By Dez Burke
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” I whisper to my brother, Flint.
The taped music begins to play and he nods.
“Let’s do it then,” I say.
He starts walking down the aisle, lined by white chairs with blue bows, with me close behind him.
We reach the end and turn around to face the group gathered for Flint and Kendra’s wedding. All members of the Steel Infidels are here, along with most of our families and friends.
The music stops and all eyes turn to Kendra standing at the end of the aisle. A big smile lights up Flint’s face when he sees her. As the music plays, she slowly makes her way between the rows of guests. She reaches out to squeeze her mother’s hand, who is sitting on the front row.
When she stops walking, her father leans down to kiss her cheek and places her hand in Flint’s. Kendra takes a deep breath then lets out a nervous laugh.
The wedding officiant, chosen primarily for his love of motorcycles, begins the ceremony by welcoming the guests and reminding us all why we are here. He was asked to prepare a few words for the wedding, and I suspect they’re going to be on the corny side.
“When you say I love you, what you are saying is, ‘hold on tight, the ride is long,’” he begins in a deep, solemn voice.
I resist the urge to smile. Damn! Guess I was right.
After quoting a few more lines combining an odd mixture of motorcycles and weddings, he holds out his hand to me for the rings. I reach into my pocket and pull out two plain gold wedding bands and pass them to him.
A look of relief crosses Flint’s face. Did he really think I would forget to bring the rings? I’m disappointed. He should have more faith in me.
No way was I fucking this up.
Unlike me, Flint is one of the solid good guys. A tough guy on the outside covering up a big old heart of gold. After everything he has been through the past few months, he deserves a happy ending.
There’s nothing I won’t do to make sure that happens.
The officiant takes the rings and places one each in Flint and Kendra’s hands. He turns to the bride, who looks absolutely beautiful in her white wedding dress. In keeping with Kendra’s down-to-earth personality, she chose a simple dress with a single strand of pearls. No fancy frills or layers of lace for her.
Flint would have preferred a traditional biker wedding with a motorcycle procession, leather jackets, and a bottomless beer keg. Kendra shot down that idea in a hurry.
So here we all are, standing in their decorated backyard located high on a mountain, dressed in uncomfortable clothes and sweating like pigs.
Kendra told me she was worried about looking fat on her big day. She shouldn’t have. The baby bump is barely visible. If I didn’t know to look for it, I wouldn’t even suspect it was there. She sniffles and then laughs, wiping away a tear threatening to spill down her cheek and ruin her makeup.
I don’t remember ever seeing her look so happy. From the corner of my eye, I catch Flint starting to get choked up by emotion, too. I grab his shoulder in a sign of brotherly support.
Come on buddy, you can do this.
Standing on my other side is our younger brother, Sam. He is grinning from ear to ear and rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet. Last night, I reminded him not to lock his knees and pass out like a dumbass during the ceremony. Now I realize I should have also explained that it wasn’t okay for him to bounce around like a jumping bean either.
What the fuck is he grinning about anyway?
I hope to God he isn’t about to do something stupid. I won’t put it past Sam to pull one of his pranks right in the middle of the wedding. For once, I hope he has enough sense to behave himself. I shoot him a stern look just in case he has something on his mind.
“Be still,” I whisper out of the side of my mouth.
He nods and stops moving.
The officiant glares at me and continues with the ceremony.
“Kendra, do you take this man to have and to hold, to lean with him when he leans and ride when he rides?” he asks.
Kendra gazes up into Flint’s face and smiles. “I do.”
“Flint, do you take this woman to share the open road, to protect and to ride with today and for eternity?”
“Hell yes!” Flint says without hesitation. The audience, consisting mostly of bikers, erupts in a cheer. “I mean, I do,” he quickly adds. “I do.”
“Please join hands.” The officiant beams at the smiling couple. “By the power vested in me by the State of Georgia, I now pronounce you husband and wife! Flint, you may kiss your bride.”
The crowd breaks out in applause.
Flint takes a step forward and pulls Kendra toward him for a kiss.
A shot rings out.
For a split second, I freeze. My mind is telling me that a gun has accidentally misfired. Maybe some idiot forgot to put on the safety.
My gut tells me I’m dead wrong.
A big splotch of red appears on Kendra’s wedding gown and begins spreading. The color both horrifies and mesmerizes me at the same time.
More shots ring out. Flint knocks Kendra to the ground and covers her with his body. A music speaker near the front row explodes.
All hell breaks loose.
We’re all here. Ripe for the picking.
Every member of the Steel Infidels MC, Kendra’s family, our family, close friends, and even some members of other friendly biker clubs.
As President of the Steel Infidels, this is my fault. All blame is on me. I never should have allowed this to happen. Gathering us together in a big group provides the perfect opportunity for someone with a grudge to strike against us.
I should have stood firm and not given my approval for a big wedding. Especially after everything that went down at the bike rally in Panama City.
Happy endings aren’t meant for us. Shouldn’t I know that by now?
Movement at the edge of the driveway catches my eye and I spot him.
The red-headed motherfucker I’ve spent months trying to find.
Big Roy, President of the Liberators.
My sworn enemy, the only person in this world that I want to kill with my bare hands.
I take off after him with Sam right behind me. By the time I reach my motorcycle, the handgun I normally keep tucked in the back of my pants is already in my hand.
The fight with the Liberators is ending today.
One way or the other.