THE SOUND of motorcycles nearing made Zayne perk up. It was the best sound in the world and it only got better because he knew it was his brothers coming. Five bikes rolled up in front of him. Zayne’s best friend and the club’s vice president, Joker, pulled off his helmet before walking to him. Joker had their sergeant at arms, two of their full-patch members, and a prospect with him.
“Saint,” Joker said in greeting. “Where are they keeping them?”
“In the shed at the back of the property. There’re only a chain-link fence and two guards between it and the road,” Zayne said.
“Any ideas, prospect?” Joker asked.
The kid wasn’t stupid. He knew Joker was testing him. Gabriel wasn’t the least bit afraid of Joker. He should’ve been, though. Joker got his name because the only times he smiled was when he was beating the shit out of someone or killing them.
“I think we should use the sergeant as a distraction,” Gabriel said.
Zayne tried hard not to smile, biting down on his lower lip.
Gabriel turned to the sergeant who was busy checking her nail polish and when she looked up at him, he said, “Let’s be honest. You’d love it.”
She smiled wryly at him. “Do I get to shoot people in this plan of yours?”
“As long as you keep them distracted, you can shoot whoever you want, Stiletto,” Gabriel said.
She always wore high heels no matter what she was doing or where she was going. How she walked and even rode in those heels was a mystery to him. But they weren’t the cause of her road name. The stiletto knives she always carried on her were. He’d seen her use them enough times to know not to piss her off.
“Good call, prospect,” Joker said and turned to walk away. “Stay with the bikes.”
Zayne saw the frustration clear on the kid’s face, but he was smart enough to keep his trap shut. He should know by now that protesting Joker’s orders wouldn’t get him anywhere. Gabriel leaned back against his bike and crossed his arms over his chest, a sullen expression on his face. He looked longingly after Stiletto and the other two who were driving off on their bikes.
Zayne felt for Gabriel. The kid wanted to prove himself, but there was simply too much at stake for them to risk Gabriel screwing up. He gave Gabriel a stern look and turned to follow Joker. They were in York, Pennsylvania at another MC’s clubhouse, because they’d stolen quite a few crates of weapons from them and they were going to get them back. They were a klick from the edges of the Henchmen’s property line, and they were making their way there on foot so the Henchmen wouldn’t hear the bikes approaching from the back.
“We’re gonna have to move fast,” Zayne said. “I assume you have a way to get the crates out of here?”
Joker stopped and looked over his shoulder, a smile pulling at his lips and making Zayne fear his answer.
“Bandit’s on his way with a van.”
Zayne blinked at Joker and asked dubiously, “You let the guy who can barely ride his bike drive a van?”
“Don’t worry.” Joker turned back around and continued walking. “You get to drive it back. Bandit will take your bike.”
Letting anyone else ride his bike felt like a violation and just the thought of Bandit defiling his girl made him see red. There was no way he was letting Bandit or anyone else near his bike.
“Why the fuck was I not involved in this decision?”
Joker made a snort-like sound before saying, “’Cause you pissed off before you could be a part of the decision making.”
“I was following a lead. One that led me here,” Zayne grumbled.
“What do you want? A medal or something?”
As soon as they neared the fence line of the property, they both fell silent and drew their guns. They moved together like they had in the army. It might have been years since they’d been discharged but being back on US soil hadn’t changed how they worked together. They’d known each other since high school and they’d gone to boot camp together and then they’d been sent to war. They’d had each other’s backs the whole time. They’d worked like a team for years, and they still did.
Joker held up a closed fist and they both came to a stop. Zayne could see the two guards past Joker’s right side. They put their backs against the brick wall of a house and waited, keeping their eyes open and their ears peeled. Gunfire sounded from the front of the clubhouse. The two guards perked up but didn’t leave their posts, which was unfortunate for them.
“We’ve gotta do this now,” Joker said.
Zayne nodded. “Let’s go get our property back.”
Joker dipped his chin and with a hand, he instructed Zayne to stay put. Zayne obeyed and kept his gun aimed at the guards. He wanted to shoot these assholes for taking what wasn’t theirs and he knew Joker did, too. He also knew his VP was trigger happy, especially in tense situations, so he needed to be Joker’s voice of reason.
There was a small hole in the fence he’d found earlier when he’d been doing some recon of the place. Now they were making their way through it. It was a bit behind the shed so they could get in undetected. Joker gave him the signal to split up and Zayne walked to the other side of the shed so they could make their way to the front and the guards from each side.
He could still hear gunshots, but he knew it wouldn’t be long before Stiletto and the others would need to retreat. The two guards were standing six feet from the shed, all their attention on listening to the gunfight. They never saw Joker and him coming. They each grabbed a man from behind, putting pressure on the sides of their necks to cut off the bloodstream. The man he was holding thrashed against him, but it was no use. He passed out and Zayne let him fall to the ground. They needed to work fast because save for killing the men, their only option was to lock them in the shed and they’d wake up soon enough.
He turned, covering Joker’s back. When no one came running out of the main building, they went to the shed. Joker pushed down the handle and when nothing happened, he shook his head and stepped back to give Zayne room. Zayne kicked in the door and walked into the shed. A glance around made him breathe easier. The familiar crates filled the small space. He felt more than heard Joker walk up behind him and looked over his shoulder.
With a grin, he said, “Jackpot.”
The excessive use of a car horn alerted him to his cousin’s arrival. He grabbed his wallet and keys, shoving both into the inner pocket of his jacket. He was out the door, letting it slam and lock after him, a few seconds later. He took the stairs two at a time, knowing he needed to hurry before Harper got annoyed and ended up pissing off all his neighbors.
Harper’s red Toyota Yaris was parked at the curb, her window rolled down so she could yell at him to hurry up when she saw him. A smile teased his lips as he walked around the car to get into the passenger seat.
“Did you oversleep again?” Harper asked as she pulled the car back out onto the road.
“No. You’re ten minutes early.” He felt a grin form on his lips. “Eager much?”
“Shut up,” Harper mumbled.
It was shit o’clock in the morning because they were on day shift at the firehouse where they worked, and Harper wasn’t a morning person on a good day. Her being ten minutes early was solely because she hadn’t seen her girlfriend in two days.
“Speaking of Mel,” Harper said. “You’re coming Friday, right?”
Nash pulled a face even though she didn’t see it.
“Why do I have to be at her parents’ wedding anniversary?”
Harper sighed. “Because it’s Mel’s parents anniversary.”
“She’s your partner,” Harper said, and he could practically hear her eyeroll from across the room.
“Yeah, but now she’s your partner, too.”
“Are you jealous?”
“No, I’m just tired because all she talks about is you. Guess who she comes to for advice on you? Me.”
Harper scrunched up her nose and said, “That’s not good.”
“I know,” Nash said with a deep sigh.
It was downright horrible. Him giving advice on his cousin, who also happened to be a woman, just wasn’t going to end well. Anything he said had a possibility of coming back to bite him in the ass later.
The drive to their firehouse in Fells Point didn’t take more than fifteen minutes and when Harper parked the car, Nash caught sight of a few of their coworkers in the parking lot. Caleb was standing outside, fumbling with his phone, and Nash wasn’t surprised when Harper made her way towards him, dragging Nash with her.
“Hey, Caleb. Can you please explain to Nash why he needs to go to Mel’s parents anniversary,” Harper said.
Caleb’s head shot up, his eyes wide. Caleb opened his mouth, then shut it and shook his head.
“Did she bully you into going as well?” Nash asked.
Caleb nodded, a defeated expression on his face. The guy was a bit of a push-over when it came to Harper. They’d been best friends since high school so Harper knew exactly which buttons to push to get him to do what she wanted.
“Tony’s coming too,” Caleb mumbled, speaking of his partner.
Nash patted Caleb on the back of his shoulder while giving the man a pitying look.
“At least there’ll be booze,” Nash said with a sigh.
Caleb nodded and said, “That’s the only reason I’m going. That and Tony’s forcing me.”
“You two suck,” Harper said and flipped them both off.
“Dick maybe,” Nash said under his breath.
From the wide grin spreading on Caleb’s face, he’d heard him. Nash shook his head and pushed at Caleb’s shoulder. Caleb chuckled as he stumbled backward. They walked into the garage where he saw Mel sitting in the driver’s seat of the ambulance, the door open as she talked to Paul, one of the firefighters. Harper made her way towards Mel while Caleb and Nash continued inside to the locker room.
They passed a few of the firefighters from the night shift on their way and they all looked tired as hell. They found their lieutenant sitting on the bench, getting into his uniform. They changed clothes while listening to Lieutenant Fletcher talk about his daughter’s upcoming baseball game. They both promised to be there to cheer on Kelly. Every time they had a weekend shift, Kelly and her mother showed up with baked goods. Kelly was a sweet and smart girl who loved being at the firehouse as much as they loved having her there.
The alarm went off and the second he knew it was for him and Mel, he cursed and took off into the garage. He ran to the ambulance and as soon as his door slammed behind him, Mel drove off.
“You’re coming to my parents anniversary party, right?” Mel asked.
Nash held back a groan and said, “Of course, I am. You’re my partner.”
“She’s forcing you, isn’t she?”
Nash snorted out a laugh. Of course, Mel saw right through him.
“You don’t have to come if you don’t want to, Nash.”
“You know damned well I’ll be there because you’re the one who asked,” he said. He meant it, too. He sighed. “Everything would be so much easier if you weren’t screwing my cousin.”
They shared a quick smile before they both turned their attention back on the road. Nash sat up straight when they neared the address. Mel pulled over and they got out of the ambulance, grabbing their gear as they went. The walked up to a big iron gate and when they found it locked, they peeked through the bars. A group of people were standing in a circle and Nash guessed their patient would be in the middle.
“Did somebody call for a medic?” Mel yelled.
A few heads turned their way. Some started arguing but no one came to let them in.
“I think we might need some assistance,” Mel said.
Nash bobbed his head and let her make the call. He tried to assess the scene. The men were wearing leather cuts with something printed on the back. A row of motorcycles were lined up on one side. This could definitely turn bad fast.
Mel cursed and said, “Something’s wrong with my ‘talkie.”
Nash frowned and tried his own but got nothing but static.
“Shit. I’m gonna run to the ambo real quick,” Mel said. “Don’t you dare go in there without me.”
He nodded absently, a set of bright green eyes having caught his attention. The face and body that went with those eyes made his brain stall for a long moment while the man walked up to the gate, a scowl on his face.
“You have to let us in,” Nash said.
“You need to leave. We don’t want cops here,” the biker said.
“If you don’t hurt us, we won’t need any cops.”
The biker looked indecisive, which worked for him. He might not need more than a little push.
“Please. Your friend is hurt. Let us help him,” Nash said.
With a groan, the biker shook his head and stepped back, opening the gate by typing in a code on the keypad off to the left.
“Mel,” Nash yelled over his shoulder. “Get back here and cancel the backup.”
With the gate open, he stepped inside.
“Thank you,” Nash said as he followed the biker. “I’m Nash, by the way.”
Nash was baffled for a second, not expecting to get a name like that. Then again, the guy was a biker. There was nothing normal about him. As they neared the group of people, he noticed a pair of feet on the ground, which meant his patient was in the middle of seven, huge biker guys. On the back of their vests was an image of a skull wearing a crown and ‘Salvation Kings’ written above it.
“Hey, I need you all to move back,” Nash yelled.
Not a single one of them reacted.
“You heard him. Move,” Saint growled.
It had the desired effect. People scrambled to get away. Only one stayed. An older woman sat on the ground with the man’s head in her lap. Nash kneeled down and put his bag on the ground. The man was fortunately conscious.
“Hello, sir. My name is Nash. Can you tell me what’s happening?”
“I’m having a heart attack that’s what’s happening,” the man grumbled.
“Oh, stop it. Just tell him how you’re feeling,” the woman said.
Nash glanced up at her while taking the man’s pulse.
“I’m Nancy and this grumpy bear is Anders,” she said with a fond look at the man.
“My chest and my left arm hurts. I got dizzy and tripped over myself. Auggie, the dumbass, tried to catch me,” Anders said and glared at someone behind Nash. “I weigh more than the double of you, squirt.”
“I went down with him, but I cushioned his head.”
Nash glanced to his left where a smaller, blond guy was standing, holding one of his hands against his chest. Blood ran from his knuckles. Nash returned his attention to his patient while saying, “Get that checked and don’t shake it.”
Auggie mumbled a, “Yes, sir.”
“Do you have any history of chest pain or heart conditions?” Nash asked as he worked to get Anders’ shirt open, so he could place electrodes on his chest to take an ECG. Luckily, Anders didn’t have a lot of chest hair.
“The only chest pain he gets is from beating on it so much,” Nancy said.
Mel showed up with the stretcher then. She crouched down on the other side of Anders, saying, “Talk to me.”
“Possible MI. Starting the ECG now,” Nash said.
It only took a moment for it to start up. One look at the monitor and Mel said, “Let’s get him in the ambo.”
Nash gave a nod of agreement and glanced over Mel’s shoulder. His eyes met Saint’s and he asked, “You mind giving us a hand?”
Nash had a feeling Anders would much rather accept help from Saint and he’d need it if he was to get on the stretcher. Saint gave him a nod and put his arms under Anders’ shoulders. Together they got Anders onto the stretcher and then they were off to the ambulance. Once the stretcher and Anders were in the ambulance, Nash gave Nancy a hand to help her up the step before getting in himself. Mel was already behind the wheel so all he needed to do was close the doors. Before he could do anything, though, Saint was there, closing one door and just before he closed the other, his green eyes locked with Nash’s.
“Thank you,” Nash said.
Saint gave him a short nod and closed the door.
Watching the ambulance drive off with Grizz and Nancy felt wrong. As much as he wanted to drive after them, he knew he needed to stick around and make sure no one did anything stupid. Some of his brothers were easily riled and the last thing they needed was them beating on each other.
He walked into the clubhouse, heading straight for the bar. The sergeant was already there plundering the liquor cabinet. She looked up when she heard him and raised a bottle of Jack Daniel’s towards him. At his nod, she grinned and closed the cabinet door. She grabbed two tumblers and set them and the bottle on the bar.
“One hell of a way to start the day, huh?”
She poured them both a generous amount and when he grabbed his glass, she clinked her own to his and threw back the whiskey. He raised a brow at her and grinned when she shot him a wink. Addison “Stiletto” Parish wasn’t an average woman. She could drink more than most of the guys in the club and she was strong-willed and tough as all hell. When she spoke, everyone listened because they knew the consequences of ignoring her. She upheld the laws in the club, and everyone had great respect for both them and her.
Zayne took a sip of his whiskey. He’d never been a day-drinker but watching Grizz go down like that made the alcohol seem much more appealing.
“You think he’ll be okay?” Addison asked, concern showing on her face.
“I think he’s one hell of a fighter and he’ll have the hospital staff wanting to kick him and his filthy mouth out in no time,” Zayne said.
Her lips quirked into a smile. “That’s true.”
Zayne smiled at her and took another sip. Addison filled her own glass again.
“That paramedic was something else. That gorgeous face and all that dark, delicious skin. I bet his body is just as mouthwatering,” Addison said with a pointed look at Zayne.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“The only people who say that are people who know exactly what you’re talking about.”
Zayne shook his head and sighed. He turned his back to her and leaned against the bar, his glass hanging from his fingers. She always knew things she wasn’t supposed to. Saw things no one else did.
“Maybe,” he said.
Addison grunted and he sighed when he heard her get up onto the bar top. She sat next to him with her legs hanging over the edge. She nudged his arm with her knee, making him look at her.
“Maybe? That’s all you’ve got?” She shook her head, something like outrage on her face. “Babe, even I wanted to fuck him, and I don’t do older guys.”
He couldn’t help but snort at that. “He’s probably younger than me.”
He didn’t consider his thirty-one years that old.
“Yeah, but you know I like them barely legal,” Addison said, twirling a blonde strand of hair around a finger while she batted her lashes at him.
He was only three years older than her, but she didn’t date anyone over the age of twenty-two. She’d once told him she liked them young and eager to prove themselves.
Agitated voices coming from behind him, made him glance over his shoulder. He saw Rooster, one of the full patched members, get in a prospect named Jordan’s face, yelling and pushing him. Jordan threw his hands up and said something that made Rooster take a swing at him. Jordan ducked and moved back, staying out of Rooster’s reach, but Zayne couldn’t let it continue. With a sigh, he pushed away from the bar.
“Rooster. Knock it off,” he growled as he neared.
Rooster turned his gaze on Zayne, saying, “This little bitch was talking shit about Grizz.”
“Was not,” Jordan mumbled, his gaze of his feet.
Zayne sighed. He was doing that a lot today.
“Jordan, go keep Stiletto company,” he said.
Jordan didn’t need to be told twice. He turned on his heels and headed towards Addison with bounce in his strides. He had a hard-on for her, or he should say, a crush on her. The guy was smitten but Addison didn’t spare him as much as a glance. He was twenty-six which made him too old in her eyes. Jordan was a kind man. Too sweet he sometimes thought. He wasn’t sure what Jordan was doing with them. They were a rowdy bunch and danger was a prominent part of their lifestyle. It didn’t fit with the shy and gentle man, but something told him Jordan wouldn’t have a problem with the dangerous parts. There was more to him than what met the eye. He was sure of it.
Zayne turned strict eyes on Rooster and said, “Keep it clean today. We don’t need another ambulance here.”
Rooster got an embarrassed look on his face and agreed in a hoarse voice. The guy had one hell of a temper on him, but he respected authority and orders better than most. Especially from his old lady. Even if no one else could get through to him, she always managed to do it.
The sound of motorcycles made everyone perk up. A few of the guys headed outside and Zayne followed. He watched from the door as the president, King, brought his bike to a stop at the end of the row of bikes. Gabriel pulled up next to him. They’d been gone on a two day’s ride. King’s old lady and the mother of his two kids came walking out of the garage. A wide, toothy grin filled King’s face as he walked towards her. Polly was backing away, waving a wrench at him but that didn’t deter him one bit. King had her thrown over his shoulder the next second. They disappeared into the garage, probably headed towards King’s office in there. Some of the guys were whistling and cat-calling and when the door closed behind King and Polly, they turned their attention to Gabriel. They teased him about his parents, but he just waved them off with a laugh.
Zayne shook his head, a smile finding his lips when Gabriel flipped off Bones. Zayne walked into the courtyard, heading for his bike. He bent down to check the front tire. He needed to take her to the shop so he could get the tires changed. Lennox, Rooster’s old lady, was the head mechanic of the club’s auto repair shop and she was the best they had. She would take good care of his girl.
“Hey. I just heard,” Gabriel said, walking up next to Zayne.
Zayne straightened up and turned to look at Gabriel. Concern was evident on the kid’s face. Gabriel must have known Grizz most of his life, so he could understand the kid being affected by what had happened.
“How is he?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything from Nancy yet, but he was talking and being his grumpy old self when they drove off to the hospital.”
They heard a yelp, and both turned in time to see a red-faced Auggie rush out of the garage. He was still cradling his hand, but he’d wrapped it in a washcloth now. The outraged look on his face gave Zayne a good idea of what Auggie had just walked in on. Auggie headed towards Zayne and Gabriel.
“Why do I always forget to knock?” Auggie asked with a groan.
Gabriel chuckled and a smile pulled at Zayne’s lips.
Auggie narrowed his eyes at Gabriel and said, “Or better yet, you should teach your old man to put a damned sock on the door.”
“Experience has taught me not to try and change my dad. He is one old dog you cannot teach any new tricks and if you try—”
Auggie cut him off with a wave and said, “Yeah. Yeah. I got it. Teach your mom to do it, then.”
Gabriel burst into laughter, shaking his head at Auggie.
“I’ll let you do that yourself. I have to go pick my sister up from school. Pop found out she’s been to a party while we were gone so she’s grounded, she just doesn’t know it yet,” Gabriel said.
“I’m sure that’ll go over well,” Auggie said.
Gabriel sighed, closing his eyes and shaking his head.
“I’ve told pops to let her be, but you know how he gets. He still hasn’t learned that if he tells her not to do something, she’s definitely going to do it.”
“Good luck with that,” Zayne said.
“Thanks. Knowing my sister, I’ll need it.”
They watched Gabriel walk back to his bike, stop in front of it, and then shake his head before heading towards one of the cars parked in the courtyard. That seemed like a good idea. No way was he going to get Dara on the back of his bike. He’d heard her flat out tell her parents that if she was ever getting on a bike, she would be the one driving it. Zayne had a smile on his lips until he glanced down at Auggie’s still bloody hand.
“Let’s get that checked out,” Zayne said.
He started towards his bike but was brought short by Auggie’s outraged gasp. He turned to a scandalized looking Auggie.
“First of all, I’m not riding bitch. Second, I can’t hold on with one hand.”
“I see you’ve got your priorities in order,” Zayne said with an amused grin.
Auggie flipped him off with his good hand.
Zayne laughed and reached into his jeans pocket to pull out the keys to one of the cars.