Authors: Heather West
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.
copyright 2016 by Heather West. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission.
Persephone - Two Weeks Ago
I ran a hand through my dark hair and looked around the room. This night, the thirteenth of October, was something special. This was the anniversary of the day my motorcycle club became a real, legit business. And tonight, my girls and I were going to celebrate like we owned the place.
“This is incredible,” Vero said. She sidled up next to me and took a long sip of tequila from a glass clutched in her hand. “Can you believe it, Seph?”
I shook my head but I couldn’t help grinning. “I know,” I replied. “It’s fucking amazing, and I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Vero grinned back. She was my oldest friend among the girls, the person I trusted the most in the world. Years ago, when everything had really started going downhill for me, Vero was the one who’d picked me back up and made things okay again. I owed my life to her, and only her. I hadn’t trusted her at first – she’d always had a bad reputation around town. But after I got to know her, I realized that her critics were just jealous. Either that, or they couldn’t stand the idea of a woman biker. Vero was the strongest fighter of the group, someone who really deserved the patches she wore.
“You should be proud,” Vero said. She pulled me closer and bumped her hip against mine. We both exploded into giggles like a couple of college girls.
“I am,” I admitted. “But I want to grow the club, you know? I really want to make things happen for us.” I sighed. “A few years ago, we were just another MC trying to carve out our place in the world. But now, Vero, we can take over the whole fuckin’ city.” I grinned. The windows were open and the cool fall Los Angeles air was streaming in. I loved the city; it was anonymous, it was dark, and most of all, it was powerful. And tonight, it felt like we owned the damn place.
Looking around at my girls, I was filled with a sense of pride. This was a real club, a real sisterhood. None of that backstabbing shit that went along with being in an MC. These girls were likely family, and it was my duty to protect every single one of them. I loved being president, and I’d defend my role with my life. It wasn’t enough to keep my girls alive and well-moneyed—I wanted to make a real mark. I wanted to show all those goddamn men out there that I was just as tough as they were.
“Boss,” Vero said, leaning down close. “Look, Lydia just got here.”
I watched as Lydia, one of the newest members, slunk into the room. Her shiny brown hair was loose and draped over one shoulder. Lydia was still new; her eyes bugged out every time she saw a gun, and she had porcelain skin that hadn’t yet acquired the perma-tan from riding out on the road. But she was tough, feisty, and smart—a combination I liked in all of my girls. Lydia was good, she wouldn’t fuck up. She wouldn’t get us into trouble.
“Hey,” I said as Lydia strolled over and thrust a bottle of aged bourbon into my waiting hands. “How’re things?”
Lydia sighed. She looked nervous all of a sudden, shifting her weight from one foot to the other and glancing around the room. “I don’t know,” she said, wrinkling her nose. “I know this sounds kinds of weird, but I think someone may have followed me here.”
Vero laughed—a deep, rumbling sound. “Ain’t no one getting in our clubhouse,” she said defensively, sucking her big front teeth. “Want me to go outside and take a look?”
I thought about it. Sure, Lydia was a scaredy-cat. But Vero knew what she was doing, and I realized that other clubs probably knew tonight was our anniversary. Our guard was down, we were partying hard. It wouldn’t be the worst time to strike an offensive.
“Yeah,” I said after a beat. “Go check it out. Want someone to go with you?”
Vero grinned at me and reached down, patting the gun she kept at her waist at all times. “I already got someone, boss,” she said, nodding towards the gun. “Don’t you worry about me.”
I watched Vero swagger out of the room with the confidence of a hundred women. Someday, Vero would be the leader of this MC. That was what she wanted; with her fierce expressions, fiery eyes, and attitude that wouldn’t take no for an answer. I was okay with that, but I was glad that she kept me in my place for now. I loved being the president. Someday, I’d retire. Vero was younger than me and hadn’t been around for as long. We’d met a long time ago, but I hadn’t trusted her until she’d come to aid after my parents were first killed. But what she lacked in experience, she made up for in worldliness. I hadn’t ever had a second-in-command as dedicated or as tough, and that was in all my years of biking.
“So,” Lydia said softly. She stepped closer. “You know, there was actually something I was hoping to talk to you about.”
I held up my hand. “Later,” I said. My senses were tingling and I was on high alert. Until Vero came back and declared the outside a safe place, I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to have any conversation.
Lydia was…interesting. She was the daughter of a former MC kingpin, and although she’d grown up around bikers her entire life, she hadn’t exactly learned their tactics. It was still obviously foreign territory for Lydia—a girl, not yet a woman. She was only twenty, and she looked it.
“No,” Lydia said. It was the most urgent tone she’d ever used with me. “This is important, Persephone.”
“Call me Sephy,” I said absentmindedly. “No one in the MC uses my full name.”
Lydia smiled. “I think it’s pretty,” she replied.
I sighed again. “So what did you want to talk about?”
Just then, Vero burst back through the doors. She held her arms up in the air and sauntered over with a satisfied grin on her face. “Bunch of peeping Toms,” she said dismissively. “I showed ’em!”
“I bet,” I said drily. “They take off?”
Vero scowled. “Like I’d let those assholes hang around here,” she muttered under her breath. “Seriously, Sephy, you know that.”
I bit my lip. Something inside didn’t feel right; I couldn’t put a finger on it, but it was like there was something wrong. Turning to Lydia, I said, “What was it that you wanted to ask me again?”
Lydia bit her lip. “Nothing,” she said. “We can talk later.”
Vero watched Lydia walk away. “She’s an odd one,” Vero said quietly. “Why did we take her in again?”
I sighed. “Because her father was the leader of a big MC in San Diego, and she knows the ropes,” I said. “And we need some younger members.”
Vero looked around. “I think we had a good group,” she said defensively, puffing her cheeks out and blowing out a steady stream of air.
Some of the girls on the other side of the room started cheering. They were pulling open cartons of alcohol and putting everything up on the bar. I loved the new clubhouse; we’d bought it a little over six months ago, and it was finally shaping up to be amazing. We had a recreation area with a bar and then a meeting room, with some small bedrooms in the back. I had a rule about driving drunk. The cops were always on the local MCs, and since we did our share of illegal business, I had no intention of letting them anywhere
to my girls.
“Sephy!” Anya, one of the longtime members, cried. “Come have a beer with us!”
Grinning, I swaggered over to the corner of the room and grabbed a beer. We all toasted, threw our heads back and drank. This was the start of good times, and it felt so good to be celebrating. For once, I didn’t have a care in the world. I wasn’t worried about what would happen in the future; I
that we’d be fine. I just knew it.
“Seph,” Vero said, low in my ear. “Look who just walked in.”
I rolled my eyes. “Great,” I muttered. “Assholes.”
There was a group of guys walking in. I recognized them immediately: Tiger’s Blood. Tiger’s Blood was one of our rival MCs in the city; they were up to the same business that we were, and we often fought for suppliers’ rights. I didn’t trust them further than I could throw them, and it was just like them to crash our party.
“Hey, assholes,” I said in a sarcastic tone. “No men allowed, didn’t you see the sign?”
I didn’t recognize any of the men and I thought they must be new members. They were all youngish, with scruff on their chins and cocky grins plastered on their faces. A rumble of anxiety went through my stomach as one of them reached his hand into the plastic bucket and pulled out a beer.
“I’m entitled to a drink,” the man sneered. “I’m Nero, by the way.”
I bristled. “And you’re leaving, by the way,” I snapped. “Out! Go!”
“Sephy,” Lydia said in a whining tone. She ran up to me and grabbed my arm with both hands. “Come on, don’t be so hard. Can’t they stay?” She batted her eyelashes at one of the men and I rolled my eyes. “They’re just guys, they want to celebrate with us.”
“Yeah,” Nero echoed. “We just wanna party with some cute girls for the night, why isn’t that okay with you, Boss Lady?”
The other girls were looking at me hopefully. I could tell the only one on my side was Vero.
“Fine,” I snapped. “But don’t even think about doing something in the parking lot. Everything stays in here, not outside. No guns, no fireworks. You got that?”
Nero grinned wolfishly. He pulled his gun out of his waistband and tossed it on the floor. “Sure thing,” he said with a smirk. “I’m gonna go talk to some of your fine ladies.”
I watched as the other men helped themselves to beer and spread out, chatting up my fellow Amazons. A ripple of discontent went through me. It wasn’t fair! If my girls and I broke up a Tiger’s Blood event, we’d be out the door before we could even exhale. But as women, we were just
to be thrilled when the men showed up to party with us?
“Ugh,” I muttered quietly to Vero. “I’m so fucking sick of men.”
She laughed loudly. Vero was a lesbian, and she shared my opinions of the men of LA. Even though I was straight, I didn’t think the men around were good for anything. They were all useless assholes that loved showing off. I knew that I could take better care of myself than anyone else could, and that was the most important thing in the world. I wasn’t going to lose my head over some asshole just because he looked good in a pair of leather chaps. I was done with that part of my life; it was over. Now I was responsible for a group of women and I wasn’t going to let them down, no matter what.
“Me, too,” Vero said slyly. She clinked the neck of her beer bottle against mine and looked deeply into my eyes. I shivered; even though I knew Vero better than any of the other girls, she still had a way of unnerving me. We used to joke that if I was gay, I’d be head over heels in love with her. But I wasn’t, so sometimes she just made me vaguely uncomfortable.
For the next couple of hours, I kept a wary eye over my flock as they drank and caroused with the Tiger’s Blood members. Part of me—a very, very small part of me—was nervous that their leader would show up. Elliot Harrison had been in charge of Tiger’s Blood for years. Elliot Harrison, that rat faced fuck. Elliot Harrison, my first love.
The two of us had been together as kids. We’d practically grown up in each other’s backyard, and for a long time I thought we were going to get married. But things hadn’t worked out like that, and now I spent most of my time avoiding him. I wasn’t even sure that he knew I was still in town. Things were different than they had been back in the day,
different. I was a different woman, with no time for flirtation or love.
“Hey,” Anya said to Vero and me. She came up with a drunken smile on her face. “This is a great party, you guys.” She wrapped an arm around each of us and pulled us close. “I can’t believe we made it.” Anya threw her head back and looked around the room, her smile growing wider by the second. “This is incredible.”
“And it’s all thanks to Sephy,” Vero said. She poked me in the ribs and I let loose laughing. It came out louder than I expected, and that was when I realized just how much I’d had to drink. More than I’d planned on having, that was for sure. I was going to have to spend the night at the clubhouse unless I wanted to wind up in the drunk tank.