I took over her other responsibilities. I would have rather been back at the clubhouse with Juice fooling around in the storage room, then again I would have rather been there than doing just about anything else in the world. The guard checked my ID, saw that I was on the list then he took me to the row of glass partitions. Apparently there was an altercation or something, no specifics were given, so I had to meet with him this way and I hated it. I hated everything about prisons and the fact that people I loved routinely found themselves in prison was a cross I'd constantly have to bear. I sat down and waited for Ope to be brought in. I sucked in a deep breath as I saw the haunted look in his eyes. I'd give anything to have the old Opie back.
"Hey Milla." He said quietly once he'd picked up the phone.
"Hey yourself. How are you?" Stupid ass question but my brain had frozen.
"Not horrible. How are Ellie and Kenny?" Good I could talk about my munchkins.
"Good, Ellie's doing great in school. Kenny's talking a mile a minute. He calls me Mia, can't quite get Milla yet. They're both doing so well Ope. I make sure that we go through the photo album together at least once a week so they know Daddy. Ellie has the picture of her baptism by the bed and we tell her about it all the time. Hearing about you riding your bike up the church steps because you were late always makes her laugh." This brought the ghost of a smile to his face.
"Where's Donna?" He must have been having a really off day. Usually he would talk a bit more but I wasn't going to push him.
"She had to work a double and Mrs. Lerner has the kids so I offered to go in her stead. Besides seeing you is far more important than tending bar." He looked in my eyes and I saw a little spark there.
"Jax says you like tending bar, especially with the Prospect." I blushed and this caused a real, full smile to blossom on his face.
"Oh, I didn't think anyone told you about him. Not important." He leaned forward and I had an urge to hide, he was always good at embarrassing me.
"I may be in here but I will find a way to get to him if he hurts you. I hear he's a nice kid but I've had your back for too long to put up with any shit." I smiled at his admission.
"He treats me like a queen; you don't have to worry about me. Besides Jax already has the punishments covered. Donna wanted me to let you know that she loves you. I had pictures of the kids but they confiscated them. Dad will have Rosen send you a letter." He nodded, willing to change the subject now that he knew I was protected.
"Give her the same message. Let the kids know I love them too. I hate the thought of them seeing me behind glass." He was adamant that the kids not visit so all I could do was nod.
"You can count on me Ope." He smiled and leaned back in his seat again.
"I know I can." We finished the hour talking about anything and everything regarding Donna and the house. He got all of his Club information from Jax and any other Son that visited so I was here to fill in the more domestic side of his life. When the hour was up I felt my heart break again. I missed seeing my Opie, hugging my Opie and seeing him like this was just another version of hell. Once the meeting was over I walked out of the Prison and into the sunlight, smiling when I saw Juice leaning against his bike. He didn't want me going alone and I was grateful. Once I got to his bike he pulled me close and gave me a tight hug. It wasn't one of Opie's bear hugs but for now it would do.
"How do I look?" I asked Juice as I walked out of the bathroom in tight jeans with strategic tears and a long off the shoulder t-shirt emblazoned with Led Zeppelin.
"Come to the bed and I'll show ya how you look." I grinned but changed my mind on the t-shirt and stripped it off. While I looked through my clothes for a suitable replacement I felt a rough, warm hand spread across my midsection and purred when lips found their way to my neck. He gently pulled me back toward the bed but I stopped him.
"No baby, I've gotta go and help set up." He groaned, we hadn't fucked in almost a week and we were both feeling it.
"I'll be quick baby." I smirked at the admission but kept my resolve.
"Chain a door for us at the party. I know the guest of honor won't be there very long so we'll have an excuse to sneak away." I turned in his arms and he moved his hands up to cup my breasts in those big calloused palms, running his thumbs over the soft cream colored lace. The look on his face somewhere between a grin and a grimace.
"How can I wait knowing you're wearing this frilly shit?" He leaned his face down and kissed each tit before he pushed them together and rubbed his face between them. "The panties match don't they?"
"Yes." I sighed starting to heat up from what he was doing but I needed to get there and soon. "Baby, you have full access to me when Ope and Donna leave. I mean it, anything you wanna do to me I'm game but I've gotta go."
He groaned and backed off but not before giving a final squeeze.
"Get dressed, I'll take you. Maybe I can get a handful or two on the ride there." I grinned and kissed him before I went to the closet and found one of my flowy "hippy shirts" as Dad was fond of calling them. I was more pleased with this selection since it looked more like a party shirt and less like an "after church party" thing. Once I put the finishing touches on my eye makeup I went downstairs and out the front to find Juice leaning against his bike.
"All ready." I gave him a smile and he groaned.
"Can't we just have a quicky in the laundry room? I'll have you there in plenty of time." His voice took on a pleading edge but I shook my head and wrapped my arms around his middle being sure to snuggle into his cut.
"Gotta go baby." He groaned but gave me a gentle kiss before we separated and he handed me my helmet. I put it on as he straddled the bike and got on holding him tightly as the bike roared to life and we made it to the clubhouse.
"You're twenty minutes late." Mom gave an exasperated huff and I had to roll my eyes. I was over two hours early and she knew it.
"That's why we have croweater's they pick up the slack." I gave Juice a kiss before I handed him my helmet and walked with Mom into the clubhouse. "Everything looks fine."
"We don't want it "fine" the man's spent five years inside we want him to feel like he's home." I nodded, almost cringing when I thought about the conversation I had with Donna. She had different ideas about what Opie's home was.
"What do you need me to do?" I asked and Mom gave me a smirk.
After that I was caught in a flurry of activity I helped the other old ladies get the spread set up, cleaned the tables, arrange the tables, decorate and finally check on the bar's stock. Once that was done I collapsed on the couch and almost jumped when I felt hands on my shoulders.
"Relax baby, it's just me." I almost purred as Juice's fingers worked their magic. He knew just where to touch and just how much pressure to use to make me putty in his hands and he was using it to his advantage. Just as I was contemplating leading him to the nearest dorm room the doors opened and I suddenly found myself with a lap full of munchkin.
"Whoa, Kenny, give me a sign before you jump." He smiled his crooked smile and hugged me before he jumped off my lap and gave Juice a hug.
"Hey little man, how's your Mom?" Juice knelt down and talked to Kenny face to face. He always made sure to ask Kenny about the "girls" or his house because he was the "man of the house". One more thing they were going to have to work out as a family once Opie was back.
"She's good; she went to pick up Dad. They should be here soon." I got up from the couch and ruffled his hair as I looked for Ellie. I found her standing with Luann in the corner, tears streaming down her little cherub face.
"What's wrong sweetheart?" I asked as I knelt down and used my thumbs to rub the tears from her cheeks.
"What if he doesn't like me? What if he doesn't love me or Kenny anymore?" She cried harder and Luann looked lost so I nodded to her and she moved away before I sat in the nearest chair and held Ellie on my lap. I ran my fingers through her ponytail and let her cry it out before I spoke to her softly.
"Babygirl, your Daddy loves you as much today as he did the first time he held you in his arms. I was there; I saw the way he looked at you. You were his little angel and no one was ever gonna hurt you. He gave Kenny the same kind of look. You two are his everything and are always going to be his everything. Things are going to change and you have to get to know each other but I can guarantee you that your Dad loves you and Kenny and likes you a heck of a lot too." She rested her head against my shoulder as she stopped crying.
"Can I stay with you and Uncle Juice tonight?" My heart broke for my babygirl; she was so scared of her Dad's reaction that she didn't want to go home.
"We're staying here at the clubhouse Elliedoll. You and Kenny can spend the night tomorrow, we'll bake cookies and you can do my hair while Juice and Kenny play Mario Kart and other guy stuff." She smiled then she gave me a dark look.
"I like Mario Kart." She huffed indignantly and I smiled.
"Then we'll all play baby." She smiled a small smile and wrapped her arms around my neck before she gave me a kiss on the cheek and went off in search of her grandpa. Piney always had little treats he wasn't supposed to give the kids but he always did.
"He's here!" Kip shouted to the room a few minutes later and we filed out, cheering and clapping as he climbed out of one side of the truck while Donna stayed seated in order to collect herself before she got out and plastered on a fake smile as Jax brought Opie his cut and he was surrounded by brothers. As soon as he could get away he grabbed Donna and her fake smile was replaced by a genuine one. Despite the shit she loved him. While she was plastered to his side Ellie came up to me and wrapped her little arms around my waist, not willing to let go while Kenny stood at my other side while Juice stood with us. Eventually Opie saw his kids and came up to us. He gave me a smile but knelt down to the kids' level.
"Hey guys, I missed you so much." He held out his arms and Kenny, being the free spirited, fearless kid he was, ran into his Dad's arms and clutched him for dear life. Ellie was scared so I gently moved her arms from around my waist and knelt down to be intermediary.
"Elliedoll, see your Dad has missed you a whole heck of a lot. He loves you." I said quietly and Ellie and I watched him for a few seconds. I felt tears in my eyes when I saw the beginning of tears in his. He wouldn't cry but he'd come close.
"Milla's right I love you guys so much." That was what Ellie needed to hear; she slowly approached him and hugged him with Kenny. That was it, I was bawling like a baby and Juice held me as we watched the family reunion.
While the four of them reacquainted themselves with each other the party started. Juice went to man a grill with Piney and Bobby while everyone else gave the family room. I was in charge of getting the meat ready so I went in the kitchen and removed the steak from the marinate and made sure plenty of kebobs were assembled. Once that was done I recruited some croweaters and we brought the meat out to the guys. I smiled as I saw Ope with Donna on one side and the kids in front talking to Dad. He was probably assuring them that now that Ope was out the club would have his back and help with anything he needed. The line of thought was confirmed when I saw a flinch in Donna's eyes.
"The grills ready?" I asked as I tore my eyes away and handed Juice a platter of meat. Ever since the guys had discovered he was a good cook and excellent grill master he was one of the official grill men at family functions.
"Yep, just got the coals to a nice slow burn. Gonna go talk to him?" Juice asked and I nodded.
"In a bit, he needs some time to collect himself." Juice nodded and leaned down for a kiss.
"I chained us a room, you better hope this party doesn't drag or I won't be responsible for my actions." I rolled my eyes and turned only to turn back at the sharp slap to my ass. "You know I can't leave that ass alone."
I laughed and looked over to see Opie looking at me. The haunted look that had been in his eye was still there but it was pushed back by joy. I smiled and walked over, looks like he collected himself. When I got close Donna and the kids moved to the side as Ope picked me up in one of his bear hugs and gave a little spin.
"I've missed you kid." He said as he set me down then took my face in his hands. "You look happy."
"I am and you will be too." He gave me a small smile before he gave me another bear hug. I really missed those.
"I'm gonna take the kids in the clubhouse and get them some snacks. You two catch up." I smiled at Donna and she nodded her head before she took the kids inside. Opie's eyes followed them, now that he had his family back he didn't want to lose them even for a second.
"How does it feel Ope?" I asked, every time a brother got out the answer was different. Koz was lonely when he got out, Dad was pissed off, Jax was frustrated and Tig was horny. Ope gave me a considering look and took a deep breath, letting it out before he answered.
"Alien, I know this is my home, that's my family, this is my life but it's like there's something in the way. Like I'm looking through a window." Leave it to Opie to say something so honest and profound. I walked up and threw my arms around his neck and he hugged me to him.
"You'll find your place again Ope and until you do I'll be here to keep Donna hinged and help in any way I can." I smiled and he gave me a sad smile back.
"Good, love you kiddo." He pulled me into another hug and I felt tears in my eyes.
"Love you too Bro."
"Winston Residence." I spoke distractedly as I folded Ellie's travel clothes that I was going to pack for her week at the Lerner's. I had just finished Kenny's bag and needed to work on this since the kids would be leaving in about an hour.
"Hey Mills." I dropped the shirt I was folding. I hadn't heard Ope's voice in over a month and it took everything in my power not to screech at him.
"Nice to know you check in on occasion." I said coldly, I couldn't seem to stop myself.
"I call every week; I know how the kids are." I wanted to smash the phone, his kids needed him, they didn't need to be moved from my house to Mary's to Donna's parents to the house with Neeta. Hell Piney watched them a lot lately and one day even Luann got talked into watching them. Yes I did the talking but that was beside the point.
"They need you, want to know when their Dad's coming home." There, tug at the heart strings. The man may have been a wreck but he had always had a big ole' heart.
"I don't know yet, I just wanted to check on them. Let them know their Dad loves them." I sighed; he really did love those kids but they never really got the chance to find firm footing as a family again and Donna's death had suddenly thrust him into a world even more alien than the one he entered when he walked out of Chino all those months ago.
"They're good, miss you though. They spent the last week with me and Juice, now they're going to Pat and Luke's. Then they'll be dividing their time between me and Mary. Kenny just lost a tooth and is really proud of it. Ellie knows all the words and every dance step in High School musical and her math teacher wants her to be part of a summer math program. I think it's a good idea but I need to know if you'd be ok with that. As her father and all." It took everything in my power not to be snarky. I knew he was doing what was best for him but this was frustrating.
"If you think it's a good idea, do it. I trust you to do what's best for Ellie. Can you get her into it without my signature?" He asked and I started folding clothes again.
"Yeah, I can sign her up. The teacher running it knows me and my relationship to Ellie, though Piney can sign if they're desperate." I answered and suddenly a thought came to me. "Do you wanna talk to the kids; they're across the street playing. I could go get them."
"No, that's ok. I'll call later and talk." My heart broke for him and all the anger and resentment I was feeling leaked out of me.
"Call on Tuesday. I'm taking the kids swimming. I can't go a whole week without seeing them." I wanted him to know that no matter what the kids would never, ever be a burden to me.
"Tuesday, let the kids know I love them and take care of yourself Mrs. Ortiz." I smiled; I wished he could have been to the wedding.
"Will do." He hung up and I sighed as I put the phone on the table and finished with Ellie's clothes. His kids needed him and I couldn't deny that a part of me would always need Opie too.
"What happened out there?" I asked Opie as we sat in my living room. The kids were outside with Lyla while we sat in the living room and waited for the pizza's to arrive. We were having a family night in an attempt to gain some normalcy. It had been a week since the guys were brought in and we needed a chance to regroup as a family again.
"Justice." He said and I nodded. Everyone knew about the "IRA hit" on Jimmy and the fact that Stahl was an "unfortunate victim". Well everyone that wasn't us. Especially those of us who heard that Stahl was shot in the back of the head while gripping the steering wheel.
"How do you feel?" I wasn't a patch, just an old lady so I wasn't privy to the details but Opie could talk to me about how he felt. No harm in that.
"It was right, but…I don't wanna talk about this." I nodded; someday he might tell me a bit about how he felt but now wasn't the time.
"Onto another subject, Lyla…why?" As much as I loved Lyla and liked how she had evened out Ope I still didn't feel right about the engagement. Donna was barely cold and they were getting married.
"I love her Milla and I need someone around who knows this life and can be a mother to my kids." He gave me a look that told me to tread lightly but I pressed on.
"Have you thought about the kids? Ellie thinks you want to forget Donna and are replacing her. To some extent you are though, aren't you?" It was hard to get out but I needed him to see things as they were and make sense of the things swirling around in my head.
"No one will ever replace Donna but Lyla…she keeps me sane, keeps me from doing the stupid shit. I know she loves me and she loves the kids. Ellie may not like her much but Lyla would lay down her life for that little girl. I thought you liked Lyla?" He was deflecting.
"I love Lyla, and I'm happy that she's restoring your sanity but that doesn't change the fact that Donna's only been dead a few months and you're getting married. That's a lot for everyone to adjust to. The kids haven't even come to terms with their Mom's death and now they have to adjust to having a new Mom around. That's too much Ope, too too much. Hell I haven't even come to terms with Donna's death yet." I said and held my belly; Baby Ortiz always seemed to respond when I talked about Donna, she was interested in her namesake.
"We'll have a little over a year to get adjusted. I want to wait until the guys get out before we take the plunge, Lyla agrees with me." Well now, this put things in a new perspective.
"Good because time is the only thing I can think of that will make this thing work. The kids need to time adjust to Lyla and Lyla needs time to adjust to having a large family and being an old lady. I love all of you and all I want is for things to work out. You all deserve the best from this world. I'll be here if you need me though. Never doubt that you can count on me." He sat back on the couch and put an arm around me.
"I don't, I need you to show Lyla the ropes and help her with Ellie. There's no one else I trust more to do that." I smiled, that was something I was planning on doing anyway.
"Like I've said countless times, I've got your back." He smiled and helped me up from the couch. It was time to get the kids in and set everything up for dinner. This was our first family get-together since everything went down but I knew it wouldn't be the last. As Opie gave me a genuine smile I realized that things would be ok. My big brother would always have my back and I'd have his.
Author's Note: Whew! Once I got started I couldn't stop, then I had to take the time to piece together exactly what Opie would say. The man's too stoic sometimes but I love the big guy. I hope you all like it and please review. I love it when you guys review.