By: Jayne Blue

Doug was in trouble. And he was running out of time.

Chapter Three


“You going to let us in on who that skirt was last night or are you keeping that one a secret?”

I sat with my booted feet up on the conference room table in Colt’s office. Joker, E.J., Mac, Tate, and the rest of the crew sat further down the table. The guys had been more interested in what I did with my dick lately. I had a bad break-up with a good woman last year. As a result, we still hadn’t been able to find a decent hostess for the bar. They needn’t have worried though. I learned my lesson. I wasn’t going near anyone whose paychecks we signed anytime soon.

“She was nobody,” I said, not sure why I wanted to keep Nicole to myself. She’d been conspicuous as fuck when she walked in here last night and these guys were nosier than a bunch of old ladies. “Old friend from high school. She wanted a favor. One I can’t provide.”

Joker said something that earned him a bottle cap right between the eyes. It wasn’t anything worse than shit I’d said a million times, but for some reason, I didn’t want the topic of Nicole at the table anymore.

“Any word from Colt or Kellan how the Florida trip is going?” E.J. asked. Colt and Kellan, our prez and veep, had taken their wives down to the Emerald Coast charter to scout out a new location for the gym franchise we owned. A huge chunk of club income came from the membership and the world-class MMA fighters we trained and sponsored through the Great Wolves Gym. After a rocky couple of years, our wallets were fat and Lincolnshire itself had finally turned the corner.

“Things are good,” I said. “And it looks like they might bring back a few prospects with them. Emerald Coast’s numbers are starting to swell. And everyone at this table knows we still need new blood.”

Regime change when Colt took over hadn’t come without a price. It had been my job to exact it by putting two dirty members in the ground. I felt my jaw go hard when I thought about it. It had been necessary, justified. They’d been ready to kill me first and Colt right after. But I still had to put bullets in the heads of two men I’d once called friends. The rest of the guys went silent around the table. I didn’t have to say anything. Just the mention of our dwindling numbers conjured up all that past shit for them as well. Though no one judged or faulted me for what I had to do, it set me apart from them now and forever. Justified or not, I’d violated club code. There wasn’t a damn thing I could do about that. But we’d rewritten the rules.

“Good to hear,” Joker said as he rapped his knuckles on the table. “I’m sick of looking at the same sorry faces across this table.”

“I’m sick as shit of doing all the grunt work,” E.J. said, earning him groans around the table.

“You’ve gotta be the laziest son of a bitch I know, E.J,” Tate said. “What’d you do? Break a nail on the way to your fucking massage appointment?”

E.J. leaped over the table and tried to punch Tate. Tate caught his fist and shoved him backward. They laughed and shuffled, but with the table between them, neither of them could do much damage. Except to the table if the fuckers kept at it. I smashed the gavel down hard enough I thought I might have broken the handle for a second. But it got their attention. Tate straightened his shirt under his leather cut and sat back down.

“Do we have anything else important to talk about yet or do you two just wanna keep on finger fucking each other?” Tate flipped me off and E.J. stifled a laugh.

With everyone sorted out and settled, we went over the night’s receipts and doled out jobs for the next week. Tate wasn’t wrong, E.J. was a lazy son of a bitch. He bitched and moaned when he realized with Colt and Kellan out for at least another two weeks, he’d still be on floor management for the bar at night, and supply runs for the gym. When everyone else was clear on what they had to do, the room cleared out leaving just Tate and me at the table.

“You sure you don’t want to tell me about that Ridley girl?” Tate said, leaning back in his chair until the back of it rested against the wall.

I shrugged then shook my head. It was in me to blow him off again. For the second time, I felt a little protective of her and I didn’t quite know why. But Tate wasn’t buying it. Of everyone in the club, he’d known me the longest. I’d actually brought him around for the first time when we were just seventeen. He’d already dropped out of school and would have been headed for prison if he hadn’t gotten his shit straight when he did.

I reached into the back pocket of my jeans and pulled out the wad of paper Nicole had given me. “She’s an old friend, like I said. She was just hoping I could help her out with a problem involving her brother.”

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