“You know there’s a fuckin’ rat,” Knox said.
We had been at odds for the last hour. And we were getting nowhere.
“I have to agree,” Grave said. “There’s no fucking way all of this shit didn’t go down without a rat in our midst.”
“But who would do something like that?” Mick asked. “Why the hell would one of us rat on our own damn family?”
“Mick’s right,” Diesel said. “I’m not ready to fully jump on board that there is a rat. There has to be something else going on.”
“Stop being so thick-headed,” I said. “This shit storm didn’t happen without someone telling someone else. It’s too specific and it’s put too many people at risk. I mean, how the hell did someone kidnap Everly from your place that apparently no one knew about!”
“Yeah, I’d like to know how the fuck they found us at your place Diesel,” Grave said through clenched teeth. I could tell that he was still pissed about that. Hell, if I were him, I would be too.
Diesel let out a sigh. “Someone had to go looking into my past. That cabin has been in my family for years.”
All eyes turned to Rock, who quickly held his hands up.
“Don’t fucking look at me,” he said.
“Lay off Rock. I just can’t get behind that one of us would do that,” Diesel said. “We know each other better than that.”
“Aren’t you the one who always told us to read between the lines? To see past our own damn emotions and look at things logically?” I asked. “You’re not looking at this logically.”
“You’re talking about accusing one of our own with cooperating with the feds. With spilling shit about our own club members to a rival club. That doesn’t just make them a rat, Brewer. It makes them a fucking traitor,” Diesel said.
“A traitor we have to flush out,” Knox said.
“And they’re going to retaliate,” Grave said. “Even though they don’t have a fucking leg to stand on, they will. They’ll use any excuse to come after us.”
“Grave’s right,” I said. “Even if you don’t believe there’s a rat, Diesel, you have to believe they’ll come after us. And we’ve got two pregnant women on our hands who will get caught in the crossfire if we aren’t careful.”
“I still can’t fucking believe you two assholes knocked some chicks up with the lives we lead,” Rock said.
“Hey, you shut your fuckin’ mouth,” Knox said.
“Or I’ll fucking shut it for you,” Grave said.
“What? You guys know the life we lead. You got your dicks recklessly wet and now we’ve got kids to protect. Fuck, could you guys not have postponed your love lives for another few weeks?” Rock asked.
“Can I kill him now?” Grave asked.
“I’ll help,” Knox said.
We all turned our heads to face Diesel as he held out his arms.
“Look, we’re all on edge. But let’s get one thing fucking straight. There is no rat in this core group. There never has been and there never will be. It could be someone else in our club, but even that I don’t fucking believe.”
“Diesel you’re being an idiot,” I said.
“But I’m the idiot in charge, so you’ll do as I say. Back off the fucking rat bullshit.”
“And if something else happens?” Mick asked.
“Then I’ll fucking handle it,” Diesel said.
We all widened our eyes and I tried to suppress a grin. Shit. No one ever wanted Diesel to handle shit. He was that kind man that would sit down and tell you stories of his childhood before shooting you in your knees. He’d take you out at every fucking joint and let you bleed out on the damn floor while regaling you about his first childhood lesson he could remember.
Diesel gave a damn, but when he was pissed?
He was done.
Everyone was on their guard during church. We all knew there was a rat in the club, but we had no idea why Diesel was so unrelenting with the fact that there wasn’t. A part of me had learned a great deal from him, and it didn’t stop the question that raced through my mind.
Was it possible that Diesel was the rat?
I shook the thought from my head as we all stood from our chairs. Church was about to be dispersed and there was shit still to do. I had to go home and take care of some shit. I had to check up on my mom in the nursing home. I had to do a ride-around and make sure The Black Saddles weren’t pushing forward with any bullshit we had to keep our eyes on.
But I couldn’t shake how adamant Diesel was about there not being a rat.
I wanted to think like him. I wanted to believe him. I wanted to believe in the integrity of our entire club and what we had built over the years. But I couldn’t help but wonder how all of this was coming to pass. If someone wasn’t ratting on us, how did The Black Saddles find Everly? How did they almost peel this case apart twice? None of it made sense without a rat in the picture.
And for the first time in the history of our club, we were all leaving church with more questions than answers.
The only thing I could do was go home and lay low for a little while. Grave was heading back to his new place where Everly was probably waiting for him and Knox was headed to check on Monroe. Since everything that happened, both of them moved their women to new safe houses, that they were not telling anyone about.
Contrary to how Rock felt about all this shit, I was happy for them. A family was a rare thing to have in our line of work. In the lives we led. If they found someone to be happy with and were expecting children, I couldn’t be happier for them.
I wish I had something like that, honestly.
“Hey, Brewer! Wait up.”
I turned around and watched Mick jogging up to me.
“What’s up, newbie?” I asked.
“Come on. I’ve been with you guys almost two years. Really?” he asked.
“When someone else pledges, you’ll be rid of it,” I said with a grin.
“Look, can I talk to you about something?”
“Sure. What’s up?” I asked.
I crossed my hands over my chest and leaned against my bike.
“Okay, don’t… hate me or some shit for this… but I can’t help but think with Diesel fighting against this whole ‘rat’ idea that he might not actually believe what he’s talking about.”
I furrowed my brow as I pushed myself off my bike.
“What do you mean?”
“Look, I know this could get me into trouble, but we’re pretty much all in accordance that there’s a rat, right?” Mick asked.
“Sounds like it, for the most part,” I said.
“Diesel is the deducer of us all. If there’s anyone that can flush this rat out, it’s him. So… why is he so adamant that there isn’t one?”
I felt my blood run cold as I drew in a deep breath.
“I’m not saying anything bad. I just… think it’s odd.”
“Don’t worry. You’re not the only one,” I said.
“No. I do think it’s odd. I’m just not sure if Diesel is bucking against it because he doesn’t want to believe it or if he might be…”
Mick and I exchanged glances before the two of us started looking around.
“I’m so fucking glad I’m not the only one who was thinking it,” he said.
“You’re not, but we have to keep it between us,” I said. “If there is even a hint of mutiny in this group, we’re in a lot of fucking trouble.”
“I don’t want mutiny. I just wanna know who the damn rat is,” he said.
“We all do. Well, most of us do. Keep your head low for now. Go home. Get some rest. I’m sure Diesel will call on us in a few days. Our distributions and shit have been halted for now so the feds can’t poke around and ruin anything, so our only job is to stay out of trouble.”
“And if The Black Saddles come for one of us?”
“Then we better be prepared for a fight,” I said.
I clapped Mick on the shoulder before he turned around and walked away. I felt bad for the guy. I really did. He became a prospect a couple year back after Diesel introduced him to the group. He was quiet. Scrawny compared to the rest of us. But he was loyal to a fault and a fucking whiz with numbers. We’d quickly promoted his ass to Treasurer because none of us could stomach doing numbers shit all day, but he definitely wasn’t a fighter.
And now, he was having to prepare himself to be one.
I shook my head as I got onto my bike. My plan was to ride back home and keep my head in the fucking sand. Out of all the guys, I was the one that tried to lead as normal of a life as possible. I had a decent home in a place where I had neighbors. There was a little pond beside my house where the kids of the neighborhood would go and fish. Swim. Shoot water guns and shit. I’d sit on my porch and watch them. Make sure nothing happened to them.
It made me feel like I could lead a normal life like that one day.
It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the club. I did. The Dead Souls were my family. My brothers. My confidants. The only people on this fucking planet I trusted. But a part of me liked the idea of having a beautiful woman to curl up to at night. To sink my dick into and press my lips against.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream about it from time to time.
But I wasn’t too sure about having kids of my own.
I pulled up into my driveway and parked my bike in the garage. The sun was beginning to set and I pulled out my phone to order some pizza. I shut the garage door and walked into my home, and I drew in a deep breath.
Walking into this place would never get old.
I looked over at the clock and realized it was too late to go visit my mom. Not that she would remember me visiting anyway. Alzheimer’s was devouring her mind every damn day she was still alive. I had watched her waste away for the past six years. Watching memories from my childhood slip away from her. She couldn’t remember birthdays or holidays. Opening presents under the Christmas tree or carving Thanksgiving turkeys. Hell, we were at a point where she didn’t recognize me most of the time.
And when she did recognize me, she couldn’t remember the last time I’d come to see her.
I sat down at the kitchen table and sighed. This place held a lot of memories for me. I grew up in this home. Took care of it when my father ran off with some bimbo in his office. My mother acted like she was strong. Never cried in front of me and never talked badly about him when I was around. But at night, I could hear her. Sobbing into her pillow from beyond her bedroom door. He broke that woman’s heart and spiraled her into a depression that took her years to climb out of.
I’d quickly learned how to grow up and take care of a family during those years.
I looked out into my backyard and saw images of myself running around. Kicking a ball with my dad while Mom sat on the porch with her coffee. I saw my father and I laying on a trampoline, watching an asteroid shower fly by at four in the morning. I was nine at the time, and it was single-handedly my favorite memory of my father.
But despite that good memory, he ended up being a piece of shit. Which is probably why I was hesitant about having kids of my own one day. I didn’t want to become the piece of shit that he was.
The ringing of my doorbell ripped me from my trance. I got up and pulled my wallet from my pocket so I could pay the pizza guy. I opened the door and grabbed my food, then handed him some money and told him to keep the change. If he was thankful for it, he didn’t show it. Just frowned at me and walked away.
I went to go step back inside, but a car inching up the road caught my attention. I stood there with my piping hot food in my hand as I watched the broken-down vehicle sputter to a stop. It backfired in the driveway and I furrowed my brow, watching as a woman stepped out of the vehicle.
Then a small girl clamored out of the back.
I didn’t recognize them. I’d never seen them in the area before. The house beside me had been vacant for months. Ever since the last tenants moved out. I watched the brown-haired woman scoop her young girl up into her arms and carry her inside, her body moving fluidly as her daughter giggled in her arms.
I watched her ass sway as she carried the girl inside.
At least she was something nice to look at.