I'm Only Here for the Beard

By: Lani Lynn Vale

Or so I kept telling myself.

It’d been nearly a year since PD had gotten married to July, and it still burned to see them together. Still made my heart ache so much that it was hard to be around him.

“My wife left me.”

I blinked, turned, and stared.


“Thought she was pregnant, turned out she wasn’t but we had already gotten married. It was stupid. Neither one of us loved the other. We cared for each other, yes, but it wasn’t love. Not even close. She was a confrontational shithead, and it took me weeks to realize that we weren’t going to work out. But I’d planned to try. Then I was deployed and was gone for six months. While I was gone, she really did get pregnant by one of my best friends. Got home to find them making house together, her belly swelling with their child. I’d apparently missed the letter telling me that she wanted a divorce. Though, I’m still wondering if she ever sent it in the first place.”

I winced.

“When was that?” I asked.

His smile was not pleasant. “Let’s see…that was my first deployment. I was twenty and she was nineteen.”

I bit my lip and reached for the bar above the door to hold on. “What else?”

I could sense there was more.

“At the age of twenty-five, my third deployment, I left a girlfriend behind. Came back home to her shacked up in my house. With another woman.”

I winced.

“My fourth deployment, I met another soldier. Her name was Masha. She and I hit it off great. We were dating by the time we were done with that deployment. But as we made plans to meet back up, I hadn’t counted on the fact that she had a husband she planned on leaving for me. I broke up with her and then promised myself I wouldn’t date another woman.”

I laughed softly. “How’d that work out?”

“Not well,” he muttered darkly. “I met Ellen a year and a half ago. I fell head over heels in love with her the moment I saw her.”


He pulled onto the road that led back to the station.

“But she didn’t love me back,” he answered simply.

I picked up one of the curls that’d loosened from my bun, and twirled it around my finger as I tried to figure out what to say to that.

“I’m not going to tell you I’m sorry,” I answered. “I bet you hear enough of that.”

He sighed.

“Yes,” he agreed. “I hear it from Ellen. I hear it from my best friend, who became really good friends with Ellen over the time that she and I were together.”

I felt instantly sorry for him.

“My best friend married a man who is very good friends with the man that I fell in love with.” I one upped him. “I can’t even talk to her now for fear that it will get back to him. And I not only had to work with him, but I also watched him get married and then have a baby. Not only did I work with him, but we had a lot of the same friends. I saw him, his wife and baby everywhere. Every single party or event.”

“The woman, Ellen, she’s the sister of one of my brothers.”

My brows furrowed. “So, she’s a…stepsister?”

Was that right?

He snorted. “No. Tommy Tom, Ellen’s brother, and the man you saw standing next to her, isn’t my actual brother. He’s a member of the Dixie Wardens MC with me.”

“Is that a motorcycle club?”

He nodded.

“We have a few of those around where I lived,” I muttered darkly.

Not to mention that PD had ridden a bike and had nearly joined a motorcycle club of his own. The only thing that’d stopped him from doing it was that he didn’t want to leave Kilgore to join.

“Most do,” he said. “Motorcycle clubs are becoming a lot more popular ever since that show came out on TV. Most are legit. Some are just a bunch of dumbasses on motorcycles with bad attitudes who don’t know the law of the land.”

“And what is the law of the land?” I asked, sitting silently as he pulled into the bay of the station and shut the medic off.

He grinned. A full blown, teeth showing smile that would’ve knocked my socks off if I didn’t have boots holding them on.

“That there is always someone bigger and badder than you are.”

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