Authors: Vivian Lux
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Multicultural, #Contemporary Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Crime, #New Adult & College, #Psychological, #Multicultural & Interracial
Sons of Steel Motorcycle Club #2
by Vivian Lux
All Rights Reserved
This book is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
This book contains adult themes, explicit language and sexual situations. It is intended for mature audiences.
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Table of Contents
Six on six.
Those were the terms. And though they had sounded fair at the time, now that J. was standing in the dusty parking lot of the abandoned strip mall, he wasn't so sure. He and his brothers numbered six all together. Their opponents numbered four times that amount.
"If shit goes down, we're dead," he muttered to Case.
The Sergeant-At-Arms nodded, all trace of his usual good humor erased from his bearded face. J. could see worry lines creasing his best friend's forehead, and the stiff way he still held himself. Two cracked ribs was the official diagnosis from Doctor D. but Case had refused to go to the hospital after the fight with the Storm Riders. They would have asked him how it happened.
"Pretty much," Case nodded. He furrowed his brow and squinted his pale blue eyes towards the east, his expression grim. Case had scouted this location for the negotiations yesterday and declared it safe. Neutral ground, good visibility and miles away from any interested law enforcement. The lonely highway shot straight through the Pine Barrens, vanishing to a pinpoint on the horizon. There was no way the Storm Riders could surprise them. They had the advantage that way.
Our only advantage
, J. thought, digging the toe of his boot into a weedy crack in the pavement. He and Case were the only real fighters in the club, and Case was already injured.
Crash was always ready for a scrap but his bad leg slowed him down, and his brain injury sometimes affected his reaction time. And then there were the three older men. J. pursed his lips as he watched them mill about on the baking asphalt. Doctor D. was a heavy drinker with the proud beer gut to show for it. MacDougal was a demon fighter back in his day, but no one could claim he was still in his prime. His taste for blood had dissipated with age. Now he was like an old, sleepy dog that seldom left the shade of his favorite tree. Only waking long enough to snarl at you before nodding off again.
But most worrisome of all was Teach. J. swallowed when he caught a glimpse of the ruin of his mentor's face. The club president had taken a shattered glass bottle to the cheek in their last encounter with the Storm Riders. It had opened a lurid purple wound under his eye that was still shining and raw in the late morning light.
J. hadn't been there to protect him.
His guilt weighed heavier than his fear. And guilt fed his anger. He clenched his fists, priming his rage, feeling the rush of adrenaline hone his senses. He couldn't control anything else in his life, but he could control his fists. His brothers weren't in good fighting shape, but he was. He was ready to fight for the greater good of the club. He was ready to defend each of them, to fight for their honor the way they had for him.
Everything else was in tatters. Honor was all he had left to hold on to.
He was almost ready to die if need be.
But not quite.
Because when he surveyed the knot of men, the people closest to him in this world, there was someone missing. He had all the backup he wanted, except one person.
He had fallen in love with her quick and driven her away even quicker.
"If I get out of this," J. spoke into the wind, "I'm getting Emmy back."
But the hot breeze tore his words from his lips before anyone could hear them spoken.
It started as a rumble so low he could have imagined it, but the dots on the horizon confirmed. Six riders from the east.
"Head's up!" Case called to the rest. Even though the riders were a long ways off, he still moved to the front of the cluster, his instincts to protect the club honed to a pinpoint.
They were a long way off, but moving fast. Streaks of heavy metal thunder barreled closer.
"No one moves unless provoked," Teach called over the roar. "I don't have to remind you they may have reinforcements out of sight."
He didn't have to remind them.
"Fuckers," Crash growled and spat on the ground in contempt.
"Stop that shit," Teach barked hoarsely. "We're not here to fight them." The older man looked exhausted. "We need peace."
"Fuck peace, this is the next battle in a war," Crash protested. "Fucking bring it."
Not before I find Emmy
, J. breathed in.
Let me get out of this so I can see Emmy again.
The riders made the wide left turn, swooping into the parking lot like a flock of birds of prey. J. recognized Desmond, the president of the Storm Riders. And behind him was a face that sent his blood racing and his fists clenching.
Wayne, the Storm Rider who had started this whole mess. The racist piece of shit who had tried to get between him and Emmy.
J. stepped forward without realizing, his fists balled at the ready. Here was the reason his brothers were hurting right now. The fury flowed fast and strong through his veins. J. could already see his fist smashing into Wayne's sallow, sneering face.
"Get back," Case growled, pushing J. behind him.
"I want first hit on that fucker if it comes to it."
"Ain't gonna come to it," Teach rumbled. "Get back."
The red rage was coming, clouding the edge of his sight. And there was nothing he could do to stop it. No one had the power to calm him when it took over. Except one person.
And she was gone.
I was the only one awake.
The darkness of the clubhouse at night was total in a way that had nothing to do with the place itself. It had everything to do with my own fear.
Because in the darkness it was too easy to forget that it was J. asleep by my side.
In the darkness the sleeping bulk next to me could be Robert.
I shook my head and clenched my eyes shut, but the darkness behind my eyes was the same as the darkness outside. Both invited the terror of my own thoughts.
In the void, my own inner darkness came out to play.
I crouched in the corner, huddled near the heating register. The warm air blew on my naked skin and the chill eased for a moment.
At the same time my skin flushed warm with humiliation.
It had been four days since Robert had taken away my clothes. Four days of huddling in the penthouse, hoping each moment that he would change his mind.
I hadn't meant to make him mad. It was still early enough in our relationship that I hadn't learned to tiptoe around him. I had only wanted company during the long day spent in the penthouse, waiting for him to come home. I ha
d wanted to impress my college friends with my beautiful home and lucky new life.
He had to remind me, he said calmly as he stuffed everything from my closet into trash bags, that all this he bought for me with
money. It was
apartment. I was
girlfriend. I wasn't to be making decisions without
And then he had told me to strip.
I balled my fists in the dark, feeling the deep soreness in my knuckles with satisfaction.
Even the memory of Robert's shocked face as he landed on the lobby floor after I'd hit him wasn't enough to keep the bad thoughts at bay. Because he had sent a repairman to the penthouse on the second day of my punishment. When I didn't answer the call button, the repairman had come up anyway, oblivious to my scramble for safety. I had to huddle, naked and shaking, in my empty closet. He had tramped about the penthouse for hours, looking for a leak in our water line that wasn't there.
Robert had even taken his own clothes away. He dressed at his office for the duration of my punishment.
The entire four days.
I shook my head in the darkness. Panic was rising in my throat again. J.'s sleeping form pressed against me, pinning me between his body and the rough plywood wall of the bunkhouse. The claustrophobic swelter of the un-airconditioned clubhouse had my whole body prickling with sweat.
The sob of terror that tore from my throat surprised me almost as much as it shocked J.
In an instant he was awake, his strong arm flung out over my chest, pulling me close to stop the shaking. "It's over babe," he whispered in my ear, low enough that it could have been my own thoughts.
He was here.
He was real.
I was safe now.
I didn't say anything. I didn't have to. J. never forced me to explain myself. I buried my face into his arm, and his grip on me was tight enough to shut out the darkness. I pushed away the terror as I sighed into his skin, inhaling his warm smell.
I felt his lips on my forehead. He pressed them to my skin and held them there, sealing me with his love. We stayed like that for a long time, just clinging to each other in the dark. It was long enough for my heartbeat to slow and my rapid breathing to match his strong, sure rhythm. My hands traveled across his bare torso to rest on his chest. I felt the calm beat of his heart under my fingertips and moved my head down to press my ear to him. "I love you," I thought.
"Love you too, babe," he sighed sleepily.
I hadn't realized I spoke the works aloud. I had to smile as I buried myself further into his arms. The terror, banished for now outside the perimeter of his embrace, waiting patiently to grab hold of me again. It wouldn't be denied its hold on me for long.
But his arms around me bought me just enough time to be able to fall asleep.