Spark (Black Legion MC Book 1)

BOOK: Spark (Black Legion MC Book 1)
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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.

 

Spark copyright @ 2015 by Kathryn Thomas. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.

 

Book 1 of the
Black Legion MC
trilogy

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Jax Monroe stepped from his apartment with a grudging sigh. No rain as of yet, but the morning was still gray, and the air felt damp as he flipped up the collar on his leather jacket and prepared to mount his chopper. Catching a quick glimpse of his face in the bike’s blindside bar end mirror, he took note of the dark circles pooling under his eyes. With the weight of the knowledge of what was just around the bend bearing down on him for the better part of the night, Jax was left to toss and turn. A small part of him that still believed in miracles wished the deed did not have to be done, but now, as first light poked through a cloudy sky, there was no going back on his word – even if it stuck in throat and made him want to vomit.

 

Paying no mind to the red light on the corner of Hillside and Elm, Jax barreled through the intersection. Let anyone else, law enforcement included, catch sight of him breaking the rules right out in the open, such as it was, one glimpse of the silver skull and crossbones with wide blue wings emblazoned across his back would bring any thought of seeking retribution to an immediate and definitive halt. No one in Deerfield dared to take any kind of stand when it came to the Black Legion. It was an unspoken rule that kept Jax and his crew safe when it came to everything from cutting a corner to receiving due payment and the proper amount of respect, which was the current order of the day.

 

Pulling up alongside the Gorge, open for business with the keg already tapped and bodies in the stools at ten-thirty in the morning, Jax saw Artie sucking on a smoke as he leaned against the side of the building. The burly bald man gave Jax the high sign, and Jax grunted something that almost passed for hello as he stepped to his side.

 

“See that you’re right on time,” Artie started. “Thought for sure you’d find a way to blow this one off.”

 

Artie’s attempt at a low blow came with a teasing smile, and Jax wasn’t in the mood for either as he glanced into the bar and caught sight of his other brother draining a pint of stout. “What’s that?” Jax asked. “His fourth round?”

 

“Nah,” Artie assured him. “Only been here for like five minutes. You know how Mitch rolls – likes to fuel up before he goes to work.”

 

Not that the man couldn’t hold his liquor. If anything, a few drinks made Mitch sharper, far more lethal as if such a thing were possible. Jax felt his hand start to shake, and Artie caught on before he could hide it.

 

“Maybe you could do with your own shot of something,” Artie suggested. “Little liquid courage never hurt anyone.”

 

“I’m good,” Jax assured him. “Rather just get this over with.”

 

“I hear that,” Artie confessed. “But the man knows the deal. Borrow from the Big Boss, and you best pay the piper on time.”

 

Jax formed a counterargument in his head, the words
mercy
and
common sense
dictates
flashing across his brain. But he before he could give voice to any kind of an alternative, Mitch appeared with stray suds on his orange beard and a wicked glint in his eyes.

 

“Hey there, kid,” Mitch said as he roughly slapped Jax’s back. “Big Boss will be glad to know that you got your panties out of a knot.”

 

Jax seethed under his breath and wanted nothing more than to form a fist and slam it into Mitch’s smug face. But what would that accomplish? Maybe he’d get in a few good shots; maybe he’d go so far as to take him down. But that had nothing to do with the matter at hand, and it was better for Jax to go along for the ride, maybe see if there was still a way that he could be of some help. “Let’s just do this,” Jax grumbled. 

 

“Read my mind, kid,” Mitch said with a cold laugh. “Time to shake the tree. See what spills.”

 

As the trio pulled away from the Gorge and headed for the far end of town, Jax gripped his handlebars tighter. Taking a quick look over his shoulder, he remembered a simpler time, a time when he was able to kick off his boots and talk to someone who listened without expectations or demands. When they talked, it was about nothing at all. Nothing important, just the air swirling around them and the feel of the water running over their bare toes. Sometimes they smoked; other times they made no move and just stared up at the trees. One word for it: peace. He missed that; it had been in short supply since…

 

“Here we are, boys!”

 

Mitch pounded his fist into his palm and stomped towards the door. Exchanging a quick look with Artie, Jax felt for his gun in his belt. Last thing he wanted to do was pull the trigger, but if he needed to make a point, the piece might come in handy.

 

“Yo, loser!” Mitch bellowed as he slapped his hand to the frame. Looking past the redhead, Jax thought he saw a small figure crouching in a corner, trying to be invisible.
Go for it, man. Don’t make a sound. Might put him off.

 

But Mitch was quick to follow Jax’s stare.

 

“You believe this bitch?” he said with a smirk. “Like he think I don’t got eyes in my head.”

 

Mitch lifted the heel of the boot to the door when Jax suddenly seized his arm with every inch of strength at his disposal.

 

“Guy, why don’t we just---?”

 

“Why don’t you just remember who outranks you, Golden Boy?” Mitch hissed. “Gonna give a full report when this is all said and done.”

 

Artie held him back, and Jax endured the powerless sensation already washing over him.

 

“Whatever,” he mumbled. “Break it down then.”

 

“Now that’s my kind of music!”

 

Not needing another cue, not needing any kind of permission in the first place, Mitch bashed his boot against the frame. As soon, it nearly came flying off the hinges and he pounced into the house. Moving fast to follow, Jax was at his back and soon saw a withered man shaking below a head of thinning gray hair. He peered through his fingers, but as soon as he saw Jax, a weight seemed to leave his shoulders.

 

“They sent you,” he said, his voice full of hope. “So maybe we can work this or---”

 

“Talk is cheap! And so are you after a bad streak.” Mitch pulled the man to his feet and slammed his body into the wall. The house shook all around them as Mitch plucked his blade from his boot and pressed the tip to his latest victim’s quivering cheek. “So the Saints didn’t cover the spread,” Mitch started. “Now who the hell told you to bet against the house?”

 

“I…I had a tip,” the man said in a quaking voice. “Thought that it was a sure thing.”

 

“Stopped being that as soon as you got close to it.”

 

Bringing the blade down the man’s flesh, he cried out in agony and started to scramble away. Despite the fear that had to be rushing though his veins, he suddenly moved with surprising speed. Dropping to the floor, he attempted a desperate crawl towards some imaginary point of safety, his eyes still pleading with Jax for aid. Jax started to offer his hand when Mitch whirled around and crushed his foot into the man’s side. Turning to his back with a great cry, he futilely tried to shield his face from the impending blows, but Mitch was smiling as he attacked without mercy, his threatening screams reaching for the rafters.

 

“Now we’ve been more than patient,” Mitch said as he punctuated each word with a fresh strike. “But time is fucking money. Make good on your debts, or your minutes are up.”

 

“I don’t have it!” the man pleaded. “But I…I swear I’m good for the vig. I…I just need a little more---”

 

“Oh! Too bad! Clock just fucking ran out!”

 

Jax watched with wide eyes as Mitch brought the blade close to the man’s ear.”

 

“Not quite a pound of flesh,” Mitch said. “But maybe this’ll get you out of the kiddie pool.”

 

A fresh wave of sweat trickled down Jax’s back at the sight of Mitch’s knife slicing into the man’s skin, blood gushing with no hope of stopping.

 

No. No I can’t let this…

 

“Hold up!” he screamed. Jax started to charge forward when Artie held him back with his meaty hands.

 

“You’re here to watch the door,” Artie reminded him. “And to prove that you can---”

 

“Well maybe I fucking can’t!”

 

Shaking Artie off with a sharp shrug, Jax paid no mind to the sound of his body crumpling to the floor as he forced Mitch away from the marked man.

 

“What is your deal, kid? I…fuck!”

 

Jax twisted Mitch’s hand behind his back and sent him to his knees, his feet on his ankles as he held the bully in place.

 

“I’ll take his marker,” Jax said. “For one more week.” Tossing Mitch away like a wadded up piece of tissue, Jax kicked his shins for good measure and hovered over him. “One more week,” he repeated as he drew his gun and aimed for Mitch’s head. “Who the fuck cares if you think you outrank me? You ain’t blood.”

 

Mitch fumed as he struggled to his feet and moaned in pain. “Neither are you. And Boss is gonna hear about this.”

 

“So why don’t you run home like a little girl and start the fuck talking.”

 

With his knife still in his hand, Mitch appeared ready to start slashing into the air when Artie finally intervened.

 

“If it’s good for another week,” he started, “then this is a numbers thing. Changes the playing field. And it ain’t your call.”

 

Mitch snarled and spat at the battered old man before hurrying from the house.

 

“Let’s see you spin your way out of this one, prick!”

 

He took off with a grunt and a roar. Artie was fast to follow, and Jax pushed his gun back into its holster as he helped Sully to his feet.

 

“You okay?” he asked.

 

“I’ll live,” Sully said. “Thanks to you.”

 

“One week,” Jax cautioned. “That’s all the time I can buy you.”

 

“I’ll make good,” Sully promised. “And thanks, again.”

 

Turning on his heel, Jax focused his stare on a familiar face peering from behind a picture frame. Bright blue eyes. Blonde hair that curled just below her chin. And a smile that he found impossible to forget.

 

“I didn’t do it for you,” Jax said. “You’re back on the clock, old man. Better come up with some kind of a Hail Mary.”

 

And with that, Jax leapt back on his bike and prepared himself for the consequences of his call.

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

Lena Sullivan scanned through her phone as the bus raced along an endless highway. The series of unanswered texts bemoaned the fact that she hadn’t taken her roommate up on the offer of the long weekend in Cabo. While the idea of sipping a daiquiri with the sun on her face and the surf running up her legs was all kinds of tempting, she’d been away from Deerfield for far too long. Her uncle said that the phone calls once a week were more than sufficient. He wanted her to focus on her studies, to
make something of herself.
But if that were really the case, a quiet weekend at home was preferable to Bloody Marys for breakfast and the liquor still flowing as the sunny days stretched into moonlit nights with pulsing beats and dancing boys. No matter. The boy that she wanted to see most was not on any beach.

 

The bus turned off the highway and twisted its way along Exit 37. At the signal light, she saw the gas station where she had purchased her first pack of smokes. Barely fifteen and well known to the man behind the counter, Mac Arnold simply shook his head and warned her of the dangers of a black lung. Even as he took a drag of his own and made change. Truth be told, the taste was not as appealing as it looked in the movies. But the smell still had its pleasures. And she could share if a certain boy wanted to polish off the pack.

 

Moving deeper into Deerfield, she glanced at the high school, and was immediately brought back to a place where no pretty girl would ever think to ask her to some tropical getaway. Deerfield then and now was blue collar, striving towards lighter hues. But that didn’t extend to the orphan girl dwelling in her uncle’s hovel, wearing threads from thrift shops. On campus, it made her all kinds of cool. But back home, back here, it made her a figure who endured nothing but scorn.

 

Except when it came to Jax.

 

The dark-haired boy with piercing green eyes had his own cross to bear. No one ever dared mess with him to his face. But behind his back, there was nothing but cold words and harsh smirks.
White trash in leather.
Lena told him that once and feared he would go for the jugular. When he said it didn’t faze him, Lena was grateful; she knew his skillset all too well.

 

***

 

In the summer before her junior year, Lena shot up. And out. September 7
th
was far too hot for a sweater, and the only thing she had clean was a peasant blouse that left little to the imagination. Entering the school with hunched shoulders and her backpack against her breasts, Lena made a beeline for first period and silently prayed she could make it through the gauntlet unscathed. But two senior students, already clad in their red and white varsity jackets, had other ideas as soon as she turned the corner.

 

“Lena! Hey. Where you headed?”

 

She struggled not to shake as she saw Sawyer and Ric glaring as they still towered over her. “Getting to class,” she managed. “Which is what you two should both be doing.”

 

“Got plenty of time before the first bell,” Sawyer said. “Let’s say you give us a chance to see what you got.”

 

She tried and failed to hold her bag close, but Lena lost the battle and winced at the feel of the boys’ eyes on her breasts.

 

“Ain’t they nice,” Sawyer said.

 

“I don’t know,” Ric responded. “Like B-cup. If that.”

 

They shared a laugh and, as Lena blushed at their insult, she took their second of distraction to push away and hurry down the hall. The bell rang and she found her classroom. Struggling to unpack the contents of her bag, she emitted a sigh of relief when a teacher in high-wasted pants and a crooked tie started to wax rhapsodic about the wonders of trig. Numbers in any form were usually her thing, but on that morning she found it nearly impossible to focus as her eyes kept drifting towards the clock. Soon time would be up, and she’d have no choice but to move again. She missed the simpler days of K through Fourth when every subject occupied the space of the same classroom. As the minute hand moved too quickly towards the end of one hour and the start of another, Lena formed a plan. She would be the first student out of the door and head to the nearest girls’ room. Even though she loathed the thought of being late, she would hide in one of the stalls until well after the next bell clanged. Better to be late for class than to face the likes of Sawyer and Ric again.

 

Sitting on the bowl, she let the signal come and go and counted three minutes off. Satisfied that enough time had passed, she quickly glanced at her reflection in the mirror and pushed her hair behind her ears. Lena was almost out the door when she gasped at the sight of the boys who were back. And ready to play.

 

“Found you!” Sawyer sneered.

 

Lena tried to scream and kicked at their legs as they pushed her body to the floor. As her skirt came up over her thighs, she thought nothing of the cold surface coating her skin and squirmed at the feel of their hands invading her flesh.

 

“Relax, Lena,” Sawyer crooned. “We’re just trying to be friends.”

 

“Get her shirt off.”

 

Ric ran his hands up her legs, and as he tore at her low collar, Lena tried to cry out for help when Sawyer gagged her with his mouth and tugged at her hair.

 

“Give yourself a chance, honey,” Sawyer started. “You might even enjoy it.”

 

“I will not!”

 

Scratching at his face, she started to crawl towards the closed door when they dragged her back to the wall, the tiles digging into his knees as she hollered into Ric’s clammy palm.

 

“You’re not going anywhere,” he threatened. “Not until we’re done with you.”

 

Their looming bodies covered her point of view, and Lena batted their fists with her small palms as she found it harder and harder to breath. Hoping that she might just pass out and not have to remember, she came alive at the sound of the door swinging open and a voice she knew with her eyes closed.

 

“Get your fucking hands off of her.” Jax kept his voice slow and smooth as he closed the door and fixed his glare on the ballers.

 

“This doesn’t concern you,” Ric started. “Why don’t you just get the fuck--?”

 

“Dude. Chill.”

 

Sawyer knew enough to pull away and stuff his hard cock back in his pants. White trash in black leather or any other attire demanded a kind of respect, and Sawyer started to leave the room when Jax grabbed his arm and glared into his eyes.

 

“She’s under my protection,” he warned. “And don’t you ever forget that.”

 

“Sure,” Sawyer said with a crack in his voice. “We were just heading to---”

 

“Like hell we were!”

 

Ric lurched forwards, and Jax didn’t blink as he drove his body into the far wall.

 

“Just because you got that skeleton on your jacket, you think that means that you get to call all the shots?”

 

Lena struggled to her feet and smoothed out her skirt as Jax’s face stayed like slate under the possibility of Ric’s attack. He endured the other boy’s spit and sweat and waited until Ric smugly backed away and turned his eyes back to Lena.

 

“Now if you want a taste when I’m done, you can---”

 

“Never gonna happen, asshole.” On the back of those words, Jax slammed his elbow into Ric’s ribs and forced his body to a quivering pile on the floor.

 

Ric groaned in agony, and Sawyer helped him to his feet as he whispered into his ear. “Come on man,” he cautioned. “She ain’t that fine.”

 

“Like I’m taking orders from---”

 

“Yes you are.” Jax was calm as he flipped open a pen knife and dangled the blade in their direction. “Now move out,” he said. “And if you even think about touching her again, you’ll have to answer to me.”

 

Ric still protested, but Sawyer was smart enough to hustle his buddy out of the room.

 

Jax paused, his blade still poised for several seconds. When he seemed sure that they were gone, that they were not coming back, he tucked the knife away and looked back to Lena. “You okay?” he asked.

 

Unable to speak, she could do nothing but nod, her body still shaking as he cradled her chin in his large hand and peered down at her.

 

“Anyone ever tries to do anything like that to you again,” he started, “I’ll be waiting. No one gets to touch you.”

 

Lena bowed her head in gratitude and fell into his chest. Her trembling calmed as he ran his hands through her hair.

 

“I’ve always got your back, Lena.”

 

***

 

From that moment on, Lena still endured the looks and the lascivious grins. But no one dared to lay so much as a finger on her. Jax collected her at the end of each class and saw her to the next room. He sat with her at lunch, and even though he never made a move, not even when they went to the creek, she felt special in his presence. Like she was his girl. She might have considered sticking close to home and never taking off for parts unknown.

 

If it hadn’t happened…

 

Exiting the bus, she walked for five blocks until her uncle’s house finally came into view. It would be good to see him. Tom Sullivan was a ne’er do well, but he’d always treated her kindly. What a surprise when she…

 

The door.

 

It looked as if someone had smashed it in, and Lena’s heart turned to ice in her chest as she stepped forward and held her breath. “Uncle Tom?” she finally managed as she called into the house. “Are you… oh my God!”

 

He held a damp paper towel to his cheek and limped from the kitchen. Lena dropped her small overnight bag as soon as she saw him and took him into her arms. “What happened?” she begged. “Are you okay?”

 

“Lena! I didn’t know that you were coming.”

 

“I wanted it to be a surprise,” she said carefully.

 

He pulled the towel away, and Lena gasped at the blood drying across his face.

 

“Surprise,” he said, trying and failing to make a joke.

 

Lena took his hand and lowered his body to the couch, her eyes narrowing as she examined his fresh wound. “What have you gotten yourself into now?” she asked.

 

When he was slow to answer, Lena held his hand tighter and forced him to answer.

 

“In over my head, honey,” he confessed. “You know me.”

 

Sadly, all too well.

 

“You promised you’d keep it clean,” Lena said as she pushed away and pressed his face in her hands. She flinched when her uncle tried to touch her back, and she stood quickly, making every move to tidy the room. “Guess it’s a good thing I’m here, then,” she muttered. “It sure looks like you need my help.”

 

Sully said nothing as Lena started to pick through the mess. Catching sight of her graduation photo, she remembered Jax standing at the far side of the room, his very presence making the photographer uneasy even as he swore there was no way he wasn’t looking after her. Should she seek him out now? She should have sought him out then. Maybe…

 

“He was here you know,” Sully said.

 

“What?” Lena asked, her reverie broken as she whipped her head over his shoulder. “Who…?”

 

“Aggie Munroe’s boy,” he continued. “He came with the cavalry to collect.”

 

And Lena’s heart sank to the pit of her stomach

 

BOOK: Spark (Black Legion MC Book 1)
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