Authors: Max Henry
Tags: #Romantic Suspense
Looks like we got away with that lie.
He thrusts the paper at me. “Now sign.”
“Just fucking do it.” A vein pulses on his temple.
I give him a onceover and notice the dark bags beneath his eyes. The usual tan glow of his skin has faded, and his hair has lost its shine. He’s working himself into the grave, and for that I’m not sorry. He belongs there.
I sign the slip of paper, well aware he’s folded it so I have no idea what the document entails. There’s no point trying to straighten it out to see, or arguing with him. Whatever it was, it would have happened with or without my help—I’m sure my signature simply gives him the easy option. I recap the pen and hand both it and the paper across to Carlos. The gray of his irises flares as he snatches the items back and scours the document to check I’ve done my part sufficiently.
With a grunt, he storms from the room, paper clenched in his fist so it concertinas like a fan. My skin prickles with relief as he departs without so much as an inkling that he knows Sully and I lied.
My conversation with King turns over in my head. A part of me holds on to the fear that Carlos won’t be so nice if he catches me trying to deceive him again. Given what I carry inside, it’s not worth the risk. But in the same vein, if he knows that I’m pregnant who’s to say he won’t kill me along with the unborn child? Who knows what his crazed mind would come up with as a suitable punishment?
I have to try.
I have to work out how I can get us out of here and
Although, escaping is only the first part. What happens when I step outside the gates is a whole new problem.
A prospect drags the gate open as I approach the clubhouse—seems the guys haven’t cleared the tracks out, as usual, and burnt the motor out again. I idle into the garage to find my spot is taken.
What the hell?
Fingers glances up from the oil change he’s halfway through and wipes his hands off on a rag as he heads over to where I’m astride my idling bike with my feet flat on the floor and a confused frown on my face.
“Who’s is that?” I ask, pointing to the forest green machine.
“New guy. Old guy. He’s sort of a bit of both.” Fingers stares at the bike for a moment before he steps closer to inspect the engine. Mind always on his work, that man.
“Where the fuck do I park?”
Fingers lifts a hand and gestures to the spots near the door that are first in, first served for the prospects.
I walk the bike back and slip it in beside a machine that looks as if it gets dragged around on its side half the time; huge scratches adorn the pipes and tank, and the outside of the footrest is worn to a rough edge.
If the guy who owns it treats his own ride like that, I don’t fancy the chances of mine being left untouched.
Fingers eyes me as I walk up to his work area and pick out two solid blocks from the stack by the end of the workbench. “What you doing?”
“Fucked if the moron who owns that go-kart is going to knock mine over or gouge it up getting his out.” I weigh the foot of the stand down with one block, and use the other as a makeshift stand on the opposite side, effectively locking my bike upright. Fingers laughs as I complete the precautions with a heavy dust cloth over the paintwork. I brush my hands off on the way indoors, a huge grin on my face.
Now for the worst of it.
Callum spots me first from his position on the sofa. He leans on one end of the seat, his leg propped up on a couple of cushions and an
magazine in his hands. “Hey, shithead.”
“Fuck you, too.”
We both laugh.
“How’s the leg?” I ask, tipping my chin to how he has it elevated. “Serious?”
“Eh, not too bad.” He shrugs, placing the mag down on the floor. “Made a mess on exit though, so I’m on orders to keep it elevated when I can and to take it easy. Gloria’s worried about infection if I stress it too much.”
Bless her. “How were things here when everyone got back?” I motion for him to scoot his good leg out of the way and sit on the edge of the cushion.
“Not sure on how it was initially. Got my ass dragged off to the fuckin’ vet for a couple of itchy extractions.” He winces at the memory. “All I can say is thank fuck I ain’t a dog. Those animal docs aren’t quite as gentle as your standard GP.”
“Guess the patients don’t usually complain.”
“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t have either, but fuck me, man. I was seriously debatin’ tellin’ the old bitch to saw my leg off and be done with it.”
I chuckle. “Can’t imagine you in a cage the rest of your life.”
Callum nods. “Yeah, right. I’d have Fingers sort something out. Pretty sure it’s possible to ride with one leg.”
I glance around at the common room and the apparent lack of people besides us. “Where is everyone?”
“Out. Working. Home.” Callum props himself up on both elbows and looks across the vast space at Apex’s office door. “Avoidin’ the dragon.”
“Heard he ain’t happy.”
“Wants your fuckin’ head on a platter.”
I sigh. “Heard that too.”
Callum scratches the stubble on his jaw. “He wants you out, but Beefy won’t let him.”
I sink my head into my hands, my elbows propped on my knees. “It’s a fuckin’ mess, man.”
“You’re tellin’ me. You got your patch a month ago or some shit and here you are fightin’ to stay in.” He narrows his gaze “You are stayin’? Right?”
“Yeah.” I nod. “Tryin’ to. But fuck, man, I can’t let this go.”
I look across at him and he shrugs.
“Everyone knows it’s about a girl.”
“She ain’t a girl.” She’s all woman, every last curve. “She’s a grown-up, brother, not some underage kid.”
“Each to their own,” he says with a smirk. “Anywho, I think Beefy is out back on the deck as usual. Better try to get to him before Apex gets to you.”
“Thanks.” He holds out his hand and I take it in a clinch. “You need anythin’ while I’m here?”
“Nah, I’m all good.” He picks his reading material up and opens it again as he shakes out the pages. “Go sort your shit, and then get back here to explain to me what the fuck is goin’ on, yeah?”
“Sure.” I chuckle. He’s acting like a miffed girlfriend, and rightly so. We were best buddies when we were both given our prospect titles, and during the last few months the distance between us has grown to the point where anybody who didn’t know us would think we were near strangers.
One of the club’s property girls makes her way down the stairs as I cross the common room toward the back doors. She has Abbey tucked under her arm, the kid’s hand wrapped around the older woman’s waist. The property’s head lifts—her name elusive to me—as we cross paths. I’ve never really bothered my time with her kind—not on first-name basis with the lot of them, like some of the guys around here. She gives me a weak smile and steers Abbey away.
Her mouth twitches at the side and she runs an exasperated hand through her long bleach-blonde hair. “Nothing a bit of down-time won’t fix, eh Abbey?” She gives our live-in street rat a squeeze.
The girl’s dark hair parts, falling away from her face as she looks up to me. Her eyes are red-rimmed and bloodshot. A crease on her chin gives away her determination not to cry again.
“You sure it’s not more than that?” I ask the property.
“We’ll be fine, King.” She strokes Abbey’s hair from her face and places a stiff, talon-tipped finger under her chin, forcing Abbey to look at her. “We don’t complain, do we?”
What the fuck is this whore on about?
We don’t complain.
I fix my gaze on Abbey as she pulls free of the property’s hold. “What happened, Abbey?”
The attention, the grilling—it’s getting to her. She tugs on a lock of her hair and shrugs out of the woman’s grasp. The whore tries to wrangle her back. A hiss escapes the terrified girl as she backs towards the bar, boxed in and unable to escape. The kid’s almost as much animal as she is human.
What the fuck happened to her to make her like this?
“Abbey?” I ask again softly, body-blocking the bitch who scowls as she tries to grab a hold of Abbey’s arm.
“Corinne. What’s goin’ on?” Callum calls out from his spot on the sofa.
Knew I should know her name.
“Nothing,” she singsongs back before mumbling under her breath as she lunges for Abbey. “Get over here, you little bitch.”
I halt Corinne in her tracks with a stiff forearm across her chest. To both of our surprise, Abbey lunges for me and wraps her bony arms around my waist. Her feet leave the floor and she climbs me like a monkey, wriggling around my torso until she hangs on my back. My side burns, and pain shoots through me in two sharp spikes, but I ignore the inconvenience for the comfort it gives the kid.
Corinne steps back, her arms crossed over her chest as Abbey and I make our way opposite to where I was initially headed and out to the garage. I’ve seen the little street rat on occasion hanging out with Fingers; it’s one of her safe places. The kid should be okay enough around him to tell me what the fuck happened back there. Yeah, I’ve got my own trouble to sort out, but there is no way in conscious hell I could see what was going down right in front of me and walk away, let alone turn a blind eye.
It’s not in my nature.
“Hey, Ratbag,” Fingers greets as Abbey slides from my back. “How’s my right-hand girl?”
She looks between the two of us and then walks away to a pile of tools Fingers has on the worktop. We watch her in silence as she climbs up on the wooden workspace and begins the methodical task of putting the items away in their places on the shadow board.
“She okay?” Fingers asks, still watching Abbey sort and house.
“Nope. Somethin’ went down that Corinne was trying to brush off as nothin’. I don’t buy a bar of it.”
“Don’t trust that bitch,” Fingers says with a scowl. “Leave the kid with me and I’ll get her to spill.”
I give the guy a slap on the back. “Thanks, brother.”
He has no family that I know of; Fingers permanently lives, sleeps, and eats in his workshop. But it doesn’t stop him being one hell of a guy when it comes to helping people in need. Fingers is like the father Abbey doesn’t have, and some days when I watch the pure happiness between them when she’s out here giving him a hand to fix things up, I wonder if he thinks of her the same way—as family.
I find Beefy exactly where Callum said he would be, eating on the back deck in the waning afternoon sun. He doesn’t acknowledge me as I pull up a plastic chair and sit beside him. I wait on the guy to finish his mouthful before I speak.
“Heard you’d like to talk to me.”
He nods. “How serious are you about this woman?”
“She’s carryin’ my kid.”
“Never stopped a man from walkin’ before.”
“I’m serious, brother.”
He stares off across the backyard as he wipes his lips on a paper napkin. “If I back you, I need to know that she’s it. I’m not about to put my position, the brotherhood of this club, and our reputation on the line if you’re goin’ to decide in six months’ time you’d like to be stickin’ your dick elsewhere.”
“She’s it,” I reassure him. I look to my hands as I twist one of my rings around a finger. “Been thinking about makin’ it official once this is all sorted.”
That grabs his full attention. “You goin’ to ask her to be your old lady?” He stares at me, waiting on the answer.
I shake my head. “Nope. Marry me. Make us a proper family.”
“You realize she’s already married, right?” he asks dryly.
I nod again. “Doesn’t matter to me, man. I’ll do whatever it takes to annul that bullshit and set it right with
“Haven’t had a chance to talk it through with her,” I deadpan.
He smiles. “Right.”
“You have an idea, then?”
Beefy scratches his chest and clears his throat. “A few of us have managed to stall Apex bringing the table to vote on new officers.”
I glance over my shoulder at the doors that lead inside.
Beefy pats my shoulder. “You’re good. He’s gone out for a bit. Fuck knows where, actually. Wouldn’t say, as usual.”
I let out a sigh of relief and turn back to the big guy. “I heard you’re worried he’ll vote in his own supporters so he’ll have bomb-proof backing.”
“Yeah.” The chair creaks under Beefy’s weight as he leans back. “There are two positions vacant and three in situ. Four lifers who have the right to vote in crisis as well . . . if Apex decides to bring them in on it.” He laces his fingers over the swell of his stomach. “Of the three left at the table, you’ve got me and two others. One I have on side; he gave me his word he’d back me up. The other I’m unsure on. Don’t trust him, so haven’t spoken to him.”
“And the lifers?”
“Even split as well.”
The votes could swing either way. “Who is Apex proposing to vote in?”
“He hasn’t said.” Beefy checks the doors before leaning closer and continuing a little quieter. “But I get the feelin’ one is our impromptu visitor.”
I grunt at the thought. “I saw his bike in my spot.”
“That’s just Apex messin’ with your head. Ignore it.”
“Who is it? Fingers said he’s a new guy/old guy. Makes no sense.”
Beefy nods as he straightens up again. “He’s both, Fingers is right. Nomad. Been through the clubs like a roulette ball doin’ the rounds. Hence to say, not many people around here like the guy.”
“Apex say why he invited him here?”
Beefy stares at me, en eyebrow cocked. “What you think?”
“He’s an Ace, though?”
I shake my head, confused. “Who the fuck would keep lettin’ him back in if he’s a hopper?”
President of our Californian chapter.
“Even he won’t help this time,” Beefy says with a chuckle. “I’m puttin’ you up for Twig’s spot.”
He drops the news as if it’s nothing.
VP—after all the bullshit I’ve been caught up in?
“You think you’d get the votes?”