The dull smack of flesh hitting flesh echoed through basement hallway and up the narrow set of concrete steps. It was followed up by a dull moan, the kind that rattled up from the chest and bubbled out along with lines of blood tinged spittle.
The club’s basement went deep. It was dug down into the cold, hard Detroit earth over five decades ago. It was grungy, dingy, dank and dark. Every spring, it flooded. It smelled terrible, like mold and mildew. It was closed in, the air dank. The only light source came from bare bulbs hung from scraggly wires in the rooms. The walls were cement. The floors were cement.
It was the perfect place for some good old fashioned torture.
Trace’s shit-kickers finished off the stairs and hit the floor. It was freshly dry, given as the rains seemed to have petered the fuck off and the snow was long gone. July. It should have been a month of promise, of ridges, of fucking sunshine and goddamn rainbows. Instead, the acrid coppery scent of blood reached Trace’s nostrils.
Another low moan echoed off the concrete walls. A laugh resounded after. Lord, Tommy loved his job far too much. The guy was what they called an enforcer. As in, he enforced the club’s fucking rules. Snitches ended up in ditches and Tommy was the one to put them there. Not before he got whatever information he wanted out of them first. He was very, very good at his job.
Trace shuddered to think what was happening to the guy beyond those walls. He was about to get a first-hand view. Not that he really wanted to be down there, but Bone wanted to know if the punk had talked yet. Bone, the sick bastard that he was, was beyond going down to the basement himself. Ol’ Prez liked his hands dirty, but not quite that dirty apparently.
Instead he’d sent Trace. After several years with the club, he’d worked his way up as other men either died off, or more correctly, were killed. No one fucking died off around this place.
Not under Bone’s rule, which was becoming increasingly violent and erratic. The summer before, he’d had his VP and his old lady executed. Fucking chased down and gunned down, on the vague notion that Big Ted crossed him. It was bullshit. Big Ted took the fucking Serpents and Scythes serious. They were his lifeblood. He would have died for them.
And he did.
Just not in the way he would have wanted to go down. Bone branded his VP a traitor because he didn’t agree with the guy on some shit. That and he was a little too popular around the place for Bone’s comfort. His men would have strung their own Prez up if they’d found out that the line about Big Ted being a rat wasn’t true.
Trace didn’t know that it wasn’t. He just suspected.
He couldn’t do a fuck about his suspicions.
Bone would kill Trace if he knew what he’d done a year ago.
Which was why he was never going to fucking find out.
Trace stalked into the last room, a large open place where all sorts of gore and mayhem had gone down. There were various devices set up around the place. Tools laid out. Tables with all sorts of goodies. Like a fucking playground for the sick kid that Tommy was.
God, the guy probably committed his first murder at age five. Probably started torturing people at three. He came by it honestly. The guy was the son of Billy, their previous executioner, until the bastard was unlucky enough to get himself stabbed in a fucking knife fight outside a bar. Unrelated club businesses over a piece of ass. Just like his father, Tommy was amazing when it came to torture. Smart at anything else? Not so much.
Tommy was barely twenty and he’d been patched in for years already. Bone didn’t exactly have age restrictions, not when it came to men like Tommy and not when the guy’s father had been a loyal club member.
“Tommy.” Trace inclined his head and his dark hair slipped into his face. He brushed it back and straightened. He tried not to inhale. The scent of copper and vomit, and something indefinable, was rank in the air. Fucking eye watering.
The guy whirled. He was a big man. Over six feet of solid steely muscle. His blue eyes were cold and dead. He had long blonde hair, freakishly long, past his waist long, probably because he believed it was the source of his power or some shit. Currently it was stained pink and dark brown in several fucking spots. He was shirtless, since he didn’t see the point in dirtying good clothes. His black pants soaked up whatever blood he’d spilled.
Judging from the look of the poor fucker strapped down to the chair right above the damn floor drain, a lot of blood had been let.
“Has he said anything?”
Tommy grinned. It was absolutely terrifying. Almost bone chilling. “Not fucking yet. Not anything of use anyway.”
Trace rolled his eyes just so Tommy couldn’t tell how unnerved he was. Fuck, he hated the damn basement. Fucking Bone. Sending him down there. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
“Yeah?” Trace walked slowly around the man. The guy used to be good looking. Real hot shit with the ladies. Dark hair. Bright blue eyes. Straight white teeth. Cheekbones sharp enough to cut glass. He was tall and trim, worked out.
He was also a fucking rat.
Not their rat. Nope. But he’d fucked shit up. He knew about the stolen shipment of coke. A whole fucking truck load. Not a pick-up truck either. A motherfucking semi trailer’s worth had gone missing.
Which left them up shit fucking creek. It left room for Anders and his boys to make a move on their territory and John Anders didn’t miss a damn heartbeat. The guy didn’t exactly run a club, but he had his own force. It was well known that he had some sort of underworld connections and that he didn’t piss around. He wanted to make a move on their territory for a long time. It didn’t take a fucking genius to figure out who was responsible for the missing product. Anders. But how?
Apparently the unfortunate shithead on the chair was somehow mixed up in it. Or at least Bone thought he was and what Bone said was law. If he took a guy and told Tommy to torture him for information about their missing drugs, then that’s what Tommy did. No questions asked.
Trace almost pitied the guy. No, if that twisting in his gut was any indication, he did. He thought he was a machine. Track men down for the club. Get on the scent of the bastard. Serve up club justice. That was his shit. His deal. He never actually killed anyone. Ever. Not once in his life, which was akin to a fucking miracle, given his line of work. Bone knew he didn’t have the stomach for it. They all knew, and Trace was seriously out of fucks to give. He did the tracking. He was fucking good at it, hence his name. Trace. As in, Trace that fucker, and we’ll finish him. He had a name once. A real name. He’d long ago forgotten it.
He had just as much blood on his hands as fucking Mr. Tickles to his left.
As Trace bent lower to the guy’s face, the fucker let out a moan, like he was some kind of angel there to save him. Wrong. Think again. All out of good deeds today I’m afraid.
“So. You know his name?”
“I have his wallet here.” Tommy glanced at the table where a black billfold sat.
“Then you know where he lives?”
“Of course. He told me that a long time ago. Told me a bunch of other shit that doesn’t mean shit. What he didn’t tell me was what I want to know. Don’t you worry though. I have a looong way to go yet.”
The poor fucker let out a pitiful cry. “I don’t know anything,” he pled. “Please.” A layer of bloody saliva formed on his lips.
Trace repressed a shudder. He wondered how many teeth Tommy had already taken. The bastard wasn’t so good looking now with one eye swollen shut, his nose broken, his lips a swollen fucking mess, his cheekbone shattered. He still had all his fingers and toes though. For the time being. He wouldn’t for long. Not unless he caved.
Even after he did, Tommy might still take a few as prizes. The guy probably had jars of them at his house. There was a serious rumor that the fucker had a tooth collection. Not the gold kind either.
Trace’s stomach twisted and bile crawled up his throat. “My advice would be to tell Tommy here what he fucking wants. You get me?” He lifted the bastard’s blood soaked hair. It was squishy and wet and Trace wanted to curse as soon as he touched it. He shook the guy’s head for good measure. No use showing weakness in front of the bloodthirsty son-of-a-bitch right behind him. Tommy loved that shit. He lived for the kill.
“If you don’t, he will know everything about you by the time he’s done. I can personally promise that your family, your sisters, your brothers, your mother, your father, your cousins, your fucking aunts and fucking uncles, your friends, your- fuck. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of coming into contact with you, will be taken out by this club. We will go on a hunt. The war path. We will come for them. Me- I happen to like the older women. I’ve always had a thing for them. Lost my virginity when I was twelve to my English teacher. The bitch was forty. Smoking body. I might have been twelve, but I still made her come. Four fucking times. So as you surely can understand, I really look forward to meeting your mother. I’ll be the best lay she ever had. Women sometimes complain about my size, but I’m sure it’s not a problem to her given that she birthed a large piece of shit like you.” He wouldn’t do anything of the sort. He’d never violated a woman. He certainly didn’t lose his virginity that way. Families, for the most part, were left alone.
Big Ted’s, the exception. His daughter, the one Trace was sent to find and bring back was the entire reason he was standing there at the moment.
She’d saved his life.
So he could return to… to what? To this?
The guy whimpered again. A trickle of blood ran out of his mouth, between his swollen lips. He gagged and the sobbing started. “If I tell you, will you promise to leave my mother alone? My family? They didn’t know anything about this. I swear. I’ll tell you if you just- please. They don’t know that I’m into this.”
“So you work for John Anders then?”
“Yes. Yes, I work for Anders.”
“And how did you get the shipment? How did you know when and where it was going to arrive? Who told you?”
“I don’t know,” the piece of shit blubbered. “I fucking swear on my life, I don’t know.”
On your life. How apt. “Then how did Anders know? How did you know? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you spearheaded the whole effort to get that truck.”
“I did,” the fucker confessed. “I did. I got the order from Anders. I don’t know who informed him. They could have told anyone. One of his men. He has a fucking army. Connections all over the country. You think you’re tough? You and your little club?” The guy laughed. The sound was scary, dark and maniacal. “You have nothing on him. He could crush you like a bug.”
“He could,” Trace admitted. He respected the guy’s sudden burst of defiance and courage. He was going to need that. “But he fucking won’t, because that would mean trouble for him. The kind of trouble he doesn’t want. He’s been amenable so far. So have we. We’ve lived with the uneasy peace, but this- this is going to lead to war.”
“You have leaks,” the fucker babbled. “Leaks everywhere. I don’t know who the rat is, but I wouldn’t doubt it’s more than one. Anders has a long reach. Your whole club will burn in hell before he’s finished with you.”
Trace shrugged. “Maybe.” He glanced back at Tommy. “I think I have what I need.”
“I would have got it out of him. I was taking my time. Having fun.” Tommy cracked his knuckles. The sound echoed off the barren walls.
Trace knew better than to correct him. The bastard knew Bone was going mental upstairs about his missing cocaine. The guy was normally on edge, but damn. When a couple mil worth of blow went missing, shit really hit the fan.
“Right.” Trace straightened. He stalked out of the room. “I’ll report back to Bone. You can take your time here.”
Tommy’s smile was absolutely demonic. “Count on it.”
Trace made it out of the room and nearly to the stairs before the guy’s screams started up again.