Ryder: MC Biker Romance (Great Wolves Motorcycle Club Book 8) (12 page)

BOOK: Ryder: MC Biker Romance (Great Wolves Motorcycle Club Book 8)
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Chapter Eighteen

 

Jules

 

The charity event
with The Judge was boring as hell. And all I could think of was how to get away
and warn Ryder. Thankfully, The Judge always left early and always got to bed
early. And until I married him he always went to his own place and own bed.

The second he
dropped me off my mind raced. How would I get to Ryder? Where would he be? How
would Devil’s Hawks get to him?

The repair shop
was the only place I could think to look for Ryder. I didn’t change clothes, I
didn’t overthink it, I just drove to the shop.

I was relieved to
find Bret, we were friends once, but terror hit me when she said that Ryder
wasn’t there.

“I’ll find him.
Don’t worry. Thank you for the heads up. But why?” I didn’t have an answer.

“I don’t want
anyone to get hurt. Ryder, or you, or anyone.” I couldn’t tell her something
that I hadn’t even told him. That I was barely able to admit in my head for
fear of crying on the floor again like I had earlier.

“Look, you parked
around back. That was a good thing. Maybe wait a minute to leave? No one should
see you here or anywhere near me.” Bret was smart. She understood the danger I
was in being here. She understood Devil’s Hawks. I didn’t think Ryder really
did. He was sure the Great Wolves patch protected him. Maybe in Grand City. But
in Southwood, it was Devil’s Hawks and Daddy. They made the rules, and they
broke them at his whim.

I watched Bret
drive off and as she rounded the corner I saw headlights came from the other
direction.

Shit. I dove to
the floor in time. But just in time. Bullets ripped through the window and
glass shattered everywhere. I felt tiny slices on my skin as it rained down on
me.

I stayed quiet and
still under the counter. And then I heard the engines around back. Then another
crash. The flames started immediately.

I could have run.
I could have let the shop go up. Maybe that would get Ryder far away from here,
the total failure of his auto body shop idea. But then I remembered what Ryder
told me. Way back in the summer, about his dreams, about his plans. This was a
part of that.

So I battled through
the smoke and heat, and I found the water. I did my best to save what he was
trying to build. He tried to save me once. I owed him that much back.

I wanted to tell
him all that when he showed up. I wanted to collapse in his arms. But seeing
all the Great Wolves made everything all too clear. If Daddy found out, I’d
thwarted all his plans tonight. He’d kill me, I was sure. Or worse. I didn’t
want to think about what would be worse. I drove in circles. Thinking.
Worrying. And trying to figure out what to do next.

It was pitch dark
when I parked my car and went up to my loft. I hoped the dark meant no eyes were
following me. I prayed that there weren’t snitches waiting to tell Daddy that I
was the one who’d warned the Great Wolves.

When the elevator
opened to my apartment I expected it to be Daddy, waiting. I was paranoid as it
was but now? I was sure someone had seen me with the Wolves.

I hadn’t had time
to change out of my, destroyed gown, would he bury me in it? Would he shoot me
here in my apartment?

I was terrified.
And my fear was realized. There was a man in patched covered leather standing
in the center of my loft.

But it was Ryder.
Gorgeous, strong, pissed off, confused, everything I wanted, nothing I could
have, Ryder.

I froze like a
statue, as still as I’d been when the glass shattered over me at the shop.

Ryder walked
toward me. One long stride, then another, and he was standing in front of me.

“Jules,” he said.
His voice was raspy. Both of us still smelled like smoke.

I didn’t know what
to say to him. I wanted to say I was sorry about everything. I wanted to
explain.

But I didn’t have
to. Ryder pulled me to his chest. It was fast. Violent almost. But it was what
I needed. What I wanted from the moment I left him. From the moment I’d lied to
him.

“I need you,” he
said. I nodded. I didn’t have the right words. I didn’t have any words.

Ryder leaned down
and smashed his mouth on mine. I gasped and let him overcome me with his lips,
his tongue. He pulled me into his arms and lifted me off the ground. I wound my
hands around his neck.

Our bodies were
pressed together. I felt how hard he was. His urgency matched my own.

“I need you naked.
I need to see you. Touch you everywhere.” Ryder had the words that I couldn’t
find.

“Please,” was all
I could say.

Ryder kissed my
neck, my collar bone, he ran his hands through my hair. It was as if neither of
us knew what to touch first or what we wanted to touch the most. I slid my
hands around his hips and felt the flesh of his ass. God, I wanted him. I had
only the memory of his gorgeous body all these months. It fueled my dreams and
my frustrations, and it wasn’t enough. Only Ryder, in the flesh, was enough.

Ryder propelled us
forward, and before I knew it, I was on my bed. Ryder on top of me. He paused
for a moment and looked at me.

“You’re fucking
gorgeous. Better than I remembered,” he said.

I touched his
face, his jaw, his now long hair. He kissed my fingertips and then my palm. And
for a moment it was tentative. Like it was our first time. Like we were afraid to
spoil the memory of how beautiful it was last summer. Our need to be together
hung in the air between us like a physical thing. I certainly should have
stopped it then. But I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. Ryder broke the tension with his
fingertips.

Ryder slid down
the straps of my gown, he pulled at the fabric until my breasts were free, and
he kept going, my dress slid further, over my hips, and down past my thighs.
And then I wriggled free. His clothes also disappeared in a swirl of our
fingers and hands. I wanted to feel his skin on mine. Our bodies touched from
lips to toes. My legs wrapped around him. I wanted to keep him there. Right
there, with me. Forever.

My thong shredded
like it was made of tissue. Ryder leaned down and put his rough stubbled cheek on
my nipple, one then the other, and it was so different than what I’d endured
with The Judge. The sensations I felt with Ryder, the heat, the ache, was
almost too much to bear.

Ryder was hard. He
was taking from me what he needed, what he wanted. And I wanted just as much.

I was open,
exposed, needy, and ready for him. Ryder drove into me. I was on fire with it.
Insane from the first pulse. I’d been teased and prodded by Richard for so
long, like a wind-up toy. But all this time I’d been dreaming of Ryder. I had
imagined this moment for so long I couldn’t control it anymore. Each touch from
Ryder energized every cell in my body. My flesh and my brain were overwhelmed
at how much I missed this. How much I’d missed Ryder.

I could see his
control slipping. His hands gripped my hip on one side and around to my ass. He
molded my body to his. I could feel the intensity burn hotter and knew we were
both on the edge. I let go of the million things holding me down and let myself
tumble over the edge with his hips, his hands, his heat inside me.

I couldn’t go
without him again. I couldn’t. That was the thought that seared a hole in my
heart. The idea that filled me with dread. How could I live without this in my
life?

But I needed him
to leave. To hide. To run away just like I had run. To save us both this could
only happen one time. This moment of ecstasy I’d craved, given in to, wanted
more than anything, could wind up deadly for both of us.

Chapter
Nineteen

 

Ryder

 

“What’s this?” I
felt a sharp edge in her hair. Jules was lying in my arms. She always fit
perfectly there. I had a hard time believing that she was real. That I was
here. I wanted to drink her in, shield her, fuck her again. She was all I could
see.

She was still soot-stained
from the fire, and I should have let her go. Shower. Whatever else. But I held
her there with me.

And I had so many
questions that needed to be answered as I stroked her hair. That’s when the
little bit of something had cut my finger. It actually pricked it. She lifted
her mouth to the tiny drop of blood on my finger and sucked. The blood was gone
but the glass in her hair, Jesus.

“You have glass in
your hair, you need to tell me exactly what happened tonight.” I leaned up and
started really inspecting her blonde locks. I wanted her to grow them again.
Like they were when I met her. This short hair was cute. But it wasn’t her. It
wasn’t the wild artist I knew she was inside. It was a look that her geriatric
fiancé preferred I imagined.

“You want all the
details? I mean I’m okay. It turned out okay.” She said.

“I want the
details. What the hell happened?” There was so much about her, what she did
last night, the last six months, that I needed to know. I wanted details even
if they did draw blood.

“I expect the
glass was from when I dove down on the floor of your reception area, and the
window shattered on top of me.”

“Jesus. We need to
get you to a doctor.” I winced at the thought of what could have happened.
Bullets, shards of glass, and or an explosion. She’d risked her life to save
the Great Wolves Auto Body Shop. Me.

“You risked your
life for me.” The enormity of that hit me. This was not the same woman who told
me she’d used me last summer.

“I had to warn
you.” We were sitting up now. Face to face. I looked at her hard. Inch by inch.
Were there cuts? More glass? First I thought of her as a damsel in distress,
then a quirky artist, then a liar, but now I saw how strong she was. The word
brave pushed through all those impressions I had of her and sat at the top. But
I didn’t want her to be brave alone.

“You need to tell
me what’s going on. You need, to be honest with me. But no matter what you say,
just know, I’m not leaving you. Ever again.”

“I left you.” She
closed her eyes and dropped her head. Then my questions came in rapid fire.

“Why? I thought
you were going out west. Violet says your Julery comes from Seattle. What the
fuck are you doing here? With The Judge?”

Jules pulled her
expensive bed sheet around her body and stood up. I hated for her to leave my
arms but I needed the answers. I needed to know what had happened since I put
her on that bus.

Jules opened a top
drawer of her dresser and handed me a piece of paper. I read it.

“Get on the bus
Saturday. Get off at the first stop. We kill Ryder and burn his mother and her
fucking store to the ground if you’re not on that bus. Love, Daddy.”

“When did you
know? When did you get this?” I was stunned. I had thought she’d made a clean
getaway. No one had followed us after our encounter on the side of the road.

But they’d got to
her.

“It was in my bag
that last day. It scared me so much. And as much as I thought I’d gotten away,
we’d gotten away, Daddy’s guys hadn’t lost sight of me. They knew everything we
did. Where we were camping. When we went to town. They knew everything.”

I was pissed thinking
of those Devil’s Hawks assholes spying on us. Stalking us. I was pissed at
myself for thinking I’d outsmarted them. I was arrogant and over confident, and
Jules’s Daddy was laughing at me. I dug my nails into my fist.

“You should have
told me. I can protect you and my mom. Your Daddy’s not the only one with a
crew.” I knew my voice was harsh.

“I came back
because I’ve seen what Daddy does. There was also. Uh. Another piece of Ross in
the note. Another finger.” Her voice was quiet, she squeezed her eyes shut. She
was afraid. And I suddenly realized she also felt guilt. But I was the one who
should feel guilty. She had sacrificed. She faced danger for me, for my mom,
and I yelled at her for it. Jesus, I was a first class asshole.

“Thank you. You
gave up your shot at freedom because of me.” I pulled her forward and kissed
her hair, I ran my hands along the smooth skin of her shoulders, and I squeezed
her tightly to me.

“It was worth it.
I thought you were out of the picture. Then you showed up here. Why here? Uh,
anyway, Daddy told Richard, The Judge, what was going to happen tonight and I
had to warn you. Otherwise, everything I did, have to do, it would all be for
nothing.”

“You saved me and
the business.” I kissed her on the forehead then on her pretty cheeks. I
couldn’t stay mad at her. Not after knowing why she did what she did. I didn’t
agree with it. I knew I could protect her. But I also knew how scared she had
to be. Her father and the Devil’s Hawks were no joke. They were brutal in a way
that the Great Wolves used to be.

“You have to
leave. Soon. Like right now.” Jules’ss eyes were darting around the room.

“Why? I’m here.
You’re done with this Judge shit. Look your dad tried and failed to get me last
night.”

“They can’t know I
warned you. This, between us, I shouldn’t have helped you, but I couldn’t let
you get hurt. Daddy will kill you and me. Or he’ll have one of the Hawks do it.
Oh God, this is a mess. I have to figure out a way to fix it.”

“Shhh. It’s okay.
It’s not a mess. Look, Ridge, that’s who they shot last night. He’s fine, and
he gave the cops a positive I.D. of who put the bullet in him. I also know they
picked up three of your Daddy’s men. They’re all three going to jail. That will
send your Daddy a message.”

The look of fear in
her eyes hadn’t changed, but she was at least listening.

“Still. I need you
to go.” She was agitated. She’d lived her life under Sonny Maldonado’s mean
thumb and the one time she broke free it ended with her being dragged back
here.

“Okay. I will. I
will go. No one’s going to see me. But I promise you, we’re going to get you
out of this. Away from them.”

“Sure. Okay.” She
was saying that to get me to leave. That was clear. It didn’t matter if she
believed me. I’d given my word to her and would never break it.

“I love you. I
don’t want to spend a day without you again. Much less six months. It’s been
hell.”

“Same here,” Jules
said.

I pulled her in
for a hug. I had her back, part of the way at least.

It was harder than
leaving her on the bus, leaving her in her apartment, but she wasn’t ready to
let me take over. She wasn’t ready to have me fucking tell her old man exactly
where he could shove it.

Maybe with some of
his best guys cooling in a jail cell for a few months Great Wolves would be
able to catch a break and get stronger in Southwood.

“My guy, Ridge,
he’s a good witness. Just you watch. One step at a time.”

“You know I can’t
be seen with you.”

“Yet. Soon,
though.” I kissed her on the mouth this time. It was so good. So hot. I could
easily take her again. Up against the wall, in her bed, back in our tent. All
of it.

Soon. Very soon.

I stepped back and
looked at her one more time to be sure she was real. And then I snuck out. I
kept an eye out to be sure no one watched me leave her place.

 I would honor her
wishes. I would let her drive the pace of what happened in her town. But not
forever. Soon. Very soon everyone would know she was mine, and we’d get her the
fuck away from the Devil’s Hawks.

I checked back in
at the shop to see how bad off the place was. It was still standing and thanks
to Jules the shop wouldn’t have to start at square one.

“I think we
replace the wall here, maybe even expand since we need to do work here anyway.”
Bret was on the right track. With Nero and Polk behind her, I felt like they
were using the situation to their advantage. Fuck you Devil’s Hawks Great
Wolves MC Southwood was going to come out stronger.

Cruz and I were
headed to the courthouse as the rest of the club pulled together to fix the
damages. They were under attack, and they needed to do everything they could to
shore up their defenses. To show the Devil’s Hawks that their tactics wouldn’t
work. An attack from outside either destroyed you or made you stronger. I bet
on stronger when I saw how hard Great Wolves were working to make things right.

The court of Judge
Richard Wexler was busy this morning. Drunks, petty crime, and three Devil’s
Hawks members would all be there to face the law. The Judge would determine who
stayed, who went, and ultimately if there was a good enough case to move
forward. I watched the man work. This was the man who had his hands all over
Jules. I hated him on sight.

He was old. But
his mind was sharp. I watched him look over each case and move through his
morning docket. Cruz and I wanted to be there if Ridge needed us and to be sure
that the three fuckers were penned up.

I couldn’t wait to
watch The Judge deal with Ridge’s positive i.d. of the Devil’s Hawks.

I did have one bit
of advice for Cruz while we waited for the shooting case.

“You need to bring
it all into one location,” I said.

“What do you
mean?”

“Your club and
your businesses need to be within spitting distance. Last night, you were lucky
Jules was there with water. If your Wolf Den were next door, Devil’s Hawks would
never have had the stones to torch you. You’d be right there to shut that shit
down.”

“Yeah. I know
you’re right.”

“If we hadn’t been
warned that shop would have burned to the ground and all the clients’ property
with it.”

“That would have
been the death blow to the Great Wolves Southwood.” Cruz was a realist. He knew
the situation. He knew they were hanging by a thread, and that thread was
fraying.

“You have enough
space there at the shop. Start planning. Make a new Wolf Den there.”

“What about cash?”

“You’ll have it.
You’ve got two earners started, the security and the garage. In six months, if
we keep Devil’s Hawks from fucking with you again, the new Wolf Den will pay
for itself.”

“Shit if we could
get a liquor license we could earn from that too.” Cruz was thinking. That was
good. He needed to keep thinking and move from survival to thrive mode for his
guys and their future.

Something in the
air shifted and I knew Jules was in the room. I looked at the back of the courtroom,
and there she was, Jules. But she wasn’t looking at me. The Judge was smiling
at her. Were those false teeth? Probably.

I muscled down the
urge to vomit, and again, realizing what she was enduring, made me more
determined to get her out.

The Judge read the
file. The three fuckers who Ridge pointed out were all there. The orange
jumpsuits looked good on them. Boone, Dirt, and Headlock looked just like I
remembered them when I’d fucked all three of them up on the side of the road.

And now they’d
shot Ridge, set the fucking shop on fire, and they came within inches of
hurting Jules, all in one night. They were busy assholes for sure. The Judge
spoke, he had a deep voice, it was clear, and it was as if everything he said
was the law. I was about to learn how true that was.

“No positive i.d.,
dark conditions, and an unreliable witness?” The Judge said it all like it was
fact. He scribbled something on the file.

“Insufficient
evidence to hold them. Tanner, you could maybe not bring this flimsy stuff in
front of me. Waste of the court’s time.” The Judge was addressing the
prosecutor who looked resigned to the situation. What the fuck did he mean, no
positive i.d., Ridge had it on lock.

This was the way
it worked here apparently. The Judge said what fact was. Even it was bullshit.

I looked again,
and Jules was gone. Shit.

I stormed up to
the prosecutor, Greg Tanner, The Judge had said.

“What’s he talking
about unreliable witness? My guy has a bullet hole in his side.”

“Your guy is a
known gang banger with a prior. And he lost blood last night, was weak, in
shock.”

“Ridge? You’re
shitting me, right? Fifteen years ago, possession. That’s hardly a reason to
throw this out. And are you the prosecutor or a parrot?”

“The three men he
accused have completely clean records.” Boone, Dirt, and Headlock filed past me.
They were on their way to being released free and clear. Each looked at me with
a smile

They were going to
walk. I couldn’t fucking believe it.

Cruz put a hand on
my shoulder.

“Ease up. This is
what we’re dealing with here. All the time. They’ll find a way to put you in jail,
and it will miraculously stick.” Cruz said. The prosecutor left me speechless
with Cruz. They were fighting dirty here no question.

BOOK: Ryder: MC Biker Romance (Great Wolves Motorcycle Club Book 8)
13.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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