The question kept running through my head. They had kidnapped me, tortured and asssaulted me all night, and now, they wanted to bestow a nickname upon me so I could join their motorcycle club?
It just didn’t make sense.
“Why? After everything you put me through, why are you doing this?” My voice held some anger and frustration.
All night, they assured me that I would enjoy what they were doing and accept the darkness. Although I had and wanted plenty more, it would have been nice if they had asked instead of assuming I cared to join their club.
Sure, I wasn’t going anywhere whether I wanted to or not, but to completely induct me into their group without entering my opinion into the mix was shitty. Not that anything they did was out of kindness, not really, even if they saw it that way.
I glared at Grizzly, waiting for an answer. I raised an eyebrow to challenge him.
He let out a chuckle, and I watched the corner of his mouth pull up into a smirk.
“You have quite the backbone, Averie. After what you went through last night, most people would have succumbed and shriveled into a mindless shell.” Grizzly stepped forward before dropping to his knees, placing the bear head in his lap as he stared up at me.
I let out a small gasp and scooted back in the chair. What the Hell is he doing?
“You went through Hell, a sexual Hell no other has survived—not mentally, at least. But here you are, still standing, still fighting us, only giving in when you truly want to. Averie, my Good Girl, you are the one we have been searching for. Never change, never lose that fire. Fight us, berate us. We thrive when challenged and have grown stagnant without someone who can stand up to us without fear. You do all of that and so much more.”
His eyes never left my own as he continued speaking. The words penetrated the hard shell I had erected through the night and etched themselves in the darkness. If—who was I kidding—when I gave in, nothing would ever be the same.
My eyes watered as Grizzly continued.
“Listen, no woman has ever been inducted into the Grizzly Skulls because none of them have ever been able to handle us for who we truly are. We are hard and dangerous. We take what we want with no apologies. We push each other and everyone around us to their limits, then ask for more. You overcame all of that and are sitting here before us without a worry for the future.
“You didn’t stay broken. You shattered and were melded back together into a new person. You are no longer the Averie that walked into the saloon yesterday afternoon. You are the newest member of the Grizzly Skulls, the first woman that has ever been welcomed with open arms. Please, my Little One…”
“My Sweet Averie,” Kodiak growled as he dropped to his knees with a loud thud, uncaring for the bruises his actions would cause. His long hair swept around him with the movement, and I longed to touch it. Thoughts of our first encounter flew through my mind as a shiver raked up my spine. “I am named for the Kodiak bear which is a lucky coincidence for my size,” he said with a wink and let his hand fall against the crotch of his jeans, forcing my attention and thoughts to what hid behind the fabric.
“My Girl,” Ursus purred. He followed the larger man’s lead but added his own flare by lowering his upper body to the floor as well with a wink and a lovely grin. His fingers tapped on the ground, drawing my attention before pushing himself up to all fours as he spoke. “I am named for the scientific name of all the bears. I enjoy that diversity and know you do, too.”
“My Little Bird,” Honey ground out. He was reluctant and gave me a quick glare before lowering himself slowly to one knee. His arms were crossed against his chest and stayed that way. He let out a sigh before he explained his name. “I am named for the sweet, sticky treat that bears love to hunt for. I was unlucky enough to have it match the honey hue of my hair,” he said, ending on an eyeroll.
“My Sweetness,” Sonny said, ever the soothing aloe against the harsh reality that was his counterpart. He gently went to his knees beside Kodiak and gave me a bright grin. “I am named for the sun bear. It may be the smallest of the bears, but its canines are the longest.” Sonny snapped his teeth at me, forcing me to hold back a snort. He gave a nod of encouragement before letting his gaze fall to Grizzly.
I finally looked back at the man that started it all. “And I am named for the fierce grizzly bear who is strongly protective of what he claims. The club holds the same name to show that we protect our own and will not fall victim to outside criticisms. We may not like our names, and we may not identify with them when they are bestowed upon us, but eventually, we become what we are named and fill the role we have been given.
“So, please accept us and choose a name so you may forever be ours and show the world that we are worthy of more than Hell.” Grizzly’s eyes shone as he looked up at me from his kneeled position. A tear fell from my eye as I glanced around the room once more and realized what they were saying.
The inner circle of the Grizzly Skulls Motorcycle Club had deemed me the one woman worthy of their devotion. The night started as a horrific nightmare with no end in sight, but the new day brought revelations and many emotions that I couldn’t quite understand.
I slunk off of the wooden chair to kneel in front of Grizzly who still had a hold of the bear head. I bit my lower lip as I raised my hand and dropped it into what was once the neck of the bear. I flipped the papers around, waiting for one to feel right.
Finally, one caught my attention, and I pulled it out. A heavy sigh left my lips as I unwrapped the paper that held my new name.
I smiled as I read the paper and let out a snort as the jokes flew through my mind. I will never live this down.
Everyone seemed to be on edge and leaned closer, waiting for me to reveal who I would be going forward.
They were right. Averie no longer existed.
From now until the day I died, and far longer than I could fathom after, my name would be, “Moon.”