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Twisted Secrets: Book 3 of the Twisted Minds Series- THE FINALE by Keta Kendric (1)


Part I

 

 

Chapter One

 

Aaron

 

It had only been two weeks since I’d tracked Megan down and brought her back to my house. I was supposed to find her and kill her for infiltrating my MC, but my dick had stopped me. For as strong as I thought my mind was, for once in my life, my dick had been right.

Not killing Megan had led me to finding out how she’d ended up the way she had. The story behind her actions was so gut-wrenching that it justified her twisted behavior.

Yesterday, we killed seven men together after they’d chased us and followed us into a patch of Copper County’s thick woods.

Once we fled the scene and settled, she tried to run from me again. I didn’t think I was going to have another problem with her running from me again. As her punishment, I gave her a fucking she won’t soon forget. I had her ass praying on her hands and knees for me to stop.

In all honesty, I didn’t know it was possible for someone like me, with a heart as black as coal, to love someone so deeply. I’d do anything for Megan—rob, cheat, commit murder—anything. She likely assumed I’d been talking out of my ass when I told her as much, but I’d meant every word I’d said to her. If someone harmed a hair on her head, they’d feel my wrath.

I glanced at her in the dim light of the early morning, lying against the passenger’s door panel of my truck. She’d passed out on the drive back to my house, since I’d kept her up all night.

As I drove, my mind fell on the men who were hunting us. There was no way of confirming who the mercenaries were after yesterday—her or me. Logic stated they were a group that could have been after Megan because my usual suspects were bikers, gang members, or the occasional wanna-be gangsters making a name for themselves.

The guys I’d led into the woods yesterday had come out of nowhere and struck with military precision. They didn’t care about killing innocent victims if it meant taking out their target. Unfortunately, I was not altogether sure who their target had been.

My MC had hundreds of members spread around five states, and we had many enemies. Megan was only one woman. Who the hell could have been after her that could not only afford hired guns but who could also afford to track her? If I hadn’t known about her books and D hadn’t followed the money trail to her friends, I would probably still be looking for her.

The Russians had come at my MC years ago with the same level of aggression as the assassins that attacked us yesterday. It’s one of the reasons why I kept military-grade weaponry in my possession.

The men yesterday spoke Spanish—that much I was sure of. I couldn’t recall our MC having any type of beef with any Hispanic groups, but I had to consider that there were a few in our MC known for stirring up trouble; the kind of trouble that led to dead bodies.

A flicker of light flashing across my cracked driver’s side mirror drew my attention. I glanced at Megan who was still out before I leaned up and squinted into the mirror to get a better view of the squad car behind us. Most of the Copper County cops left my MC alone as long as we kept our drama out of the public’s eyes and laced their pockets.

“Shit,” I mumbled as I took in two unfamiliar cops. My truck looked like it had taken a slow stroll through hell, and what looked like two unfamiliar Copper County Police officers were pulling me over. When they saw Megan, they were going to take whatever they had planned to the next level.

To make matters worse, we were on a stretch of backwoods roads surrounded by trees, so these asshole cops could do whatever the hell they wanted and get away with it.

Maintaining careful movements, I reached over and took the gun Megan had wedged between her hip and console and placed it under my seat. I did the same to the one I had tucked in my waist.

“Megan,” I called out after I shook her shoulder. She jumped up, frantically searching her surroundings, likely thinking we were being attacked. In a way, we were about to get attacked if the mean scowls on the officers’ faces as they exited the black and white squad car was any indication.  I hadn’t spotted them on the highway, so they had likely been parked off the highway, painting their lips with powdered sugar when they spotted me.

My eyes remained on the officers in the mirror as I spoke to Megan.

“We are being pulled over by the cops. I don’t know these assholes, so I’m going to need you to stay quiet and answer only what they ask you.”

“Okay,” she said, stretching her neck to look back. She reached for the gun that I’d already hidden.

“I put it under my seat. Stay still,” I told her, my voice starting to project my agitation although nothing had happened yet.

The officers approached my truck from both sides, taking careful sideways steps. The sight of my damaged vehicle riddled with bullet holes caused them to grip their pistols as they drew and aimed them at the ground. They stopped at the back edge of the sides of my truck. One had his eyes on me in my mirror, the other I presumed kept an eye on Megan’s door as her side mirror had been shot off the truck.

When they stepped out and away from the tail end of my truck and turned towards me and Megan with their weapons aimed at our heads, I closed my eyes and prayed. I prayed that I wasn’t going to have to take the life of two Copper County police officers.

“Roll the windows all the way down and both of you stick your hands through the open windows!” The one on my side shouted the words as he edged closer to my position. My gaze was locked on him in the mirror. 

“Any sudden movements and we will kill you. I will blow your fucking head off your shoulders!” he shouted. My irritation was heightened by the cocky arrogance in his voice.

As I slowly eased my hands through my window, I glanced at Megan doing the same. We just couldn’t catch a break. Was three or four days without drama too much to ask for? 

The closer the officer came to me, the more I was convinced that this situation was only going to get uglier. The unmistakable sound of his approaching steps as they grew closer matched his cracked reflection in the mirror as it grew larger.

My eyes focused on a specific location in the mirror and didn’t miss the deep frown on his face. The steady aim of his gun at my head kept me quiet, but nothing was going to take away my hostile nature, my own grimaced face, or the liquid fire coursing through my veins.

“I’m going to open this door and you’re going to be a good dog and move out of that seat slowly.”

An angry growl escaped my throat when he called me a dog. Now, able to see him standing outside my door, he took the gun in one hand and ensured it stayed level with my head as he used his other hand to open my door. 

Just as my door started to creak open, I heard the other officer yell, “What the fuck? Joe, do you see this shit. Look who he has in the truck with him.”

Upon hearing his friend’s discovery of Megan, Joe’s fucking finger flexed on the trigger and damn near sent my brains all over the back of my seat. 

Joe pushed his gun even closer to my head as he leaned forward and peeked around me. His eyes remained on Megan a long time before they landed back on me. Disgust was written all over his face. Every frown line he had stretched tighter and deepened.

“So, you’re one of them confused motherfuckers, huh? You like that black poontang?” he spat his questions at me. “Step out of this truck, son, I’m about to teach you what your fucking father should have taught you when you were younger,” he barked his angry words, his voice laced with pure hate.

I rolled my shoulder and eased out of my truck, taking a deep and steadying breath. The partner hadn’t asked Megan to get out yet, and I hope he had sense enough to leave her alone.

As soon as the first pebble crunched under my boot when my feet touched the ground, I was snatched by the shoulder and pushed towards the hood of my truck.

“Get out of the truck, nigger girl,” the partner said to Megan as my face was being pressed into the dented hood of my truck. The jagged metal nudged angrily at my skin anxious to slice a hole in my face. 

Movement on the other side of my truck captured my attention, but I couldn’t see anything with my face turned in the opposite direction. My head was trapped between the twisted metal of my hood and the barrel of Officer Joe’s gun as he shoved it into my cheek.

“You are going to learn today,” he whispered harshly, placing his mouth close to my ear as he leaned into me. His hot breath rained over my face as a few sprinkles of spittle dotted my cheek.

The sound of Megan’s whimper caused me to resist as I struggled to get up. “You better be still before I blow yours and that black bitch’s brains all over this highway. I’ll leave your asses in those woods as dinner for the maggots and worms.”

Patience. Patience. Patience. I repeated inside my head. If I made the wrong move, it could lead to Megan getting hurt.

“Can you believe this shit, Cass? I believe this motherfucker is willing to die for that black bitch.”

I could hear Megan taking deep breaths and wasn’t sure if the officer had her pressed over the hood or not. My body was coiled so tightly that there was no way the asshole standing over me wasn’t being poisoned by my anger.

The officer who’d been addressed as Cass spoke. His deep voice projected over my hood, “I’d never do some backwards shit like this, but I could certainly understand the appeal, especially with this one.”

“Cass, shut your dumb ass up. If your father heard you say some dumb shit like that, he’d punch you in the fucking mouth.”

The butt of the officer’s service gun sank deeper into my jaw and the tight bitterness in his voice intensified. “What’s your name, son? I need to know who I’m about to give lessons to.”

I didn’t answer because my mind was consumed with the best way of taking these motherfuckers out without getting Megan killed in the process. My fists tightened, sounding as if I were cracking walnuts.

“I said, what’s your motherfucking name, asshole!” The words oozed slowly between the officer’s clenched teeth. His hatred at seeing me with Megan had him about to lose his life because I was at the end of my rope.

The low tone of Megan’s voice sounded and snapped me out of the hot zone, but I couldn’t understand her words.

“Shut the fuck up, bitch. I didn’t tell you to talk!” Officer Cass yelled.

“Look at his cut!” Megan yelled, disobeying a direct order from the racist cop.

Patience had vacated my body entirely and I shook from the effort it took to contain my rage. The treaty we had with the Copper County Police Department was about to be ripped to shreds along with this bastard’s body.

“Joe!” his partner Cass called in a low tone laced with concern. Joe didn’t answer his partner because he was too busy glaring down at me, taunting with more of his vicious words.

“Joe!” Cass yelled his partner’s name this time, his voice dripping with nervous tension.

“What? Don’t you see I’m busy over here?”

“Joe, look at his vest.”

Joe’s grip on my neck eased as did the gun he had pushed damn near through the side of my cheek.

“August Knights,” he read out my MC’s name in a low tone. Then dead silence fell over the scene for what seemed like an eternity. A slow wind swept through the leaves of the surrounding trees, making it sound like they were applauding the officer’s ability to read and determine that he was flirting with death.

Joe’s tight grip left my neck and so did the butt of his gun from my cheek. His shoes scraping the concrete sounded as he backed away from me. I eased up, lifting my body to an upright position.

The first place my eyes went to was Megan standing on the other side of my hood. The officer was standing behind her. Brows pinched and eyes begging for mercy, the sorry sack of shit knew he’d fucked up.

“Are you okay?” I asked Megan, not giving a damn about the dicks standing behind us.

She nodded her head, keeping her gaze locked with mine.

“Did he put his fucking hand on you?” I spit my words over the hood at the stone-faced officer standing behind Megan.

“No,” she said in a shaky tone as her gaze landed on the officer standing silently behind me. He hadn’t said a word since he’d read the words on my cut. Megan had no idea our MC had a long history with the police in Copper County, which had me wondering how she knew to tell the cop to look at my cut.

“Hey, man, I didn’t know you were an August Knight.” The officer shuddered.

“Me either. I just transferred down here four months ago,” Joe, the one behind me said in a humbled tone.

His partner standing behind Megan had his weapon holstered and had both his hands raised in surrender. “Look, man,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t want any trouble with your group. I didn’t know who you were until I got a good enough look at your vest.”

“Let’s go, Megan,” I said as I dusted my hands over my clothes. Then, I reared back and socked the motherfucker behind me in the face so hard that I felt his nose crunch under my fist. He fell to the ground, landing on his ass as he clenched his nose, blood oozing between his fingers. He scrambled backwards when I moved, thinking I was going to hit him again.

Instead, I moved toward my open truck door. I didn’t glance back at the officer. I was afraid to look at him because of the twisted shit my mind kept yelling for me to do. I needed to be away from this situation because I wasn’t sure I had the strength to contain the obscene amount of rage coursing through me.

Once we were back in the truck I sat, gripping the stirring wheel. Hunched, the bloody-faced officer walked briskly back to his squad car. His partner had already retreated to the vehicle and had climbed in.

“Are you okay?” Megan asked, her soft tone easing some of my tension. The haze of rage that surrounded me started to fade away and the world started to sound and feel normal again.

“I’m good,” I told her, my loud and angry tone, indicating I was anything but good. She reached across and placed a hand on my arm, which shook with tension under her soft touch.

“It’s okay. We’re okay,” she reassured, and I didn’t know if she was asking a question or making a statement.

My gaze landed on the hand she had placed on my arm before I glanced over at her. “You and me, we are always going to be okay. I just need a moment.”

With that, she dropped her hand and allowed me to take my moment. Mentally, I soothed my nerves as close to calmness as I was going to get them. I started my truck and drove off, leaving those asshole cops sitting in their car. The sight of them grew smaller in my cracked mirror as I proceeded to my destination.

Those police officers had no idea the person they’d been taught to hate had just saved their lives. Even now, I wanted to turn around and release my rage by pounding on their bodies, but I had more important things to worry about. I had to figure out who was hunting Megan and me and more importantly, how to stop them.

 

Chapter Two

 

Aaron

 

We’d just been in a situation that could have turned deadly and Megan sat next to me as cool as a cucumber. My tension had eased as well.

“How did you know to tell that cop to look at my cut?”

She smiled before glancing in my direction. “I didn’t know if it would work, but after hearing some of what you and your father were talking about on the phone and after your father had started allowing me to enter the board room during some of the meetings, I concluded that you all had ties with law enforcement.”

“That was smart,” I complimented her, making her smile deepen. I hadn’t even considered explaining who I was to the cops. Knowing that Megan was in danger, all I saw was red. She was my weakness, and I needed to find a way to balance caring for her and handling my business as usual. 

I avoided the normal route to my house, although it was off the beaten path. I’d taken the scenic drive that was nothing more than an overgrown path through the woods that would take me to within a stone’s throw away from my house. It was the same path I’d taken when I discovered that Chuck and his crew had landed on my doorstep.

Knowing that Megan had been in my house alone with them had driven me past the point of madness. It was the first time that I realized I would do anything to protect her, even if it meant giving myself up.

I’d ditched my truck in the woods that day. After snooping around and discovering the men hadn’t harmed Megan, I sneaked into the house. If I hadn’t feared for Megan being hurt in a gun battle, I would have handled Chuck, Clint, and Dutch in an entirely different manner.

My actions that day marked the first time I’d acknowledged my weakness. At my attempt to be careful, I’d nearly gotten both of us killed. Megan saved my life that day. Although my intent was to avoid a gun battle, she’d initiated one that had lured us away from the grips of death.

The idea that a group like Chuck’s had lurked long enough to find my house made me aware that this new group may have the means to find a way to my doorstep as well. How long had this group been in town? How long had they been watching me and Megan?

Last night, I’d warned my MC about the dangerous group lingering, but I wasn’t worried. For as dumb as my MC sometimes acted, when it came to life or death, they would choose life and survival by any means necessary.

I found a good spot plush with thick trees and vines to park in the woods behind my house. I made a move and started to climb out of my truck to go and check the house, but Megan stopped me, gripping my arm. “I want to come,” she insisted.

I said the magic word, “Please,” again and she stayed put in the truck. She was afraid to let me out of her sight now that I’d confirmed my loyalty to her.

My boot-clad feet trounced across the roots of trees and broken twigs as I crept closer to my house. My instincts told me that after that shootout yesterday, this group already knew who we were. If they were after Megan, they may have tracked her to my MC.

When the back of my house came into view, everything appeared normal, but I approached with caution.

Using the key I’d left tucked into the overhead paneling, I opened the back door. A flick of the knob sent my back door creaking open. A tap of the metal tip of my gun sent the door swinging over the area where Clint’s dead body had lain over a month prior.

My gun remained aimed and ready to fire as the cold steel of my back-up pistol rested against my lower back. Although the house was in order, careful steps led me through my kitchen as I kept my ears peeled for lurkers.

When I stepped into my bedroom, my gaze landed on the area where my safe room was hidden. The thick boxed headboard of my bed kept the entrance of the space hidden. The room sat snug between the walk-in closet and bathroom. I was the only one who knew about the secret space since I’d reduced the size of my closet to build it.

Attached to the wall of the hidden room, I’d strategically constructed my headboard that contained a latch to release it from the wall. The half door hidden behind my headboard opened into the closet-size safe-room.

After reaching into the thick wooden front of the headboard, I unlatched it from the wall. Two forceful heaves sent the bed out of my way. I stooped before the half door and entered the combination that would spring the door open.

Within minutes, I’d entered the room, retrieved money, extra guns, ammunition, and re-concealed the location. I packed myself a bag, packed Megan’s backpack with the items of hers that I could find and headed out in case there was a lookout watching the house.

Megan and I needed to regroup so we could plan our next move. We needed to figure out who the hell was hunting us. Even if they weren’t initially hunting me, my actions in those woods had put my MC and me on their radar. However, when they’d attempted to take my life and Megan’s, they’d place themselves on my radar as well.

I walked away from the house that I’d lived in for three years not knowing when I’d return. The last few drops of dew glistened off leaves as the sun started to rise higher in the sky. The hike back to my truck went by in a blur.

My mind worked overtime, processing the group of mercenaries we’d encountered yesterday. I was hesitant to say the word mercenaries in front of Megan, not that she couldn’t handle it, but she’d been through enough. I didn’t want her to stress any more than she already had or worse, have her take off on me again.

Of all the things she should have been worried about, she was worried about me getting hurt. Me. When my own mother was alive, she didn’t care that much about me. Knowing that someone cared if I lived or died put a spark of color in my heart and brought a smile to my face.

 

Chapter Three

 

Aaron

 

I’d lived surrounded by danger for so long that my body sensed it. My internal sensor for picking up threats sent my eyes jetting around the area that led to our MC’s clubhouse. The dead, empty air swept into my rolled-down windows and filled the cab space of my truck. The air alone told a story I was not ready to hear yet.

The bullet holes in the wood siding of the clubhouse were visible through my dusty windshield as I drove closer. The busted front window and the front door hanging lopsided told me all I needed to know. I turned my truck into the woods to ensure it remained hidden. Once I found a good enough spot, I glanced over at Megan.

“Stay in the truck and put one of those guns in your hands.”

No questions, no back talk, only actions. This was one of the reasons why I loved Megan. She reached down next to her sexy-ass hip and made the Beretta appear. The familiar slide and clap of the weapon being charged made my mouth inch into a smile, despite what I might face inside our clubhouse.

My roving eyes scanned my surroundings once more as I exited my truck with my weapon aimed and ready to put a hole in someone. At 08:45 a.m., it was too early for anyone but my father to be at the clubhouse.

The front end of his truck peeked from the far side of the house when my gaze went in the direction of where I knew it would be parked. My father slept at the clubhouse more than he stayed in his house. I reckon he preferred the clubhouse more because it had been his and my mother’s home. He claimed they’d been happy there once. How anyone, even my father, could have been happy with my hateful mother was beyond me.

There were no visible dead bodies at my first glance of the area. There was no spilled blood. But, the broken glass on the ground indicated that my father had at least shot back at someone. Therefore, he was either dead, dying, or inside killing someone. Entertaining the idea of my father being dead sent rage blazing through my veins.

As much as my father got on my nerves, I loved the old crow. However, there was one thing I knew well about him. He was a fighter. He would go up against the devil if it came to it.

The faint scent of vehicle exhaust lingered in the air mixed with the unmistakable scent of freshly-fired guns. Whoever had been there, hadn’t been gone long and could double back. Several bullet casings dotted the ground, and the deep imprint left by tires scratching on the lightly graveled parking area in front of the clubhouse was visible.

After glancing back to ensure no one was creeping up behind me, I eased the lopsided screen door open and used the toe of my boot to kick the wooden door further open. Shards of glass fell from the square panes that once framed the heavy door, alerting anyone inside to my entrance. Once the door was open, I swept my body around and let the barrel of my pistol lead the way. 

“Dad!” I called out. “You alive?”

Out stumbled my father with a gun jammed down the front of his pants. He had another gun aimed, and it was leading him out of the double doors of the kitchen.

“Motherfucking bastards shot me in the shoulder. I called Karla to come and pluck this bullet out and sew me up.” I smiled at the lovely words my father acknowledged me with.

Karla was a nurse my father had dated off and on for years. Although she was married and about twenty years his junior, whenever my father called her to patch up an injured member of our MC, she came without question.

My father stepped into plain view. His faded black T-shirt was wet with blood as it clung to his shoulder and chest area. I should have been more worried, considering how bloody my father was, but he was a tough old bird that didn’t like to be coddled.

“Fucking mercenaries, like you said. I think they came here as a warning. If they’d wanted me dead, I probably would be. They were in a black SUV with tinted windows. When one stepped out of the vehicle, and I saw a gun in his hand with a silencer attached, I didn’t wait around to see what the fuck they wanted. I started shooting, and they sure as shit didn’t mind shooting back.”

The people we were dealing with weren’t bikers, and I was starting to seriously doubt they were an enemy of the MC. Megan may have been right that these assholes were after her.

“Who the fuck are these people, Aaron?” my father asked. He knew that I should’ve had an answer to that question by now. Just because I was willing to go to war over Megan didn’t mean my father was and it damn sure didn’t mean the rest of my MC would.

“I don’t know who the fuck they are,” I replied. “We deal in guns and drugs, so it could be a faction trying to take over our gun business.”

My father shook his head, his mind obviously running wild over who was targeting us. My flimsy excuse would work on the rest of the club, but my father knew better.

I didn’t like the quiet amusement in his eyes as he stared me down.

“I called your cousin, Ansel,” he revealed as a wicked smirk creased his face. His revelation left me speechless for a few moments.

“Why the fuck did you do that? Why the fuck didn’t you at least wait until I figured out who the hell these people are?” I rolled my eyes at my father before pinching the bridge of my nose. “Dad, you know as well as I do, Cousin Ansel’s ass is as crazy as fuck and he’s as out of control as these damn mercenaries. He likes to kill for the fun of it and he and his band of killers don’t give two fucks about who dies as long as somebody goes to hell.”

I attempted but failed to shake off thoughts of my crazy-ass cousin. Two years ago, I’d left the MC for two months to help our gun supplier with a little problem they had that could’ve demolished our gun deal entirely. While I was away, my father ran into a little trouble with a rival MC. Long story short, the MC was no longer heard from after my father called my cousin, Ansel, for his brand of help.

Ansel and his crew ate through a third of the motorcycle club and killed over twenty-five men in less than a week. The rest of the MC had scattered or had gone into hiding for all we knew. We’d never heard anything else from them after Ansel got a hold of them. The Feds and every agency in the country was still sniffing around for some of the bodies.

Cousin Ansel was who you called whenever you’d run out of options, not when you hadn’t even figured out the problem yet. I cupped my forehead and rubbed my tired eyes. “How long before he arrives?” I asked my father.

Ansel lived and worked illegally out of California. He was a member of our MC and often joined us whenever we gathered and went on group bike rides.

“He said he’d be here sometime tomorrow,” my father answered with that smirk still on his face.

I leveled him with a hard stare and prayed that his shot shoulder was hurting like hell. He threw up his palm on his good side in reaction to my angry glare.

“What did you expect me to do, Aaron? You called me last night telling me you and that black wife of yours had dropped seven bodies in the woods. Next thing I knew, the damn television was lit up with dead bodies and a blown-up car like a fucking war had taken place in those woods. Before day hardly breaks, motherfuckers are blowing holes in the clubhouse with silenced weapons.”

When my father put it that way, it did sound bad. I’d been too busy searching for and fucking Megan, my, black wife, as my father had so elegantly put it, to care about checking out the news.

My dad leaned in and lowered his voice like someone was listening to us. “Is she with you now?” The fact that my father was referring to Megan as my wife meant he’d managed to swallow his pride and accept that I was not going to get rid of her.

“Yeah. You got a problem with it?” I asked, daring him with my gaze to say something stupid.

He shook his long, crooked finger at me. “You know fucking well I got a problem with it, but we got bigger problems to worry about than you claiming a woman who’s forbidden to us.”

My dad’s loud laugher irked my fucking nerves as he shook his head. That damn smirk had returned to his smug face.

“You know how Ansel is. What do you think he’s going to do when he sees your new woman?”

The ache in my head grew sharper, and my left eye started to twitch. The idea of what Ansel might do once he found me with Megan sent my blood pressure shooting through the roof.

“Dad, stop flapping your damn gums and make yourself useful. Warn everybody about what’s going on so they can be ready if more shit goes down. To be on the safe side, send them to the safe houses. I’m going to do some sniffing around. If they found the clubhouse, someone who knows us was likely bought and has sold us out or was tortured and forced to talk. But that doesn’t matter. The motherfuckers came at us, so either—”

“They die or we die,” my father and I spoke the statement simultaneously. Whenever we went into survival mode, that specific statement was tossed around a lot. Crazy thing was, we meant it.

 

Chapter Four

 

Aaron

 

After questioning my informants spread around the area, I staked out known areas for trouble. The only useful information I found was that a new group had landed in town asking questions and sniffing around for someone. They wore the same tactical style clothing as the ones we’d left dead in the woods wore.

The group was lurking, but they weren’t giving up a lot of information. In Copper County, something as simple as what you wore or what you drove could give you away. Whispers were saying that there were two groups, one in town and a second leg lingering outside of town. What their mission was, no one seemed to know for sure. The information I truly wanted was where these people were staying.

Megan didn’t leave my side as I went around investigating and talking to every contact I had. We ended up staying at another motel after I’d agreed to meet the rest of my family at the safe house the next day.

 

***

 

I pulled up outside my MC’s safe house and parked. It was a place I’d purchased a few years ago for members who’d gotten themselves into trouble and needed to lay low or hide from criminal charges.

The house, like my house, wasn’t under my name and only our chairmen knew the location and had the right to give a member in trouble sanctuary at the house. For some members, this was going to be their first time seeing and knowing the location or even knowing that there was a safe house.

The house was a two-story, brick, four-bedroom home in an upper middle-class, quiet neighborhood. I’d added a six-foot privacy fence around the property—more for security than privacy.

My Aunt Mona lived in and took care of the house until we needed it. She claimed to be afraid of the lives we led, so when any of us came around, which wasn’t that often, she went back to her estranged husband until we left the house.

The house had a large basement that we used for our meetings from time to time. Any one of the club members could be down in the basement within the hour, planning and strategizing.

I placed my hand atop Megan’s to keep her inside the truck with me. I needed to have a serious talk with her. She glanced up at me as her small hand turned and cupped mine.

“No matter what, you don’t know who these people are. If this is a group truly after you and the MC finds out, some of them will not hesitate to turn you over to them as long as they can get something out of the deal.”

Her mouth worked up and down before she spat her words out. “I don’t want anyone getting hurt because of me. You should tell them that I might have brought this trouble to your doorstep.”

I pursed my lips and shook my head, turning it slowly. “No. I’m not a hundred percent certain that these guys are after you. Until I am, you say nothing.”

The space between us grew silent and tight. Ever since Megan had told me about her past of how she’d been brutally raped and forced to watch her foster father murder and rape young girls that he’d gotten her to lure to him, I couldn’t shake the story. After she’d uttered her foster father’s name, I couldn’t shake the idea that I knew that name.

“Carlos Dominquez. I hate to bring it up right now but, who the fuck was your foster father?”

Her throat bobbed before her neck sunk into her shoulders and her head dropped. “Have you ever heard of DG6?” she asked in a shaky voice.

This time, my mouth worked back and forth without words. The confirmation of who her foster father was slammed into my brain with the force of a bullet. This was the big secret she’d been keeping from me. This was the reason she used an alias. This was why she’d felt the need to protect me by leaving me. This was why she’d been running for years.

A deep calming breath of air that I desperately needed filled my lungs before I spoke. “The famous DG6 gang. There isn’t a criminal around that doesn’t know what DG6 is.”

The air started to seep out of the truck, growing thinner by the second, causing me to struggle for breaths.

“So, your foster father was a member of the gang?”

Megan unclamped her clammy hand from mine. Her leg started to bounce as she clenched her hands together and wrung them so hard that it looked painful. I didn’t like that far-off look in her eyes.

“I killed Carlos when I was fourteen. That was ten years ago, Aaron. My foster father wasn’t just a member of DG6—he was one of the original six.”

Her confirmation caused a cold chill to race through my body.

“He and his five brothers started the gang. I didn’t find out that Carlos was a part of the gang until after I’d landed in his care. He was using his status as a foster father as a part of his cover—hiding in plain sight from some of the murders he and his brothers had committed.”

Megan’s words stunned me, and I was virtually speechless for the first time in my life. DG6 had started out as a small gang that had spawn into a cartel that had the meth market locked so tight that only the suicidal were brave enough to challenge them.

Megan remained silent, letting the words she’d spoken claw their way into my head.

“You killed an original member of DG6?” I couldn’t believe I was sitting next to someone who’d survived DG6’s wrath. “And what about your foster brother and mother? Were they a part of the gang too?”

She nodded her head, moving robotically.

“David was Carlos’ blood nephew. Carlos’ wife had been with him since high school and was as much a part of DG6 as he and the nephew were.”

Since there was very little oxygen in the cab of my truck, I found it difficult to form words and talk. My grip on the stirring wheel loosened, and my hands fell to my sides. I stared straight ahead, not seeing anything in front of me because a million thoughts sparked inside my brain at the same time.

Megan’s confirmation explained why the foster mother hadn’t lifted a finger to help her and why her foster brother was as ruthless as his uncle. Megan had been placed in a house with a bunch of fucking poisonous vipers. It was a wonder she’d made it out of there with her life.

“Fuck,” I uttered, more to myself than to her. “This explains some shit. That’s why they never released the family name to the public. That’s likely why they were able to put you away without going through the courts. It was to protect you. The law couldn’t allow your location to get out.” My body turned in the seat. I wanted to see Megan’s face when she answered my next question. “Your time in that asylum—you hadn’t actually lost your mind, had you?”

“No, I don’t think so. I’d been daydreaming about killing my foster family for a long time. I didn’t have a choice. I had to kill Carlos.”

She sounded as if she were still convincing herself that she’d done the right thing.

“I couldn’t let him keep killing young girls. I also knew that if I killed him, being who he was—an original member of one of the most dangerous and deadly gangs in the country—I would have to stay hidden by any means necessary. I knew, even at fourteen, that his family was never going to stop hunting me. I knew they would kill me no matter what Carlos had done to me. When I killed him and his family, I purposefully pushed my brutality to the extreme. I had to look as crazy as possible in the hopes of getting into one of the most secure prisons or mental asylums in the country.”

My gaze bore into the side of Megan’s head as she cleared her throat. She continued to glare into the windshield as she prepared to tell me the rest of the most unbelievable shit I’d ever heard.

“I even went as far as making a list of the top five most secure mental asylums in the country. Even if I had gone to prison, I had planned to do everything in my power to get committed. While I was killing my foster family, I must have at some point really snapped because I went even further than I had planned. In the mist of stabbing Carlos, I figured why not stab him for each time he’d raped me. I did the same to David. Marina, I stabbed her ten times for each girl Carlos had killed and ten times for sitting by and allowing him to rape me. My actions ended up getting me thrown in number one—Ravencrest.”

I knew from the media that Ravencrest was still known for being one of the most secure mental asylums in the country. The place rivaled some of the most secure super-max prisons.

“Ravencrest was one of the places I knew DG6 would have a hard time getting to me.”

My forehead creased. “So, what was your plan for when you got out?” I tried to shake off the idea that a fourteen-year-old could or had to think like this. This shit was unbelievable.

“I honestly never thought I’d get out. I didn’t know the authorities had found a video of what was being done to me until I was up for release. The video is what helped to free me. It justified my actions, I suppose. Once I was released, I didn’t know how to work or co-exist around normal people anymore. The one thing I did have was my harsh upbringing that had taught me how to survive.”

She took in a deep calming breath. I’m sure she had to prepare her mind to reveal the rest of the story she had buried in her head.

“I lived on the streets for months and traveled across several states following other homeless teens. I was hiding in every crack and corner until my husband found me. I was eighteen, and he was twenty-one when we married. I was mindful that DG6 would always hunt for me, so I stayed indoors as much as I could. My husband’s military status kept us moving around, which was perfect for someone with my past. If my husband hadn’t been killed in the war, I would have left him. I believed DG6 would have eventually tracked me down and killed us both. After my husband’s death, I received an inheritance, and I’ve been running ever since.”

So, that was how she’d been able to live and move around without an income. I turned my attention back over to Megan.

“The longer I was on my own, the better I became at hiding and staying a step ahead of DG6. I tried to never let myself get comfortable in one place. I knew that DG6 wouldn’t stop until I was dead or worse, their prisoner. I’ve never been afraid to die. It’s why I do some of the crazy shit I do. However, I’m terrified of suffering. Seeing what DG6 does to their enemies and witnessing what Carlos had done to those girls is what’s kept me running all these years. I know it sounds crazy, but I’d rather die a quick death at the hands of a stranger than a slow agonizing demise at the hands of DG6.”

“Fuck,” I said. Complete sentences escaped me. DG6 had been killing, raping, and taking the country by murderous storm for over a decade. They’d killed more cops and federal agents than any other gang in the country by blowing up three police stations. One was to keep a police informant from presenting information in court. The second one was to kill three rival gang members. Finally, they’d blown up a part of a police station because one of the cops inside had been having an affair with one of the DG6 member’s wife.

DG6 didn’t care about killing innocent people or large groups of innocent bystanders to get what they wanted. Their merciless appetite for violence and destruction was what raised their danger meter well above groups like ours. They intimidated law officials to the point that most were afraid to even pursue them. Now, I understood why their hired guns were willing to stop at nothing to get their target—Megan.

My eyes closed on a deep inhale that I released it slowly before placing my hand on Megan’s shoulder.

“Okay, Megan, we can’t ever tell my MC that these motherfuckers are after you. My MC is ready to fight because those motherfuckers came into our hometown and started some shit. So, if this is DG6, let my MC think they are after me. Besides, I was the one who dragged you back into town in the first place. So, I’m the reason they’re here. It’s my responsibility to protect you, but I can’t protect you and keep my MC from doing something stupid at the same time.”

She stared, unmoving with her mouth agape.

“Megan!”

She jumped.

“Do you understand what I’m telling you?”

“Yes. Play dumb and don’t let anyone know I have a bunch of homicidal lunatics after me.”

When I turned to climb out of my truck, Megan’s low passive voice stopped me.

“Why are you doing this, Aaron? Let me disappear and lead these guys away from here.”

For as smart as this woman was, she still didn’t get it. I reached across the seat, gripped her shoulder, and pulled her clean over the console until she was straddled across my lap. One hand gripped her waist as I clenched her jaw in the other.

“You made me a promise, Megan. What was that promise?”

“That I wouldn’t leave you again,” she answered.

“I don’t care if the fucking entire Mexican cartel is after you.” Which was what DG6 may as well have been. “There is no way in the fucking world I’m letting you go, especially not off to someplace on your own while a bunch of fucking contract killers are chasing after you.”

My face went cold as my eyes bore into hers, a hint of the killer in me peeking out.

“If this is DG6, a lot of people are about to die, Megan. Either they die or we die. If our time comes, we are going to die like we lived—fighting. If I die before you, you fucking keep fighting. Promise me!”

“I promise,” she choked out. She shook her head before leaning in to give me the most passionate kiss she’d ever laid on me. My dick jumped up the moment her lips covered mine. My dick obviously didn’t understand the difference between a compassionate kiss and a lusty one. When Megan sucked on my bottom lip and pressed it between hers, before slicing her tongue across it, I started to think that maybe my dick was smarter than I had given it credit for.

I eagerly accepted her hot, moist tongue as the heat started in my face and rained down my body.

“You keep that up, and I’m taking out my dick right here, parked in this damn yard.”

She giggled at me but kept teasing me with her mouth.

The cab of my truck became filled with our sighs. Anxious lips smacked and lustful moans sounded as our hands roamed and groped hard at soft parts that heaved and bobbed under our erotic movements.

Bump! Bump! Bump! Went a loud pounding outside the window.

 

Chapter Five

 

Megan

 

The sight of Aaron’s gun rising to the glass presented itself before my brain told my body to panic. Someone stood outside the truck knocking on Aaron’s window, and I wasn’t sure that they were aware that Aaron had a gun aimed at their head. We were parked in the front yard of Aaron’s safe house. Had the assassins tracked us down already?

My first thought was that someone was about to shoot at us until I glanced up into the handsome face of a man who could’ve easily been Aaron’s brother. He didn’t have a beard, but the resemblance was undeniable. The dimming sun didn’t hide his intense and mysterious hazel eyes and his short, dark hair—features that seem to be the only difference between him and Aaron.

Aaron didn’t turn me loose as he flipped the key in the ignition and flicked the button that rolled his screeching window down.

“Cousin Ansel,” he said with no enthusiasm whatsoever.

Cousin Ansel hadn’t taken his eyes off me since I’d glanced into his face. 

“What’s your name, sweetness?” he asked me, still not acknowledging his cousin. I swallowed and raised an eyebrow, unsure of what to make of him staring at me so intensely. I couldn’t tell if his intentions were good or bad.

Ansel leaned in the window, and I backed off as his gaze strolled over the parts of my body he could see.

“Put your fucking eyes back in your head, Ansel. She’s not on the MC’s menu.”

Ansel held a hand up to his cousin, but the smirk on his face said he had no intention of stopping his flirty ways, especially not with me. His eyes still hadn’t met Aaron’s. He opened the truck door from the outside and it creaked and groaned from some of the damage it had endured during the attack.

I climbed out of Aaron’s lap and let him get out first. I was mindful to grab my gun before I made a move to follow Aaron out of his side of the truck. Ansel stood there, reaching up to help me down after he’d shoved Aaron out of the way.

Aaron stood next to his cousin, grinning and shaking his head. They were almost the exact same towering height and build. Their facial features were similar enough for them to be brothers instead of cousins.

The smile on Aaron’s face let me know that it was okay to move. I inched closer to the edge of the driver’s seat, one hand gripping the back of the headrest and the other with a firm grip on the pistol.

Ansel wiggled his fingers, extending his reach closer to me. I glanced at Aaron once more before I made my next move. His head nodded once in my direction, indicating that it was okay to allow his cousin to help me down. 

My mouth flew wide open when Ansel gripped my waist and lifted me from the truck like I didn’t weigh an ounce. The gun I had in my hand struck his shoulder from his quick body-grabbing movement and because I suddenly needed to find something to hang on to.

Cousin Ansel didn’t seem to notice the heavy pistol lying atop his shoulder as I tried to steady my hovering body and keep a grip on the gun simultaneously. He was slow to set me on my feet, but when he did, his gaze roved over my body as he turned me around. I gasped at the sudden intrusion of his strong hands on my waist, spinning me. I felt like a rotisserie selection of meat being prepared to be devoured.

“Cousin, you’ve been holding out on me,” Ansel spoke to Aaron, but his curious eyes remained on me. His lips didn’t turn up, but the smile shining in his eyes deepened.

“You have finally stepped out of the old-time regime your father rules and started dating real women. And she has a fucking gun in her hand. My dick’s getting hard.”

Ansel’s statements were dramatic and animated like an actor auditioning for a part he knew he wouldn’t get. His eyes darted back and forth between the gun in my hand and my face. It was as if the idea of me having a gun in my hand was too much for his mind to comprehend.

My teeth sank into the inside of my lip to keep from laughing because Cousin Ansel was clearly crazy, but not in a bad sort of way. I had assumed Aaron’s family was strictly against the whole mixing of races as far as dating or even socializing was concerned, but Cousin Ansel didn’t seem to care one bit.

Aaron snickered at his cousin but glowered at him with a stern eye in the same breath.

“Ansel, I know your crazy ass is into that Dom and sub shit, but this ain’t that. So, like I said before, put your fucking eyes back in your head. We aren’t in high school anymore.”

I didn’t know what Aaron’s last statement meant, but he took my hand from his cousin’s and urged me forward with his other hand planted in the small of my back. This was about as formal as Aaron had ever been with me. Ansel trailed us, and I could sense those big, intense, green eyes locked on my body. 

Once we entered the living room, I found myself surrounded, treading water in an ocean of tall and well-built Caucasian men. At least five stood around the living room, talking so loudly that the sound echoed off the walls and rattled my insides. The moment they saw me with Aaron, you could have heard a mouse pissing on a cotton ball.

Aaron bid the men a quick greeting, gripped my hand, and urged me to follow him. He led me across the living room where eyes, no doubt followed me into a small hall that separated the kitchen from a door that went down and into the basement. Each hard step I took downward represented a strike against the nails I was likely putting in my own coffin.

Aaron didn’t seem all that worried, but if his MC found out that I was the reason they were in this safe house in the first place, they were going to kill me.

I knew most of the men from the time I’d spent working for the August Knights. As I glanced around the dimly-lit, dreary basement, stumbling over my own feet, I questioned why Aaron had brought me down here. I wasn’t a member, would never be a member, and I most certainly didn’t feel welcomed.

Shark watched me with a deadly gleam shining in his blue-eyed gaze. He stared at me from across the large table he sat behind as he rubbed his shoulder. Aaron had told me he’d been shot. Shark knew I’d infiltrated his MC by feeding him a false story. The fact that I had somehow managed to make his only living son fall in love with me probably ticked him off even more.

After Aaron directed me to a seat, I sat with my body glued against the arm of a weathered, brown couch that sat behind Aaron’s chair at the table.

While working for the MC, I learned that they didn’t allow women into their inner circle, especially not while they discussed business. I was likely the only woman in the entire house and I was sure I’d be the only one in this basement.

After I shot someone the second day I worked for them, they started allowing me to see and hear things that most other women never would. Even now, I found it difficult to believe that they’d allowed me into the boardroom at their clubhouse while they conducted meetings.

Although I’d earned a touch of respect from the MC, I knew enough not to push it. I knew the best thing I could do was stay in my place, remain silent, and play dumb.

I sat on the couch unmoving, glad the big, high-sitting, heavy, dark-wood table and Aaron’s body kept me mostly out of their views.

The basement was huge. The walls were a dusty blue. There were no windows, and from what I could tell, there were only a few small, vent-like square holes that acted as ventilation.

The only way in or out of the area was up the steps. The wide area contained three large couches lining two walls and a large table surrounded by ten chairs in a setup like the one at the MC’s clubhouse. There were no pictures on the wall and no other furniture. The scent of leather and stale cigarettes permeated throughout the space.

Although the area was open, the air around me tightened and grew more suffocating with each new member that entered the space. I watched member after member as they clumped down the steep, unpainted wooden steps.

Some members sat at the table and others took seats on the couches. No one sat on the couch next to me, although there was room for three. Instead, they squeezed four each on the other two couches or stood against the wall.

Cousin Ansel sat at the table next to Aaron with his back to me. With Aaron and Ansel’s two big bodies in front of me, it helped stifle a little of my anxiety and made me a little less visible.

Occasionally, Ansel would glance back at me with an inquisitive look on his face.

I didn’t know what to make of him, but there was one thing I was certain of, he was a killer.

There was a trait etched in a person’s eyes that I’d learned to read or sense. The vibe I’d sensed in Aaron was the same as I sensed in Ansel. He’d killed men, and from what I could tell, lots of them. Ansel presented a playful personality, but behind those pretty hazel eyes was the heart of a killer.

Since most of the guys had gotten used to seeing me, I received a few odd looks, but no one had said anything about my presence in the basement yet. Those who didn’t know me glanced around Aaron and Ansel to sneak peeks at me. Did they know Aaron and I were together?

The last member that entered the basement slammed and locked the door from the inside. The clink of that lock echoed inside my brain. The clunk of the man’s heavy footsteps made the steep steps groan and reminded me that I was locked in with a group that could kill me as easily as DG6 intended to.

Nine instead of the usual eight sat around the chairman’s table. Ansel made up the extra member.

As I observed the room more closely, confusion sent my eyes darting about like marbles inside my head. Each time I was brave enough to glance up and catch one of the men staring at me, they’d skirt their eyes away from mine. What was going on with these bikers?

Shark slammed his big fist on the heavy wood of the table, and all voices and movements ceased.

“If you don’t know by now, we have a new adversary. Those motherfuckers shot me, shot up the clubhouse, and tried to take Aaron out at the damn grocery store.”

No one said anything in response to Shark’s words. They stared intently, letting the information sink in. Shark’s strident voice pulled me out of my thoughts and continued to emanate throughout the basement. “So far, we don’t know who these motherfuckers are, but either—”

“They die, or we die.” They’d all spoken the statement at the same time, loud and sure. Even the people sitting on the couches and standing against the walls had recited the words. I scanned the room with curious, roving eyes. Each person in this room seemed ready to go out in a blaze of glory if that was what it came to. The realization that I’d grossly underestimated this MC, hit me.

“Fucking right,” Shark continued. “They came at me, and my son, so they must die. I don’t give a fuck how many of them show up, you better put dick in the fucking dirt or die trying.”

Agreeing words sounded around the table and heads nodded with enthusiastic faces. It was like a bunch of switches had been flipped to kill mode. I swallowed the large lump in my throat as I struggled to breathe past the suffocating testosterone that was being released into the air. They were willing to die and they didn’t know that these men were after me.

“Informants couldn’t tell us who the fuck these people are. So, all we know is there was a group of about ten that came into town some days ago sniffing around for information. They may also have a secondary team hidden some place outside of town. Aaron took out seven of those motherfuckers the day before yesterday. The shit made the news, so the area is not only going to be full of motherfuckers we need to kill, but it’s going to be congested with pigs, Feds, and all kind of law enforcement.”

I sat and listened to the men speculate on who this new adversary could be. They discussed strategy on how to best handle the group. It surprised me to find out that most, if not, all the members had already sent their families away. The club’s bar and strip club would remain open, mainly as traps to catch their adversaries. A five-man crew, armed and prepared to kill, would be deployed to stake out each location.

The only place any of the men were to lay their heads was here at this safe house or the second safe house the MC owned on the other side of town.

Once the group had planned their first line of defense, fifteen of the twenty-three men in the basement departed like soldiers with their assignments. 

Aaron swung his chair around to me. “We’re staying here tonight.”

I nodded my head, stunned. I’d never seen anything like this. They were seriously considering going to war. 

Just as Aaron started to say something else, Cousin Ansel swung his chair around. His eyes drifted away from me and landed on the side of his cousin’s head. Aaron knew he was being ogled by his cousin, but he kept his gaze on me.

“We got a lot to talk about, cousin.” Ansel’s words were low. He leaned closer to Aaron and dropped his voice even lower. He seemed not to want the remaining men to hear what he was telling Aaron. “We need to have a serious discussion about how your girlfriend, who happens to be strapped, was allowed to sit through a club meeting without anyone saying shit about it.”

Ansel didn’t have to say the rest of what he was thinking. The fact that I was African-American should have been the number one reason why I shouldn’t have been allowed inside their meeting. The fact that I was the only female and may well have been one of the only females allowed inside their sacred meeting also had Cousin Ansel’s antennae up.

Ansel glanced at me. He managed to make a devious smile look charming. “No offense to you, sweetie, but I’m a couple of puzzle pieces away from a clear picture here.”

I half nodded and half shrugged. “None taken.”

Truth of the matter was, I still had trouble figuring out what was happening. No one had ever explained anything to me. Other than the pieces I’d put together while working for the MC, I didn’t know why my presence hadn’t incited an internal MC war.

Ansel’s eyes landed right back on the side of Aaron’s head. “Aaron, what the fuck is going on? And tell me everything.”

Shark added his two cents after hearing his nephew’s question to his son. “That’s right, Aaron. Tell your cousin every fucking thing. Don’t leave out a single fucking detail.”

Aaron placed his hand up to his forehead, clearly not wanting to get into explaining me to his cousin. He definitely wasn’t in the mood for his father’s comments.

Aaron finally glanced over at his cousin. “It’s a long fucking story, Ansel. Let me get Megan settled, and then we’ll talk.”

 

Chapter Six

 

Aaron

 

“So, let me get this straight. She shot Scud at the clubhouse, killed Chuck inside your house, and helped you clean up and bury the bodies? Plus, she killed two of the seven you led into the woods a few days ago? Get the fuck out of here.”

This was the first time in a long time I’d seen my cousin dumbstruck. I had proceeded in telling him Megan’s backstory, including the details about her foster family, who they truly were, and of her being forced to lure innocent girls to their deaths.

Ansel gripped his chin with his thumb and index finger, more than likely, his mind envisioning some of what I’d divulged to him about Megan. “You’re telling me that little innocent-faced woman I pulled out of your truck did all that shit? Plus, not only survived, but killed an original member of DG6?”

Ansel didn’t give me a chance to answer his questions, his mind was probably working at warp speed. “How the fuck did she get Uncle Shark to agree to her crazy-ass proposal in the first place?” The loud snap of Ansel’s fingers echoed off the walls when he realized something. “That’s why Unc didn’t challenge that crazy shit you pulled tonight, having her in the club meeting. She’d already been in and out of the MC’s meetings before she even knew who the hell you were.”

Ansel was having difficulties grasping the story I’d told him. We’d grown up together and had become as close as brothers. His mother, my aunt, had taken her own life when Ansel was only eight, and federal agents had shot his father when Ansel was twelve. Shark took him under his evil black wings and raised him along with Ryan and me.

Most people assumed Ansel and I were brothers. Our mothers had been twins, which was the explanation behind the close resemblance he and I shared, I supposed.

All throughout high school, Ansel and I traded girls like baseball cards. I didn’t think there was one girl that I’d slept with that he hadn’t also slept with and vice versa. We made a sport out of it, most times rating them on his scale versus mine. I usually graded much easier than Ansel’s crazy ass, though.

However, I think he picked up on the fact that I had no intention of sharing Megan with him. In case he didn’t understand my first few warnings, I reminded him again.

“Megan is off-limits, Ansel. I mean that shit.”

“Okay. You don’t have to keep telling me that shit. I get it. She’s special, the one, the one you’d be willing to go to war for.”

Those specific words got my attention, especially the way Ansel had placed emphasis on them.

“What makes you say that?” I asked, trying but failing to keep my brows from pinching as worry crept into my brain. Ansel acted a fool, but I knew he was a lot smarter than he let on.

“This group of mercenaries…I don’t think they’re after you or us at all. If they were after anyone in this MC, you’d know who they were by now. Those motherfuckers want her, and you don’t care if you have to go to war to keep her safe. This could be DG6 after her for taking out a fucking original.” Ansel glanced at me, his gaze locked on mine. “And you call me the crazy one?”

“I—”

Ansel threw up his hand, cutting me off. “I get it, but not everyone in this MC is as open-minded as me. If they knew you were willing to lay their lives on the line over a woman, they would probably kill her or turn her over to those mercenaries. If they knew it might be DG6, they’d kill you and her.”

Ansel twisted his neck left and right, popping it. He heaved a deep sigh and his forehead creased as deeply as mine. He was still digesting what I’d revealed to him about Megan’s past and a possible DG6 crisis. However, the fact that he was still sitting with me eased my tension.

If Ansel had any intention of telling the MC the real reason why we were going to war, he’d have walked out of the room and shouted the shit to the house—after he’d put a bullet in Megan’s head. Yes, my cousin is that deadly.

However, after we gave each other our stare of understanding, I knew he’d stand by my side and help me fight if it came to it. If I cared about something or believed in it enough, even if he still held doubts, Ansel would always take my side. 

“Does she mean enough to you that you can’t live without her?” he asked. The seriousness in his tone and gaze crashed into mine. “If you let me kill her, this can be over before it even starts.”

In a normal family conversation, one might have been upset over a question like this, but I guess you had to know the person to understand them.

“I can’t let you kill her, Ansel. She means that much to me.”

He shrugged it off as if we weren’t just talking about him killing the woman he knew I would protect with my life.

He asked, “Does she even know that she’s somehow managed to earn respect from this MC? Do you know how fucking shocked I was to not only see you with an African-American woman, but to see her sitting inside a club meeting? That shit still has me tripping the fuck out.”

Ansel kept talking. However, his questions weren’t the kind he wanted answered, but they were more to express his surprise at what he’d witnessed. His brows remained pinched as astonishment surfaced in his gaze. “Do you know how much effort it took for me to sit at that table and keep my mouth shut? The only other woman I’ve ever seen in an August Knights meeting was your mother, and that’s because she was as vicious as any of the guys.”

The idea of Megan’s progression within the MC was as big a shocker to me as it was to Ansel. However, Megan was nothing like my mother. My mother was an alcoholic, an abusive troublemaker, and an evil, vindictive woman. I believed until this day that she wouldn’t have hesitated to put a bullet in my brother’s head or mine if it served the MC.

My father had his faults, but he’d never laid a hand on my brother or me. The only time I could remember my father raising a voice to my mother was when he’d catch her mistreating either of us. She’d killed herself in a head-on collision, driving drunk. Thankfully, she hadn’t taken anyone to hell with her after going head to head with an eighteen-wheeler.

Ansel’s heavy sigh pulled my attention. He closed one eye and stared at me through the other. “So, Megan’s been killing since she was fourteen? And she’s killed at least six people that you know about?”

I nodded, but his question had me wondering how many others Megan may have killed that she hadn’t told me about. She’d confirmed that she had infiltrated other organizations. Had she killed people within those groups?

Ansel’s lips turned up into a tight smile. His mind was likely doing somersaults around the idea of Megan being a killer.

“I can fucking see why you want her, that’s for sure. She’s sexy as fuck and she ain’t afraid to murder a motherfucker. She’s a sexy, little, sociopathic, serial killer. And she must have the best pussy in the world to send you this fucking far across the line.”

My mind couldn’t formulate a response to Ansel’s comments because in a way, he was right. I was sure I wouldn’t have been interested in Megan if she was normal.

Ansel continued with a slow teasing shake of his head.  “I’m telling you now, cousin. I won’t sleep with her, but if you get yourself killed over her, all bets are off.” 

The pointed glint in Ansel’s hazel eyes made me aware that he was dead-ass serious. All I could do was laugh at my crazy cousin.

 

Chapter Seven

 

Aaron

 

By the time I made it back to our room, which was thankfully, the only bedroom on the first floor, Megan was laid on top of the covers. She’d fallen asleep waiting for me. I crept into the bathroom and didn’t bother pulling clothes from the duffle I’d packed at my house. I wasn’t going to need clothes after I woke Megan up.

Fresh out of the shower, I quickly toweled myself off, slapped on some deodorant and slunk my hot body in the bed next to her. She had on the only outfit I liked seeing her in, one of my shirts. My dick was already hard and poking into her side when she stirred.

She let out a low, lazy moan, and as soon as her eyes met mine, she smiled. I’d turned the lamp off but left the bathroom light on to give us some illumination.

When Megan turned towards me, I lifted my shirt over her butt, and a pleasing smile brightened my face. Smooth-brown and plump, the sight of her bare ass filled me with a desire that only she could elicit. A low groan escaped as eager fingers slipped around her waist before I pulled her closer.

My lips skimmed the soft skin of her neck as I palmed one of her supple ass cheeks. My mouth roamed over the tender flesh of her neck and dragged over her collarbone until my lips clamped on to her nipple through my soft cotton T-shirt. A nasally moan escaped her as she squirmed under my play.

My hand slid over a shapely hip before gripping and pulling her hot middle into my hard dick. Her breathy whine heightened my arousal and urged me to move faster. It was shameful how hot this woman could get me. When I lifted the tail end of my shirt and slipped it up her silky body, she assisted in slipping it over her head.

We feasted on each other’s bodies before I spread her legs and dove, dick-first into her tight, welcoming pussy. We were hissing before I could get a good rhythm going. My palm pushed against the inside of her thigh, opening her wider while sending her leg up higher. The slight repositioning sent my dick in deeper and made her pussy clench tighter around me.

“Aaron, you’re hitting my spot, baby. Don’t stop.”

An exhausting, “Oh shit!” escaped me before a loud mixture of a moan and groan rattled my throat. Nothing could have made me stop but a damn bullet in my brain. The mattress groaned, the box-spring knocked, and the damn headboard smacked against the wall. A damn marching band may as well have been passing through the room as much noise as we were making.

“Someone is going to hear us,” Megan pointed out before she bit into my neck to quiet her loud moaning.

“I don’t care. They’re grown. They know what women and men do behind closed doors,” I managed to say before my mind was overpowered by the intoxication of our sex.

I didn’t know if Megan had heard my statement, not while my dick was stroking that tight buddle of nerves that she said was her spot. I kept hitting it hard…hard enough for her to forget all about who was going to hear us.

When she started gasping, scratching my lower back and shoulders up, and yelling my name repeatedly, I knew I had her. She often left marks on my back, neck, and arms. Maybe I was a bit twisted, but I liked seeing the marks she left on me. They were beautiful reminders of the love, passion, and lust we shared.

“You’re about to make me cum, baby. Shit!” I’ll be damned if I wasn’t about to cum too. At this point, that fucking headboard was about to knock a damn hole clean through the wall, but I couldn’t stop. My ass was possessed by the power of this woman’s pussy.

With every hard thrust, our yells grew louder, and my fucking mind sank deeper into that zone that only she could take me to. I’m sure it was the same place that hard drugs took addicts to. There was no denying shit at this point. I was addicted to Megan and death was likely the only thing powerful enough to take me away from her.

With our height difference, I still hadn’t figured out how she managed to get her legs wrapped around me the way she did but having her wrapped around me made our session that much more intoxicating. The way she gripped and tugged and pulled me into her, made me love her harder and deeper.

Her responses urged me to give it to her however she wanted it. Her reactions were the best motivators and gave me the strength I needed to force my body to last for as long as I could go, even when my mind screamed for me explode inside her. 

“Oh, my fucking God!” I roared. Vocalizing how good our sex felt was the only way to keep from going insane. My dick was so slick with her wetness that the wet-hot slippery warmth enticed me to thrust harder, faster.

Our moans competed with the noise of my thighs slapping against the inside of hers. A deep tingling sensation shot up my spine before my dick kicked and bucked inside her. It literally felt like her pussy was pulling at my entire body. My vision blurred for a few seconds before my world exploded and left me in murmuring pieces as her tight walls clenched around my dick and kept the intoxication zooming through my body.

Megan must have pulled the covers over us because I passed out after I’d exploded inside her. I couldn’t even recall pulling my dick out of her. I’d slipped clean out of this world, and my mind must have shut down before it returned from the pleasure zone. My eyes fluttered under my lids as I struggled to move my relaxed body. I found the strength and raised my head to see Megan was sitting over me handing me a glass of water. 

My satisfied smile met hers as I reached for the glass. She ran her hand lovingly over my damp back, and I didn’t miss the love she had for me shining in her gaze. How the fuck did she always seem to know what I needed whenever the hell I needed it? And she’d had the nerve to question why I couldn’t let her ass go. She could wipe that shit out of her head. She was never leaving me again if I had anything to say about it.

 

Chapter Eight

 

Megan

 

The least I could do was cook for these men. They were about to take on a group that was aiming to kill them and had no idea I was the reason for it. A hint of embarrassment and a twinge of guilt lingered within me for what they might have heard last night between Aaron and me.

It was only when the sun shone through the window that I’d seen the damage the headboard had done to the wall. Beige paint had been scratched away, and a series of dents were left along the area where the headboard had repeatedly slammed into the wall.

Aaron refused to change a thing about how we fucked. He said the crew were all grown and knew what women and men did behind closed doors. But, I didn’t think Aaron and I did what normal people did. We could take an hour nap and be at it again and each time was a new adventure.

Our sex was addictive, something I assumed would have burned out by now, but it hadn’t. We weren’t even close to slowing down and we were as crazy for each other as we’d been that first two weeks I’d spent with him.

I reined in my thoughts and inserted the second load of blueberry muffins into the oven before reaching up to turn the bacon. I hissed and tried to shake off the sting as grease popped from the sizzling bacon. I wasn’t sure if the men ate grits, but since they were in the cabinet, I cooked a pot of those as well. The pan of fluffy scrambled eggs sat off to the side as steam rose from them.

Cooking was like therapy for me. Like running and writing, cooking helped take my mind off the dark cloud that constantly hung over my life. A deep smile took over my lips. Although running, writing, and cooking helped to set my mind at ease, they were nothing compared to what Aaron could do for me. His brand of therapy could literally make me forget that the rest of the world existed. He knew how to make me forget my own name.

“You cook too?” I jumped at the sound of a voice that had quickly become familiar to me. “No wonder my cousin has lost his mind over you.”

Ansel’s teasing voice sailed into my ear. The fact that he’d snuck up on me and was close enough for his minty breath to brush my neck proved how deeply I’d sunk into my mind.

“Good morning. Have a seat, and I’ll fix you a plate.”

I’d expected that Ansel wouldn’t listen to my suggestion, but he took a seat across the table, facing me. Undoubtedly, so he could watch me. The way he watched me made me nervous. It reminded me of the way I watched Aaron sometimes. The way I studied Aaron was probably not healthy. I studied him with an obsessive curiosity because I wanted to hang on to every memory of him just in case. As I spooned some grits next to Ansel’s eggs, I peeped at him over my shoulder. As I expected, his eyes were laser-locked on me.

The tension in my shoulders coiled at the idea that I was being studied. When I glanced back once more, I forced a smile although my vexing thoughts never stopped. “Is there anything you don’t eat or like?”

“No, there’s nothing I won’t eat,” he answered, and I could tell he wasn’t talking about food.

I added two muffins and some bacon to the plate I’d started. When I placed the food in front of Ansel, it wasn’t hard to discern that my actions had stirred his curiosity about me. I think I confused him.

“Orange juice or water?” I asked.

“Juice, baby. Get me some juice,” he answered in a seductive tone that made me smile at his antics. Maybe I didn’t confuse him. After I placed the glass of juice in front of him, he caught my wrist before I could move it away from him.

There was no use hiding the fact that his touch had my hand shaking. It wasn’t fright that Ansel set off in me. He set my nerves on edge—made them frantic and charged like exposed wires. I was good at taking myself out of the spotlight, but with this group, especially with Ansel, I felt like I was center stage.

“You do this kind of thing for my cousin?” he asked. I could tell by the curiosity in his gaze that his intention wasn’t to scare me. It seemed he was fighting to understand me. 

“Yes. All the time,” I answered, trying but failing to keep my voice steady. “He said he likes my cooking, and I like to cook, so…”

After I eased my wrist out of Ansel’s strong hold, I returned to the stove to remove the bacon. I needed the grease to pop on me now to ease the tension still rolling through my body.

The sound of approaching male voices alerted me that more men were coming. I recognized Shark’s voice, and I was willing to bet that Wade was with him. Shark and Wade seemed the closest of all the men. As far as I had figured out, Wade was Shark’s half-brother. They had different mothers but shared a father. This made Wade, Aaron’s uncle although he was only four years older than Aaron.

Their plates were fixed and ready by the time they took their seats at the table. Neither of the men greeted me good morning, and I hadn’t expected them too. Shark sat at the head of the table next to Ansel, and Wade sat behind me with his back to me.

Ansel watched me with intense curiosity as I placed Shark’s plate in front of him. I reached back for Wade’s plate and placed his as well. After I set the men’s juice in front of them, I went back to the stove to remove the second pan of muffins. 

A low chatter among the men started behind me. This situation was new to Ansel, so I understood some aspects of his curiosity. The men and I had never had a verbal relationship, but I think we respected each other enough that our non-verbal communication was enough.

As the thump of the next set of boots grew closer, I realized it was none other than Aaron. It was shameful that I knew the man’s footsteps.

Thankfully, I was turned away from Aaron as he made his approach because my smile spread about as wide as the table was long. I’d finally accepted that I loved that man with everything I had, so it was difficult to keep my emotions in check when I was around him.

When strong hands slid around my waist and warm lips caressed my neck, my body damn near melted as fast as the butter melted across the muffins. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had a problem keeping their emotions in check. I never suspected that Aaron would engage in public displays of affection. But, when it came to his relationship with me, there were no clear-cut explanations.

“Good morning,” he whispered in my ear before he nipped my earlobe.

“Good morning,” I replied in a low tone as embarrassment warmed my brown cheeks, likely lighting them with a pinkish glow. The silence in the kitchen let me know that we had an audience. I swallowed the awkward state I was left in when Aaron stepped away from me. He sat across the table next to Ansel. When I turned to bring Aaron his plate, Shark and Ansel’s unreadable glares were fixed on me. Their unwavering stares filled me with a hint of unease as both seemed ready to spill whatever comment teetered on their tongues.

My tension didn’t let up until I was standing next to Aaron, placing his plate in front of him. My hand brushed across his back lovingly. The action was almost automatic, and I didn’t realize I’d done it until after it had occurred. Now, I was the one making public displays of affection.

It was becoming apparently clear that we didn’t have any control over how we reacted to each other. I couldn’t be close to Aaron and not want to touch him. When I returned to the table with his glass of juice, Shark had dropped his gaze, but Ansel’s hard stare remained on me. He obviously was still having trouble figuring it all out, although I knew Aaron had told him my story.

Wade cleared his throat, and without looking in my direction, he asked, “Hey, Megan, can I get another one of those muffins?”

“Sure,” I replied, surprised but glad when someone other than Aaron talked to me. I lifted the fattest muffin with a set of plastic tongs and placed it on Wade’s plate.

“Thanks,” he said in a low tone.

“You’re welcome.”

Ansel’s eyes widened as he glanced back and forth between me and everyone at the table. I could literally see his eyes volleying between us all. I couldn’t imagine what was going through his head. Hell, I was still figuring it out.

Returning to my station at the stove, I turned the last of the bacon as the men engaged in an animated conversation about sports. Thankfully, the lively discussion took the focus off me. Two more men joined the group: Shane and someone whose name I didn’t know, but I had seen before. The noise level increased with the additional men.

Ansel participated in the boisterous conversation, but his eyes never strayed too far away from me and my non-verbal interactions with the MC. Aaron’s face was likely unreadable to the rest of the table, but I was sure his positive facial expressions each time we made eye contact were reminders that I didn’t have anything to worry about where the MC was concerned.

Although the table was full, I’d counted eight men left in the house last night. For the final two men, I fixed and wrapped them a plate and left it on the stove. Even if the men never came for their plates, I didn’t have to worry about the food going to waste. I knew from experience that this was a group that wasn’t going to let a cooked meal go uneaten.

As the table started to thin, I began the process of washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. Aaron sent me a slight head nod when he walked out with his father and his uncle. By the time I had everything cleaned, the only body left sitting behind me was none other than Ansel. His eyes were literally burning a hole in my back. I could sense him staring across the table at me. Although I wasn’t as nervous as before, his presence still had me a bit uneasy.

For reasons I had yet to understand, I sensed that I could talk to Ansel, despite his alarming stare. I turned and faced him. Now, if only I could get him to stop staring at me.

My arms folded over my chest before I took a step closer, grateful that the table was between us. “What is it?” I asked. “Why do you keep staring at me like that?”

“I think I’m starting to get it now,” Ansel stated. “At first, I thought my cousin had lost his damn mind, but the pieces are starting to fall into place.”

My forehead creased. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but he didn’t say anything else. He got up from the table and left me standing there confused.

 

Chapter Nine

 

Aaron

 

Three days later, I was comfortable enough to leave Megan at the safe house. My dad and the other chairmen handled ongoing business, and they’d grabbed a few of the prospects to help clean and board up the clubhouse. I hadn’t asked and didn’t have any doubt that Megan could handle herself if she had to, but there was always someone at the safe house with her without me having to ask someone to stay.

Ansel and I had searched every corner of Copper County, attempting to track down the group that had shot my father, shot up our clubhouse, and fired at Megan and me. Ansel rode shotgun with me in my truck, speaking on the phone with one of his contacts to see if members of DG6 had made their way into Copper County.

“Okay, thanks,” he concluded. He swiped the screen and gripped his phone in his clenched hand as his chin pulled tight.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Nothing. As far as my FBI contact knows, DG6 hasn’t made a move from any of the spots they have eyes on. Trust me, the FBI, ATF, and probably, the damn CIA are watching them. They can hardly take a good shit without eyes on them. But, those motherfuckers have paid so many people off that they still manage to conduct their illegal business without resistance.”

“So, your contact…how do you know you can trust him?”

Ansel’s devious smile spread wide before he tucked his lip and sucked his teeth.

“My contact is a she, and I can trust her because she is one of my subs.”

My gaze left the road as my neck snapped in my cousin’s direction.

“No shit! The FBI is into that life too?”

Ansel laughed, shaking his head at me like I was the one missing out.

“Fucking right. You’d be surprised at how many pantsuit-wearing motherfuckers like to be tied and whipped and even tortured. You’d be surprised at what gets some of those tricky motherfuckers off.”

I didn’t think I wanted to know. Ansel had fallen head first into that life after he’d met a widow who convinced him that he would make the perfect Dom. Ansel attempted to convince me to embrace the life after introducing me to two of his subs. Of course, I slept with them, had even tied them up and made them beg for my dick, but that life required too much planning and thinking for me.

The role playing, the sex toys, the safe words. I preferred to get straight to the point when it came to sex, and I didn’t want a motherfucker beating on me or teasing me before we fucked each other. However, I don’t think I’d have a problem with letting Megan do whatever her little heart desired.

Ansel continued. “If DG6 hasn’t made a move, that doesn’t mean they haven’t contracted a group to do the job. You did say the ones you encountered acted like mercenaries, possibly a paramilitary group, right?”

As the scene replayed in my head, I nodded absently. My cousin was a better puzzle solver than I was, but Ansel’s problem was his patience. I had a short supply of patience myself, but Ansel wanted what he wanted when he wanted it and rarely made compromises.

“DG6 could be testing us with their first line of defense. So, they can adjust and up the ante on us to try to weed out our weaknesses,” I added.

“Now, you’re catching on, grasshopper,” Ansel replied, like he was teaching me something.

He liked talking to me like I was the younger one, but I was older than him by a year. Fortunately, we’d both spent some time in the military. Not only did we have a desire to prove ourselves as men, but we’d siphoned the rigorous training we knew we’d need, being who we were in a family like ours.

I’d spent four years in the marines from age twenty to twenty-four, and Ansel followed suit three months after I’d joined. He’d spent four years in the army. We both aimed for the toughest training and hardest assignments. He’d made it onto a ranger team, and I’d made my way onto an off-the-books black-ops unit.

After surviving dangerous deployments and missions that didn’t exist as far as the government was concerned, we both fell right back into the illegal shit our family had always participated in upon our return home.

If we were going to find any viable leads on this group hunting Megan, I had to call on my secret weapon. After the first ring, D answered my call.

“D, we need to talk, but I need you to make my phone so nobody can hear us talking.”

Ansel glared at me but didn’t comment. He wasn’t the only one who had contacts. I didn’t trust this group that was hunting us. They’d tracked Megan to Copper County and had found our clubhouse, so there was no reason to think they hadn’t found ways to spy on us. Ansel knew about as much as I knew. Therefore, he knew I’d finally accepted that DG6 was behind the attack and were hunting for Megan. It only took D a minute to call me back. I placed the call on speaker.

“We’re clear, Knox. What you got?” D asked.

“There is a group after my MC to kill us, which is nothing new, but I think it might be DG6 or maybe—”

“Wait! Pump the fucking brakes, Knox. Did you just say DG6? What the fuck are you doing fucking around with that fucking den of fucking rattlers?”

Four fucks in one sentence. I’d gotten D’s full attention. Ansel sat listening with a smile plastered across his face.

“Them motherfuckers train their babies how to shoot before they’re even old enough to take their first steps,” D continued, giving us his interpretation of DG6.

“D, concentrate on what I’m telling you. I said, I think it might be DG6. It could also be a group that they’ve hired to fuck with us, but my cousin’s contact in the FBI hasn’t been able to track movement on any members of DG6. Will you pull something out of your nerdy hat and see if you can make a connection? Or see if DG6 could have hired somebody to take us out. Fuck, make sure it is DG6 first.”

An exhausted sigh escaped me, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see Ansel eyeballing the hell out of me. The sound of D’s fingers already setting fire to a keyboard could be heard over the line. I was about to add more fuel to the fire I’d set in D.

“D, if it is DG6, they might be after Lacey Daniels.” I had revealed almost everything to Ansel, so he knew that Megan was also Lacey Daniels.

D huffed into the phone. “Knox, wait the fuck up. I thought you put a bullet in her head weeks ago?”

“D, you have a way of finding out shit that nobody else can. If you dug into Lacey Daniel’s past like I know you did, then you’d know what was done to her and why I couldn’t kill her. And trust me, the shit they released to the public was the watered-down version.”

The long, quiet pause let me know that D was connecting the dots. For a while, all I heard was my tires eating up the highway and D’s fingers striking keys.

“So, let me guess. That foster family she killed all those years ago was DG6?”

“Yeah,” I answered, not surprised at how fast D had pieced the shit together.

“Knox, man, what the fuck have you gotten yourself into? Those motherfuckers aren’t gonna stop until she’s dead, no matter how much time has passed. They don’t care about what their people did to her. I know you, Knox. Your crazy ass will try to kill their whole fucking clan if it comes to it.”

D took another long pause. I already knew what he was thinking. D rarely passed up a chance to step away from the computer and participate in what he called field missions.

“If you need me there, Knox, just let me know. Also, that suit-and-tie-wearing motherfucker, Dax, is back on the prowl too. He’s getting hired for half-million-dollar hits. You know how he is. Mention of the word danger, and he’ll come running.”

Ansel’s eyes grew big at those words. As much as my cousin enjoyed killing people, he was likely getting ideas from some of the shit D was saying. D, on the other hand, was just as bad as my cousin. Both D and my friend, Dax, would come running if danger called. D’s legal name was Derrick Michaels, but Danger Michaels would have been more fitting. However, I wasn’t going to point this out to my friend. Like my cousin, D apparently saw himself differently than the way I saw him.

“D, I’ll say no for now, but if I tell you to come, you know shit is blown all to hell.”

“I know, Knox. I also know I’ve lost count of how many times you’ve saved my fucking life, so I got your back, no matter what the fuck is going down.”

“Thanks, man,” I said and hung up before Ansel could get the words out that I knew were brimming on the edge of this twitchy tongue.

“Hey, can you link me up with Dax?”

Just as I’d thought. I knew my cousin well. “Don’t you think you’re into enough shit? Now, you want to add contract killing to your resume?”

Ansel shrugged. “Fuck it. I’m young. The world needs people like me to ride it of evil. I want to enjoy the things I enjoy doing while I can. If we survive this DG6 shit, it would guarantee me six-figure hits.”

The way my cousin’s mind worked made me wonder if he’d been wired right. He’d just admitted that he wanted to enjoy killing while he was young enough to. I shook my head, attempting to shake out the idea. Despite how twisted my mind was, my cousin made me seem like I was the normal one. Ansel was smart and business minded. He dressed in suits and hung around with the wealthy, but it was his dark side that he managed so well, unsuspecting victims didn’t see it until the monster came out.

He owned two successful clubs that catered to the rich and twisted and several other small businesses that he’d acquired over the years. He and I shared the same gun supplier, and being in California where the market was bigger, Ansel was able to push twice the shipment of guns as I could.

After a long silent moment, a chuckle from Ansel sounded.

“What’s so fucking funny?” I questioned him.

“I was thinking about the kind of unit you were deployed with. Was it a unit full of fucking killers?”

I laughed then. It did appear that most of my old unit had gotten out of the military and turned to a life of crime. Aside from D and Dax, there was also Luke and Gavin who’d linked up and started their own security firm down in Georgia. Knowing the men the way that I did, I was sure they did a lot more than security.

I was distracted, but my eye didn’t miss the two unfamiliar men climbing out of a black SUV that was like the one that had followed Megan and me into the woods. Ansel’s gaze followed what my eyes had locked onto. Finally, after days of searching, this unfamiliar group that I now stared at, could be our first lead.

One of the men pumped gas as the other two exited the vehicle and walked into the Quit Mart. I pulled my truck around the side of the bowling alley where we could observe and not be spotted.

 

Chapter Ten

 

Aaron

 

Ansel and I sat low in the front seat of my truck, eyeing the unfamiliar men. From the angle we were parked, I couldn’t see what their license plate said, but I was willing to bet it was out of state. DG6 mainly operated out of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. As far as I knew, the gang had originated in Texas, which was likely their main base of operations. Texas was also the place where Megan had been placed in a house with a bunch of killers, raped, and tortured to within an inch of her sanity.

“We need to follow these motherfuckers,” Ansel stated the obvious. “I wish we were on our bikes or that I’d driven my truck.”

“Me too,” I voiced absently as I watched the one pumping the gas swirl a toothpick around in his mouth. He wore a pair of those tactical khakis that contractors and law enforcement officials wore and a police-blue Under Armor polo shirt. His attire was a dead giveaway that he wasn’t from our neck of the woods. I was willing to bet these were three from the group of motherfuckers that had attacked Megan and me and shot my father.

I started my truck and pursued the black SUV once the men reloaded and took off. When the license plate came into view, I texted it into D. Nothing on the license plate identified what state the vehicle was from, but I was confident in D’s ability to find out what others didn’t want you to know.

Since my truck was missing a passenger’s side mirror, had visible bullet holes, and a cracked back window, I stayed as far behind the group as possible. When they drove into the parking lot of the most luxurious hotel Copper County had to offer, The Copper Grand, I drove into the lot of a hotel two buildings down the road and across the street from them. Using the binoculars that I kept in the center console, Ansel and I took turns using them and sat and watched the men exit their vehicle and enter the hotel. 

The hotel was fancy enough that you had to walk through the lobby before taking the stairs or an elevator to your room. We sat for about thirty minutes to see if any of the men would return to the vehicle and leave. I wanted to get one of the men alone so I could question him.

Ansel and I agreed that he should return to the safe house to pick up his truck. My truck with its damaged body was way too suspicious and easy for people to describe and spot. I didn’t expect Ansel back for at least thirty minutes, so I climbed out of my truck and found a comfortable spot to wait.

The thick branches of a tree on the far side of the hotel lot kept me hidden from view. I sat on a thick patch of grass, peeking through binoculars at the hotel the targets had gone into and the vehicle that they had driven. If they decided to take off before Ansel returned, I had no idea what I would do. However, I was compelled to keep watch. What I wanted to do was walk over to the hotel to see if I could gather some information on the men, like their room numbers perhaps.

Just as I started to get antsy and rose to walk towards the hotel, Ansel wheeled his big black dually truck into the parking lot. The good thing about having a truck in this town was that you blended in. Around here, trucks were all that mattered as far as vehicles went. Even the women had adopted the habit of driving trucks. Ansel pulled up near me, bringing his truck to a scratchy stop. I ran to the passenger’s side and climbed in. 

“What you wanna do, cousin?” Ansel asked with one eyebrow stuck in the air as he glared at me sideways. I hadn’t even closed the door before Ansel asked his question.

I knew my cousin. The prospect of killing someone not only had his trigger finger itching—his entire body likely needed a scratch. Despite what others may think of me, I didn’t like killing people. Killing had become a part of my life that I had to learn to deal with, like paying taxes. You didn’t want to do it, but you knew you had to. 

As for Ansel, he embraced killing like one would embrace a hobby. He wanted time with it. He wanted to shape it and improve his techniques. My gaze left him and landed back on the vehicle of the three men who likely had no idea that death lurked outside their windows.

“Calm down, kill boy,” I teased Ansel. “We need to figure out if they are with the group Megan and I left in the woods. Once that’s confirmed, either they die or we die.”

The far-off glint in Ansel’s eyes and the devious smirk that danced across his face caused a chill to run up my spine. He was likely sitting there dreaming up ways to torture the unsuspecting group.

I loved my cousin, honest I did, but I seriously wished my father hadn’t called him. He was about to drag me into some shit that I likely wasn’t prepared for. Ansel was like that extra drink you knew you didn’t need but drank anyway. Then, later, you found yourself in a situation that you didn’t remember getting yourself into.

“I think we should sit on this group,” I suggested. As badly as I wanted to confront the group, patience and planning had always given me an advantage over my enemy. I eyed Ansel, knowing my words likely had no effect on him. “They could lead us to the rest—if there are more of them.”

Ansel’s head whipped around so fast that it appeared he’d forgotten he was steering his big-ass truck into a parking spot across the lot from the suspects’ black SUV.

“I’m not good at playing the waiting game, Aaron.”

My fingers spread over my forehead, and I squeezed. “I don’t like waiting either, Ansel, but what good will it do for us to bust in there, find these guys, and kill—”

He cut me off with a wave of his hand. “Who said anything about killing? We need to torture them for information first,” he said this with a straight face as if we were talking about meeting a bunch of guys to play a casual game of basketball. 

“Why the hell should we wait until they lead us when we can get them to tell us what we need to know right now?”

He did have a point, no matter how twisted it was inside his head. Although I’d thought about doing exactly what Ansel had suggested, I would have avoided the unnecessary bloodshed and waited and let the guys lead me to their group. Ansel preferred to beat the information out of the men so he could know faster. Lack of patience was definitely my cousin’s weakness.

My head tilted as I thought about what I wanted to do. I could sense my cousin’s eyes on the side of my head, eyeballing me like a dog whose bone I was holding back. His anxious hand tapped against his leg. He didn’t smoke, but if I had a cigarette, I’d give him one to calm his damn nerves. After making him suffer for a moment longer, I decided to put him out of his anxious misery.

“You’ve got a point, cousin, but these men are mercenaries. After that encounter in the woods, I know that at least some of them have dished out or have been on the receiving end of torture before.”

He laughed at me, his chuckle filling the cab of the truck. “Trust me. Being in the life and having to kill when the moment arises, I’ve picked up some techniques that could make the manliest man sing like a fucking bird.”

Shit! I thought to myself. I didn’t doubt what Ansel was saying. The first time I’d accidentally walked in on my cousin with one of his subs, I stood in the doorway with my mouth gaped open. The woman was locked inside one of those dog cages on all fours, licking or drinking something out of a metal dog bowl. She seemed way to damn happy to follow whatever twisted and cruel commands he was dishing out. The shit he did gave me pause, so I couldn’t imagine what Ansel would do to someone he planned to really hurt and torture.

“There’s a chick at the front desk.” His voice pulled my attention. “You can use that pretty-boy long hair of yours to get the room numbers we need.”

“So, what? You’re my fucking low-budget pimp now?” I asked as a smirk filled my face.

Another chuckle left his throat. “These fucking women around here look at you like you’re a fucking god. And you can pull off that whole bad-boy, pretty-boy routine. You used to do that shit in high school. You had chicks thinking you were such a good guy when really, they were sleeping with the damn devil. Look at you. Even now your eyes look all innocent and shit. Me, I’d scare that fucking woman into submission or to death—whichever happens first.”

Ansel took a long pause before speaking again, and that devious smile had inched back across his lips.

“But that damn Megan—she ain’t scared of my ass. I’m not used to people not being afraid of me, especially not a woman. She has that whole innocent thing down to a science like you, but she has darkness in her. She hides it, but her darkness is as bad as what we carry around. She—”

The seat squeaked as I leaned forward in the truck with a loud huff. “Ansel, can we get back to the fucking subject at hand. We need to concentrate on how we’re going to make these motherfuckers tell us where the rest of their crew is located. If these are the right motherfuckers.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah… You don’t want me thinking about your woman. How fucking hot, she is. Nice tits. Plump ass. Sexy. I heard you two last night too. I bet she—”

“Ansel! Fucking concentrate, man. Get Megan off your fucking mind.”

Ansel was getting me agitated on purpose. He thought he was slick. He knew that talking about Megan would get me riled up enough for me to give in to his plan to go into that hotel and torture those men.

He’d done this kind of shit since we were kids. He’d drive me crazy until I gave him what he wanted. In this case, part of what he wanted was Megan, but that shit wasn’t happening unless it was over my dead body. Ansel understood as much, but he wouldn’t be him if he didn’t try to break me anyway.

Crazy thing was, if anything happened to me, Ansel was the only one I’d want Megan with. He knew her background, what she was capable of, and I could already tell that he’d started to care about her enough that he’d keep her safe.

 

Chapter Eleven

 

Aaron

 

After I’d stuffed my face with Megan’s good cooking, we’d retired to our room and showered. As soon as she stepped out of the bathroom, I stopped her as floral scented steam followed her out of the door. My hands roamed her body and the lust in my gaze made words unnecessary.

Megan had heard bits and pieces about what Ansel and I had done with the targets at the hotel. She’d been eyeing me with an inquisitive stare most of the evening.

“What did you do with Ansel today?” she asked, even as her mouth parted and her breathing increased from my hand sliding under her shirt and over one of her warm soft tits.

“We tortured three of DG6’s hired guns for information on whereabouts of the rest of their crew. We need to know where the heads of DG6 are located so we can find and kill them. It’s the only way to put an end to this hit they have out on you.”

Her face was pinched with enough tension that it appeared she wanted to cry. She had questions to ask me, so many, she didn’t know which to ask first.

My lips covered the warm softness of hers before she could spit out a word. She accepted my kiss as I massaged her tongue with mine, making her moan into my mouth. As soon as I removed my lips from hers those tense lines returned to her face.

“Aaron, you can’t do this. These people have armies of soldiers who are willing to kill for them. I can’t let you go off on some mission that could start a war. I won’t!” Megan exclaimed, raising her voice to ensure I understood her stance.

It took everything in me not to laugh at Megan’s attempt to raise her voice at me. She was such a quiet woman that it baffled me that she could pull the trigger or stab a man in the heart if she had to. It was her eyes that told her complete story. If Megan actually vocalized half the shit she was thinking, it would probably scare the shit out of people…even me.

“Megan, Ansel and I tortured and killed three men for information and left them inside a hotel. Shit has gone too far for us to stop now.”

She shook her head, begging me with those sad innocent eyes, not to go any further with our plans. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. Please, don’t go after these people.”

I’d just told her we’d tortured and killed three men, yet she was worried about me getting hurt.

“We were able to confirm the whereabouts of the rest of their crew.” I told her as she continued to shake her head at me. A ten-man crew was housed in a two-story, eight-bedroom house in Marshville, a larger town, three counties over.

The house was in the wealthy area of Redwood Pines, so no one would expect it was the safe house of a bunch of hired mercenaries, deployed to take out and kill a woman. The large house posed as the group’s hive or temporary operations center according to the information we’d gathered from the men we’d tortured. We were also able to confirm that their orders came directly from DG6 and Lacey Daniels was their primary target.

Their information confirmed just about every speculation I’d had about this situation. DG6 had deployed a small army of men because their intel had informed them that Megan was possibly being protected by a large group of armed men—us.

The men didn’t confirm the exact location of DG6’s headquarters or home base. We’d been unable to extract an address from them, which led me to believe they didn’t know it. These men were hired guns, that DG6 wasn’t going to share their secrets with. All we could get out any of them was one of the DG6’s key locations of an old dude ranch in Texas. The men had spilled their guts before they realized Ansel and I were going to kill them anyway.

Megan stared at me and widened her eyes when I took too long to respond.

“The plan is already in effect. Ansel and I will leave in about six hours, around 2:00 a.m., to recon the place. We can’t wait too long. When the guys we murdered today don’t check in with their people, they are going to deploy more people here. Keeping them out of Copper County is best for your safety and the MC’s. It may take us a day or two to complete this mission, so I’m going to need to you to be patient.”

Megan’s firm stance softened after I placed a tender hand on her hip and relaxed my facial expression. She begged with sad eyes. “Please, Aaron, don’t do this. Let me keep running. I know how to hide myself. No one else has to die because of me.”

“Do you think I’m going to stand by and let you spend the rest of your life running from these people? That, I will not do. If we don’t take a stand against these people, they are going to keep coming at you until they kill you. The fact that DG6 has others doing their dirty work says a lot about them. They have weaknesses and vulnerabilities that we can take advantage of. It’s time to make a stand, Megan.”

She moved in closer to me and rested her face in my chest before her small arms encircled my waist. My chin rested on the top of her soft hair after I pulled her into a tight embrace. Neither one of us said a word. We relished the feeling of each other’s warmth for a minute.

 

***

 

Megan

 

A minute of quiet reflection was all that was going to be had between Aaron and me. All it took was for his hands to slide past my lower back and drop over the globes of my ass. I was up with my legs wrapped around the man’s body at the slightest gesture from him.

My lips slid over and between the firm and urgent movements of his. As much as I struggled to drown out my nagging thoughts, they kept tugging at my mind. This could well be the last moment Aaron and I had together, so I had to make it special. I had to find a way to let him know, besides words, that I appreciated him, loved him, and would go to hell for him if I had to.

When he sat us on the bed, I climbed off him before he could get at me. Tonight, I was going to get at him. I tugged his hand after me as I moved us closer to the headboard.

“Just sit back and relax please,” I said with a lusty smirk on my face.

Aaron listened to my command and relaxed against the pillows that I’d propped against the headboard behind him. As I undressed him, taking off his T-shirt with slow ease, my fingers brushed his warm skin as his muscles rolled and tensed, responding to my touch. He had no problem lifting his lower body to allow me to pull down his boxers. His dick was already hard and standing to attention, which made my pussy ache with anticipation.

I smiled; it pleased me to see and know how much he wanted me. I ran my fingers up his muscular thigh while eyeing him, eager to see his reaction to my touch. His gaze rushed up to mine when I bypassed his dick and concentrated higher. My lips massaged his neck first, tasting, teasing and enjoying his warm, smooth flesh.

“Mmm,” I exhaled as I let my tongue slide down until my lips wrapped around his tight pink nipple. I bit it, tugging the puckered skin between my teeth. My action pulled a low hiss out of him as he stared. The desperation in his gaze urged me to keep exploring. By the time my mouth made the slow journey over his tightly pulled abs, I had him in such desperate need, his eyes seemed as though they were screaming the word please!

His breath hitched, and his body eased back onto the pillows when I wrapped one of my hands around his dick. I’d finally touched him where he’d needed it most, and it had relaxed him and eased some of the tension I’d been building in him. But I wasn’t ready to release him fully. My teeth sank into his muscular thigh, making him jump before I kissed his taut flesh. His nerve endings were likely on fire by now.

My hands massaged up and down his dick with soft strokes, teasing him on purpose as I let my warm breath wash over the head. Precum leaked over my nimble fingers as I massaged upwards then back down with slow wanton ease. The sight of his dick so hard from my deft strokes made my mouth water and had me swallowing rapidly.

“Megan, please,” he begged.

I kept my grin hidden but was more than willing to give him what he wanted. It wasn’t my intention to take as long as I had, but it couldn’t be helped. He had a lot to offer, and I didn’t take advantage of his full package as often as I should.

My eager mouth slipped over the swollen head of his dick. My tongue slipped out over the hard softness, anxious to taste the pearl of precum that had leaked out. My eyes slid closed, and a pleasing sigh escaped my throat at the taste of him and the feeling of his hardness filling the space of my mouth.

A throaty moan escaped as his warm juices spread over my tongue. I loved the way he tasted. Cum that I’d tasted before was salty or bitter. Aaron’s was sweet and tasty like a special drink that only he possessed.

It took some concentration and slick tongue moves to get his massive dick wet, but I’d accomplished the task. My mouth could only accommodate half of it no matter how far I stuffed it down my throat. I used my hands to take care of the bottom half. Aaron didn’t seem to mind the job I was doing. His chest heaved, and his body stayed in a constant state of tensing and relaxing. His encouraging, lust-filled voice was sweet music to my ears. 

“Megan...so good,” he heaved out between harsh breaths and gritted teeth. The tone and sound of his voice told me he was on the verge of cumming. Knowing so, I maintained the slow, intense bobbing and sucking that was driving him crazy.

“Fuck. Megan!” he yelled, right before his dick expanded and grew impossibly hard, and the sweet flow of his semen rained over my tongue. I swallowed it without a second thought.

“Fuck, you’re swallowing.” I vaguely made out his first few strangled words as an avalanche of curse words was released from his mouth. He’d said the same thing the first time I gave him head. Had other women he’d been with let such a sweet substance go to waste? The sight of me swallowing his juices seemed to make more flow from him.

The first time I’d enjoyed the taste of him was during my first two-week stay with him. He’d told me on numerous occasions that he’d enjoyed my blowjob, but I’d not had many other opportunities to go down on him after he’d tracked me down and found me.

We were always so hot for each other that we usually went straight to the point with minimal foreplay. However, I’d garnered some strength tonight and changed up whatever plan he’d had in store. I didn’t relinquish his dick until I was sure I’d sucked every drop of his orgasm out of him.

His exceptionally tall body lay spiraled out over the mattress with his eyes closed. He was so relaxed that it appeared he’d fallen asleep until he raised his head and smiled at me. When he rose, his hand went straight to my thigh. If the way he licked his lips was any indication, he was going to eat my pussy, but I had plans to make this night about him. I shook my head no, and he cocked an eyebrow at me, daring me to stop him.

I hadn’t given him much head over our short affair, but I’d lost count of the number of times he’d had his mouth and tongue buried in my pussy. The man could eat pussy as good as he could fuck, so I ensured I pulled a pillow next to me, because he was going to have me screaming the roof off this safe house.

It was bad enough the house had likely overheard his name yelled repeatedly hundreds of times over. If the damn headboard knocking against the wall wasn’t enough, they’d likely overheard him telling me that I had the best pussy in the world and me telling him I was addicted to his dick. 

Aaron didn’t give a damn about what anyone overheard, but the notion that others could hear us was embarrassing to me. It’s funny, but I didn’t seem to think about being embarrassed until after our sexual acts were over.

It likely hadn’t been five minutes since he’d buried his face between my thighs, and I was already screaming and coming undone as my body shot off to another galaxy. My fingers tightened, gripping his hair as I rode a high so damn addictive, I’d do anything for it.

His tongue lapped up my juices as I lost my mind. He’d injected me with a drug that only he knew how to produce. A drug that literally melted my bones. My blood sparked with pure satisfaction as it coursed through my veins and relaxed my body.

Once I regained the ability to breathe normally, my eyes followed Aaron’s movement as he scooted back to the head of the bed with his back against the headboard. A wide grin filled my lips as I forced my body to roll to the side and follow him.

His hand sat at his side as his gaze worked its way over my body while I was making my approach. Our eyes locked, and the lust in his heavy gaze made my insides quiver with the anticipation of what was to come. The look alone was enough to speed up my recovery of him turning me into a puddle atop the mattress.

Aaron kept his legs splayed wide, which meant even wider for me. His massive dick welcomed me with a few stiff and waving bobs. My hand glided into his palm as he assisted me in climbing aboard, taking my hand as if he were seating me at an elegantly-set table. I didn’t go straight for the prize, but it made its presence known by falling against my stomach with a fleshy smack.

I devoured Aaron’s mouth, licking, sucking, and nibbling his lips. The man tasted better than drinking water on a hot and humid day, and he made me thirsty enough to drink an ocean. His fresh soapy scent and masculine aroma invigorated my senses and made me want to linger in his presence that much more.

If something happened to Aaron on this crazy mission he and his cousin were intent on going on, I honestly didn’t know what would become of me. I’d proven that I wasn’t brave enough to kill myself, so my only other option would be to turn myself over to DG6 and let them do whatever they had plans to do to me. I’d never been this obsessed with anyone or anything. I couldn’t explain us any more than I was sure Aaron could.

Even now, I considered turning myself in if it would help to keep Aaron out of harm’s way. He had no idea the dumb shit I was willing to do if it would keep him safe. The idea of something bad happening turned my firm kiss into a soft, emotion-laced one. Aaron noticed. Carefully placed palms cupped my face as his gaze bore into mine, the depth of his love shining through. I vocalized what I saw mirrored in his gaze.

“I love you, Aaron. Please don’t go on this mission in the morning,” I begged, the pleading in my tone was apparent as I fought to hold back the stinging tears that started to pool in my eyes.

Aaron didn’t hide the way our connection affected him. He stared intently into my eyes, his face pinched with a mixture of confusion and understanding. “I love you too,” he replied softly. The unrestrained emotion behind his declaration reached into my chest and swallow my heart before it caressed my soul.

When our feelings grew beyond anything we could control, he covered my lips with his and eased his tongue into my mouth. All it took was his hot tongue and his hands palming my ass for my juices to unfreeze and start flowing again. The sensual exploration of his tongue mingling with mine made me forget how to inhale.

My emotions married my lust and our kiss deepened as Aaron assisted in raising me up higher on my knees. I unclamped my right hand from around his neck and let it slip between us. Hard rippling abs brushed the back of my hand as it slid down and around his glorious hard and throbbing dick. The anticipation had my hand trembling when I aligned his dick with my dripping wet folds.

The moment I started to slide down on it, all concerns of him chasing down assassins and DG6 disappeared. The only thing that filled my mind was Aaron and how well he ignited my senses. The slow and steady rhythm kept my body humming with lust-fulfilling excitement.

We broke the kiss, only to catch our breaths. I rested my forehead against his. This session between us was great, it was wonderful, but it was also different. Our emotions were involved this time—the weight of them mixing with our desire. How we’d managed to keep such strong passion at bay was a mystery to me. Now, it flowed over us, through us, all around us like a new sense that we’d created together.

The few times before when love had made its presence known, we’d managed to pretend that it wasn’t there. Now, that we’d professed those three sacred words to each other, and accepted that they’d been spoken in sincere truth, our connection had grown even stronger. 

My mind and body overflowed with different emotions, making me fight for every breath I took. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. My body was on autopilot as I continued to ride Aaron, sheathing him deep inside me. The pressure of the deep penetration was too much but not enough at the same time, verging on pain, but brimming with overpowering pleasure, emotionally driven, but physically intense.

When tears started to leak from my eyes, I knew we’d surpassed our norm. Aaron must have spotted those wet telling drops because his thumb brushed under my eyelid and over my cheek before he took my lips and made me swallow my quivering breaths.

When I was certain my body and mind couldn’t take anymore, the tension in my belly tightened, and my body started to tingle. Forced to break the kiss, I had to scream or yell out to expel some of the emotion and pleasure that had engulfed me and filled my body to near bursting. My pace increased, and Aaron’s big hands palmed my ass, spreading my cheeks as he urged me to ride him faster. 

“Oh my God. Aaron!” I yelled, breathless. Repeatedly, those same words tumbled past my lips. They were the only words my mind had latched on to that I was able to squeeze past my constricting throat. If the men in the house hadn’t known it before, they knew it now. Aaron was the deity I prayed to repeatedly.

He thrust his hips upwards, sending his dick impossibly deep inside me. This was usually the point where I sped up my rotating hips. This time, however, I slowed my pace and let the magic consume me right before I was yanked down into the next world.

My eyebrows tightened over my squeezed-shut eyes that had rolled to the back of my head. My lips fell apart, but my words got lodged in my throat. I had a death grip around Aaron’s neck as I continued to rock my body against his, chasing the sensations that pounded hard inside me and grew in their thundering intensity. My eager body matched the urgency of his hips as he drove faster and harder.

I wasn’t the one who bit into Aaron when the pleasure was too much for me to handle. This time, he bit into my shoulder, the pressure of his bite unexplainably adding to my satisfaction. He groaned in pleasured delight with every powerful thrust that met my grinding rotations.

“Megan.” My name fell from his mouth. “Sorry,” he said, before he kissed the area he’d bitten, unaware that I enjoyed the sweet ache.

 

Chapter Twelve

 

Megan

 

The dewy grass kissed the bottom of my bare feet as I stood outside Ansel’s truck, clinging to Aaron. Thick and heavy clouds hid the moon and added a deeper layer of darkness to the early-morning sky.

I could see neighboring porch lights on in the distance, but the numbing silence around us let us know the rest of the world was at rest. I had a bad feeling that I couldn’t shake, even as Aaron whispered encouraging words into my ear. Although I was confident in his ability to take care of himself, the nagging darkness that loomed over me wouldn’t leave. 

“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine,” he whispered into my hair as his lips sought my neck. “Besides, I’ve got my crazy cousin watching my back.”

As if on cue, Ansel walked up. “Break this shit up. Megan, you have nothing to worry about. I’m here.”

Ansel’s arrogant words put a smile on my face and gave me the courage I needed to ease up the tight hold I had on Aaron. I was acting as if I was never going to see him again. He squeezed me and kissed my forehead before he stepped back. 

My heart sank as I took one last look at him and turned away. Once I made it back inside the house, I knew what was going to happen. I’d do nothing but bite my nails, worry, and attempt to shake the agonizing chill of doom that had crept right back onto my shoulders.

“So, I can’t get a hug or a “thank you.” I mean I’m about to face whatever the hell this chump over here is about to face too.” Ansel’s words were aimed at my back.

I turned around to face him, unable to hide the smile that had crept onto my lips. Ansel stood next to Aaron, looking like his brother. He lifted an eyebrow, waiting for me to answer his question.

“Well?” he said to me before he glanced at the side of Aaron’s head. I glanced at Aaron too. I’d already hurt him by sleeping with his father and not telling him. Therefore, I didn’t even want to look at another man, especially now that we’d established such a strong mutual connection.

A playful eye roll and a sigh left Aaron as he nodded his head in my direction. Ansel must have noticed Aaron’s gesture because his smile spread wider before he threw out both his muscular arms, inviting me into his hold.

I stepped forward, anxious—almost afraid. I went up on my toes and reached my arms up to capture Ansel’s neck. Next thing I knew, I went flying into his hard chest—full body-against-body contact. A sharp gasp left my mouth as he squeezed me to him and held me in place. His arms were wrapped around me so tightly that I couldn’t release the sharp breath he’d made me inhale.

Although I was a bit disoriented, my arms still managed to tighten around his neck and shoulders. I tried to back away, when the hug lasted longer than it should have, but I wasn’t strong enough to get away from the tornado named Ansel. When his face drew closer to mine, I dropped my head to avoid his lips.

When I was released, it took only a second for me to realize it was Aaron who had torn me out of Ansel’s tight grip. 

The teasing smirk on Ansel’s face as I stood staring at him in wide-eyed shock said he’d had every intention of kissing me. The smile on Aaron’s face as he shook his head at his cousin eased some of my tension. Although Aaron had a smile on his face, his eyes told another story. I believed he’d do his cousin harm if he tried to take things too far with me.

“Please be careful,” I forced out. The words rushed out of my mouth as my gaze volleyed between them both. Before I took the final steps, I needed to take towards the house, my gaze landed on Aaron’s and locked. The lump that formed in my throat wasn’t one I could swallow. I forced my legs to turn my body and carry me away before he saw the tears that had started to sting my eyes. Not even Ansel’s shocking hug had subdued the ache that squeezed my heart at Aaron’s departure.

When I turned the knob and pushed the front door open, I heard Aaron tell Ansel, “I’m going to kick your ass. Keep your hands off my woman.” 

Hearing them laugh was a good sign, considering what they were likely about to face. Their laughter was the last pleasant sound I heard before I closed the door behind me. I stood against the inside of the front door, listening as the roar of Ansel’s truck faded with each passing second.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, Shark walked into the living room. He stood in the doorway that led into the kitchen and stared at me as tears streamed down my cheeks. The flow had started, so there was no stopping them now, so I didn’t bother wiping them away.

“He’s going to be all right. All you need to do is believe in him. Believe that no matter what happens, he’ll find a way to come back.” Shark nodded his head once to ensure I understood his words.

I bit into my quivering bottom lip, trying but failing to stop the flow of my tears and the tremble that had started in my body. As soon as I nodded my head towards Shark, he turned and left me there. I assumed Shark hated me, but I was starting to find that when it came to these men and this MC, I’d grossly underestimated them at every turn.

My head leaned back and against the front door before I pushed my body forward and headed towards the bedroom that Aaron and I shared. Aaron hadn’t left me without company. I bunked with a PK380 pistol to the right side of the bed and a Beretta to the left. Aaron was sure that the safe house was safe, but the unease that plagued my body had me sitting in the middle of the bed staring up at the shadows that waved along the dark ceiling.

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

Aaron

 

The hardest thing I’d ever seen or done was witnessing my younger brother Ryan’s death and standing by helplessly as he was being lowered into the ground at his funeral. Now, I had another to add to my list of hardest things.

Leaving Megan took it out of me. I understood why she was worried. I was more worried about her if something happened to me than I was worried about death. Although I was a tad confident, I wasn’t as arrogant about facing deadly situations as my cousin was. Any number of circumstances could occur that would send death in our direction.

Although I was willing to do what was necessary to stay alive, I accepted the fact that I had no control over it. My only concern at this point was leaving Megan to face this harsh life alone. This was a new experience for me. I never used to think about dying or how it would affect anyone until I met Megan. Now that I had someone to live for, it appeared death lurked at every corner of my life. 

Ansel must have noticed my solemn mood because he didn’t tease or taunt me during the hour-long drive to James County. Instead, we talked strategy and how best to handle the situation without getting ourselves killed. That we were both ex-military was a plus. It meant we knew how these guys thought and how they would react to an attack.

It took us hours of searching the spotted patches of thick woods behind the targeted house to find a good spot to park Ansel’s truck.  

Thankfully, the house was situated in an area where the nearest neighbor sat about a mile down the partially-wooded road. I’d assumed the place was in some type of subdivision, but the large homes clearly belonged to owners that could afford to buy hundreds of acres of land. The space was congested with fat pine trees, their barks bore a reddish tint, giving the area its name: Redwood Pines.

Between Ansel’s duffle bag and mine, we had enough weaponry and firepower to take out a small military installation. I’d brought my grenade launcher, and Ansel had brought a damn 50 Cal machine gun. Who did he think we were fighting, Al Qaeda? I didn’t have much room to judge my cousin’s choice in weaponry, though. Since I’d essentially started a war in those woods with DG6 and their operatives, I suppose we had unconsciously planned for one.

It had taken some swift maneuvering, but we’d gotten the truck through the congestion of the dense woods. There were a few areas where we’d had to exit the truck and cut a path through the woods. We’d even re-mapped the path to mark our way and ensure we had a good understanding of how to get out of the woods swiftly if things went sideways. Ansel maneuvered his truck over large ruts and dips until we made it to within a quarter mile of the target location.

The house stood large and stately enough to be classified as a mansion. Its dark bricks stood strong, covering two levels that reared over a pool in the backyard and supported a three-car garage. If DG6 could afford to put their hired guns up in a place this nice, I’d like to see how they treated their bosses.

The gangbangers that had DG6 tatted all over their bodies were nothing more than a bunch of untrained foot soldiers and were likely why the leaders of the gang had opted to use mercenaries to take care of what they’d deemed serious business.

I found it difficult to believe that they had sent an army of men after a five-foot-five, barely over a hundred-pound woman. Well, I take that back. I could understand them upping their efforts to capture or kill Megan. She had killed an original member of their gang as well as the gang member’s nephew and wife, so they weren’t going to stop until she was dead.

She’d also managed to elude the group on her own for nearly a decade, which proved she was fully capable of taking care of herself and worthy of their efforts. But, Megan had me on her side now, and I was determined to put an end to the threat that constantly loomed over her life.

“D, what you got for me?” I asked after my phone rang only once. I put the phone on speaker and sat it on the tailgate of the truck so Ansel and I could listen.

“Knox, you have your laptop up?” I had no idea why D had insisted upon me bringing a laptop, but I was curious to find out. “I sent you the blueprints of the house,” he explained.

“I’ve also tapped into a satellite near your location, and it’ll get us a peek inside the house by allowing me to tap into other digital devices.”

“No shit!” Ansel said before I could respond to D’s statement. I’d introduced Ansel to D over the phone so they’d know each other’s voices and so that Ansel could listen in on whatever updates D discussed.

“No shit,” D answered Ansel back with a chuckle. “Watch this.”

My laptop sat on the tailgate next to the phone. D took control of it remotely, and with a few clicks, he had an aerial map of the area we were in on the screen. He zoomed in tight enough that roofs of houses started to come into view. Since it was after six in the morning, the sun had chased away the darkness, allowing us to clearly see what D was showing us.

As soon as the house we targeted came into view, D zoomed in close enough for us to see the guard standing inside a small guard shack near the front gate. D spied so close in fact that we could see the guard place a cigarette up to his lips and take a drag from it. When D hijacked the camera on the guard’s smartphone that was sitting someplace behind him, we were that much closer. We actually saw the ingrown hairs on the back of the man’s neck.

The shit was something straight out of a damn spy film. I’d known D for over seven years, had deployed with him, had slept in a foxhole with him, and had killed enemy forces with him. However, I’d never gotten used to the amazing shit he could do with a computer.

More spying showed us guards on either side of the house and one in the backyard. Ansel and I stood in wide-eyed shock at what we were seeing. D had been able to do this type of surveillance in the military because we had top-secret clearances that gave us access to technology and devices we weren’t supposed to be able to touch as regular civilians.

The crunch of nearby twigs breaking caused Ansel and I to draw our weapons and aim in the direction of the noise almost immediately. The clicks of our weapons caused the surrounding woods to grow eerily quiet. The moment Ansel and I holstered our weapons, D asked, “Everything all right in your neck of the woods?”

“Yeah. It’s a fucking rabbit hopping his happy, little ass around. He was about a second from getting his ass blown off.”

D laughed at Ansel’s comment before he returned to giving us live views and angles of the property we were planning to infiltrate. Just like he’d said he would do, D adjusted the zoom close enough to one of the unobstructed windows to allow us a view of the inside of the house. He tapped into a few devices, a smart television, a few smartphones, and a laptop that gave us close-up snapshots of our enemies’ faces.

We counted three contractors sitting around a large table eating breakfast and talking, likely discussing their assignment. We didn’t have audio, so we were left attempting to decode their words. Another guy sat on a couch, flipping through the channels on a large-screen television mounted on the wall.

We couldn’t see anything through any of the top windows, and D had been unable to connect to any devices that could sneak us a peek. However, we got a peek at the top of the stairs and a small piece of the hall on one of the two upstairs wings. We’d also taken a trip down the hall on the first floor. One of the first-floor bedrooms was being used as a possible surveillance room, but there was nothing in the room that D was able to connect to that allowed us a look inside.

“How long do we have this feed?” I asked D. “I want to study these motherfuckers and the blueprints.”

“You’ll have this feed for as long as you need it. Believe it or not, it was easier hijacking this satellite than it is to get into the lowest level NSA encryptions.”

I didn’t want to know the kind of national security violations D was breaking or was involved in.

“I appreciate this, man,” I said, my words edging out quickly because I hated any type of sentimentality. Megan was the only person who could somehow drag any emotional shit out of me.

“Yeah, man. We appreciate this shit,” Ansel repeated. “My cousin didn’t tell me he had high-level contacts like you on speed dial.”

“No problem. Happy to help.” D chuckled. “Knox, remember if you need me, just give me a call. I counted at least twelve in that house the first time I scanned it. There could be more.”

Although I knew D couldn’t see me do it, I nodded my head.

“If shit gets bad. You know what to do, D.”

I’d filled D in on every aspect of Megan’s story and my feelings for her. Well, except for the personal shit like our explosive sex life, but D knew about as much as Ansel did. If shit went bad, D would link up with Ansel to keep Megan safe. If both Ansel and I perished, D knew where the safe house was.

“Yep. Later, Knox.”

“Later, D.”

I didn’t have to glance up from my monitor to know that Ansel’s glare was upside my head.

“What?” I asked, not bothering to lift my gaze to his.

“Motherfucker, I knew the military put you into some black-ops shit, but you didn’t tell me you were connected like this. Your man highjacked a fucking satellite and was talking about NSA encryptions and shit.”

I waved Ansel’s comments away. He used to be a damn ranger, so I knew with a great degree of certainty he had as many, if not more connections than I did.

Also, two of the men who had traveled from California with him were his ranger buddies, Scott and Marcus. I hadn’t missed the matching tattoos on their arms, which told me they all used to be in the same squad. Ansel had introduced them to me the day he’d arrived, but I hadn’t seen them since.

After D had shown us what was inside the house we targeted, Ansel contacted Scott and Marcus, and they had agreed to join us. They were likely already on the road heading in our direction. With them on the way, we would be four trained killers versus two, which meant this party was likely going to be a bloody one.

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

Aaron

 

Scott and Marcus arrived a little after nine o’clock that morning. The tailgate of Ansel’s truck had become our operation’s center.

We’d laid low most of the day, studying our targets. We’d lost the satellite feed a few times, but D had gotten it back for us. Shit, he may as well have been our fifth man. When we were studying the targets and figuring out a way into the house, he entertained our concerns and made suggestions.

I, as well as Ansel, had packed a bedroll and his men didn’t have to be told to do the same.  However, I did recall Ansel telling one of the men on the phone to make sure he brought Tina. I assumed Tina was an object, but when I asked Ansel about Tina, he remained tight-lipped and kept a huge smile on his face.

We’d studied the people in the house and the blueprints for hours. We took advantage of the satellite feed to spy on and get real-time accounts of the activities taking place inside the house. The all-male crew mostly lounged around, but there was one thing—the most important thing—we noticed. None of them were too far out of arm’s reach of a weapon. The men who surrounded and guarded the perimeter of the house were a part of the crew. They took turns guarding the place, rotating every six hours like they expected to be attacked.

The nearest neighbors were about a mile or more away, which was good news because we didn’t have to worry about collateral damage. If the nearest neighbor heard the distant sound of gunfire, hopefully, we’d have completed our mission and disappeared before the authorities arrived.

Speaking of the mission, our aim for this one was to obtain the grid coordinates or some type of a geographic location for DG6 other than a dude ranch in Texas. The man Ansel had tortured at The Copper Grand Hotel revealed that the last two original members of the gang frequented the ranch and that some of their family lived there. Two out of three of the men we’d tortured informed us that there was another DG6 heavy hitter that hung out at the location in Texas as well.

The concept of taking out the leaders in this gang and making it crumble from the top was a far better plan than picking off the little guys. However, we had to find these infamous leaders first, preferably, the one sending groups of men to hunt Megan.

As the sun started to retreat, Scott offered to run a recon on the house of mercenaries to find out if there was anything we could have missed using the blueprints and our spying eye in the sky.  I didn’t understand the extent of what Scott was offering until Ansel explained it.

“When he says recon, he means all the way in, up the stairs, down the stairs, and throughout the house.”

I glanced at Scott with a questioning gaze. He was over six-feet with a medium build—a big ass target, so how he planned to do what Ansel had suggested was beyond me. Like D, Scott looked harmless, but if he could do what Ansel was saying, he was as dangerous as my cousin.

Often, I found myself in situations where I had to be stealthy, but to get into a house filled with contract killers and snoop around was on another level. To do it with cameras and motion detectors surrounding the place was going to make the man a magician.

“I know what you’re thinking, Aaron, and the answer is yes. He’s that good,” Ansel assured as a sneaky smile crept across Scott’s face.

“I’ve seen this fool slink in and out of so many enemy camps that I’ve lost count. Then, he’d come back with a map and detailed descriptions of anything or anyone that might have been a threat to us.”

I glanced at Scott again.

“Do you guys even know why we’re doing this? Do you even know why we are about to engage a group of mercenaries that we’re probably going to torture and kill?”

Scott and Marcus said the same thing—that they were there to help Ansel. I didn’t have to be a psychologist to see that these men craved violence, maybe even lived for it. They were also loyal to my cousin and were possibly the same caliber of crazy as him. I guess it was the same thing D was willing to do for me. If I called D, Dax, Gavin, or Luke, they’d be willing to jump into the fray, and I’d do the same for either of them in return.

Scott agreed to go on his recon mission a little after 7:00 p.m. When he returned an hour later with details on the location of guns, where everyone slept, and confirmation that D had been right about twelve members, I was floored. And it took a lot to floor me.

Scott had been able to locate and cut the feed that triggered the motion lights. He’d been able to get into the surveillance room and had gotten a few glimpses at what the cameras saw around the house, finding us a few extra blind spots. He’d been reluctant to manipulate the devices because he was a reconnaissance expert, not a tech guru like D. Earlier, D had attempted to manipulate the cameras and motion detectors, but the technology of the security equipment had been too much for the satellite technology to overcome.

We studied the information Scott had provided along with the live feed. By ten o’clock, we’d all pulled out our bedrolls or whatever we intended to sleep on and were resting. We decided the best time, like we’d been trained, was to strike around 2 a.m. while the crew was relaxed and most of them would be asleep.

With my sleeping bag spread out on the hood of Ansel’s truck, I stared up at the stars glistening beyond the fluttering leaves of the trees surrounding us. Megan was the last thing on my mind before I started to drift.

 

Chapter Fifteen

 

Aaron

 

When my eyes popped open at Ansel attempting to pull my sleeping bag from under me, I had my gun aimed at his head before he got his sneaky fingers around the edge of it. He threw up both hands with a devilish grin on his face when he caught sight of my weapon. The darkness lurking in the woods around us was alive. Its lingering silence pressed down on me, making me more aware of my surroundings.

“Just seeing if married life has softened you up, that’s all,” Ansel added. I couldn’t see him clearly, but I could tell there was amusement all over his face. I didn’t think either of us had ever been in a committed relationship before. My affair with Megan was the longest relationship I’d ever had. Ansel didn’t have relationships. He had subs that he either broke or dismissed when they couldn’t keep up with his demanding lifestyle.

Shoving my gun down the back of my pants, I rose. “I have never been nor will I ever be soft.”

Ansel stood watching as I slid from his hood. The dim lighting didn’t hide the fact that a grin was still on his face. “You know, cousin, I was wondering what’s going to happen to you when Megan leaves you for me.”

I shot a deadly glare over at him, but I was sure he caught my shadowy smile. “That will happen over my dead body,” I said with certainty.

“You sound sure of yourself, cousin. I mean, I’ll be torn up over your death, but what I’ll be gaining…” Ansel threw his hands behind his head and stared upwards, being his usual crazy self. 

Ansel was joking now, but in a few minutes, he was about to turn into a fucking monster—a rabid-ass dog with razor-sharp teeth that was a motherfucker to control. I walked past my cousin and headed to the back of his truck. Scott and Marcus were back there strapping themselves into equipment. We mostly used the moonlight to prepare ourselves so there was minimal light from our flashlights. The scene reminded me of the way we had prepped for the deadly missions we went on when I was in the military.

The small tin of black camo I’d taken from my cargo pocket made its way around the group as I proceeded to strap my holster around my waist and leg. One of my pistols went into the belt around my waist, and the other went into the holster around my leg. I even had a backup piece strapped to my lower leg at the rim of my boots. 

Ansel walked up as I was putting on my Kevlar vest. He watched me with a knowing smile on his face as I inspected my combat knife and sheathed it.

“You brought Tina?” he asked Marcus. The big smile on Marcus’ face insinuated that he had.

Marcus strategically lowered his head where I noticed the tip of a big metal box sticking out from the bottom of the back of Ansel’s truck. Ansel lifted the box and sat it on the tailgate. The box landed with a heavy thud. Dust flew up from the area he sat the box in, causing me to fan flying particles away from my face.

When Ansel opened the box, I smiled. Tina was a damn sniper rifle. The rifle he’d used while he was in the military was named Tammy, which was the same exact model as Tina who was the obvious replacement for Tammy after Ansel had returned to the life of a civilian.

Ansel stood there under the light of the moon putting the weapon together. The distinct sound of metal slipping and sliding into metal grooves and slats was the only sound that coursed through the air. When Ansel slid the receiver back and attached the drum of bullets, I knew he meant business. He’d told me that he and each member of his ranger team were qualified as expert marksmen.

My rifle sat dismantled in my duffle on the back of Ansel’s truck. I hadn’t given it a name, and I’d had it for three years. I was good enough to own a sniper rifle, but I hadn’t immersed myself enough as a rifleman to consider myself a true sniper. I was more of an in-your-face kind of killer.

Ansel placed his mouth to the side of Tina’s pistol grip. “I’m handing you over to Marcus, but don’t worry, baby, Daddy’s coming back.” He kissed the treasured weapon.

Each of us slid our listening devices into our ears so we could communicate with each other. We went through a series of mic checks to ensure everyone had a functioning device. After we went over the plan once more, we were finally ready.

Ansel glanced over at Marcus and Tina. “Take care of my baby, Marcus, because I know she’s going to take care of us.”

Marcus nodded his head before lifting Tina and walking away, allowing the darkness to swallow them.

After D confirmed he’d found a way to somehow blind the cameras, the rest of us prepared to go in. In all black tactical gear, our faces smeared in black camo, and hidden by the darkness of night, we were virtually invisible. Geared up, we were ready for just about anything. We gave each other a once over, not moving anything except our eyes. We’d said all that needed to be said with a glance. We each flipped the night gear over our eyes and the low whirr blended with the sound of chirping insects and animals calling in the distance.

Ansel gladly took point as Scott and I followed. He’d glared at me when I’d suggested he take point. If there was one thing I’d learned over the years was that any effective leader had to know how to follow. Who was I kidding with that canned bullshit? The only reason Ansel was leading me anywhere was because I knew he could.

A flood of memories hit my brain, making a smile inch across my lips because this mission felt eerily familiar to my days in the military. At the edge of the fence-line in the backyard of the property, Ansel’s upward fist stopped us in our tracks. It was funny because we’d been in two different branches of the military, but an upward fist was all it took to not only jerk me out of my memories but to also stop me in my tracks and put me in attack mode.

Ansel called Scott forward. Scott had rigged the fence so that three of the standing wooden boards swung up enough that it would allow us entry and not look tampered with. Scott easily found the boards and lifted them so we could pass through and enter the backyard. Once inside, we low crawled closer to the back of the house and pool area. There was a large light attached to the back of the house that illuminated a portion of the backyard, but not enough to keep us out.

Viewing the yard area on my computer had been misleading. The area was massive. It felt like we’d been crawling towards that house for hours. The low-cut grass cushioned our knees and elbows and gave off a low crinkle that mingled with our accelerated breathing.

By the time we reached the area near the pool where the motion lights should have come on, I swiped at a sheen of sweat that had pooled on my forehead. It was a sign that I wasn’t in as good a shape as I’d once been.

Ansel directed our eyes to the guard as he made his approach from the opposite side of the house from us. He walked uncaringly through the light, unknowingly blinding himself to us. He must have left his area to use the restroom or switch out duty with another guard because we should have encountered him much sooner than now. We’d hidden in a patch of darkness outside the light shining from the back of the house. The man passed only feet away from our boots, as we lay flat on the grass near the pool.

Ansel signed to us that he was going to take out the guard. Scott hadn’t initiated any type of aggression on his earlier recon because any slip up on his part could have started a premature war without us there to back him up. However, this time, we were ready to do whatever was necessary to take out our adversaries and to obtain the information we sought that could eventually help us find our true enemy—DG6.

Ansel moved with the stealth of a black panther creeping up behind the man like a moving shadow. Scott and I remained in place, prone on the ground. First, we heard a muffled groan of agony, then, the distinct thump of a body hitting the ground.