Crimson Tide MC-

THE NEW CHAPTER BOOK IS

 

End of Clovis…

Boomer listened to what Jim was telling him and his frown deepened. When he ended the call, he looked around at his men. “Well, we were right. The Wheelers haven’t left town just yet. They were seen at the hospital late last night.”

“Did they get to the brothers?” Clovis wanted to know.

Boomer shook his head and chuckled. “No, they got there too late. Jim had patched the brothers up and already had them well hidden. But he left one of his men behind to watch for the others and sure enough, ole man Wheeler showed up looking for the boys. He was very unruly to find out they weren’t there any longer. Raised a bunch of hell then saw the officer and took off running. The cop couldn’t catch them as they had taken off again.”

“What is the sheriff going to do?” Robin asked.

“He’s got some extra help coming in and the Marshals have also offered more personnel until they can get everyone.” Boomer looked over at Jenner. “Jim wanted to warn you that the Wheeler’s might be watching your farm. He doesn’t feel it's safe for you to return there, at least not yet.”

“Where the hell am I supposed to go then?” Jenner growled.

“You’re more than welcome to stay here until it’s safe, old man,” Boomer told him firmly.

Jenner just glared at him and the men sitting around the room and growled under his breath.

Just then, they all heard several bikes return and a moment or so later, the front door opened up and a number of men walked in.

Boomer got to his feet and reached out his hand to Jackal. “How the hell are you, old man?” Boomer’s voice rang out.

“You’re still older than me, you old fucker.” Jackal grinned.

Boomer laughed. “You old bastard.” He looked around at the men that came with Jackal. “You brought quite the crew with you didn’t you?” He nodded at Beast, Shadow Hunter, Shade and Tank. Then he saw Dixon King standing there.

Dixon grinned at him.

Boomer went over and told him, “You might as well be a fuckin’ ghost, King. Disappearing for all those years. Why, I figured, you were fish food by now.”

Dixon chuckled. “I’m too ornery for the fish to get any nutrition from. It’s not easy to kill our generation, Boom.”

“God damned right,” Boomer agreed. Then he turned to the other six men standing there. “Now who the hell are these jokers?” He grinned at the men.

“They delivered King to us after the Shadows decided to ambush him,” Jackal replied. “But you know who they are, don’t you? They served under King in the desert.”

“Yeah, I know who they are,” Boomer admitted. “I just never thought they’d go into a club.” He reached his hand out to Nitro. “How the hell are you Nitro?” He nodded to the men one at a time. “Montana, Pagan, Typhoon. Capone and Repo.”

They each shook his hand as he called out their names,

When he was done, Nitro opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted when Boomer’s cell phone rang.

Boomer paused. It was Trudy’s tone and he frowned as he answered the call, “Hey Baby Girl, you're on speaker. What you got for us?”

“Boomer, you asked me to try and track Richard Keller’s phone calls, remember?”

“Yeah, I remember. What did you find?”

“Do you know the name Douglas Hinds?” Trudy asked.

The entire room went silent then Jackal growled. “What about Douglas Hinds?”

“That’s who Richard Keller has been in contact with,” Trudy explained. “And Douglas Hinds is right here in Sabine Pass. Dewey and Pappy are checking out the address right now.”

“Thanks baby girl. You take care of yourself, okay?” Boomer shook his head. “We’ll be in touch real soon.” He ended the call and glanced over at Jackal.

 “We are finally gonna crush that little cockroach.” Jackal growled.

“We’re gonna crush both of them,” Boomer corrected his old friend. “Hinds and Keller are gonna be dead men walking, until we catch up with them. Then we’ll put them in the ground.”

King nodded. “And it’s only twelve years too late.”

Boomer looked around at all the men gathered who knew what happened back then. He called out the name, “Swanson.”

King looked angry and added, “Bozeman.”

Jackal clenched his fists and said, “Quincy.”

Nitro added, “Korben.”

Tank looked fierce as he called out, “Houser.”

Montana called out, “Robertson.”

 Pagan shook his head. “Phillips.”

 Typhoon stepped up closer and said, “Vern.”

Capone looked like he had to get the lump out of his throat as he said, “Williams.”

Repo literally growled beneath his breath, “Sutton.”

The room went silent as they all lowered their heads.

After a few minutes, Boomer raised his head. “And the only way to honor them is to wipe out the ones responsible for the fact that they all came home in coffins.”

 

Chapter One

 

After everyone settled down, Boomer called Vance, Spider, Cyrus and Clovis over to the corner of the room. He looked at each of them and shook his head. “I can’t order you to do this, but we need eyes on the town and we need to find the Wheelers. At least try and get eyes on them.”

Everyone nodded.

“You’ll have to drive your cages because we don’t want the Wheelers to hear your bikes or see them,” Boomer added. “And if you do see them don’t try to take them on, you call for backup and just follow them.” He ran his hands over his head and suggested, “Better leave your cuts here too, just in case they do see you. There’s no sense in giving them the opportunity of following you back here.”

Vance flexed his jaw and his eyes narrowed at the message he was getting. His chocolate eyes grew hard as he turned and saw the brothers sitting around. All the men had a common bond they shared and he was more than happy to belong to this group. While he had a family out beyond this valley, he had family here in the valley as well. And this family actually cared whether he lived or died, his blood family? Not so much. He'd had to get the hell away from them before he got sucked into their drama and expired on the streets of Philly. He was a long way from home but that was okay with him. He found his forever home right here in the heart of the bayou and he wasn’t going to lose it to the likes of the Wheeler gang.

They all then broke up to get ready for their search.

Vance went to his bedroom and took off his cut. He left it on the table in his room but changed his short sleeved t-shirt for a long sleeved one and grabbed his denim jacket before he left the room.

He met the others at the front door and as a group, they walked out to their cages.

Vance’s personal cage was an old pickup truck that had seen better days. He was a great mechanic and he had the engine running smooth, so its vintage didn’t effect it performance at all. He’d had it since he left Philly fourteen years ago.

He got behind the wheel and started the engine. It was quiet and that’s what he liked. He knew this truck, hell he almost built it from the ground up. It may not look very good but he knew what it could do and what it couldn’t do.

The Tide went out the back door and they took different routes.

 Vance took off toward town. He and Spider were going to check the streets of Lake Charles. And see if the Wheelers were roaming there.

When they reached the city limits, he went one way and Spider went the other. He drove around the resort area, looking for a van Boomer had described. He drove slowly as he looked into every crack and crevice around the lakefront properties but no vans were there.  Then he drove slowly back through the town toward the jail house. He was at the red light across from city hall which also housed the jail house when he saw a van parked out front.

He pulled around the corner, so he could still see the van when suddenly someone came running out of the building. Actually two someones and they were dragging a third someone between them.

The third someone was kicking and screaming, demanding to be let go when the first someone reached back and decked her one. The punch knocked the woman unconscious and she almost fell to the ground but the two men holding her up dragged her to the van. The van then took off.

Vance started his old truck and followed them from a distance. He wasn’t sure who these people were but it appeared to him that the woman who had been knocked unconscious was in deep trouble.

Finally, the van pulled off the road and began driving up into the woods.

 Vance parked his truck and walked through the woods. He knew this area and he knew if he drove his truck up the road, the men in the van would see him. As he and the rest of the Tide were told not to engage anyone, he decided to follow them anyway and just watch them.

The van stopped in a clearing not too far from the main road and three men got out. Two of them dragged the still unconscious woman from the vehicle and dropped her on the ground not seemingly caring where she landed.

“What the hell happened in there, boys?” the older of the three asked. “You were supposed to go in there and get your brothers and get out. Where are your brothers?”

“They weren’t there,” one of the other two replied.

“What the hell do you mean they weren’t there?” growled the older man.

“They weren’t there, pa.” the second man claimed. “There were no records of them even being arrested and the woman behind the counter didn’t know what the hell we were talking about. Marcus told her we were there to see our clients and she said that was impossible as there were no people in the cells and no one had been arrested recently.” He growled and began to pace. “That fucking sheriff didn’t take them into the jail at all. They could be anywhere right now.”

“Well, they weren’t at the hospital either,” the older man grumbled. “Where the  fucking hell are they?” Then he looked over at the girl laying on the ground. “What’s the story with the girl? Why did you grab her?”

One of the other men shrugged. “She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He said. “She saw us beat the hell out of the woman behind the counter and we made sure she was dead. But we couldn’t leave a witness behind, so we grabbed the girl and brought her with us. We can always use a hostage if the police ever figure out we haven’t left yet.”

“That makes sense.” The old man nodded. “But you know we’ll have to kill her before this is over, right? We can’t leave any witnesses behind. Once we know where your brothers are and can get them free, we’re leaving this god forsaken town.” He shook his head. “We never should have come here in the first fucking place.”

One of the other men growled, “We needed a place to lay low for a while. Or did you forget that bastard Asa betrayed us to the public and there’s a long line of lettered agencies after us for all kinds of shit?”

“No I ain’t forgot that shit.” The old man growled. “Grandson or not, I am gonna put a bullet in that kid's head when I find him.”

“I’ll give you the damn bullet myself. Some son he turned out to be,” the second man spat out with rage. “What are we gonna do now?”

“Now we get some sleep,” the older man suggested. “Tomorrow, we can search for a better place to hold up for a few days while we track down your brothers. Then we’ll get the hell out of this place.”

“What about the girl?” the first man asked, looking over at her body lying on the ground by the van. “There’s barely enough room for the three of us in that shitty van.”

The old man looked around the area then suggested, “Tie her up and gag her, then hitch her to a tree, so she can’t get away. She’ll just have to sleep outside tonight.”

Vance growled under his breath. He couldn't sit back and watch this, despite his orders. They had already knocked the poor girl out, and they were going to kill her. And to leave her tied out all night? Yeah, it was summertime here in Lake Charles, but the nights cooled off to about fifty degrees. So being tied up and gagged while not able to move all night, it would get chilly and damp and that wasn’t good for anyone no matter what their age.

He squatted down on his haunches and waited. He figured he would let enough time pass then he would go in and get her out, after they were all sleeping. He had his trusty knife to cut whatever they bound her with, he just hoped that she wouldn’t give the game away by screaming when she saw him. He knew he was a big black man but despite his overall hard body, he would never hurt a woman.

He watched as the two younger men dragged her off to the edge of their camp and did as they were told. They bound her hands behind her back and gagged her then tied her to a tree. They left her there in the dark while they all settled down in the van. When they closed the door, he waited about an hour to give them time to fall asleep.

Vance began moving through the trees again, to the outer edge of the camp. He came in from behind the girl tied to the tree.

 Gasping as if she knew he was there, she turned her head to see him. Her eyes widened in fear but she made no sound.

Vance leaned in to whisper in her ear, “I’m not going to hurt you but I don’t think you want to stay here any longer do you?”

She shook her head then turned to look at the van not too far away.

 “I’m going to cut you free, then I’ll lift you up and carry you out, just don’t make any sound, ok?”

She nodded, then groaned softly as he cut the ropes that bound her to the tree.

“That’s all I’m going to cut for now," Vance explained. "I’ll get the rest as soon as we get the hell away from here.”

She nodded like she understood him, then she was lifted and hoisted over his broad shoulder.

Vance rose to his feet and carried her quietly away from the camp. When he got her back to his truck, he set her down to stand on her own two feet and then cut the ropes that held her hands behind her back.

She groaned at the sudden pain in her arms but she was free. Then he took the gag out of her mouth and as she licked her busted lip, she burst into tears.

He put his arms around her and held her for a moment. When she stopped crying, he took a step back. He opened the door and motioned for her to get in and when she did, he walked around the truck and got behind the wheel.

For about ten minutes, neither of them said a word since they’d left the makeshift camp. Vance then turned his truck down a dirt road that he knew no one else would be on. Shutting the engine down, he turned to look at her. “Ok sweetness, what the hell happened?”

“Damned if I know.” She shrugged. “I was at the jail to bail out my dad and the next thing I know, those two losers grabbed me and dragged out by my hair, then next….it was lights out? I came to and found I was tied to that fucking tree and then there you were.” She stared at him. “Maybe you tell me what happened and we’ll both know.”

 

Chapter Two

 

Vance frowned as he stared at her. “You don’t know who those men were, do you?”

She shook her head and continued to glare at him. “Who were they?”

Vance shook his head, maybe the less she knew was better for her. “So who are you?” He took in her messy long black hair and bright green eyes. He stared at her for a moment and it was then that he noticed her hair wasn’t completely black, there was a white streak in the inky darkness that went from her scalp all the way to the end of her hair. She was too skinny for his taste and too short. She was barely five feet tall to his six foot four. But from what he remembered, she had been a handful. Her ass was big enough to fit his hands and then some and her soft breasts bounced on his back just fine. The only thing he didn’t like about her were the bruises the Wheelers had given her.

She opened her mouth to say something but Vance held up his finger and reached for his phone. He forgot to send his message to let the club know where the Wheelers were hiding. He tapped in the text.

Message sent he leaned back and looked at his guest.

She had her brow raised as she waited to speak. She was working up to being pissed. “Look I appreciate you getting me away from those bastards but I got things to do and people to see. You can just drop me off in town somewhere. I still need to locate where my dad is and if he is in jail, I need to get him out and then I’ve got to head off to work.”

Vance just shook his head. “Oh, I don’t think so sweetness. If those men see you on the streets they will shoot you and just drive away, like your life meant nothing to them, because in all actuality, it doesn’t.”

She frowned. “Why would they do that?”

“Because you saw their faces. I don’t know if you heard them talking or not but they were going to put a bullet in your head before they would ever let you go willingly. They’ve got too many people looking for them to let you live.”

Staring at him, she paled. “No, I must have missed that part.”

His phone pinged just then and when he read the message, he looked over at her and slid the phone into his pocket. He started the truck and pulled out from where he had parked.

Looking confused, she asked, “Where are you taking me?”

“Somewhere safe for now. Name is Vance, in case you’re wondering.”

“Sorry.” She shook her head. “My name is Jolene Tatum.”

He turned his gaze back to the road and asked, “You said you were on your way to find out where your dad was, what made you think he would be at the jail?”

Jolene sighed heavily. “Drunk and disorderly would be my first guess.” She turned her head and wouldn’t look at him.

Vance frowned. “Does he drink a lot?”

Jolene nodded as she shrugged. “He drinks and then he likes to pick fights. He always loses and ends up in jail.”

“How often does this happen?” Vance frowned.

“Two, maybe three times a week.” Jolene now looked over at him.

Vance didn’t say a word, as he just watched the road.

~*~

 Jolene noted how his jaw tightened. After a moment or two, she dared to ask, “Where exactly are we going? I really do need to go to the jail and if he is there, bail him out.”

“Let him sit there for a while.” Vance growled. “It won’t hurt him any.”

Jolene just stared at him. She didn’t say anything, as nothing she could say would make a difference anyway. When she stared at the road they were on, she glanced around. They were traveling right toward a huge boulder and he wasn’t even slowing down. She braced for impact then stared in amazement when the boulder seemed to roll away showing a well traveled road on the other side.

Passing through the divide, she turned her head and looked back as the boulder was slowly rolling back into place. She looked over at him feeling a little afraid and shook her head. “That is the craziest thing I ever did see.”

Vance just smiled as he drove up toward the clubhouse.  When he parked he got out of the truck, walked over to her door and opened it. He held his hand out to her.

Jolene just stared at it as if it were a snake or something. Then she raised her head and looked at the clubhouse. “I-I don’t belong— here.” She swallowed heavily.

~*~

Vance leaned in closer to her and noticed she didn’t back away from him like most people did. She didn’t seem to be afraid of him either. That alone gave him pause as most people thought he was some kind of monster because of the color of his skin and his size. But it didn’t seem to faze this woman. “No one here will willingly hurt you,” he told her calmly. “We don’t abuse or use women here.”

Jolene looked up at him. “Do you promise me that?”

Vance nodded. “Yeah, lil bit. I can promise you that.” He held out his hand again. “Come on, Boomer’s gonna want to talk with you about what happened at the jail tonight.”

Jolene shook her head. “Boomer...” She blinked her eyes while still looking lost. “But I don’t know any more than you do about that. They knocked me out, remember?”

“Yeah little bit, I remember, but you were inside the building when those two losers came in, you heard what they had to say and you saw what they did.”

Jolene began to shake. “But it all happened so fast and I was trying real hard not to stick my nose in their business, you know what I mean?” She shrugged. “In the end, it didn’t matter anyway. They found me and dragged me out of there by my hair. It felt like they were tearing it out by the roots.” She shivered and her eyes went blank, “I tried to fight back but they were bigger and stronger than I was. They hit me—they hit me so hard. I’ve been smacked around before but that was… the worst I have ever felt before.”

Vance frowned. “Who’s been smacking you around?”

Jolene shut her mouth and lowered her head. 

Vance reached out and raised her face to his. He could read the shame in her eyes. He just shook his head. “Never mind that, at the moment girl, that ends right now. No one will ever hit you again. Not while I’m around.”

She shook her head slowly. “Don’t do that. I mean you don’t even know me. Why would you promise that?”

Vance smiled then leaned in closer. His lips touched hers quickly and were gone in an instant.

 In fact, Jolene’s eyes went wide as he backed away. Their kiss was little more than a touch but she looked as if it had affected her considerably.

“Trust me, I’ll be around to keep that promise,” he whispered as he took her hand and led her to the front door of the clubhouse. When she tugged on his hand, he turned to look at her.

Looking afraid now, she kept shaking her head. “I-I still shouldn’t be here.”

Vance turned to her and pulled her into his arms. He just held her for a moment then he asked, “Why do you think you don’t belong here?”

“I just don’t okay?” She tried to break free from his hold.

Vance wouldn’t let her go.  “Why?” he asked her again.

“Because I’m just nobody. You’re somebody and you belong here, I don’t.” She shrugged, “Some people say that if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Sooner or later, everything I touch goes to hell.”

Vance cocked his head to one side. “And you believe that horseshit?”

She shrugged. “It's been true though.”

“I’ll risk it.” Vance gave her a short nod and at her look of confusion, he asked, “What?”

“You don’t even know me, why would you stick around? Why make these promises. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Vance let out a deep chuckle. “Maybe I’m intrigued by you. There’s just something about you that I can’t let go.”

She shook her head. “Well that just makes you weird and maybe not to bright.”

Vance laughed now. “You know that’s one thing nobody has ever said about me before.”

Still looking gobsmacked, she just slowly shook her head as she stared at him.

He released his hold on her then grabbing her hand, he pulled her into the clubhouse.

Jolene froze when everyone stopped what they were doing to turn around and stare at her. She moved closer to Vance and tried to hide behind him.

Tugging her along, he led her to the main table where several men were sitting. Vance pulled her around to stand in front of him then wrapped his arms around her.

Boomer, Tracker and the others looked her over carefully, noticing all the bruises and cuts she had. Then they looked at Vance.

“What’s her story?” Boomer asked.

Vance just waited for a moment then he looked down at her. He was surprised to see tears on her face. Then his jaw tightened and he shared what he knew, “We were in town and I happened to drive past the jail when I saw two men running out of there. They were dragging a third person… her. But she was fighting back then one of the bastards hauled off and swung on her and down she went. They dragged her to the van and threw her inside. They took off and I followed them to where they stopped for the night. I overheard Jackson tell their dad that his brothers weren’t at the jail and LeRoy said they could hold her as a hostage in order to get the two brothers back.” He paused then noted she began to shiver. “Then they tied her to a fucking tree while they got in the van to get some sleep.” He growled. “I waited until I knew they were sleeping and got her the hell out of there. I let the others know where the van was parked and got her back here.”

Boomer looked closer at the girl Vance held within his arms. “What’s your name honey?” he asked her softly.

She swallowed hard and whispered her reply, “They call me Jolene.”

“Jolene? Jolene what?” Boomer wanted to know.

“Jolene Tatum,” she stated.

One of the men growled and got to his feet so fast the chair he’d been sitting on crashed to the floor behind him.

Vance stared at him. He had no idea who the man was. His patch named him as Beast.

Everyone turned to watch as Beast stood to his full height of about six foot eight. The frown on his face didn’t bode well for whoever pissed him off and at the moment, he was glaring at Jolene.

She went to back up a step, but couldn’t… due to a brick wall named Vance.

Vance’s arms went around her tighter.

 Everyone watched as Beast stomped over to where Vance and Jolene were standing. He stopped in front of them and stared at Jolene as if looking for something specific. He even reached his hand out to touch her head.

Instantly, Vance grabbed his wrist.

Beast just turned his head to glare at Vance. “I ain’t gonna hurt her man, but I have to check something.”

Cautiously, Vance looked over at Boomer.

Boomer nodded at him.

Finally, Vance released his wrist.

Beast turned Jolene’s head slightly. He glared at the white streak in her black hair then he got real close to her and growled out the question, “Tell me, is your daddy’s name Dale Tatum?”

Jolene swallowed hard once again, and nodded slowly.

“And your mama’s name?”

“My mom has been dead a long time now,” Jolene whispered. “But her name was LeAnne.”

“Where is your dad, girl?” Beast demanded.

“He’s in jail right now, or I imagine he is? I don’t know for sure,” Jolene explained. “I was on my way to find him and bail him out when those guys grabbed me.” Then she frowned. “How did you know about my parents anyway?”

“Your mother was my sister. Her name was LeAnne Lisa King. My name is Nick King.” He glared at her. “I’m your damn uncle, that’s how I know your parents.” He looked up at Vance and then back to her. “I’m also gonna be the one to make you an orphan, so I hope you’re not close to that old man of yours, cuz he deserves whatever he’s got coming to him.”

Jolene could hardly breathe as she grabbed Vance’s arms to wrap them even tighter around her. She stared at the large angry looking man with fear in her eyes. 

 

Chapter Three

 

Vance stared at the man then he looked all around the room. “Who we got visiting here Boomer? I know they were here before we left but I was never introduced to them. Also, why are they here now?”

“These men are from the Devil’s Advocates MC,” Boomer replied. “Over Baton Rouge way and they are here for the same reason we are, looking for the Wheelers and bringing down the Blue Shadow group.”

Vance nodded but he still looked troubled as he stared at Beast.

So in tune with what was going on with his brothers, Vance seemed to miss Jolene freezing and getting a look of dread in her eyes.

Vance might have missed it but Beast didn’t. He was watching her carefully. When he saw that look, he swung his gaze over at Jackal and found the other man staring at her as well.

“I take it they know the major players as well in this little drama we got going on,” Vance stated.

Boomer nodded. “Yeah, they know the major players. Some of them have known these particular players since their time over in the sandbox, a decade or so ago.”

Vance shook his head. “I never served, so I have no clue what you all are feeling right now. But I do know when men aren’t good people. The Wheelers planned to put a bullet in Jolene’s head before they left town but they talked about using her to get the other two brothers out of jail.”

Boomer nodded. “Yeah, they need to get out of sight but ole LeRoy isn’t going anywhere without all his sons.” He shook his head. “He’ll need a place to hold up until he figures out where the boys are being held.”

Jolene peered up at Vance and biting her bottom lip, she whispered, “Did you say these guys were Blue Shadow?”

Vance looked down at her. “Yeah, why?”

Jolene turned her gaze away from the men staring at her.

Vance looked concerned, so he wrapped an arm around her.

Beast stared at her. "Tell me what happened. When was your last memory of your mother?"

Jolene couldn’t or wouldn’t look at any of them there but she did speak, “When I was a little girl, my mom and dad moved around a lot. My dad was too busy drinking to actually keep a job to pay the bills and such but my Mom knew that. She worked a lot and she told him he couldn’t drink until she got home. Well, that never went over well because when she got home, she would find out that I hadn’t been changed or fed at all and he would be passed out drunk. He always blamed my mom’s family for everything that was wrong in his life. I never understood why, as I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. Then when I was about six years old, some men came around to talk to my dad. They weren’t very nice guys and for once, I stayed hidden. I could see and hear everything but nobody knew I was there. My dad was arguing with the oldest one, something about not having the papers yet. Then my mom came home from work and when she saw the men there with my dad, she knew something wasn’t right. She started asking my dad about it and the older guy there told her to shut up. He told her what they were discussing wasn’t any of her business and she should just get out and let them talk.” Jolene paused for a moment.

Beast watched her, as did everyone else.

She sniffled and swiped at her tears then she spoke again, “Mom went off on the older guy. She always had a fierce temper but that day she found out my dad had lied to her and had been lying to her all along. She was screaming and yelling at my dad and the other men tried to haul her out of the room. They wanted to throw her out of her own house. It might not have been a grand house or even a nice house but it was our home and she was fighting them tooth and nail. Finally, the older guy pulled a weapon out of his jacket and put it up to the back of her head. Then he pulled the trigger. Blood went everywhere, all over the walls, my dad was covered in it and my mom was lying in a heap at my dad’s feet.” Her sobbing grew, as she couldn’t seem to speak now.

As the men all stared at her, silence fell in the main room, except for the sound of her weeping.

“T-then the man who shot her said, ‘Finally it’s quiet in here again.’ I just stayed where I-I was and tried to keep quiet—but I was choking on my own tears.”

Beast growled as he watched Vance’s arms tighten around her. “What did your dad do then?”

Jolene shook her head. “I don’t remember.” She again swiped at her tears. “I think I was in shock for the next few days. I know he left me there alone. He cleaned up the blood and dragged her body out.” She lifted her head and looked up at Vance. “At the time, I was still in shock I think. The next thing I remember and it could have been like three days later? I went out into the back yard and I saw a small hill where there hadn’t been one before. It wasn’t so much a hill as a bump in the yard but it was between two trees in the backyard. There was nothing else, just the bump of dirt, as if something had been buried there. Later on, I figured it out that he must have buried her there.”

“So after that, what did your dad tell you about your mom while you were growing up?” Beast asked as he clenched his fists at his sides.

Jolene frowned a bit, as she seemed to struggle while trying to remember. “I don’t recall him ever saying anything really. He just stopped talking about her and he began to drink even heavier. He would leave me alone for days sometimes and I was way too young to be left alone. I finally had to get a job when I was eleven in order to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. I worked for the old man who at the time was putting out our local paper and so I delivered those. Then I cleaned house for Old lady Stenson. I think people knew what was going on with my drunken dad and they let me work for them and then would pay me cash or give me food in lieu of pay.”

“And how many times have you bailed him out of jail?” Jackal asked with a low growl in his voice.

Jolene just shrugged.

“What else do you know about the Blue Shadow?” Beast asked her out of the blue.

~*~

Jolene paused as she just could not look at the man they called Beast, he was too damn scary. Finally, she lifted her head and looked into Vance’s eyes. His eyes were so kind, so warm and the look in them gave her a feeling of safety. She felt a bit steadier now. He then tightened his grip on her and for the first time in her life, Jolene felt safe. She didn’t know why but she did.

“Jolene…” Beast growled. “I asked you a question.”

Jolene wrapped her arms around Vance’s waist. She couldn’t reach all the way around him but she held onto him. “I don’t know anything at all about them. I do remember my dad had conversations over the years with different people. Some in person, some over the phone. He did work for a while as a courier of some kind. But he was really nervous about taking shit from place to place. He told one of his contacts that if he was found with those papers on him, he could go to prison for a very long time.” She shook her head. “But that’s been a couple of years ago now.”

“Did he go anywhere in particular with these guys?” Jackal asked her.

Jolene nodded but then she went silent as she tried to remember what was going on back then. Raising her head a bit she finally replied, “There was a place in the bayou where he would take his papers and pick up some more papers but sometimes he would have to wait for someone to arrive, so he would stay there till someone came.”

“So, you do know exactly where he went during those times, then?” Boomer asked.

Jolene nodded. “Yeah, I used to follow him sometimes,” she admitted. “I never knew what he was doing, but there would be times when he had enough money to drink for days while I would struggle to pay our bills.”

“So where would he go in the bayou?” Boomer asked.

“Out to Johnson’s Marsh. It’s off the far side of the lake and it's really gross out there. There are gators, snakes and all sorts of creepy crawlies. But there is also a small cabin. It’s pretty old too. One time when I followed him out there, I saw the biggest damn wolf wandering around the outside of the cabin. That was the night I saw lights inside the cabin too, so I didn’t get any closer.”

Jackal looked over at Boomer. “Maybe if he’s been using that as a drop off point, ole LeRoy would think to use it as a place to stay while they hunt down the two brothers.”

Boomer shrugged. “Yeah, it could be. Maybe they might even look for her dad and get him to hide them or even find the brothers for them.”

Jolene just shrugged. “If my dad is in jail, they aren’t about to go in after him.”

Boomer snorted. “They’ll let him out after he’s sobered up.”

Jolene looked over at him. “That would depend on how much damage he caused the night before to get arrested. Ole Jim doesn’t just arrest him anymore for being drunk. He’d have to arrest him every night or weekend if that was the case. He only takes you in when you cause damage. My dad likes to start bar fights. He usually picks a fight with someone bigger than him and that never ends well but he doesn’t know enough to quit. My dad made it clear to me years ago that it was my fault his life was shit.” She shrugged. “It wasn’t of course. I mean what did that have to do with anything? I didn’t ask for my mother to be shot or that I was left in his charge. I should have walked away from him years ago. I should have done a lot of things years ago, but he’s the only parent I have left. I mean I never even got a funeral for my mom. She deserved that at least.”

“Oh, don’t you worry darlin,” Beast stated. “I’ll make sure she gets one. She had family in me at least. It's time to take my sister home after all these years.”

Staring over at him, she finally realized what he was saying. “So, you are my uncle?” Her hands shook as she clung to Vance’s arm.

Beast nodded. “I am. I never knew where my sister moved to. I hated that fucker even before she married him.” He paused as he let out a sigh. “She was always defending him as even back then he was a total fuck up and yes, it was the alcohol. So one day, she chose to not defend him anymore as she just up and left with him. I never even knew that you existed until today.”

Jolene started say something but was interrupted when Boomer’s cell phone rang.

~*~

Boomer paused. It was Trudy’s ring tone and he frowned as he answered the call, “Hey Baby Girl, you're on speaker. What you got for us?”

“Boomer, you asked me to keep track of Richard Keller’s phone calls, remember?”

“Yeah. What did you find?”

“Do you know the name Douglas Hinds?” Trudy asked.

The entire room went silent.

Then Jackal asked in a low angry tone, “What about Douglas Hinds?”

“That’s who Richard Keller has been in contact with,” Trudy explained. “And Douglas Hinds is right here in Sabine Pass. Dewey and Pappy are checking out the address right now.”

“Thanks baby girl. You take care of yourself, okay?” Boomer shook his head. “We’ll be in touch real soon.” He ended the call and glanced over at Jackal.

 “We are finally gonna crush that little cockroach.” Jackal growled.

“We’re gonna crush the both of them,” Boomer corrected his old friend. “Hinds and Keller are dead men walking, until we catch up with them. Then we’ll put them in the ground.”

 “We may need to split up and go after them on two fronts.” Jackal began planning their attack. “Some of us will go to Pointe a la Hache to check out the place where this shadow group was holding my niece, Jenny. Then some of us will go to Sabine Pass to collect Hinds.”

Beast nodded at his prez. “I need to stay here.”

Jackal gave him a slow nod. “I get that. If you want, we can leave some of the Advocates here to help.”

Beast simply shook his head. “With or without help, I already know what I need to do.”

“Well, we'll be keeping up the search for the Wheelers,” Boomer replied. “I don’t want to lose even an inch of this ground. Too much blood stains this ground. We need to check out the marsh too. If Wheeler gets away from our men tonight, he can’t leave without his sons. He wouldn’t dare turn his back on them. They know too much about his business.”

Vance nodded then looked down at Jolene. “They can’t let her live either. They probably have figured out who she is by this time.”

Jolene shivered.

Vance’s arms tightened around her. “Come on lil’ bit, let’s get you some place to rest, you had a bad night.”

Jolene nodded. “It isn’t anything different.” She shrugged. “I’ve had nothing but a bad life, I know that much.” She looked over at Beast.

He stared back at her. “The only decent thing that came out of that marriage was you, Jolene. Don’t ever believe any different.”

Her eyes rounded as she gulped heavily.

Vance took her hand and led her down the hall.

Boomer just raised an eyebrow and looked over at Jackal, then at Beast. Beast he noted had a snarl on his face and Boomer hoped the rage in his eyes wasn’t aimed at Vance.

 

Chapter Four

Vance walked her down the hall and opened one of the doors toward the end of the hallway.

Jolene went inside and with wide eyes, she looked around the room.

The walls were painted a soft blue and grey color. A big bed sat in the middle of the room. A large dresser lined one wall.  A table and two chairs sat over by the window, overlooking the side yard.

She turned toward him and asked, “Is this someone’s room?”

Vance smiled gently. “Yeah lil’ bit, this is my room. I want you to stay in here.”

“Why?” She dared to glance at him.

Vance looked at her and gave her a dazzling smile. “Because you fit. I don’t know how else to explain it. That first time we touched, I felt something spark inside me. Then you fit so well in my arms. I know you’re scared of us but you don’t have to be. I’ll protect you with my life.”

Jolene just stared at him. “You felt it too?” she whispered in awe.

Vance cocked his head to one side. “What did you feel, lil’bit?”

“I-I felt like I was home. I mean I never had that before but when you touched me, I felt safe and warm.” She studied him for a moment then had to ask, “You really want me?”

Vance nodded.

She shook her head. “Nobody has ever wanted me before. Well, maybe my mom did when she was alive, she always told me she had wanted me from the moment she found out that she was carrying me in her belly. Things were always better when she was home but she’s been gone so long now that I forgot what that feeling was like." Pausing she met his eyes and added, "And I liked listening to your heart beating.”

Vance took a step toward her. “What else do you like lil’ bit?”

“I like the way you smell.” Her face flushed while admitting this. “You smell like citrus and leather, ooh and spices. I don’t know which ones but I like how you smell.”

He chuckled. “Never heard that one before.”

“And I like how you feel under my hands.” She took a small step toward him now. “You’re hard all over, yet also soft somehow. Your skin is so dark almost like night but I like it. It's so different from my pale skin but the contrast of our hands coming together…it’s beautiful.”   

“You don’t seem to mind that I’m black. Most people would be afraid of a man like me. I’m pretty big, I’m black and I’m a biker. Yet you aren’t afraid, why?”

“That zap you talked about? That first touch… I felt something too. The only way I can describe it is that you feel like home to me.” Jolene shrugged. “Besides, I know you would never hurt me, you’re a better man than that.”

Vance groaned. “Lil’ bit…You can’t say things like that to a man like me.”

 Jolene took one last step and moved right into his arms. “You would never hurt me, but I am curious about one thing though.”

“Oh, yeah?” he asked with a tilt to his head. “What’s that?”

Jolene smiled as she slid into his loose embrace. “I’m curious about how it would feel skin to skin with nothing between us. The phrase ‘nekked’ comes to mind when I think about you and me.” She smiled.

Vance put his hands on her shoulders and had to ask, “How old are you?”

“Old enough.” She rose on her tiptoes and pressed her mouth on his.

Vance growled low in his throat and crushed her body to his as he deepened the kiss.

By the time the kiss broke and both of them gulped in the air to survive, Jolene whispered, “Old enough to know what I want, even if I’ve never wanted it before with anyone else.”

Vance looked down into her green eyes in wonder as her words penetrated his brain finally. He tugged her to him while lifting her body up and carrying her over to his bed. Looking deep into her eyes, he asked her, “Are you sure you want this, that you want me?”

The green in her eyes darkened with desire as her tiny hands roamed freely over his chest.

 Her fingers left a trail of heat in their wake. Vance wanted to feel her hands on every inch of his bare skin. He tossed her gently down on his bed then ripped his shirt up and over his head.  The light from the lamp washed over his dark skin and illuminated each ripple and muscle in his torso.

Jolene’s eyes widened in appreciation as she took her time to admire his body. Reaching out, she touched his skin lightly and reverently.

Vance felt shivers coursing through him.

He had a chest full of curly dark hair and her fingers curled in the tangles. Her fingertips found his scar and she paused to trail them over the length of the old knife wound he’d gotten as a kid.

This old scar had been just one of the reasons he’d left Philly. Although he made no secret of the fact his family ran with one of the street gangs, the attack that almost cost him his life had been a wake up call. He disappeared in the middle of the night when he was seventeen, nearly half his lifetime ago. With the money he had saved over several years, he bought himself a bike and never looked back after that. Boomer found him somewhere along the way a couple of years later and he urged the kid he knew back then to become one of his boys. Vance never regretted joining the MC. He had been here for fifteen years and this was his home now.

Jolene looked up into his eyes as her finger traced the edges of the old wound. But she didn’t say anything. Instead, she reached up and grabbed the back of his neck. Pulling him down on top of her, she licked her lips before she pressed them to his.

Vance groaned and deepened the kiss for a moment.

 Jolene then pulled away slowly. “I love the satiny feel of your skin. It’s so smooth and hard at the same time. It makes me want more.”

“I want to see you too,” Vance whispered in her ear.

Jolene swallowed hard and replied, “Ok.”

He leaned back and pushed the light jacket off her shoulder. Jolene wiggled out of the jacket and Vance tossed it over his shoulder to the floor. Then he began lifting the hem of her tank top. He could see her biting her lip and he paused. “Are you sure you want this, lil’ bit?”

When she didn’t answer, he rolled off her and sat on the bed next to her. Rubbing his face with frustration, he growled, “I’m sorry.”

Jolene got up and moved over to straddle his lap. She pulled his hands away from his face. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. Bracing his face with both hands, she spoke, “Please don’t be sorry. I am nervous but not because of you.”

“Then why?” He gazed into her eyes. “If you didn’t want to be with me, all you have to do is tell me no. I would respect that.”

Jolene nodded. “I know that.” Her hand dropped down to touch his scar again and she looked at him. “Like you, I have scars too. Scars, I hoped I would never have to explain to anyone. Scars you might not understand, I just didn’t want you to see them, I-I guess.”

Vance froze. She had scars? Scars she didn’t want anyone else to see? What the hell was going on here? He studied her body carefully. At first glance, her skin looked smooth and pale but then he looked again. Her shoulders were bare now, no longer covered by the denim of her jacket. They were smooth and creamy but when he swung his gaze down to her arm, he could see some damage.  Several small circles had been burned into her skin. The wounds looked old and he frowned when he saw them. Without thinking, he lifted the hem of her tank top up over her head. Her head hung low as he studied her chest and abdomen.

He found a bigger burn mark on her chest just above her left breast, a cigar size burn mark. Vance suddenly realized with a start, that someone had used her body as a fucking ashtray.

His frown deepened when he saw another scar on her body. It looked fairly recent but he had a feeling it wasn’t. It looked like a bruise, a funny tri cornered bruise and he had no idea what could have caused such a mark but then he noticed a bump in her skin. He reached out and felt the bump and his frown deepened when he felt a lump along the course of her ribs.

He reached up behind her and went to unhook her bra. Then his fingertips found another scar on her back. It was bigger than most of her scars were in the front and he wondered what the hell happened to her. Moving the bra off her shoulders, he could see her breasts. They were bigger than he thought and they seemed to fit nicely into the cup of his big hands.

Jolene shivered with need at his touch and she scooted forward in his lap a little bit. She began to rub over the lump in his pants.

 Vance sucked in a deep breath as his hands dropped down to her hips, moving her back and forth over his cock.

Jolene groaned and threw her head back. “I need something—more.”

Vance’s fingers went to the waistband of her jeans and he unbuttoned them. Pulling the zipper down, his hand went to her pussy. Her rather wet pussy. He groaned as he cupped her core. With his other hand, he pushed her jeans down over her ass and past her legs. “Kick them off,” he whispered in her ear and soon, her panties followed.  

Back in his arms now, she was totally naked. She paused and cupped his face with her small hands again. Looking deep into his eyes, she whispered, “I want you, Vance. I need you. Can you give me you?”

Vance slowly nodded his head. “Yeah, I can take care of you. But you have to know something here. If we do this baby, it’s not gonna be a one and done sort of thing. You will belong to me and me alone. I don’t share.”

Jolene smiled. “I don’t share either. When the day comes that you no longer want me, at least give me the heads up, and I’ll be gone. I don’t think I can stick around and watch you with another woman.”

Vance shook his head even as he smiled. “There won’t be any other women, lil’ bit. I have a feeling I’ll belong to you as much as you belong to me.” He kissed her then swung her around and laid her back on the bed. His hands went to his zipper and it didn't take him long to shed the rest of his clothing. When he leaned over her, he asked one more time, “Are you sure you're ready for this?”

 “God, yes,” she whispered back.

He nudged her legs apart and settled inside her cradle. His fingers trailed down to her core and he felt how wet she was. Pausing, he knew he was bigger than some men and he had to prepare her body to accept him. He dipped one finger inside her then two and finally, three.

Jolene gasped and then moaned. His fingers felt so good but she wanted the real thing. “Please…”

Vance growled low again and moved into position. His cock met her heat and he wanted in. Moving his hips slowly, his cock nudged inside her. Her core wrapped around him, holding him tight and welcoming him home. He pushed in a little deeper.

 With a cute little grunt, Jolene grew impatient. Wrapping her legs around his waist, she pulled him deep inside her. He tore through her barrier and she cried out.

Vance paused and just held himself still.

 Jolene pushed her hips upwards. “It doesn’t hurt…Please give me more. I need you to move.”

Vance moved in and out of her a bit faster but he still tried to be careful. Each stroke felt so good, then she tightened her inner muscles around his cock, and he lost it. He went deeper and faster while stroking rapidly inside her.

She panted breathlessly as she raised her hips, matching his rhythm. “More.”

Vance completely lost it then. He began hammering himself into her and the both of them were lost in mindless pleasure.

Then Jolene arched her back and cried out his name.

Vance felt her go over the edge and he followed her. Filling her, he gave one last push inside her. By the time they both came down off their mountain, Vance had rolled off her and was snuggled up to her side. Sweat made their skin glisten under the low light of the room.

Jolene couldn’t seem to help but stare at his body. “You are gorgeous, you know that right?” she asked him with a smile.

“So are you, lil’ bit,” he whispered to her as he laid on his back and pulled her on top of him.

With a dazed look in her eyes and her hair draping her face, Jolene stared into his eyes.

“No one will ever hurt you again,” he stated. “Not on my watch.”

Jolene covered his mouth with her hand and whispered, “It's in the past, it doesn’t matter anymore. He hasn’t hurt me in years. I learned well how to hide when his temper showed itself. When he woke up and got sober, he’d forgotten what pissed him off in the first place.”

“Why wasn’t he arrested before for this?” Vance asked as rage boiled inside. He couldn’t let her see it, but he felt furious at the abuse she had suffered under.

“No one else has ever seen the scars,” she admitted. “It didn’t start until after mom died and when I was twelve, he couldn’t catch me anymore.”

“He’ll never touch you again.” Vance growled while not able to hide the way he felt. “I’ll kill him first.”

 

Chapter Five

 

Jolene traced a pattern along the skin on his chest with her fingertip, just below his collarbone. She was studying the tattoo he had there. The ink had faded over time but the more she traced over it the more real it became for her. It was an old tattoo, one he must have gotten at a very young age. What should have been dark ink was faded now. Leaning up on her elbow, she studied it. “What does this one mean?” she pointed at the tattoo.

Vance shrugged. “It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just an old tat.” He paused, then decided to be honest with her, “When I was a kid, I joined a street gang back where I grew up. It was kind of a family tradition. As part of the ritual of joining, we had to get tatted to show the world who we were. I was sixteen when I walked away from that kind of life. I haven’t been back there since.”

“I know this tattoo.” She frowned. “I’ve seen it before.”

Vance sighed as he replied, “Naw lil’bit. I doubt it. This one belongs to the Philly part of my past. And I haven’t been to Philly in a very long time.”

Jolene shook her head. “You may have left Philly behind but Philly has been here recently.” She paused as she remembered something. “And more than once, come to think about it.” Her eyes widened as she remembered where she'd seen this symbol. “It’s been about a year ago now since I first saw this. I came home one night and saw three bikers sitting on their rides in front of my house. There were two more bikes parked out front with no riders on them. I wanted nothing to do with whatever was going on, so I turned and went to a place where I could watch my own front door and the bikers. I watched those bikers for hours and they all wore the same cut. The cut had your tattoo symbol on the back of it. A shroud covered skeleton in the back of a boat, holding a long oar. Styx was embroidered under the boat.”

Vance felt a tightening in his gut. She had seen the tattoo. His uncles had taken the next step and gone from street gang to biker club. He looked over at her. “Do you know what they were doing here? They’re a long way from home.”

Jolene shrugged. “I asked my dad but he didn’t tell me much. Then again, he wouldn’t. That was his business and none of mine as he liked to remind me.”

“When was the last time you saw these men?” he asked her.

She thought about it for a moment then answered, “Maybe three weeks ago? They have been coming and going from the area for over a year now.”

Vance patted her bare butt. “Come on lil’bit, we need to go talk to Boomer. This is the first I’ve heard of them being this far away from Philly. Something isn’t right here.”

They got dressed and went out to the main room where a few of the brothers were sitting.

Boomer, Beast, and Jackal were still there as well.

Beast watched them come into the room holding hands and he gritted his teeth but didn’t say anything.

 Boomer looked up and frowned. “What’s up, Vance?”

Vance cleared his throat and said, “A few minutes ago, Jolene told me something, and I needed to talk to you about it.”

Boomer turned around in his seat to face him. “What’s going on?”

“Do you know about another MC in this area?" Vance asked him. "I mean I know we've had our share of trouble with the Liars and the Boas but have you ever noticed any other MC, coming and going on a regular basis?”

Boomer thought about what he was saying for a moment. “Well now, you know we aren’t a visible MC but most people know we’re here somewhere. But no, I haven’t heard of any other MC trying to move in, why?”

“Jolene told me she’s seen bikers with my old street gang tat on their cuts. She said they’ve been to her house doing business with her old man. I told her that just couldn’t be possible. The Styx are a street gang from Philly but she swears there were bikers with that patch on their jackets and they've been coming and going for almost a year now.”

“Well, that’s curious all right but there’s no law against a street gang turning biker is there?” Boomer asked.

Vance shook his head. “No there isn’t, except for one thing. My three uncles run that street gang and they have for most of my life. After my dad was murdered, they sort of adopted me…” he paused and shook his head. “Hell, who am I kidding? They snatched me away from my mom and finished raising me in their gang. I tried to go home again, but Uncle Reggie told me they would kill her if I ever tried to see her again. I belonged to them. I knew better than to try and see her, so I stayed away. Then when I was sixteen, I found out they hadn't kept their word. She’d been trying to find me the whole time and they finally stopped her with a bullet to the head.’

From beside him, Jolene gasped as she tightened her hold on his hand.

Vance went on, “I walked away from them at that point. They no longer could hold me there. She was the only reason I stayed in the first place. They threatened to hurt her if I didn’t behave myself. But when they killed her, I was done. I left that fucking town and never looked back.” Vance stared at Boomer. “I know how my uncles think, if they are spreading out this far south then they are here for a reason. They once talked about going into the protection service. Reggie wanted to become well known for being the best of something. If he made his dreams come true for the protection service, then he might be providing protection for the Shadow group.”

“Or he could be delivering paperwork from one area to another,” Jackal suggested. “Wheeler isn’t stupid and there would be orders and such that would need to go from one place to another. Jolene already told us that her dad told Wheeler that if anyone caught him with the papers on him, he would go to jail for a long time.” He paused and looked at Vance. “If his uncles are transporting the papers and other shit for them, that could explain a lot.”

“I’m surprised I haven’t run into them before now,” Vance remarked. “If they've been coming and going all this time.”

Jolene shook her head as she interjected, “They didn’t want to be seen. They usually come and leave once it’s dark. Although there is one of them that stays a few days every time they come through here. He usually stays in the corner room at Miss Maudie’s rooming house.”

“When was the last time you saw them here?” Beast asked her.

She grabbed her phone out of her pocket. Scrolling through the phone, she found the calendar app and looked at the month. She frowned as she flipped it back to last month, then swiped it forward to this month. “They usually come in somewhere between the tenth and the twelfth of the month. They are due to show up any day now.”

Boomer looked over at Vance. “What would they do if they found you here?”

“Probably put a bullet in my head,” Vance admitted. “When I took off, I left somewhat of a mess behind for them to clean up and my uncles aren’t very forgiving men.”

Jolene patted his arm to get his attention. “Do you think Wheeler would use your uncles to get his sons out of jail and then get them all out of town? You said they wanted to go into the protection service. This could be a big job for them.”

Vance shook his head. “Reggie would have to bring in too many of his men. I’m not sure the Wheelers would want to be part of that. They need to stay hidden.”

“Unless, he uses them to cause a distraction,” Jolene stated as she walked over to the window in the front then wrapped her arms around her waist.

Vance paused as he watched her then he followed her over there. Wrapping his arms around her, he asked, “What are you thinking?”

“My dad,” she replied. “He always had a plan in place. He had dreams just like any other person...” she scoffed as she leaned back against him. “Only my dad’s plans were never really any good. They were the usual get rich fast schemes that never worked. Then he met my mom. He thought he would use her contacts and build a life he felt he deserved. When her family objected and shut him down, she still believed in him and they started out some place where her family had no influence. That’s when he first found out his schemes weren’t worth the paper they were written on. But he tried, time after time he tried. And time after time… he failed. But with my dad there was always the next plan.”

“What’s that got to do with this?” Beast asked from the table area.

“After mom died, there would be times when I would find my dad looking at me with hate in his eyes. He never said anything but I could feel it. Do you remember Vance? When you told me that the Wheelers had plans to put a bullet in my head before they left town? The reason that I didn’t doubt it was because I think it is my dad’s plan B. For all the years, I was growing up, whenever he got drunk and start talking about mom, he would tell me that the time would come when he would no longer need me and that would be the day he would send me to join my mom. He told me he would cause a fuss, and then use me to slip out of town.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Beast asked.

“My dad’s plan B,” she explained. “It just might be Wheeler’s plan B too. They need to find the two younger brothers but as soon as they do, they might use Vance’s family to cause a distraction while they slip out of town.”

Vance nodded. “And my uncles Reggie and Frankie would love that idea. They love causing chaos. They thrive on watching the cops while they try and figure out where they are.”

Boomer ran his hand over his head. “Damn it. We already got two men across the Texas border right now, and men going over to Pointe a la Hache. Then more of our men are heading to Cameron. We’re spreading ourselves out too thin here.”

Jackal turned to Vance. “If she’s right and they plan to use the Styx MC as a distraction, what methods are they likely to use?”

“Well fuck, it could be any damn thing,” Vance replied. “They might start a boat on fire or a burn down a barn to draw the fire department along with the police out of the station. The Wheelers already searched the station for the brothers and they weren’t there.”

“Well, that’s not true entirely,” Boomer cut in. “They were close, they just didn’t find them.”

“We might need a plan B of our own to throw them off track,” Beast suggested.

“I might have an idea if you want to hear it.” Jolene looked at the man claiming to be her uncle.

“Details girl, we need the details,” Boomer called her out.

Vance brought her back over to the table.

She sat down next to him and told them her idea.

As she explained what it was, one by one the men began to smile.

 When she was done, Jackal looked over at Boomer and told him, “You better hang on to this one.”

Boomer held up his hands while  laughing. “I can’t hang on to her, my woman wouldn’t like that idea, but I don’t think she’s going very far. Vance won’t let that happen.” Then he turned to her. “Honey, it is surely possible that your dad will try to set you up to be killed. You are right, that sounds just like a plan B for a man like him and he would most definitely try to use it. But I also think you’ve known what kind of man he’s been your whole life. Maybe if your mother had lived, he might not have turned into what he is today but we’ll never know for sure.” He paused then added, “You got a good plan but are you sure this is how you want it to go down? He likely won’t make it out alive and even if he does, he’ll go to prison for the rest of his life for what he’s been doing all along. Is that something you can live with if we do this?”

Jolene thought for a moment then nodded. “Yeah, I can live with it. They have to be stopped and so does he. He went along with my mom’s murder and he’s willing to throw me to the wolves. So, I can at least return the favor.”

Vance placed his arm around her neck and pulled her over to him. He kissed her on the forehead.

 Jolene wrapped her arms around Vance and just held him for a long moment.

The room was silent, all except for a low growl, which seemed to come from Beast.

 

Chapter Six

Just then, Boomer’s phone rang. Spider called in and after a short conversation, he ended the call and looked over at Jolene. He stared at her for a moment then shook his head slightly. “The Wheelers woke up to find you gone. When they saw the rope cut that they tied you to the tree with, they took off and went to the cabin you told us about, out on Johnson’s Marsh.” He shook his head. “You called that one right, girl.”

“Have you heard anything about my dad?” Jolene asked softly. “Was he in jail last night?”

Boomer shook his head. “I haven’t heard, sweetheart.”

Jolene’s shoulders slumped. “Ok, just thought I’d ask. That’s usually where he can be found when he isn’t at home around supper time.”

Boomer looked over at Vance and nodded. “She called it right about your uncle’s MC too. Tank caught them on the monitor feed from town about an hour ago and one of our other men watched them ride in under the cover of the sun going down. He called in just before you two came back out here.”

Vance sat back in his chair and shook his head. “Damn, I was hoping she would have been wrong about that.”

Boomer snorted. “Well, she wasn’t. They didn’t make a big deal out of being an MC, they just rode in slowly and quietly, 2 by 2. There are six of them in town at the moment and they drove over to a shack on Wilmont street but there was no one home. Our man is still watching them and will call in their location as soon as they settle in for the night.”

Jolene hung her head down.

“Who lives on Wilmont?” Beast asked.

“I do.” She raised her head and stared at him. “Me and Dad live in that shack.”

“Why?” Beast barked.

“Because it’s the best I could do with what I get paid. Between his drinking every day and having to bail out the old man… it’s the best I was able to do.” 

Beast looked furious as he simply glared back at her.

Vance wrapped his arm around her waist pulling her close to him.

Jolene hung her head as if weighed down by the weight of the world.

“Honey, why didn’t you just walk away from your dad when you got out of high school?” Boomer asked her softly. “He would have figured it out on his own, if he no longer had you around to clean up after him.” Shrugging he added, “Or he would have drowned in his own vomit, but not taken you down with him.”

Jolene didn’t say a word, just kept looking at the floor.

Vance reached out and lifted her head, so he could look into her eyes. What he saw there stunned him but at the plea in her eyes he knew he couldn’t say anything. So he smiled slightly and nodded back at her. “It's all water under the bridge now anyway, so let’s just concentrate on what’s happening out there right now.”

“I think we need to find my dad,” Jolene told them. “The two Wheelers that went looking in the jail house, said there wasn’t anyone in the cells that night. I heard that much before they hit me. If he wasn’t there then where was he?”

Beast snorted. “Why would you even care where the fucking hell he is? Just be glad he’s not around.”

Jolene shook her head. “You don’t understand, we have to find him.”

“Why?” Beast scowled. “He’s as useless as tits on a boar. Let him lay in the ditch he fell into for once.”

Jolene turned to Vance and whispered, “We have to find him.”

“Why lil’bit?” He wanted to know. “Why is he so important to you, especially after the way he’s treated you all these years. Why do you want to save his hide now?”

“Because he’s the key to all of this,” she admitted. “He knows their secrets and he knows what they’ve got in mind to do next.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I could care less about him as a father. He let me down so many times I no longer even consider him my dad. He lost that when he let those bastards kill my mom. But he knows the Wheelers’ secrets and we can use those secrets against them if we can find him.”

“Ok, so where do we look for him?” Jackal asked.

Beast looked over at his president.

Jackal looked back at him. “What? She’s making sense.” He turned his head to look at Jolene. “He wasn’t in jail last night and he isn’t at home today, so where else would he be?”

Jolene pulled on the ends of her hair. “I’m not sure. Most of the time when he is home, I can ignore him but there’s been something going on lately but I-I just  didn’t take any notice of it. I guess I didn’t care, but he’s been edgy and he’s always looking out the window. I lost whatever respect I had for the man a long time ago, and I can’t remember ever loving him as my parent. It wasn’t him who loved me, it was my mom. I couldn’t wait for her to come home. My dad? I couldn’t wait until he left, more times than not.”

“Why didn’t social services step in and get you out of there?” Boomer asked.

Jolene raised her head and stared at him for a moment. She knew she had to tell them, she should tell them but she didn’t want to. She had put this off for her whole life and she would continue to do that until she couldn’t do it anymore. She had basically been on her own since she was six years old and that was a long time ago. “They just didn’t ok?”

“What kind of secrets do you think your dad knows that he could use against the Wheelers?” Vance finally asked.

Jolene shrugged. Thinking about all the times she’d seen him looking over the papers, he collected and then the chain of people he delivered too. Some of them scared her but there was one man she was terrified of and if she could recall his schedule, he should be coming around again soon. Her dad always treated him with respect, well respect backed up with contempt but only she had seen that. She knew his tells and one of them was the look in his eyes that said he hated the other man. He often looked at her the same way and she could read his eyes better than most. She finally answered Vance’s question, “Some of the papers he got he would copy before he delivered them. I don’t know what they said because he would never show them to me but I do know when he looked them over, he would curse a lot and he was worried about getting caught with them. He was afraid he would go to jail if anyone found those papers on him.”

Boomer looked over at Jackal. “All this was going on right under our noses and we never knew it?” Shaking his head he asked, “How could we not know what was happening in our town?”

Old man Jenner just snorted. “Because you’re hiding in this valley and you don’t really look at the people around you. This may be a vacation town for the most part, but there are things going on in the background that people just don’t realize could ever happen here, but they do and most people don’t know. Or they don’t want to know. They don’t stick their noses into someone else’s business.”

“Did you know about all of this?” Boomer snapped at the old man.

Jenner just shrugged. “I’ve known the likes of Dale Tatum since he and his woman moved here. I knew that man was no good from day one. He never lifted his hand to help her, never took any pride in keeping a decent place to live for his family.” He scoffed. “Hell, the man never even worked a decent job to provide for his family. Then one day, his woman just didn’t show up anymore. She didn’t go to work, she wasn’t seen at the grocery store or the laundromat or in church.” He paused to rub his hand along his whiskered jaw, then said, “Then again, that weren’t anything new. She didn’t go to church like most people around here anyway.”

Jolene spoke up for her mom, “Oh, she went, she just didn’t go Sunday mornings. She would go Friday nights when Dale would leave for the bars. She would take me with her sometimes but not every time.”

Boomer shifted in his seat and stared at her. “Do you remember which church she went to? Do you remember who she talked with when she did go?”

 “I was too little to know or remember that. I do remember the stained glass windows and the small stone church she would go to. We would walk there and I was afraid. At night, that road was scary.”

“What are you thinking, Boomer?” Beast asked.

“I’m thinking maybe your sister knew what Dale was doing even back then and she just had to talk to someone,” Boomer replied. “Maybe she spilled her guts out to this priest because she knew he wouldn’t break her confidence.”

Jolene frowned as soon as he said the words. “You might be right. I remember one night, she gave him a package and begged him to keep it safe in case she ever needed it.”

“And did he?” Boomer asked.

She nodded. “He told her he would and that if she ever needed him, she could come to him and he would help her. I think that was about a month before she died.” She paused. “I never saw that man again in church but once in a while, I would see him on the streets. He seemed to be looking for someone at the time but I never got close enough to talk to him.” Then her eyes widened and she began to shake. “Oh…I think I know where he might be.”

“Where?” Beast asked.

“It's almost time to meet up with one of his contacts for the Wheelers. This man usually brings in some papers for him to deliver to someone else about four hours away. Dale really doesn’t like this guy but he’s just one of many that transports papers and packages for the Shadow group.”

“Who is he?” Jackal asked.

Jolene shook her head. “I have no idea, all I do know is that he demands my dad respect him and my dad shows him his due but it's all fake. He never means it and I think this guy knows it. He and my dad hate each other but he’s there every few months and they have to deal with each other. I recall a time my dad didn’t show up for their meeting and this other guy hunted him down and beat the hell out of him. He kept saying he had to get the package through and that he would bypass ‘the lazy bastard’ which is what he called Dale. But my dad said he didn’t know the next link in the chain, so he needed him. After he walked away, my dad was grumbling about the other man, calling him all sorts of names but he got up to go deliver the package. He got a look in his eyes and said out loud that he’d be damned if he’d do it that night. He took that package and drove out to a barn on the old Johnson place. The farm has been abandoned for years. When he came back, he didn’t have the package. After he had gone off to get drunk, I checked out the barn. At first, I didn’t find anything but then I looked again and I was surprised to find he’d been living there some of the time. He had a bed there, some clothes and even food. He also had a safe there. A locked safe and I got a feeling about what was in that safe.”

“You think all the paperwork that he copied was in that safe don’t you?” Boomer asked her.

Jolene nodded. “Yes, sir. I knew he was keeping it somewhere. That would have been the perfect place. No one else knew he was there, it’s his safe place.”

“Not anymore it isn’t.” Beast growled.

 

Chapter Seven

 

Beast looked over at Boomer and asked, “You know where this place is that she’s talking about? This Johnson place.”

Boomer nodded. “Yeah...” He paused, then added, “You thinking about going out there and seeing if her old man is there?”

Beast glared at him. “Yeah, I’m thinking I need to pay a little visit to that place. It’s out in the country, right? Nice and abandoned, no close neighbors or anything.”

Jackal shook his head and smiled. “I can’t let you go with that look in your eyes Beast… or at least, I can’t let you go alone.”

“I will take them out there,” Cyrus volunteered. His eyes gleamed in the harshness of the overhead light.

Jackal looked over at Jolene and asked, “You said the first time you searched the barn, you didn’t find anything but when you looked again you found signs of someone living out there. Why didn’t you see it the first time?”

Jolene shook her head. “I didn’t go up to the loft the first time. His lair is up there hidden behind some old bales of hay. You wouldn’t see it the first time unless you were looking for it.”

“Good to know, little girl,” Beast commented. “Good to know.”

She stared at him. “One thing about my dad, he knows exactly who to kowtow to and who he can turn his nose up at. The MC that shows up, he knows he has to show them respect and he does. If he knows they're in town, he will come out of hiding for them. Like I said before, they usually come between the tenth and the twelfth of the month.”

Boomer snorted. “You think he would disrespect the Wheelers?”

Jolene shook her head. “No, he knows better than that. But he also knows they need to stay out of sight as well, so he can’t contact them in the usual way either. He can’t draw the local cop’s eyes down on him. He’s too afraid of going to jail.” She hesitated then swore, “Damn, I should have thought about that.”

“Thought about what?” Boomer asked with a frown.

“He’s been reading the newspaper the last few days,” Jolene explained. “Brooding about some story that made the papers.” She turned to Jackal. “In fact, it was a story that happened over your way. Something about a man named Asa Orion.”

Jackal tightened his jaw. “Yeah, that’s been in the papers for the last couple of weeks.”

Jolene nodded. “When he read it, he got real nervous and started muttering about how he had to get away before they found him.” She shrugged. “Who the ‘they’ were I don’t know.”

“How long since you last saw him?” Beast asked.

Jolene shrugged. “It’s been at least a couple of days maybe?”

Beast looked over at Jackal and then to Boomer and neither man looked happy.

It was Jackal who remarked, “And are you home a lot? Alone?”

Jolene nodded. “When I’m not working, I’m usually home and yes, I spend a lot of my time alone. I mean even when he’s there I’m usually alone, barricaded in my room.”

Jackal looked over at Beast.

Jolene looked from one to the other of the two men. “What are you thinking?”

“That your dad is playing out his plan B,” Jackal told her with his lips pursed in anger.

Jolene froze as his words penetrated her mind. Then she nodded as Vance’s arms tightened around her. “Oh damn, you could be right.” Then suddenly, she seemed to panic and she tried to break free of the arms holding her but Vance wouldn’t let her go. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. “He knew... he knew they were coming... He knew the MC was due anytime. He’s been acting weird the last few days and then he suddenly, ups and disappears? I’d even go so far as to bet that if I went home right now, I wouldn’t find any of his things left in the house.”

“If you were home right now, what would you be doing?” Beast asked.

“I’d probably be sleeping,” Jolene admitted. “I get up around three to start my cleaning jobs. I clean two of the bars in town after hours, then I go to the resort and work in the kitchens until after the lunch crowd.” She shrugged. “After that, I go to the grocery store and work a four hour shift, stocking shelves there. I’m usually home by four and have supper on the table by five. But I’m in bed before eight.” She glanced at the clock, it was already eight thirty.

Beast looked over at Boomer and Jackal. “He set her up, he’s bugging out.”

Boomer nodded in agreement. Then he glanced over at Jolene. “Does he have any money?”

Jolene shrugged. “I’m sure he does, he’s never paid rent or bought groceries, so I don’t really know. He never worked a real job but I’m sure he got paid to be a messenger.”

Jenner snorted. “That man wouldn’t work for free or for peanuts. I can bet you a dollar to a donut, he’s got plenty of money.”

Beast surged to his feet so fast the chair he was sitting in tipped over backward and the noise shattered the silence of the room. “Let’s go find that little bastard and give him a taste of what he left his daughter behind to deal with.”

Jackal and Cyrus both got to their feet as well.

Boomer stared at Jackal and said, “Find him, take what he’s got and then bring him back here, alive if you can. As much as we would love for him to be dead, I think the man needs to live the rest of his days in prison as someone’s dirty little bitch, don’t you?”

Jackal just sneered. “Oh yeah, I do. Let’s just hope what he’s got in the safe is enough to put him there.”

“If it isn’t, there is always …” Jolene swallowed heavily and whispered, “...my mom.”

Beast marched over to where she and Vance were standing. He looked into her eyes and vowed, “There is that. But don’t you worry about her. Rest assured, I’ll find where he buried her and I’ll take her home. I’ll give her a proper burial and her spirit can finally rest. I promise you that.”

“Do you know who the men were that day? The men who murdered your mom?” Jackal asked her.

She shook her head. “I was only six when that happened and I was in shock. I do remember there was an older man and three younger men. But I wasn’t actually looking at their faces.”

Beast looked over at Boomer and snarled as his nostrils flared.

Everyone in the room knew that Beast wouldn’t rest until his fury was unleashed, and most there, were just glad it wasn’t aimed at them.

Cyrus slapped him on the back and said, “Let’s go before we lose this fucker.”

Boomer gave Cyrus a nod. “It might be better to take the cages. We wouldn’t want to give him a heads up if he hears your bikes.” He looked over at Jolene. “Does your dad have any weapons? Rifles, handguns?”

She shook her head. “Not that I know of. The barn has a couple of pitchforks but I’m not sure if he even knows how to use them. His weapon of choice is his nasty mouth and his closed fist. Oh, and watch out for his boots, they have steel tips and he likes to kick you when you’re down.”

At this last part of her description, Beast’s hands curled into fists and everyone in the room could hear his growl.

 Shaking his head, Jackal grabbed him by the shirt and hauled him out of the room.

A few minutes later, they all heard a truck start up and fly down the road to the back entrance, spitting out gravel from behind the rear tires.

Boomer just shook his head.

“What?” Jolene asked. “I just told them the truth.”

Boomer snorted. “Yeah and signed your dad to a beat down in the third degree.”

Jolene just stared at him. “I learned a long time ago how to get away from him before he could hurt me real bad. I’m faster than he is and I hide when I need to. He hasn’t touched me in years but I remember everything he’s ever done to me. And for my mom’s sake, I think he’s earned a little pain back, but I also know Beast won’t kill him outright. I mean I don’t know the man all that well yet, but I can see that he wants my dad to feel his pain every day for a long time.”

“You could be right about that,” Boomer admitted. He looked over at Clovis and said, “Make sure the pit is ready. Dale can stay out there for a few days until things settle down.”

“What is the pit?” Jolene asked as she stared at him.

Vance tightened his hold on her and whispered in her ear, “It’s best you don’t ask lil’bit. You really don’t want to know the answer to that question.”

Jolene leaned back against him. “Ok, I understand.”

~*~

Cyrus slowed the truck down and turned off on a dirt road. He drove slowly so as not to create a dust cloud behind him. Then he parked in a clump of trees.

In the distance, they could see the barn and the old farmhouse. The farmhouse looked abandoned, the door was hanging off the hinges and the windows were mostly busted out. The front lawn was overgrown and the fence running between the road and the front lawn was broken down in places.

However, they weren’t here to do repairs at least not that kind of repair. They were here to find Dale Tatum. There was a faint light shining in the top of the barn and they could see shadows moving around inside.

“Bingo,” Beast whispered. “Your ass is mine now, Dale.”

“Careful brother.” Jackal growled under his breath. “We want to take him alive and we need to get what he’s got in his safe. I’ll allow you to hurt him…some, but you can’t kill him.” He turned to look into Beast’s eyes. “I don’t think your niece wants his blood on your hands do you?”

“He has a debt to pay.” Beast snarled.

“Yes, he does, but let’s do this her way,” Jackal told his VP. “You are all she’s got left for family. Don’t let her miss out on getting to know what a gem of an uncle you are. Besides, you got a woman waiting for you back home. You gonna leave your Cin alone?”

“Damn, Jackal, that’s just not fair,” Beast grumbled

Jackal just shook his head. “I’ve been in your shoes, brother. I know how hard this is going to be but we do this right. Dale is the only one of us, I want to see going to jail. You kill him and I'll have to tell Cin that you were a damn fool. And I’m not doing that.”

Beast took a few deep breaths and calmed the rage inside him. After a couple of minutes, he opened the door and got out. Looking back at Jackal and Cyrus, he said, “Let’s go do this. I’m ready.”

Jackal, Cyrus and Beast walked the rest of the way to the barn in the black of night. They entered the semi dark barn. The only light to be seen seemed to be coming from the loft area. They all immediately noted that there were two ways up to the loft, a small set of steps on either side, leading to the upper level.

Beast motioned for the two of them to go to the front side staircase and he took the staircase to the back. His steps were light despite his weight and bulk. He peeked over the edge of the floor as soon as he got more than halfway up. That’s when he saw Dale laying on a mattress tucked away in the right hand corner of the loft. He saw a number of empty beer bottles scattered haphazardly all around the hay bales.

Dale finished off another bottle and let it drop next to the bale of hay as he cackled. “That little bitch of a kid is gonna get her comeuppance tonight or hell, maybe tomorrow. She won’t be so high and mighty looking down at her old man after the Styx are done with her. They’ll teach her how a little tart like her should act.” He snickered and let out a huge disgusting burp. “Only wish I could be there to see it.” 

Beast had heard enough. He knew Dale was drunk enough he might not feel it but he would feel something when he woke up. He quickly charged up the rest of the steps and flew toward the other man with rage in his heart.

Dale heard him coming and rolled off the mattress to hide but he didn’t quite make it.

Beast grabbed him by the foot and dragged him out into the middle of the loft. He yanked the other man up by gripping the front of his shirt and hauled him to his feet. Beast smiled and greeted the other man, “Well, hello Dale. Long time no fucking see.”

With wide bloodshot eyes, Dale gaped at him as spittle rolled down from his lips.

Beast wore the evilest of grins as he hauled his arm back and let his fist fly.

Dale saw the huge fist coming at his face and froze. He knew the punch would be painful but he didn’t know how to dodge out the way fast enough. Pain exploded and blood flew as Beast’s fist smashed his nose. Dale’s eyes rolled back in his head and he would have slumped to the floor in a heap, if not for Beast holding him up by his shirt.

“Damn Beast, that was a great punch.” Jackal chuckled. “Is he still alive?”

Beast grunted and let Dale crumple to the floor flat on his back. “Yeah, the fucker is still breathing.” Seeing an opened beer bottle nearby, he picked it up. He dumped the brew on Dale’s face.

 Gasping for breath, Dale sat up spitting and sputtering. His face and chin was dripping with beer. “What the fuck?” he grumbled in confusion. Then he looked up and groaned. “Oh shit, you are real. Who the fuck are you?”

“I’m Nick King, you fucking mongrel. And I’m gonna fuck you up.” Beast snarled as he took a step toward his foe.

Dale’s eyes widened in total fear as he recognized the name of the man standing over him. Even in his drunken state, he seemed to realize that his life had just turned to shit.

 

Chapter Eight

When Beast got within striking distance, Dale tried to kick out at him, but Beast remembered Jolene’s warning just in time to avoid getting slammed with a steel toed boot. Instead, he stomped down on Dale’s ankle.

Dale screamed as his ankle was smashed into the floor, “What the fuck?” He grabbed his injured appendage. “Why did you do that? Sweet Jesus, you broke my fucking ankle!”

“Better you than me at this point. I understand you have steel toed boots.” Beast shook his head. “Take them off.”

Dale frowned. “Who told you lies about me? I ain’t got steel toes in my boots.”

“Then you shouldn’t have a problem taking them off should you?” Jackal told him.

Dale shook his head. “No sir, I ain’t gonna take off my boots. There’s glass all over the floors.”

Cyrus moved behind the man and grabbed his arms to hold him.

Jackal moved in and held down one leg while Beast held down the other.

 Dale was screaming and swearing the whole time.

 Beast ignored him and cut his shoestrings. His shoe opened up and Beast removed the offending boot. Thumping it down on the floor, everyone could hear the sound of the steel toes in the boot.

Jackal cut the strings holding the other boot.

Beast threw his boot over the loft’s edge and Jackal threw the other boot over as well.

Dale tried to get loose. “You motherfuckers!” He snarled.

Cyrus lifted the man off the floor by his shoulders.

 “What the hell are you doing here anyway?” Dale asked. “How did you find me?”

Beast growled and told him, “It wasn’t hard man, you stink to high heaven. Don’t you ever take a shower man? Phew, you reek.”

“Fuck you, you lousy bastard!” Dale yelled. He tried to get free but Cyrus wasn’t letting him go anywhere.

“Here, let me help you secure him.” Jackal stepped forward with a length of twine he’d found on a nearby bale of hay.

“The fuck?” Dale yelled. “You ain’t gonna tie me up like a fucking prisoner.”

Jackal slugged him in the jaw.

 Dale’s body went slack.

“Yeah, I am gonna tie you up like a fucking prisoner, fuckwad.” Jackal pulled one of Dale’s hands out and wrapped the rope around his wrist. Grabbing the other hand, he wound the rope around that one as well. Double wrapping the rope around both wrists, he tugged it tight. He double checked his knots to make sure Dale couldn’t get free.

Cyrus then pushed him toward the bed area.

Once there, they found Beast squatting down while looking at the safe Jolene had told them about.

The safe’s door was wide open and they could see everything inside it.

Beast snapped his head around and glared at Dale. “What the hell, old man?” He snarled. “Your daughter works three jobs to keep a roof over her head and you got all this money just sitting here?”

“That’s my fucking money. I worked for every dollar in that safe!” Dale raged. “She didn’t help one bit to earn that money.”

“You live with her on Wilmont Street?” Beast asked.

“That’s where we’ve always lived, why? Hells bells, you know about Wilmont Street too?”

Beast rose to his feet and turned to face the other man. “Yeah, we know about Wilmont. We also know you haven’t given over one dollar in rent or bought groceries either.”

“Hell, it hasn’t hurt her a bit to go to work.” Dale scoffed. “She’s been doing it since the girl was 12. Ain’t got any reason to change things up now.”

“Did she ever get the chance to go to school or have any friends?” Beast questioned him.

Dale snorted. “She didn’t need to go school. What was that gonna teach her, how to be lazy and not have anything to do? Besides, it was better for her to go to work. That at least, taught her something.”

Beast growled, “And what did that teach her? That her dad was too fucking lazy to find a job and actually do a day’s labor?”

“Fuck you. What? Did the little bitch complain about having to work for a dollar?” Dale sneered.

“She never said, but I can tell you one thing,” Beast commented, “This money will help her get a better place to live and maybe she’ll be able to get along with only one job from now on.”

“That’s my money!” Dale screamed.

“You won’t need it where you’re going,” Jackal told him.

Beast reached over and grabbed the pillow on the mattress in the corner, dumping out the stained smelly pillow. The case itself wasn’t in any better condition but it was all they had. He began emptying the safe.

Dale was kicking up a fuss.

Jackal snarled at him to shut his mouth.

 Next, Dale made the mistake of trying to spit on him. He missed hitting Jackal in the face but a glob of spit landed on the chest area of his shirt. 

Jackal growled then wiped the spit off his shirt and slammed Dale in the mouth with his other hand.

Dale’s knees crumbled.

Even though Cyrus was holding him up, he let his body drop.

Jackal knelt then wiped the remaining spit onto Dale’s dirty shirt. He leaned closer and snarled in his face. “You try that again and I’ll gag your stupid ass.” Then he slammed his fist into Dale’s soft belly.

Dale gasped and tried to breathe, the hit caught him unawares, and his breath was sucked out of his lungs. He opened and closed his mouth like a fish out of water but it didn’t do him much good.

About the same time, Beast had finished filling the case. He got to his feet and turned to see Dale barely breathing. He snorted, then said, “Let’s go. We’re done here.”

Cyrus hefted Dale up then headed him toward the steps.

 “What about my fucking—boots?” Dale struggled to make his words heard. “I— got tender feet.”

“Move out, your feet will survive,” Cyrus commented as he pushed him toward the steps.

Dale stumbled to the top step.

Cyrus grabbed the rope that bound his hands. He leaned forward and whispered in Dale’s ear, “Oh no buddy, you aren’t going to escape by breaking your own neck. We want you alive and well to be in court and then we want you to spend a long time behind bars for just being the shitty man you are. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find some new friends in prison, just don’t drop the soap when you finally get in the shower.”

Dale swallowed hard as he took a careful step down. When he got to the main floor, he was jerked up tight to the man behind him and led carefully to the door.

Next, he was shoved outside and fell face first into the dirt.

Cyrus snarled as he helped him to his feet and pushed him toward the truck.

Dale yelped at every stick in his path and whined at every stone his feet went over. When they finally reached the truck, Dale had tears in his eyes. He hadn’t been kidding about having tender feet.

When Cyrus lifted him into the back of the truck, Beast noted the torn skin and bloody cuts on his feet. He lifted his angry gaze and glared at him. Reaching for a length of rope in the back, he tied him down inside the truck. He sneered at Dale. “I wouldn’t want to hit a bump and have you fly out to splatter on the road. You got a judge and some new friends to meet.”

Dale seemed to know that nothing he said at this point would help, so he snapped his mouth shut and looked away.

Beast glanced over at the other two men. “Let’s go, I can’t stand the stench any longer. When we get back, we’ll have to turn a hose on him.”

They all got inside the cab.

 Cyrus was driving, he turned the truck around, and they could all hear Dale bitching from the back. Cyrus just looked over at Beast and smirked.

When they turned onto the back road, Dale bitched even louder as the truck bumped and rolled over the rough road.

Cyrus hit the switch that opened the back door and drove into the compound.

 Dale took one look at the door closing behind them and swallowed heavily. He had no idea where he was and he looked terrified.

The truck finally stopped. Enough light seemed to be coming from the nearby buildings that he could see the main house and several smaller buildings. 

The front door opened as several men came out and stood on the porch.

Boomer crossed his arms over his massive chest and demanded, “What the hell, Beast?”

Beast and Jackal grinned.

“We found him right where Jolene said he was,” Beast replied.

Dale turned his head and glared at them. “That little bitch told you where to find me? How in hell did she know where I was? Nobody knew where I was.”

Beast stepped up to the back of the truck. “That little bitch as you called her is your own blood, you bastard. And she’s my sister’s daughter. So don’t you bad mouth her again. Or so help me, I will beat you within an inch of your miserable fucking life.”

Dale snorted at this. “She ain’t no kin of mine and your fucking sister wasn’t any saint. She was never home with me and I know she was somewhere with someone else. She cheated on me all the time, so I don’t believe that bitch is my kid. I never did.”

“That’s a lie, you dirty bastard!” Jolene finally pushed her way forward. “My mother never cheated on you. If she wasn’t home, she was out there earning money to keep a roof over our heads, someone had to, cause you never did.”

Beast swung his gaze over to where Boomer was standing, “Please tell me I can hit this pissant. Just one good hit?”

Boomer nodded.

Beast grabbed him up and dragged him out of the truck. Then he untied him. By the time, he got the knots out, he was growling to himself.

Dale staggered on his bare bloody feet and shook his hands out.

“I won’t beat on you while you’re tied up,” Beast stated. “Though a man like you won’t appreciate that thinking I’m sure.”

Dale stepped back and raised his hands.

This was all the warning the man got…Beast then swung on Dale.

The hit damn near set him ass over tea kettle, up against the back of the truck. His body then slid slowly to the ground in a smelly mess of a heap. But it did finally shut his mouth.

Beast and Cyrus both peered down at him to find Dale out cold.

“Damn, Beast.” Cyrus shook his head. “I think that one broke his jaw.”

Beast snorted. “Well, he should be used to drinking his supper by this time in his miserable fucking life, so no skin off my nose.”

Boomer looked over at Cyrus and shook his head. “Put him in the pit.”

Beast hauled him up like he was nothing but a 5 pound sack of potatoes and tossed him back into the truck bed. “We should just take him to the city dump where he belongs. Man, he is foul.” He then got back in the truck with Cyrus and looked over at him as he started the engine. “So tell me about this pit you guys keep talking about.”

Cyrus just smiled. “Nah, I think I’ll wait and let you make up your own mind.”

~*~

After the truck left, everyone turned to go back inside the clubhouse.

 Jackal went to sit down at the main table and he dumped out the contents of the pillowcase.

 Everyone gasped at the many stacks of hundred dollar bills.

Jolene just stood there and stared at it. Tears rolled down her face.

Vance put his arm around her.

 Boomer saw all the money and shook his head. He looked over at Jolene. “What do you want us to do with it? It’s yours if you want it. He isn’t going to need it where he’s going.”

Jolene slowly raised her head and with dull eyes, she told him in a hushed whispery voice, “I don’t give a damn what you do with it. Burn it. Sit him down in a chair and make him watch you torch it. I don’t want anything to do with it. My mom died because of that money. It has her blood all over it.” Then she turned around and walked down the hall to Vance’s room. She quietly shut the door behind her.

 Boomer stared after her and gave a respectful nod.

Vance slowly walked down the hall after her.

No one in the main room said a word.

~*~

After a few minutes of driving, Cyrus pulled the truck over.

Beast saw several other men standing there. He got out and walked over to the edge of a cement lined basin with a heavy metal mesh covering the entire ten by ten foot hole. The whole pit was lit up.

 Cyrus and another of his brothers were lifting the passed out Dale out of the back of the truck.

Dale didn’t move. He was really knocked out but good.

Two of the men helped to put him in the harness and then he was lowered into the pit. One of the brothers met the harness at the bottom and released him from the contraption. Dropping him to the ground, the brother was then winched up to the top. Next, the gate was lowered into place and locked.

Beast just stood there and watched the whole operation. He looked over at Cyrus. “Damn, when you all called it the pit, you weren’t fucking kidding were you? And Dale can’t get out right?”

Cyrus shook his head. “No one has ever gotten out, until we let them out. I mean he can try to climb the walls but he won’t get very far. We have ears and eyes on the pit too. So if you get bored, you can watch him struggle if you’d like.”

Beast cocked his head at him and then grinned.

 

Chapter Nine

 

Boomer set the money off to one side and the men all began shifting through the paperwork Dale had in his safe.

Jackal took one of the stacks and began to read through the material. He frowned at what he was reading. “Ok, I think we need to get someone in here to deal with this paperwork,” he said out loud.

Boomer looked over at him. “Someone? Like who?”

“Well, we both know Trudy could figure this out and her man Dewey and Pappy have certain contacts with the right kind of men to handle this,” Jackal claimed. “I have a feeling the Wheelers are linked with something much bigger than what we previously thought. Remember when Jolene told us that there was one man that brought papers to Dale and Dale had to deal with him because the other man didn’t know the next contact? I think there might have been a reason for that. Like if one man got caught, he would break the chain but not bring it down completely.” He picked up one of the papers he had read. “I think this comes from an office in DC, a highly placed government office. This is not the kind of paperwork that should be anywhere but a government office. Surely, not in some shill’s safe.”

“But who are ‘they’? That’s what we have to figure out here,” Boomer told him. He paused to look at his men. “I think it's time to bring the Wheelers in, under the wire of course.”

“Meaning?” Jackal asked.

“Well, they wanted a safe place to hide out for a while at least until the FBI, DEA, AFT and a host of other lettered agencies stopped looking for them. They got a hold of one of my men and thought they could shame him into helping them hide. Turns out, Clovis happens to be the son of one of the Wheeler boys and he’d been left on his own from before he was even born. The only reason they reached out now, was because they needed his help to hide out. Clovis told his family to go to hell.” Boomer paused, then thought for a moment and said, “I have an idea. I think we need to finally bring the three Wheelers left, in under cover of course and show them our kind of hospitality. What do you say boys? Think that pit is big enough to hold three more?”

The men all smirked back at him.

“I have a feeling my uncles were brought here to create a distraction for the Wheelers to skip town,” Vance spoke up. “But old man Wheeler won’t go until he finds his younger sons.” He looked over at Jackal and Beast. “My uncles are the bikers looking for Dale.”

“What kind of distraction are they good at?” Jackal asked him.

“The deadly kind." Vance raised a dark brow as he spoke. "The kind that would draw out the police and the fire department from the town, so they could just walk into the police station and find the brothers. They wouldn’t care if an innocent person gets caught up in the search either. They never leave any witnesses behind.” He shook his head. “They are the kind of bikers that give us good ones a bad reputation.”

“Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen around this town.” Boomer shook his head. “We need to neutralize them too.”

Jackal nodded. “We would do the same. After all, you’ll live here, you protect the people that live here too.”

“Damn right, we do.” Boomer looked fierce as he stated this. “Same as they give us a head’s up when they see something coming that we don’t.”

“I think we need to find that priest Jolene said her mother talked to,” Vance suggested. “If she gave him something to hold in trust ...we need to find out what it was. I’d like to get that for her. I know it won’t bring her mom back but it might give her a sense of closure.”

Mac Jenner rubbed his gnarled hand along his jaw as he spoke up, “I think I know what church she was talking about. There is really only one church on that end of town and the road to the church would scare a little girl late at night. It’s a little Spanish church called the Church of the Angels. The priest there is a man called Brother Jose. I don’t go to church regularly but I’ve seen this Brother Jose walking around town and I’ve seen him stopping people while asking about someone. He’s even shown a picture around town.” Shaking his head, he lamented, “I just never put it together until now.”

Beast grunted. Right now, he was impatient to find his sister or what was left of her but he knew he couldn’t just barge in on his own. He looked over at Boomer and asked, “How do we pull this off then? If we bring them all together and put them in your pit, how do we stop them from killing each other before we can get the right people in to take custody of them?”

Boomer grinned. “Part of the pit is an all cement cell block. We have half a dozen cells down there as well as the open pit. We split them up but they remain together, sort of.”

Beast smiled. “Sounds like an amusing plan to me.”

“Now, we just have to get them all in under the cover of darkness,” Vance added. “Or should I say, under the cover of being mollified by a tranc. There’s no way we can bring my uncles and their men in otherwise. Cuz, they will fight to the death.”

“We’ll start with the Wheeler’s,” Tracker piped up. “We know where they are and we got eyes on them. We can go in there, quietly tranc them, and bring them in. Then go back and find the Styx MC and do the same. One group at a time.” Tracker got to his feet. “Spider is still out there in the field, watching the Wheelers. I’ll take a few tranc guns and Cyrus with me. We’ll get them and bring them here, then we go back and get the Styx brothers.”

“You be careful with my uncle's group," Vance warned. “They aren’t going to go down easy and they can be vicious.”

Tracker grinned. “They won’t even see us coming until it's too late, brother.”

Cyrus and Tracker went to the armory and got the tranc guns, then added weapons to their arsenal. They walked out the front door and got into one of the vehicles. The one that had a cage in the back.

Boomer watched them go and shook his head when he could no longer see the truck.

Jackal was standing next to him. “Do you think they’ll bring the Wheeler’s back without a fuss?”

Boomer nodded. “Yeah, that won’t be a problem. The Wheelers won’t know what hit them, that’s not the problem.”

“Then what’s the problem?” Jackal wanted to know.

“Those three boys have a temper and those Wheelers might get a beating,” Boomer explained as he scratched his jaw. “They won’t even feel it until they wake up.”

Jackal frowned. “Your boys would beat on an unconscious man?”

“Naw, they wouldn’t do that.” Boomer shook his head. “But if the Wheeler’s try and fight back before the tranc takes hold, my boys will smack them around just to be sure.”

Beast snorted. “I don’t see a problem with that. If they fight back, then they deserve to get smacked around.”

Chuckling, Boomer said, “Ok, I’m gonna call Trudy and get her working on this stuff we found, then I’m going to have some of the men get the cells ready. I believe the Wheelers need first class accommodations don’t you?”

Jackal snorted. “Why?”

Boomer grinned at him. “Because I want Dale to see what prison life is going to be like when he has to deal with the Styx MC. He will have to deal with them face to face and I don’t think Vance’s uncles are going to ‘sweet talk’ him, do you?”

Jackal grinned back at him

Beast looked highly amused. “You know brother, I like the way you think. I have a feeling Dale will be more than willing to spill his guts after a day or two with those men dominating him, or harassing him verbally.”

“With our camera feed, you will get to see that happening,” Vance added. “And so will I.” His eyes gleamed with anger.

~*~

As Tracker and Cyrus pulled up close to where his brother was watching the cabin in Johnson’s Marsh, he sent Spider a text to let him know they were there.

A few minutes later, Spider came up behind the truck. “What’s up, big brother?” He grinned at Tracker.

“Pa wants us to tranc the Wheelers and bring them in. He seems to feel that since they wanted a safe place to hide out so badly, we’ll just let them come on inside. Only they won’t be calling the shots, we will.”

“We found Dale and all the stuff he was hiding,” Cyrus told Spider. “He’s just one stupid cog in a very organized wheel. We also got six members of Vance’s old MC roaming the streets.”

Tracker nodded. “So after we get the Wheelers in the cells, we get to go round them up too.”

Spider whistled low. “Well, damn, sounds like we got a full night of work to do, we'd better get started.” He took the tranc weapon Tracker handed him and said, “Come on, they are all huddling in the cabin, almost afraid of their own fucking shadows. The old man talks a big talk but doesn’t have the balls to walk the big walk. Oh, and they’re drinking too.” Shaking his head he complained, “Not very smart, but no one said someone losing everything they worked for all their lives is easy.” He grinned. “The old man is gonna feel like shit when he finally wakes up tomorrow morning.”

Tracker and Cyrus snorted.

 “Well, gosh, that is just too damn bad isn’t it?” Tracker chuckled.

“Come on, I’ll show you the best place to hit em from.” Spider motioned his head to the darkness of the trees.  

The three men went around to the back of the cabin then crouched down and got closer. The dark night hid them well and they waited to see what was going on inside before Spider moved in closer. He motioned for Tracker and Cyrus to move to the other side. He paused and pointed with his fingers for them to watch the front door. Then he disappeared into the darkness.

Tracker and Cyrus readied for what was coming and it didn’t take long to figure out Spider’s plan. First, they heard raised voices coming from inside the cabin.

Next, the front door opened up and the three Wheeler men came stumbling out of the old cabin as an orange glow began to light the back of the small building up… smoke rolled out after them. The Wheelers were coughing and hacking up a storm.

Pure chaos ruled in the front of the cabin as the Wheelers were shouting about what was going on.

“The damn place is burning, you idiot,” LeRoy called out, his words slurring as he stumbled around. “How the fucking hell did the cabin catch on fire?”

“Never mind that now, old man,” Marcus grumbled. “Where the fuck are we going to go now? We can’t exactly be seen around town.”

Suddenly, Spider came out of the darkness along with Tracker and Cyrus.

“I wouldn’t worry about that boys.” Spider growled. “We got a nice cell waiting for you.” Then he shot the old man.

 Tracker got Jackson, and Cyrus shot Marcus.

“What the fuck ?” LeRoy roared. He stood there stunned as he looked down at the dart in his upper chest. “Fucking hell.” His words faded as his eyes rolled back in his head and he fell to his knees then went face first into the dirt.

Jackson didn’t go down as easily, so Cyrus got a punch or two in before Jackson fell.

Marcus was the last to go down after Tracker clocked him but good and he was the hardest one to get down. Tracker had his hands full but he loved every damned minute of the fight. Marcus got a couple of good punches in but Tracker could tell he wasn’t really trying.

Maybe it was his metabolism but it took a while to get the tranc to work on Marcus. Eventually, it did and he finally went down.

Tracker put his hands on his knees and spit out a mouth full of blood as he shook his head. “Damn, that boy can hit.”

Spider walked over to the Wheeler brothers and began frisking them for weapons. “Oh, poor baby brother,” he teased Tracker. “Come on, let’s get them loaded up and back to the pit. We still have to find those other jokers before morning.” He picked up LeRoy and flung him over his shoulder then grunted at the extra weight. “Damn, he’s a heavy motherfucker.”

Tracker laughed at him. “Whose whining now, kid?”

Spider rolled his eyes and said, “I’d flip you off brother, but I got my hands full of shit.”

All three men laughed at this.

“The show that they will put on when they wake up?” Cyrus laughed as he hefted the third one up. “I will have to buy extra popcorn for this shit.”

Spider shook his head as he waited while the other two got their charges in hand and together, they walked them back to the truck. Spider flopped LeRoy down first onto the truck bed and pushed him over to one side.

Marcus went in next and Jackson was last.

They closed and locked the cage over the top.

Spider went to get his bike while the others got into the truck. “I’m going to try and find the MC. You guys get these shits unloaded and get back here as soon as you can. Then we’ll work on getting the others wrapped up.

 “Don’t have to try and find them,” Tracker told him. “Last we heard, they were on Wilmont street.  Meet us over there, but stay back some. Watch your back lil brother, this shouldn’t take us too long.”

Spider smiled. “You got that right. Dumping the trash into that pit never takes very long. Drive careful.” He took off into the night.

Tracker just shook his head and drove off in the opposite direction.

 

Chapter Ten

 

 When Tracker pulled into the compound Boomer and the others were waiting for him.  He took one look into the back and grinned. Looking over at his son he said, “I see they didn’t go down easy.”

Tracker shook his head. “No, they didn’t. It felt good to get a few hits in before they finally fell to the dirt.”

“Where is your brother?” Boomer wanted to know.

“He’s scoping out the town for the other MC. I told him the last we heard, they were on Wilmont street and to watch his back.”

Boomer nodded. “I told Bolt and Cramer to meet up with him before they went on the prowl. They’re going to start at the shack on Wilmont street.”

Tracker nodded and looked in the back. “Let’s get these guys on ice before they decide to wake up.”

“We’re putting them in the cells in the pit. Ole Dale will just have to try and get along with the Styx when they get here too,” Boomer told them.

Tracker and Cyrus looked at each other then back at Boomer.

“I’d pay to see that.” Cyrus snorted.

“I’ll bring the popcorn.” Tracker grinned.

“Let’s get these guys settled in first.” Jackal shook his head. “You guys are a little bloodthirsty.”

“Hey, we protect our own and Clovis is one of us,” Tracker stated.

“So is Jolene.” Vance growled. “She deserves more than what she ever got from that deadbeat, that’s for damn sure.” He clamped his hands on Jackson’s boots and dragged him forward.

 Then Jackson had a little surprise of his own. He had woken up on the ride in. He came up screaming and swinging.

Vance dodged the fist aimed at his head. He hauled back his own fist and slammed it right into Jackson’s face.

Blood flew everywhere when his big fist broke the man’s nose and Jackson had a stunned look on his face. Then his eyes rolled in the back of his head and he flopped right back down in the back of the truck.

Jackal shook his head. “Well, that was fun to watch.” Peeking over the back of the truck, he observed the blood on Jackson’s face but he also saw his chest rising and falling. “Oh, that’s gonna hurt when he wakes up.”

“Like I give a shit.” Vance shrugged. “The loser shouldn’t have swung on me.” He bent down and flung the downed man over his shoulder and looked over at Boomer. “You want these guys in the cells attached to the pit right?”

Boomer nodded. “In separate cells mind you. We don’t want them to be able to see each other.”

Beast hitched LeRoy over his shoulder and followed Vance into the clubhouse.

Cyrus brought Marcus along.

Jackal watched as the last man disappeared. Then he turned to Boomer. “Why don’t you want them to see each other? They’ll still be able to speak to each other, won’t they?”

Boomer smiled. “Yeah, they can still speak to each other but ole LeRoy won’t be able to browbeat his boys. And if I’m a good judge of anything that will make him madder than a wet hen. I guess we’ll see if he can keep them in check, won’t we?”

Jackal nodded. “Yeah, it helps to make your point if you can stare em down to their faces.”

"I just cannot wait for this. The boys are right. We will need extra popcorn for this." Boomer threw his head back and laughed.

~*~

Jolene watched from the front window as the men were carried through the clubhouse and taken down to the basement part. She went over to the table and began looking at the paperwork they had found in her dad’s safe. She couldn’t read very well but she could make out some words, like names and such. Then she saw the name Alan Drake. Something clicked inside her brain and she sat down hard.

‘That’s what his name was.’ She thought to herself.

Vance returned and found her sitting there. He frowned as he joined her. “What’s up lil’bit?”

Jolene looked up and saw him sitting there. “I know the name of the man that brings Dale papers and stuff to deliver.”

Vance stared at her. “How? I thought you couldn’t read?”

She shook her head. “I may not have gone to school but I can read some, just not well enough to get a decent job. I can read names and some words. Look, here is his name.” She pointed out the name on the list she had found.

Vance looked down at the list and saw the name. He looked over at Jolene and asked, “Are you sure this is his name? Alan Drake?”

She nodded. “I heard Dale talk about that name and it was right after the man left. Dad wasn’t very nice about what he was saying about him and I normally ignored him but he went on and on about the man. It was driving me crazy.”

Vance leaned back in his chair and looked at her. “The brothers brought the Wheelers in and now, they are going to bring my uncle’s and his men here. Are you going to be okay with that?”

“I’ll just go to our room.” She shrugged and leaned toward him.

He wrapped his arms around her and hauled her over to his lap. “What’s wrong lil’bit?” he whispered.

“I hate this,” she admitted. “I really hate this. I hate the fear I get being around these kinds of men. Growing up, all I could do was curl up as small as I could get and hide in the dark. The man that shot my mom looked like a monster in my eyes. Over the years, he’s grown until the look in his eyes is all I can remember. Is there a way I can see the men’s faces you guys just brought in? I need to know if one of them is the man who shot my mom.”

Vance nodded and got to his feet. He tossed her over his shoulder then walked down the hall to Trigger’s office and knocked on the door.

 Trigger yelled, “enter” so he opened the door and walked in.

Trigger looked over at Vance with Jolene over his shoulder and just raised his eyebrows.

 “Can you bring up the cameras in the cells?” Vance asked him. “My woman wants to see their faces.”

Trigger nodded and flipped a few buttons.

Vance slid her down and set her on her feet.

Shaking her head, she just slapped his chest. Then she turned and watched the monitors. When she studied the faces, she paled when she looked at one face in particular. “That’s him. That’s the monster in my nightmares. He’s the one that shot my mom.” She turned and buried her face in Vance’s chest.

He wrapped his arms around her and held her close. “I promise you lil’bit. When all this is over, we’ll go and find your mom’s remains.”

Jolene nodded. “Yeah, Beast already promised me he would get her back to her family.”

“But?” Vance heard something in her voice that gave him pause. “Is that not what you want for her?”

“I’m her family too,” she told him. “She might be his sister but she was my mom.”

“Maybe you can talk him into burying her here?”

“Maybe, but I don’t think he’ll let that happen. She was his sister first, right?” She laid her head on his chest, her ear pressed to hear the beating of his heart. The sound calmed her fears and made her feel safe.

“Come on lil’bit, let’s get you something to eat,” Vance suggested.

Jolene shook her head. “So not hungry. Just want this over and the bad guys behind bars. It may not stop the horror that’s out there right now, but it might put it on hold and let the good guys catch up.”

“We got people working on that baby,” Vance assured her. “We found some interesting stuff in your dad’s papers.”

“Can we not call him my dad anymore?” she asked. “He doesn’t want me and I’m just tired of fighting him. If he won’t claim me then fine, I won’t claim him either. In fact, I’d rather not have anything to do with him at all.” She shook her head. “I have no allegiance to him. He never did anything fatherlike to or for me. Then he left me to take the fall for him. He would have left me at the mercy of your uncles and if I would have been home alone, god only knows what would have happened to me.”

Vance snorted. “I’d like to believe my uncles would have been gentlemen but I know them too well to believe that.”

She grimaced and shuddered at the same time.

~*~

Vance tightened his hold on her briefly. “Don’t you worry, lil’bit. I’ll stand between you and them when they get here. But we do need to let Boomer know what you just told me.”

When they went out to the main room again, they found Boomer and Jackal still looking over the paperwork.

Vance went over and sat down at the table then pulled Jolene down on his lap.

Boomer looked up and then paused at the look on the other man’s face. “What’s up, Vance?”

“Jolene identified the man who shot her mother,” he told them.

Boomer sighed heavily. “Well, we figured that might happen. Hoping it wasn’t him but I think we all knew it was.”

“Yes, LeRoy Wheeler.” Vance nodded.

“We still haven’t recovered her body.” Beast growled. “She needs to go home finally.”

Jolene hung her head.

Vance growled as he snapped his head over to glare at the man.

Beast frowned at him then grunted, “What?”

“She has family here too, brother,” Vance stated.

Beast glanced over at Jolene and shook his head. He tightened his lips but didn’t say anything else.

Vance glared at him for a moment then looked at Boomer. “Jolene remembered the name of the man her father picked up paperwork from, then he would take it on to the next person in the link in the chain. She said he was Alan Drake, his name is on that list.”

“Alan Drake?” Jackal barked. He turned to look at Jolene. “Are you sure honey?”

Jolene nodded but looked at him in question. “Why? Who is this man? You seem to know him, or at least his name.”

Jackal nodded. “Yeah, I know his name. In the last year or so, the government of Baton Rouge was cleaned up. Many people went down and were replaced. Drake was one of those men who replaced the bad guys that we busted. He’s the go to guy that replaced the mayor of our city. He was appointed by some bureaucrat in Washington until Baton Rouge could hold elections again.” He shrugged and said, “But he was supposed to go back to Washington when all was said and done.” He looked over at Boomer. “Just how fucking far does this shit go up into our government?”

Boomer shook his head. “I don’t know, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Trudy can come up with.”

“You may take down the Wheelers but what’s the next rung on the ladder?” Jolene asked. “This isn’t going to end with them. I have a feeling Dale knows more than he’s saying. He’s a sneaky man. He would disappear for days sometimes and I’m sure he knows so much more about this.” She pointed toward the list of names. “This list? This is only the beginning, I’m afraid. He knows what this list is all about and he’s going to use it to curry favor and maybe use it to escape going to prison.”

“The hell he will.” Beast growled. “I won’t stand for it.”

“You can’t bully him, you try and he won’t say a word, but he’ll try to make a deal with the courts,” Jolene explained in disgust. “He’ll give up all he’s got to get the chance not to be judged by the courts. He will lie and cheat and try to get out by not giving up all he knows to them either. Oh, he’ll tell them just enough but it won’t be all he knows and no one will ever be able to tell he’s lying. Dale is a manipulator and he’s been known to lie to get exactly what he wants. He’ll offer you just enough to hang the Wheelers but he’s always got more up his sleeve. You just watch and see what he does. You just watch and see.” She got to her feet and shook her head. “It's not his fault. You’ll see, because it is never his fault.” With tears in her eyes, she got up and walked down the hall to the room she shared with Vance.

Vance watched her go and swung his head around to glare at Beast. “Your sister has family here too, asshole. As in that little girl right there.” He turned to stare at Boomer now. “She’s warning us all what Dale will do, and she knows him better than we do. I guess we’ll see what he does when the time comes won’t we?”

 

Chapter Eleven

 

Beast glared at Vance and began to breathe heavily. His nostrils flared and his mind was charging full steam ahead. “Lisa was my sister. I think she should be buried where her family can visit. My parents have been looking for her to bring her home for over twenty years. I can’t just call them, tell them I found her, and then have to tell them I can’t bring her home.” He shook his head. “They are going to want her home, where she belongs.”

“And Jolene is her daughter,” Vance came back almost as loud and as hard. “She was living with her mother for the first six years of her life, brother.”

“Stop it!” Jolene called out to both of them.

Vance turned as saw her standing in the archway of the hall.

 Tears were running down her face. “Just stop. If he wants her home so badly, let her go home. My mother meant so much to me that as much as I want to keep her here, I won’t. Just let me know where you bury her because I might want to visit her myself sometime.” She turned to glare at her uncle. “She deserves more than the disrespect you are showing her right now. She was my mother and I loved her but you? I don’t know you and I sure as hell don’t know your parents and right now, I’m not sure I want to. But you show her some damn respect. If you cared about her at all, show her some respect.” She took a shaky breath and turned her back on Beast.

The men all stood there as the tension stretched in the room.

 Jolene now addressed Boomer and the other men standing there, “I came back here to tell you there might be a way to trick Dale into telling you what you need to know. He’s an alcoholic, you should be able to use that against him. He can go a day or two without the booze but any longer than that and he gets the shakes. Then he starts babbling like a junkie looking for a fix. He’s just gotta have it.”

“What are you saying?” Beast asked from behind her.

“Leave him alone for a day or two,” she answered him without turning to face him as she spoke to Boomer and the other men. “Let him get real thirsty, then offer him a drink for information, but don’t give it to him unless you can prove what he’s telling you. Then give him just enough to wet his whistle but not enough to scratch that itch. Make him earn every swallow of beer and then before you give it to him, make sure you check out what he’s telling you. If it doesn’t check out, throw him back in a cell until the next day. He’s gonna get mean and he’s gonna lie as much as you let him get away with. But I can tell you right now that he’s never been completely sober in a number of years. If he can’t get his damn beer after a day or two, he’ll be crawling up the wall.” Shaking her head she admitted sadly, “He’s that far gone.”

Boomer nodded. “That might just work. But I’m sure what will be more of an incentive will be having him in the pit alongside the Styx MC. They are plenty mad at him anyway.”

“Yeah.” Jolene nodded. “He’ll be begging for protection from them all right, but even then, I’d make him work for it. Maybe even in front of the Wheelers and the Styx.” 

Boomer grinned. “Oh, that’s gonna go over like gas on a fire. Damn, we are gonna have some fun. He’s gonna have both of them worried about what he’s gonna say.” He thought for a moment then nodded his head. “Sounds like an excellent plan, young lady.”

“But in order for this plan to work, we have to catch the Styx MC,” Jackal reminded them.

Boomer snorted. “Don’t you worry about those boys. My men will hunt them down and bring them in. They won’t stop until they find them.”

“You better tell them to shoot first and not worry about asking questions,” Vance warned. “My uncles aren’t going to go down easy.”

Boomer turned and nodded. “I already did. I also told them not to take any chances.”

Jolene came over to Vance and sat down on his lap. She ignored Beast’s growl altogether and just laid her head on his shoulder. She just needed to hear his heartbeat.

“Can the two of you stop flaunting your relationship?” Beast growled. “I don’t care to see it.”

Vance growled back.

Jolene placed her hand on Vance's chest and lifted her head to kiss him. Then she got to her feet and glared down at her uncle. “If you don’t like it, don’t look. But for the first time since my mother died, I feel like I have a home. And that home is in his arms. So you can just go to hell. Now, I can see why my mom had to run away from her family, if they are anything like you. My dad might have let her down by not being the man she thought he was, but she didn’t come back to you and yours. And now, I can see why.” Her words were spoken quietly but her message came through loud and clear. Her tears had dried on her face and with as much dignity as she had left, she turned and walked slowly back down the hall.

In the silence that followed, everyone heard the door close softly behind her.

Beast looked like he wanted to punch something but he didn’t.

In fact, nobody there said a word for a long moment.

Suddenly, Boomer’s phone pinged with an incoming message as he looked down at his phone and shook his head. Looking over at Vance then Jackal, he announced, “The boys are bringing the first load of Styx in. They got four of them and are chasing the other two.” Looking at Vance he said, “We’ll need you to identify them.”

Vance got to his feet and nodded. “I’ll be happy to, just keep him away from Jolene.” He motioned in Beast’s direction.

Beast growled but Jackal assured him, “He won’t go near her.”

“He’d better not, because she’s on the edge right now, and she just needs a break from all the drama coming down.” Vance glared at Beast.

~*~

Fifteen minutes later, the first truck rolled to a stop in front of the clubhouse. Boomer, Vance and a few others were waiting for them,

When it parked, Vance walked down the steps slowly. He looked in the back and saw the men he once called family. They had taken his uncle Reggie and his uncle Frankie. He knew the other two as well and he told Boomer who they were.

It looked like this group had fought until they couldn’t fight anymore. All of them were bruised and battered and all of them were covered in blood from many of the not so small wounds they sported. When they woke up in the pit they would be in differing levels of pain.

Reggie opened his eyes and glared at Vance with glazed, swollen eyes. “You fucking traitor, this is where you ended up? You’re a long way from home boy. Get us out of here.” The older man growled. His voice sounded weak and his words were slurred as he was still under the influence of the tranc dart.

“I am right where I need to be, Reggie,” Vance told him. “This is home to me now.”

“You are a Styx, you swore an oath to us, not to them!” Reggie growled with a drugged out slur in his voice.

“You broke your word to me when you murdered my mother.” Vance sneered. “You said as long as I stayed away from her, she would be safe. Then you put a bullet in her head. Your oath didn’t mean shit to you, so why should I be holding to my oath? An oath I was forced to take against my will, by the way.” He shook his head. “Any oath taken under force, doesn't mean a damn thing.”

“I suppose you pledged one to this group?” Reggie looked around the compound and sneered. “I wonder how long you’ll keep your word to them before you break it and betray them.”

Boomer laughed loudly. “I’m not worried about him breaking his word to us. He’s a Crimson Tide member by choice and he’s loyal to us because here, he’ll always have a home and respect from each and every one of us.”

Vance leaned closer to his uncle. Looking down into the cage in the back of the truck he said, “And that’s the difference between this group and yours. I will always have their backs and they didn’t threaten me to get it. Your men aren’t loyal to you because you don’t share loyalty. When shit comes down, you leave your men behind to take the fall, and you can bet they all know it too. Boomer is right. He is there for his men until the last man standing is down.” He stood up straight again. “And that kind of loyalty is something you will never have or understand, Uncle Reggie.” He looked up and said, “Take them to the pit.”

Tracker grunted and the truck drove off. Some of the men jumped into a 4x4 and followed them, knowing it would take everyone to get these men into the pit.

Vance turned back to Boomer and shook his head. “He’ll never get that concept and his men will now run wild. They think they’re all that, but they aren’t worth the dirt under your shoes. We’ll have to watch the streets and see if the rest of his men come here looking for them.”

Boomer nodded. “We’ll be ready for them if they do come looking for trouble.” He turned to go back inside. “I think we need to see how they react to their new cell mates.”

Everyone moved into Trigger’s office and they watched as the group unloaded the truck.

Reggie was the only one awake but he wasn’t really with it just yet, so when they lowered him into the pit he fought it. As soon as the guys laid him on the cement floor, he looked around and snarled when he saw Dale laying not too far away. Then while the others were being lowered into the pit, Reggie tried crawling over to where Dale was laid out.

Two of the Crimson brothers grabbed a hold of him and dragged him away from Dale.

Dale seemed to be just waking up. He looked around and noticed Reggie. Now, knew he was in real trouble. Dale began screaming to get him out of there, that Reggie would kill him.

Everyone there seemed to be ignoring him.

Two Crimson men carried Reggie over to one of the iron circles on the wall and cuffed his hand to the circle.

Then Tracker went over and talked quietly to Dale.

The look of fear on Dale’s face grew until he almost passed out.

Tracker snickered and was then hauled out of the pit.

The door to the infamous pit was then locked up again.

Semi darkness covered the inside.

When they left, Dale was still screaming to be let out.

Boomer looked over at Vance and smiled. “This shouldn’t take too long.”

Vance shook his head. “It's almost too easy, don’t you think?”

Boomer shrugged. “Maybe, but he seems to think we’re here to protect his dumb ass. That’s his second mistake.”

“His second?” Jackal asked.

Boomer nodded. “Yup, his second. His first was treating his daughter like she didn’t matter, like her life was less than his own. We don’t condone shit like that. Now, we wait to see how long it will take him to start talking. My guess is about half an hour when the others wake up and they all get warm and friendly.” He chuckled at his own sarcasm. “And don’t forget now, the Wheelers are down there too, and they can see and hear everything that Dale and the others say and do.”

Shadow Hunter smiled and asked, “Great. I heard your boys talking about popcorn earlier. So where is it?” He laughed. “Cause I think this is going to be a show that I won’t ever forget.”

Vance nodded. "All of the men in that pit and the ones that are yet to arrive...They deserve what's coming to them. Just be careful of the Styx getting loose down there, or you aren't gonna have a show. You will have a bloodbath on your hands."

Boomer nodded as he crossed his arms over his wide chest."But who says that's a bad thing?"

Vance said nothing as he turned to gaze at the monitors. The men here thought this would be entertaining. But they have never dealt with men like the Styx. They weren't men in the honorable sense of the word. They were wolves. They would tear you bloody when you weren't looking. He'd seen it when he was a teen. They always left a messy bloody wake behind them and they had no conscience about the carnage and grief they caused. Soulless, deadly and backstabbing. If any of them got a hold of anyone else down there. It would be forever be known in the Tide as... the bloody pit.

 

Chapter Twelve

 

Dale was spitting nails. He kept cussin and fussin at his supposed daughter and her tellin’ the Tide everything she knew. He stopped and shook himself… He had to get the hell out of here. He’d seen when they locked Reggie up to the metal circle on the wall. Looking for a way out, he noticed a small hallway past Reggie.

He peered down at his feet and noted they were swollen and bleeding. He got on his knees and crawled his way over toward the doorway. Peeking in, he saw several cells with cement blocks for walls and bars on the doors.

He started to crawl inside the hallway, thinking the cells were empty but as he passed the first cell, something hit the bars. Then he heard noise again from Reggie’s direction. He looked back at him.

Reggie was throwing his arms around and snarling, though his eyes were closed.

Dale shivered. He would not get anywhere near that animal, lest he come away with a bloody stump for a hand.

BAM!

At the loud sound, Dale’s body jumped as he looked back up at the cell he had stopped in front of.

Jackson Wheeler glared back at him and it was his boot that had hit the bars. Jackson growled and snarled. “What the fucking hell are you doing here? Where the fuck are we anyway?”

Dale looked down to the next cell and found Marcus just waking up.

He was holding his jaw. He had a huge bruise on his face and a cut under his left eye. “What the fuck you looking at, scumbag?” Marcus growled at Dale.

The person in the third cell came right to the door, grabbed the bars, and shook them. The bars didn’t move and LeRoy snarled at the shivering man in the hall. “And why are we in cells when you’re not?”

Dale shrank into himself even more now, and glared back at them. “How the hell am I supposed to know why you’re here? I think this is the compound of the Crimson Tide but I don’t know how you got here. A man named Beast brought me here.” Then he studied the three men carefully. “You guys can’t get out, can you?”

LeRoy grabbed the bars and shook them violently again. “Fuck no, we can’t get out.”

Jackson ignored his father’s ranting and commanded Dale, “Get us out of here.”

“How am I supposed to do that, idiot?” Dale whined. “I got my own problems. The Styx are in here too, and they aren’t exactly the friendly type of people, if you know what I mean.”

“Reggie is here?” LeRoy wanted to know. “Reggie, where are you brother?” he shouted.

Dale snorted. “That loser is out of commission. He got hooked up to a shackle of iron connected to the wall. He can’t help you none.” He snickered. “Much less himself.”

“Who else is out there?” Jackson asked.

“Frankie and a couple other brothers but they aren’t awake yet.” He shook his head. “They all look like they were knocked out, just like I was.”

LeRoy snorted. “We were tranc’d and I’m sure they were too. You probably weren’t worth a tranc, as you probably gave up rather than fight for your freedom. Just like the pussy you are.”

“Damn Dale, you smell worse than a can of garbage left out to rot.” Marcus sneered.

“Shut up.” Dale snarled. “You don’t smell like no bouquet of roses yourself.” He glared at all three of them. “At least, I’m not in a cell like you three losers are. I’m going to find a way out of this hellhole.”

“Get us the hell out of these cells!” LeRoy demanded as he shook the bars again.

“Get yourselves out.” Dale sneered. “It's every man for himself here and I’ve got to go before they catch me.”

“Who the hell are they?” Jackson called out.

“Don’t matter, Crimson Tide, Devil’s Advocates, or Styx, but I’m not hanging around for any of them.” He got to his feet slowly and painfully. He saluted them with his middle finger and sauntered off down the hall, limping on his torn up feet.

 He went down the dark hall and stopped dumbfounded when all he saw was a wall. The hallway just stopped. There was no way out. “Fuck,” he swore under his breath. “Where is the doorway?”

He retraced his steps then stopped and stared at the last cell. Behind the bars was the doorway he was searching for. He went toward the bars and pulled on them. Only they didn’t move. He rattled the doors but he couldn’t get them to open. Then he slammed his hand against the bars. Then he swore loudly, "FUCK!” while holding his hand.

Then he heard LeRoy laughing maniacally. “What’s the matter Dale? Can’t find the door to get out?”

 Dale marched down to LeRoy’s cell and snarled, “Oh, I found the door all right, but like you, its behind bars and the fucking cell door won’t open.”

“Poor Dale.” Jackson nodded toward the sounds coming from down the hall. “I think your friends are waking up.” He grinned. “I think they want a word with you, by the way. Reggie keeps screaming your name.” He shook his head. “They want you bad.”

Just then, a voice came over a hidden speaker, “Dale, your friends seem to be  calling for you.”

 Dale looked around then peered up to spot the camera and the speaker. “What the fuck are you guys doing? Trying to get me killed?”

 “Now why would we want anything bad to happen to you?” the voice asked with irony in its tone. “Now if you had something we could use, we might consider getting you out of there but I doubt you have anything we’d be interested in knowing. So you have fun with all those boys down there.”

“What if I did have something to share with you?” Dale licked his lips nervously. “Huh? What if I did? What would that get me? Would it get me out of this pit?”

 “Well, Dale..." The voice hesitated dramatically. "...that would depend on what you had to say, wouldn’t it?”

“I know a lot of secrets.” Dale boasted.

“Shut your fucking mouth Dale!” LeRoy shouted. “You’re nothing more than a messenger, you don’t know shit.”

Dale’s head snapped around to glare at the three men in the cells. “I know a lot of your fuckin’ secrets, old man. I may be just a messenger but I know more than just the next man in the chain of your fucking routes. I have names and dates of the other messengers and I know where they go with the messages from your bosses.” He licked his lips again and said, “I even know who your bosses are.”

“Shut your God Damn mouth, you fucking scum,” LeRoy growled.

“Not on your rotten life.” Dale shook his head. “I’ll give them exactly what they want to know if it gets me out of here.”

“You are a dead man!” Jackson called out.

Dale snorted. “Yeah, but I’m out here and you’re behind bars. Who has more sway in this, you or me?”

Just then, the door on the last cell popped open and Dale snapped his head toward the sound. Then he grinned. Looking back at Jackson and LeRoy, he flipped them off again and walked toward the open door.

~*~

Boomer looked over at Jackal and shook his head. “Well, shall we test Jolene’s theory?”

Jackal nodded. “Oh, let’s. It might take a day or so for him to get really thirsty but we got time. And did you notice he was already licking his lips like he was dry?.”

Boomer laughed. “And the longer he takes to get thirsty, the longer ole LeRoy and the others will get to wondering just what Dale is telling us.” He looked over at Tracker and Tank. “Why don’t you two go down and escort our friend Dale to a regular cell? Tell him we aren’t ready to hear his secrets just yet and we need time to get ready, so we can take notes.”

Tracker nodded and grinned. “Sure Pops, we’ll show him to a cell.”

When they left, Boomer flipped a toggle switch and the door shut behind Dale, locking him in the last cell.

They all watched the camera feed.

Dale swung around and looked panicked for a moment then he turned back to the door with no handle or nob and waited for it to open. After a few minutes, Dale started to panic. He licked his dry lips and pounded on the door. “Hey, I’m here and waiting for you to open the door. You can’t leave me here!”

“What’s the matter Dale?” LeRoy asked snidely. “Can’t wait to tell your fucking lies?”

Dale turned and snarled, “Shut your mouth you fucking tyrant. Like you said before, I was just the messenger but you? You were the ones giving the orders and breaking the law. That’s on you, asshole.”

Just then, Dale heard a click and he spun around to see the door pop open. He reached for the edge of the door and pulled it completely open. There, he saw two men.

One wore a Crimson Tide cut.

The other wore a Devil’s Advocate patch. He had a weapon in his hand and it was pointed right at Dale’s belly.

“What the hell is this?” Dale’s eyes widened as he licked his cracked lips again.

The Crimson Tide man reached out to grab his shirt and pulled him through the doorway, then slammed the door shut again.

“Whew, Gollum, you are ripe.” The Devil’s Advocate frowned.

The Crimson Tide biker chortled. “Man, that is spot on. Gollum. Lord of the Rings. Look at those bulging eyes and his slimy head. Damn, Tank! That was fucking clever.”

 Tank shrugged and looked disgusted by the stench coming off of Dale. “You more than need a damn shower.” He glared at Dale.

“I’m fine.” Dale scowled.

“What? You can’t smell your own stink?” Crimson Tide growled. “Well, we can and that’s unacceptable to us.” He pointed out a door just off the main room. “There’s a shower right over there, so strip and head on over.”

Dale snorted. “I ain’t stripping anywhere. And I ain’t taking no damn shower either.”

The Crimsons Tide man snorted. “Either you shower or you go right back out into the pit. We’re due to get some rain tonight and either way, you might get clean.” Shrugging he said, “It really makes no difference to me, but you aren’t gonna stink up the whole damn place.”

Dale looked back at the heavy metal door and then he looked at the doorway just off the main room. He licked his dry lips repeatedly and growled as he began to strip off his filthy clothes. He got down to his underwear and stopped. His underwear had seen better days and God only knew how long he’d been wearing them but he glared at the biker men and began walking toward the shower room.

Dale was a small man and skinny almost to a fault as his bones were visible at his hips and his ribs. He had a bit of a sunken chest and his arms were nothing but skin and bones. The man made no attempt to take care of his body and he looked like a withered old man at the age of forty seven.

The Devil’s Advocate, Tank shook his head in disgust. “On second thought, I think I’ve insulted poor Gollum. You are a fucking mess, Dale.” He walked behind him all the way to the door then stood there while Dale went inside.

~*~

Tracker who’d been giving him orders, made a face as he put on latex gloves and picked up Dale’s dirty jeans. “Ugg,” he muttered at the horrid smell. He began emptying the pockets carefully, placing everything on a small table. He was carrying a wallet, a comb, a handful of change and a pen type flashlight. He also had fingernail clippers and a small flash drive. The last thing he pulled from the pocket of the rancid jeans was a ring. A small band of silver with a green birthstone set in a ring of diamonds. It was a woman’s ring and it hadn’t been cleaned in a very long time.

Tracker wondered what was on the flash drive and slipped it in his own pocket but left the rest of the stuff on the table. All except the ring, he also put it in his pocket. He didn’t know why but he did. He checked the wallet and there were a few dollar bills and a small piece of paper with a single word written on it. Tracker tucked that in his pocket as well.

Next, he tossed the jeans back on the floor and picked up the shirt. The shirt reeked of body odor, dried sweat, and beer. Dale didn’t have anything in the pocket but a few bar chips that were good for a beer from Kelly’s Bar and Grill.

He put both the jeans and the shirt in a garbage bag and tied it shut.

Tank looked back into the shower room and alerted Tracker that Dale was drying off.

Tracker went over to the cabinet and grabbed the man a pair of tighty whities and a pair of shorts. He walked over to the shower room.

Dale was now wrapping the towel around his skinny hips. He looked up at Tracker and snarled. “I need my clothes back.”

Tracker shook his head. “Sorry, Dale. Those clothes are going straight to the garbage heap.” He tossed the underwear and the shorts at Dale. “You can wear these for now. We’ll get you some pants a little later.”

“The hell?” Dale huffed. “I want my own clothes back!”

Tracked shrugged his wide shoulders. “Your clothes are going to be burned, like the diseased material they are. Put on what I gave you or go naked, I don’t really care.”

Dale glared at the two of them and growled, “Turn your back then, so I can get dressed.”

Tracker sighed loudly in disgust. “Just get your ass dressed, dumbass. You ain’t got nothing we ain’t seen before. In fact, no one in their right fucking mind would look at you.”

 Tank nodded. “You’re nasty, man. Just nasty.”

Tracker agreed, “So we just aren’t interested in what’s in your shorts. We don’t swing that way.”

Tank snorted with a laugh as he added, “The circus might want him?”

Tracker chuckled.

Dale grumbled to himself and bent over to pick up the underwear then slipped them on behind the towel. Then he ripped off the wet towel and reached for the shorts while muttering the whole time, “A man could freeze to death wearing nothing more than a god damn pair of freakin shorts.” He raised his bloodshot gaze to the two men and demanded, “Can’t a man at least get a t- shirt?”

“This isn’t a fucking department store,” Tank replied. “Especially, not one that sells clothing made for freaks. You're lucky you got what you got.”

Dale kept mumbling as he stared at the door until he took a step and remembered his torn up feet. “I need some shoes man, my feet are ripped to shreds,” he whined.

Tracker and Tank both snorted.

Then Tank said, “Get over yourself man. You think this is some reality game show? We aren’t here to give you shit.” He pushed Dale’s shoulder to get him moving along.

They walked down the hall and entered a larger room that held four rather large cells.

Tracker pushed him toward one of the cells.

Dale turned around to glare at him. “I thought I was going to a regular room? What is this?”

“This is where you’re staying until you start talking but we aren’t ready to hear your confessions yet. We need time to get ready for you. Oh, and by the way, we will be checking everything you tell us and depending on the information you share, that’s how we’ll be treating you. So if you think you can lie to us, we’ll just toss you back in with your friends in the pit. So you best be careful about what you share.” Tracker slapped Dale’s cheeks, one then the other rather hard and pushed him into one of the cells. He promptly shut the door. “We’re gonna give you some time to do the right thing. We’ll be back in a little while for you.”

Dale watched as they walked away while laughing at him and he called out, “Hey, I need a drink! It makes a man thirsty being beat up and left here.”

“Yeah, I’ll bring you some water back when I come to get you for questioning,” Tracker assured him with a low chuckle.

“Water?” Dale screeched. “I don’t want water man, I want a beer!” He called out again but no one answered.

Tank said to Tracker as they moved away from the cell, “Can you just picture it? Gollum back there, smacking his lips over a can of beer, ‘My precious.’ ”

Tracker burst out laughing. “Ohhh, Fuuuccck…”

The cameras watched Dale.

He grabbed the bars and shook them as he screamed out his frustration. No one answered his frantic calls. It seemed to take a while for him to realize he was there all alone. Dale grunted and then looked very afraid as he shivered visibly.

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

Boomer and Jackal watched the screen from the cell area.

Jackal just shook his head. “You know if he wasn’t so pathetic, I think I could almost feel sorry for him.”

Boomer nodded as he laughed. “My precious…That Tank is hilarious.”

The men all chuckled.

“And I hear ya brother,” Boomer continued. “But that man has a host of shit to atone for so I just can’t feel too sorry for him.”

Jackal glanced over at Beast and saw his eyes glued to the screen. He shook his head but didn’t say anything. 

Tracker and Tank joined them and they were still snickering about Gollem, back in the cells.

Tracker was grinning as he dug the flash drive out of his pocket and handed it to his dad. “He had this in his pocket.” He dug into his own shirt pocket, took out the slip of paper, and handed that over as well. “He also had this in his wallet.” He shrugged. “Could be the password to the drive.”

Boomer passed the items to Trigger and told the man to check them out. Then Boomer got a ping on his phone and when he looked down, he saw it was about the remaining men out there looking for the rest of the Styx. He looked up at Jackal and over at Vance. “They’re bringing in the other two Styx members. We need to know who they are.”

Vance nodded and left the room. He didn’t even look toward Beast. 

~*~

Beast turned his head and glared at his back as he left the room, then he looked over at his prez and close friend, Jackal.

“Time to greet the other ghouls in this mess we got going on.” Boomer went out through the door.

Jackal just shook his head at Beast. Then he turned to follow Boomer and Vance, leaving Beast alone in the room with Trigger.

Trigger ignored the man and started working on the flash drive. The word written on the slip of paper was indeed the password to the drive and as he began going through the files he had to stop and study what information was on the drive.

Dale had indeed stored a lot of the Blue Shadow’s secrets. One of the files on the drive had a list of couriers like himself. Trigger printed off a list of the names and saved it for Boomer.

When Beast began grumbling, Trigger looked over to see and hear Dale rambling. And damn, tank had been right. The man was downright ugly, thin and his bones stuck out from all over his gray looking body.

 “I need some clothes man,” Dale said through chattering teeth. “I’m freezing, and I need something to drink. A man could die of thirst down here, you mother fuckers.”

Trigger looked back to his screens and ignored the chaos that was Beast’s growls from next to him. He began copying the files on Dale’s flash drive and as they printed, he was looking at the information the next file held. When he came to one of the last few files, Trigger paused and read the information carefully. This was a new wrinkle. There was a new symbol in the lower left hand corner. It was in the shape of a mountain and the mountain was colored green. Trigger sat and stared at the symbol for a long moment then he hit the print button.

“What are you staring at kid?” Beast finally asked. He’d taken his eyes off Dale when Trigger gasped and he frowned when the other man didn’t even so much as blink for the last five minutes.

“I’m not really sure, but I know I’ve seen this symbol before. I just can’t remember where or why it sticks out to me,” Trigger finally told him.

“What symbol is that?” Beast moved over to stand behind him and Trigger pointed out the Green Mountain in the corner of the page.

 “Its different is all I know, but I’m sure this isn’t the first time I’ve seen it,” Trigger told him as he printed off the page and then faxed it to Trudy but before he did, he circled the Mountain symbol and asked her, ‘What is this?’

Beast saw movement on another monitor and he looked up. Then he frowned as he watched two men being lowered into the pit. Both men showed signs of having been beaten severely. “What the hell?”

Trigger looked up and shrugged. “They’ll be fine. Doc probably checked them out before they put them in there.”

“I wasn’t worried about that part of it,” Beast told him. He pointed to the guy on the left and said. “I know that guy.”

Trigger glanced up at him. “Yeah?”

Beast nodded. “Yeah, I saw him in Baton Rouge just the other day. Now that is curious isn’t it? Vance said these boys were all Philly boys, didn’t he? That guy isn’t from Philly. When I say I saw him in Baton Rouge the other day, I mean he lives and works there.”

Trigger wondered out loud to himself as he looked around. “Where did that list go?” Spotting what he wanted, he picked up the list of couriers Dale had put together. He began going down the list of names.

Beast was also looking at the list over his shoulder, then he pointed out a name on the list that read Lloyd Dean.

Trigger looked up at him.

Beast nodded. “That’s the name he goes by in Baton Rouge.”

“Makes you wonder what the hell he’s doing with that bunch of misfits,” Trigger stated quietly.

Just then, Boomer and the others returned.

Boomer took one look at Trigger and asked, “What’s going on in here?”

Trigger stared at his prez. “Beast just recognized one of the men you just put down in the pit. Said he lives and works in Baton Rouge, not Philly. His name is on the list Dale has for couriers. He goes by Lloyd Dean.”

Boomer ran his hand along his jaw and thought for a moment. “Is that a fact?” He turned to look at Vance. “That must have been the reason you didn’t know who he was. Are you sure he wasn’t one of your uncle’s men?”

Vance shook his head. “I told you I never saw him before but he was wearing the Styx cut. Hell, it's been over fifteen years since I left Philly.”

“But you knew all the rest of them,” Boomer pointed out. “So who is this guy then? Who is this Lloyd Dean and what the hell is he doing with the Styx?”

“Something else came up while you were gone.” Trigger found the paper with the Green Mountain on it and handed it to Boomer. “Have you ever seen that Green Mountain symbol before?”

Spider came in rubbing the back of his neck with one hand and holding an ice pack to his eye with the other. When he heard Trigger’s question he froze and then asked, “Green Mountain symbol? Like an actual mountain painted green?”

Boomer swung his gaze over to his son. “What? You’ve seen this symbol?”

“Yeah, one of the two we just brought in has it tattooed on his wrist.” Spider nodded.

Trigger flipped through his feed from a few minutes ago and asked, “This guy maybe?”

Spider looked at the frozen image and nodded. “Yeah, that’s the bastard. He was still with it enough to sucker punch me when I went to tie his hands.”

“That’s Lloyd Dean,” Beast remarked. “So what the hell is this Green Mountain bullshit?”

Just then, Boomer’s phone pinged with a message and when he looked down he saw it was from Trudy. He hit her number and put the call on speaker phone. “What’s up baby girl?”

“Trigger just sent me a paper with a symbol of a green mountain on it. Do you know where he got it?” Trudy asked worriedly.

“This is Trigger honey,” the Tide’s IT man spoke up. “I found it on a flash drive that Dale Tatum had. Have you seen that symbol before?” Trigger asked.

“Yeah and that’s what has me worried,” Trudy replied. “That symbol is popping up more and more and right now, I haven’t found out much about it. But you know me, I won’t stop until I do.”

“What did your guys find out from the info in Hinds’ safe?” Jackal asked her over the speaker.

“That’s where we’re finding the symbol and it's there a lot more than not,” Trudy told them. “Whoever this group is, I have a feeling that the Blue Shadows and Hinds and Keller are part of it.” They heard her sigh. “But you all know me, I will find out.”

Jackal exhaled loudly. “Well, I just heard from the men we sent south to my brother’s cabin. They found the safe the girls were grilled about and they are on their way back with the contents of said safe. Maybe we’ll be able to connect everything we got and then it will make more sense.”

Now, Pappy’s voice came over the phone line, “Have your men found Richard Keller yet?”

“Not yet, Pappy,” Boomer called out. “But they won’t come back until they do.”

“Ok, let us know what you find. We’ll keep you guys informed on our end. We’re about to start questioning Hinds and good ole George.” Pappy chuckled. “Whereas, I don’t know how much we’ll get out of Hinds I have a feeling ole George isn’t going to let himself go down for Hinds’ shit. I’m thinking he’ll sing loud and long.

Boomer snorted at this. “Yeah, I just bet you that Hinds isn’t going to like it. I have a feeling ole George knows more about his business than even Hinds knows about.”

“Yeah, agree with you there,” Pappy agreed. “But we have a man that can get any of their dark secrets to come into the light. He doesn’t like to use his skills but he has them and we might just set it up so Hinds has a front row seat when he starts working George over.”

There was a moment of silence on Boomer’s end of the call as each man there remembered their military training in interrogation of the enemy.

Finally, Boomer reached out and just before he ended the call he said, “Godspeed man and good luck.”

Nitro was at the back of the room with Sarah at his side. They had just arrived back at the compound along with Shadow Hunter and Jenny. The girls were silent after hearing the phone call.

Sarah took a deep breath and whispered, “I hope he makes it hurt when he rips into George. I really hope it hurts.”

“Oh, I know that feeling.” Jenny shook her head. “I had a George in my life too. His name was Randy and I just wish these guys could find him too.”

Nitro and Shadow Hunter looked down at their women and shook their heads. 

“You two girls aren’t a bit bloodthirsty are you?” Shadow asked.

“There’s more than one way to abuse a person and Hinds and Keller knew that,” Sarah told him. “Believe me, they used everything they knew over the years they held us prisoner. Psychological abuse is very real and they were masters of the craft...” She hesitated and whispered, “There were days when I could barely breathe.”

Jenny nodded. “And days I didn’t know if I was still in this world or the next one. The darkness was all around me and it wouldn’t give me up. I felt like I was slowly suffocating.”

Nitro and Shadow Hunter hugged them a little closer then both men looked at the other and snarled silently.

Just then, a woman came into the room and changed her course to go to the kitchen. She skirted the main group of brothers but didn’t speak to anyone.

~*~

Vance got up from where he was sitting and went after her.

He found Jolene standing with the refrigerator open, looking more than a little lost.

When he pulled her into his arms, Jolene laid her head on his chest and the sound of his heart pounding in his chest calmed her. Finally, she looked up at him and asked, “What’s going on out there?”

Vance just shook his head. “Apparently, your dad doesn’t like his pit mates and demanded we get him out of there. He told us he had secrets about the Wheelers and the Styx, and he would trade those secrets for protection from us.”

Jolene snorted. “I told you he was a coward.”

“We brought him in and now, we’re letting him get good and thirsty.” Vance grinned. “Tracker offered him water when he said he was thirsty, Dale started having a conniption fit, claiming he didn’t want water he wanted a beer.” He omitted the Gollem reference, as he didn’t think she was in the mood for that story. “We found a flash drive in his pocket and it had a lot of shit on it. Stuff we didn’t understand, so we sent it over to Trudy and she just called.”

Jolene nodded. “Ok.”

Just as she was about to say something, Tracker pushed the door open and smiled at her. “How you doing, sweetheart?”

Jolene hung her head and nodded. “I’m all right.”

Tracker dug in his pocket and pulled out the ring he found in Dale’s jeans. “I don’t know if this means anything to you or not, but we found this in Dale’s pocket. I don’t think he’s gonna need it anymore.” He handed over the ring.

Jolene gasped at the sight of it. “It was my mom’s ring. She wore it on her left hand but I don’t think he bought it for her.” Shaking her head, she admitted. “I don’t think he ever bought her anything.” She slipped the ring on her finger and stared at it for a long time. “I never thought I’d see this again.” She looked up at Tracker and whispered, “Thank you. This is all I have left of her. I have to wonder why he didn’t just sell it a long time ago. It would have kept him in beer for a long time.”

~*~

“He couldn’t sell it, honey.” Beast’s voice came from the doorway. “That emerald is very real and it's registered along with the diamonds that go around it. If he had sold it, the jeweler would have notified my family and they would have come looking for your mom.” He paused, then said, “I told you we’ve been looking for her all this time.” He nodded at the ring, “My parents gave your mom that ring when she graduated from high school. The emerald is her birthstone and the circle of diamonds were for the dreams she had for her future.”

 Tears fell from Jolene’s eyes as she slipped the ring off her hand and walked over to Beast. She held out the ring to him. “Your family will want this back then, won’t they?”

Beast hesitated but took it gently from her. He was about to say something but she turned and ran from the room.

Vance started after her then turned his glare at Beast. “I think you need to leave,” he snarled. “I know I’ve had enough of you and I’m pretty sure she has too.” Then before Beast could say a word, Vance left the room.

Tracker just shook his head. “That was cold brother. I just can’t believe you would do that to her. Taking that ring. That was all she had left to remember her mom. Don’t you have a heart, man?”

Beast heard him leave the room as well and when he was alone, he gazed down at the small ring in his hand. With a choked voice, he whispered, “Yeah brother, I have a heart and it's breaking as much as hers is right now.” Then he closed his hand over the ring.

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

The look on Vance’s face prevented anyone from asking him anything but they all watched as he stomped down the hall after Jolene. Then they looked over at the kitchen door.

 Tracker came out while shaking his head. He went over to where his dad and brother were sitting and sat down beside them but he didn’t speak. 

A moment later, the door opened again and Beast came out.

Everyone glared at him.

Beast just went back to his chair and sat down without saying a word. He could feel the displeasure everyone was throwing at him but he ignored it. He wasn’t here to please anyone.

Jackal growled under his breath, “What the hell did you do now?” he grumbled.

Beast just glared at his friend. Then he got up, headed down the hall to the bedroom he was given and shut the door behind him. He locked the door, walked over to the bed and sat down.

Reaching for his phone, he called his woman. When Cin answered the call he said, “Hey, my sweet baby.”

Cin must have heard the turmoil in his voice and asked, “What’s going on, big guy?”

“I finally found out what happened to my sister,” he explained. “When she left home twenty three years ago, she was running away with a dirtbag and we never knew what happened to her.”

“And what did you find out?” Cin asked.

“The bastard got her killed. He is a lowlife who got himself into shit that cost her … her life. And if that wasn't bad enough, my sister had a baby girl who was only six when she died.” Beast could feel the moisture rolling down his cheeks. “But she’s full grown now and I found her. Then I blew it.”

“How did you blow it, baby?”

“I told her if we found her mom’s body, I wanted to take it home with me. In fact, I insisted on that because I know my parents would want that.” Beast sighed heavily. “I just never thought about her wanting her mom to be buried here. She died here for god’s sake. Some bastard murdered her here. I just wanted to take her home where we could visit her grave and my mom could get closure, you know?”

“Yeah baby, I know,” Cin whispered. “Honey, here’s what you aren’t getting, your sister had a little girl of her own. So she’s your family too,” she reminded him.

Beast sighed hard. “Yeah well, I didn’t exactly think about that before I said all the shit I laid on her. I insisted on taking my sister home.”

“How bad did that fuck things up?” Cin asked him after a long pause.

“Pretty bad,” he admitted. “But that’s not all that happened.”

“There’s more?” Cin asked incredibly.

“Yeah honey, there’s more,” Beast told her. “One of the brothers here found a woman’s ring among her dad’s stuff. It was the ring my parents bought Lisa, when she graduated from high school. Jolene was so happy to have it back she had already put it on and for the first time since I met her she looked…” He paused. “…content. She had wondered why her lousy dad had never sold it. I told my parents had it registered with a certificate and whoever tried to sell it or buy it, they would be notified. Well, after I told her this, she told me to give the ring back to my parents. I know she wanted to keep it, I could see it in her eyes. Damnit baby, she wanted to keep it so bad because it was a link to her mother. But after everything that happened before, she just shut down, slid it off her finger, and gave it up. Now everyone here hates me. Fuck Cin, I hate myself, I’ve never felt like such a piece of shit.”

“So what are you going to do now?” she asked quietly.

“What can I do?” he asked her. “Either way, someone is going to be hurt or disappointed. My parents will never accept Jolene because of who her father was. That’s on them not me. I’d like to get to know her but she’s too hurt now, she won’t even let me near her. And neither will the man she hooked up with. And by the way, my parents would never let that ride either but again, that’s on them not me. Vance seems like a good man.”

“Why wouldn’t they accept him?”

“The first reason is he’s a biker and the second, is he’s black.”

Cin gasped. “But you’re a biker.”

“True enough and that’s a big no-no in their books. They damn near disowned me when I told them I joined an MC all those years ago.” Beast exhaled hard. “But I’m not black and that’s a line they won’t cross. As long as they are together, they’ll never be accepted and right now, I know Jolene will never leave him, not for someone like my parents.”

“And the ring? What are you going to do about that?” she asked.

The call on both sides went silent for a minute.

Then Beast spoke again, “I’m going to get it cleaned and return it to Jolene.”

Cin didn’t say anything for a long time then she finally gave him her thoughts on what to do, “Honey, I know you probably won’t do this, but I think you should bury your sister there in Lake Charles. That was where she lived after she ran away from your parents. That was where her daughter was born and that baby, is where she died, her daughter still lives there. I know you love your parents, but damn them they need to realize, Lisa had a family other than them. Life and relationships are give and take and this is one way of healing the distance between you and your niece. I can’t tell you what to do but I can tell you how much it would mean to this Jolene if she could have a place that’s special for her mom. Her mom would have been the most important person in her young life back then. I never had the chance to know my mom, I feel I know her a little bit through the stories Ms. Kate told me about her and through the stories Grandpa Silas has told me. Maybe there is something about Lisa that you could tell Jolene, maybe not right away but someday. When she’s not mad at you anymore. But getting closer to her could happen you give her time to forgive you.”

“And the ring?” he asked.

“Get it cleaned and give it back to her. That’s a link only she would have with her mom. And we may never know why that man kept it. Like he might have thought with his heart for a moment and he might have kept it for her.”

He scoffed. “I really doubt that ever happened. So what about my parents?”

“Tell them what you did after everything is already done,” Cin told him firmly. “And put the cemetery plot in Jolene’s name, so if your parents should ever try to get the grave moved, they can’t without her permission. Then tell them to leave her there. She was their daughter but Jolene is …was her daughter. Even if they never acknowledge her. You need to do that, baby. Acknowledge her.”

“She won’t let me,” he admitted.

“She might if you give what’s left of her mom’s memories back to her and give her a little time. Just give her time, time to get used to having you as family, time to heal after everything I’m sure she’s going through. Time to get to know that you aren’t always the asshole everyone thinks you are.” She let out a small giggle.

Beast snorted. “Thanks a lot sweetheart. I love you.”

“Honey,” Cin hesitated then pushed forward. “I’ve been in Jolene’s shoes. You told me your parents were terribly snobbish and they would never accept me either. But you know what? I never minded that, as long as I had you I didn’t care. I’m not with you for your family’s money. In the long run, it’s only paper and I’d rather have you than paper any day. Maybe she feels the same. You are her family. You… not so much your parents. If they don’t want to know her as a woman, you’re right that’s on them, not you. Just give her time, baby. I hope to meet her one day and this brother she’s with. Is he a good man?”

“Yeah, he seems to be.”

“Then that’s all you need to know isn’t it?” she concluded. “Unless you can’t accept him yourself because he’s black?”

“I don’t care about that and you damn well know it.” He growled.

“Then let it go,” Cin told him softly. “I love you, big guy.”

“Love you too,” he grumbled.

“Think about it tonight then do what you think is best in the morning. Best advice, I got for you baby.”

“Thank you sweet woman, that’s all I needed to hear,” he admitted as he hung up the call. Beast laid back on the bed and thought about what she suggested. The more he thought about it the more it made sense.

~*~

Vance opened his door and found Jolene curled up in the corner. He shut the door behind him and walked slowly over to where she was sitting. He squatted in front of her and she looked up into his eyes.

Her eyes were confused but they were dry.

“What are you thinking about, lil’ bit?” he asked her softly.

 “My mom. She would tell me about her family when Dad wasn’t home and I would wake up in the middle of the night. She talked about her brother Nick like he was really something, you know? But I don’t think she liked her parents much. They were more worried about what people would say about them if they didn’t do exactly the same things they did.” She shook her head. “I don’t think I could live like that. I think that’s why my mom ran away with Dale, you know? He was the one who tempted her to defy the establishment her parents were. She liked that but I don’t think the love she had for him lasted very long. I don’t think she even liked him but for some reason, she stayed with him.” Shaking her head she said, “I don’t know why but she did.”

Vance turned around and sat next to her, pulling her over onto his lap. “I think she stayed because of you,” he whispered.

“God, I hope not,” Jolene told him. “He made it very clear he didn’t want or need either of us. And yet, she stayed with him.” Lowering her head, she whispered, “Me and mom would have been better off if she hadn’t stayed there.” She laid her head on his chest. “And then she was gone. All my dad did was wipe the blood from his face and continue on with his conversation like nothing happened. Then after the Wheeler’s left, he dragged her outside and he was gone for a long time. By morning, he came back inside and then he washed up and he went to bed. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even cry, I just sat there.”

“That nightmare is over now, lil’bit. I got you and I’m not letting go,” he whispered and kissed the top of her head.

Jolene looked up at him and begged, “Help me forget. Please, make me forget those years of abuse and years of being alone.”

Vance cupped either side of her face and brought his mouth down on hers.

~*~

The kiss was wild and Jolene felt her heart pound in her chest as pleasure washed over her. She turned on his lap to face him then he began to peel her clothes off her.

He got her shirt up over her head and her bra off before he grabbed her ass and surged to his feet carrying her over to the bed. Throwing her down on the mattress, he unzipped her jeans, dragging them off her hips and legs. Tossing them to the floor, he began peeling off his own clothes.

Jolene’s eyes widened as he showed off more of his ebony skin. His muscles rippled underneath like a symphony of coiled power. His body reminded her of the smoothest black satin, his dark bronze like skin was so damned beautiful.

Then he was naked, as he did not miss a beat, he grabbed her knees and opened her legs. His hands went up from her knees to the center of her being and he thrust two fingers inside her at once.

Jolene closed her eyes and gasped as she moaned. Pleasure filled her. Her hands reached out for his cock and she could barely get her hands around it but she tried.

Vance groaned and placed a knee between her spread legs. “I can’t lil’bit. I need you too much right now to be gentle, are you okay with that? I need to know.”

Jolene gazed up at him and smiled. “Yeah baby, show me what you got. I don’t want or need gentleness right now, I just need you.”

Vance moved quickly to position himself at her core. Then while never breaking eye contact with her, he surged inside her.

Jolene never faltered, she just opened herself up to him, and he took her. He slammed into her time after time, again and again until they were both crazy with lust. They lost all track of time and space as they explored the frenzy of the feelings they were creating.

~*~

Vance felt the familiar zing in the small of his back as he reached down to thumb her little button a couple of strokes.

She arched her back and flew over the edge.

He slammed in one more time and exploded inside her, painting her walls with his seed. He came so hard, sweat rolled down the side of his face and splashed on her chest. Then he collapsed on top of her.

 She wrapped her legs around his waist with such a grip that showed him her refusal to let him go. “Oh, my God… that was incredible,” she finally whispered in a breathless voice.

Vance tapped her thigh and she reluctantly released him. He dragged himself off of her but didn’t go very far. Wrapping his arms around her, he held her close to him. “I love you lil’bit. I never told anyone but my mom that before cuz I never meant it as much as I do right now.”

Jolene turned her head and tears glittered in her eyes. “I love you too. No man has ever meant as much to me as you do, Vance. You are the missing piece of my soul and I need you to breathe. Without you, I would die. I know that now.”

He cupped her face with both hands on her cheeks and whispered, “You and me we’re a team. You belong to me as much as I belong to you. No matter what.”

“No matter what,” she repeated the vow softly.

Just as he was about to tell her to go to sleep, a knock sounded on his door. Vance growled. “Not now,” he shouted.

The knock came again.

Vance again growled low in his throat, as he got up, grabbed his jeans, and pulled them up over his hips. He stomped over to the door and flung it open only to find Tracker standing there with a look of urgency on his face.

“Sorry man, but Pops needs you both to come to the main room like… right now.” Then Tracker turned and left as quickly as he could.

Vance turned back to Jolene… she was already pulling her clothes on.

 

Chapter Fifteen

 

Once they were dressed, Vance took her by the hand and walked beside her all the way to the main room. Everyone was there including the men Jackal had sent south to his brother’s cabin.

“What’s this all about?” Vance grumbled.

Jackal spoke up and told them, “We found some interesting stuff in my brother’s safe. Stuff he sent home from the sandbox just before he died.”

“What kind of stuff?” Vance asked. “And why did you summon us? We didn’t have anything to do with what you found.” He growled.

Jackal swung his eyes over to Jolene and asked, “When your mom took you to that church on the scary road, what did she take with her? Any papers or small packages maybe? Think carefully before you answer.”

Jolene frowned. “I already told you that one day, she took a small package with her, why?”

“Was it only that one time?” Boomer wanted to know.

Jolene nodded.

“What’s going on here Boomer?” Vance asked.

“Sawyer left a note in one of the packages he sent home. He said he mailed some evidence to an old friend because he didn’t want it found in his home. It was to protect his wife and daughters. That old friend was Lisa King.”

“My mom, Lisa King?” Jolene asked in surprise.

“Your mom, my sister,” Beast said. “It wasn’t until Jackal said his brother’s name when I realized he was the same age as Lisa and it's possible they went to the same high school. As we never knew where she was after she left, I didn’t mention it to Jackal. Until tonight when I remembered you talking about her leaving something with a priest. Then Jackal found that note.”

“Is it possible that your mom left the package that we found missing with this priest?” Jackal asked.

“I guess it is possible, what’s supposed to be in the package anyway?” Jolene remembered her mother being very nervous about having it in the first place.

“Sawyer told us the package contained the one real piece of evidence he could find about the Green Mountain group. He found a list of members and the manifest of what the group is doing here on American soil. We need to find that package.”

“But I have no idea where it is!” Jolene cried out. “You’re talking about seventeen years ago. I was just a kid back then.”

Jackal sighed and then said. “That package could be why my brother died, why his wife was killed, and why their two girls were held captive and abused for seventeen fucking years. Someone needed to find that package and get it back to who it belonged to before the wrong hands found it.” Jackal shook his head. “You’ve been wrong all along. Your dad isn’t the key to unlocking this mystery. You are. I have a feeling you and you alone, knows where that package is.”

“Well if she does,” Old man Jenner commented. “You just scared her into a panic, you fool. And she won’t remember shit now. You all need to find Brother Jose. That’s who has your damn package, if anyone has it.”

Beast got to his feet, as did Jackal.

Tracker stood as well, facing them. “Wait right there gentlemen. Just where do you think you’re going now?”

“We’re going into town to find this Brother Jose,” Jackal assured him. He turned his head to glare at Jolene. “And she’s coming with us.’

“Like hell she is.” Vance growled. “She’s not going anywhere I don’t go.”

Beast snapped his head up and looked at Vance. “This isn’t your fight. This is personal. These bastards have taken more than they left to us and to a lot of men in the sandbox, they let die. You said it yourself, you never served, but the rest of us did. I’ll keep her safe and I’ll bring her back to you.”

“She goes, I go. It is as fucking simple as that,” Vance stubbornly remarked as he crossed his huge arms and returned glare for glare to Beast.

Boomer growled and glared at Jackal. “He’s right brother. Where she goes, we go. Look I understand what you’re saying here, I really do. I lost brothers over there too. They died because of traitors like the Wheelers. I didn’t much care for it then and I sure as hell don’t care for it now. But you might be onto something here. The Wheelers might be small potatoes compared to this Green Mountain group and we need to find what your brother sent to Lisa.”

The men nodded at him

Then Boomer leveled his glare at the two Advocates. “But we do this right.” He growled.

Every damn man there heard the tone in his voice. This was their leader and he meant business.

 Boomer gave his son a nod. “Tracker, you, Cyrus and me will go with Jackal, and Beast. Vance can bring Jolene with him.” Boomer then looked over at old man Jenner. “We’ll need you Mac, to show us where to go.”

Mac nodded and got to his feet.

Boomer looked at the others in the room. “The rest of you stay here and try to make some sense of the paperwork the boys found and brought back with them. We shouldn’t be gone long.”

The eight of them walked to the front door and out to the parking lot. Tracker walked to an older truck with Jenner and the others went to their bikes.

With Tracker in the lead, the small group made their way into town. They drove quietly so as not to raise any fuss about what they were doing.

Old man Jenner pointed the way out to the little church that Jolene could barely remember.

Jolene shivered when she got to the scary road and just hung onto Vance a little tighter.

They all pulled up to the church and when Boomer looked at the building, he could see where this place might haunt a little girl’s memories.

They went en masse to the front door of the church and went inside. There, they all saw the small but beautiful interior. The pews were shining and the altar was a tribute to the Lord. Candles were lit and the glow from the light made the whole place seem dreamlike.

When they looked around, they spotted one lone person.

An old man sat in the first pew and

 Boomer and Jackal walked up to him with old man Jenner.

Jenner nodded to the man in the pew and told them, “This is Brother Jose.”

Brother Jose lifted his old head slowly and looked at the group. When his aged eyes found Jolene, he frowned for a moment then asked, “Lisa, is that you? I never thought I would see your face again. Come, come sit by an old man.” He held out his hand to her.

 Jolene went toward him and sat down. “My name is Jolene,” she told him softly. “Lisa was my mother.”

Brother Jose shook his head. “My eyes, they aren’t so good anymore.” Patting her hand, he told her with a smile, ‘So this is my little girl that always came to steal my candy huh?”

Jolene frowned. “I did?”

Jose nodded. “You did, but being the sweet child you were you always asked me first.”

Jolene’s eyes widened as she remembered. “Peppermints sticks. You always had a bowl of small peppermint sticks under the pulpit where you would stand on Sunday mornings and Friday nights.”

Jose chuckled. “I did indeed.” Then he sobered and asked, “Child, who are these men and what do they want? Are you in any danger?”

Jolene smiled. “No Brother Jose, I’m fine and these are good men. I…I think I remember my mom leaving something with you one of the last times we were here. Do you remember?”

Jose nodded. “I do indeed. I’ve kept it safe for her all these years. Let me go get it for you. It was your mother’s request that I keep it until you came for it.” Jose shuffled off into the residence part of the church.

The group waited for him to return.

Boomer stared at the candles and around at the neat as a pin church that had such a serene vibe to it. If he ever wanted to go to one of these, this would be the place, all right.

When Brother Jose came back, he had a small package with him. He handed it to Jolene and told her, “Your mother was a lovely woman but I fear her life was a troubled one. She told me about your father and what he was doing. But she told me you were her saving grace. Oh, child she loved you so much. She also told me of the danger she lived with every day because of the man she was living with.”

“You mean her husband?” Beast asked.

Brother Jose shook his head. “He was not her husband as they were never married in the eyes of God.”

~*~

“What?” Jolene asked in a shocked voice.

Brother Jose looked over at her and shook his head sadly. “No my child, your parents were never married but she brought you here as a child to be absolved of the sins of your birth. I told your mother that you had committed no sin and neither had she.”

Jolene stared down at the small box on her lap. Then she dared to open it. Inside was something that looked like a small bank book and she frowned as she opened it. Then she gasped. The book had one deposit, about a year after her mom was murdered and there were a lot of zero’s behind the numbers. Then she found a birth certificate, her birth certificate. Her proper name was Jolene Marissa King not Jolene Tatum like she’d thought.

The third item in the packet was a letter with her name written on it. She looked up at Brother Jose. “Is this all she left with you?”

Jose nodded. “The money was from an insurance policy purchased when you were born. She had me listed as her beneficiary and after a year of not finding her, I followed through on a claim of her being deceased as unknown. She told me to tell you she wanted you to have a better life than she was able to provide. She knew your dad was not a good man and she was afraid if something were happen to her that would leave you in his care. She was afraid that whatever he was doing was dangerous enough it might even get her or you killed.”

“How did you know she was dead?” Jolene asked.

Jose shook his head. “No one knew for sure my child but her and I had a pact. We would meet once a month. If she failed to show up then I would know something happened to her. For three years, she always met me at our spot. Then there was that weekend she never showed and the weeks following, she failed to show up and I never saw her again. So I followed through on her wishes for you.” He shrugged. “I then looked for you all the time after that, but here in this town, no one would even tell me if they had seen you. You might want to get the passbook updated as I haven’t done that in some time, but you can do that at the bank.”

Jolene slowly got to her feet. “Well, thank you Brother Jose. I’m so glad my mother had you in her corner. At least, she wasn’t out there alone.”

“I’m just glad to see you are okay and I’m sorry to hear about your mother. Just know this child, she loved you more than her own life.”

Jolene smiled at him as tears showed in her eyes. “I loved her too.” She turned toward the door and the men followed her outside.

Jackal swore, not so much under his breath, “Fucking hell.” He snarled. “What happened to the package Sawyer sent to her? Did Dale get it first and hide it? Could that be part of the secrets he threatened to share with us? Where is the fucking package?”

Boomer shook his head. “I don’t know man but I wouldn’t trust anything Dale Tatum had to tell us. He’s going to milk this situation to benefit only him and we all know that. Let’s just go home and face the music. Whatever your brother sent to Lisa is gone. Buried somewhere and we may never find it.”

They loaded up again.

 Vance took the papers from Jolene and tucked them down deep in the pocket of his vest. Then they both got on his bike and took off down the lane.

The rest of the group followed him out.

When they got to Wilmont street, Jolene suddenly patted Vance’s shoulder and pointed to a place beside the street they were on.

Vance pulled up to a shack just off the main road. The others turned around and followed him.

 When he shut off his bike, Boomer yelled, “What the hell are you doing, brother?”

Vance shrugged at this point and turned to face Jolene.

 She didn’t look at him, instead, she stared at the shack in front of her. Then without saying a word, she swung her leg off the bike and began walking toward the shack.

Vance followed her as she pushed the door of the shack open, he and the others slowly followed her inside. “Baby, what are you doing? What is this place?” He looked around and could see it was someone’s home.

“Who lives here, lil’bit?” he finally asked.

“This is the place I grew up in,” she told him as she looked around the room. She was trying to remember something she once knew as a child, since she was sitting with Brother Jose something was nagging her memory. It was a rhyme her mother taught her when she was little. A secret rhyme only the two of them would know.

She began to hum the tune her mom set to the rhyme.

Everyone was crowded into the little shack the best they could for being big men, and they watched her with worried eyes.

“We used to have a giant jigsaw puzzle of a grandfather clock over in that corner. My mom loved the chimes she used to hear when she was growing up. She knew she couldn’t have a real one. So one day, she bought a jigsaw puzzle home and we spent our nights putting the puzzle together.” She frowned as while remembering her past. “After she died, dad threw that puzzle clock out. Said it looked ridiculous and he always hated it. He always said it wasn’t real, just like her, it wasn’t real.” Tears rolled down her face as she remembered.

“Honey, what does this have to do with anything?” Boomer finally asked.

“About three, maybe four months before she died, she did get a package in the mail.” She swiped the tears from her cheeks. “Our mail man knew what was happening here.” She rolled her eyes. “Hell, everyone knew what kind of loser Dale was and when he saw the package he knew if Dale got his hands on it, she would never get it. So he delivered it to her while she was at work.” She shuddered as if this thought was yet another cruelty to her mom. “When she got home that day, Dale wasn’t here for once and she was glad about that. She opened the outer layer of the package and read the letter inside then she began to tremble. She dropped the letter and threw the package away from her on the floor while shaking her head. Then she picked up the letter again, and took a deep breath and reread it.”

The men in the room all waited while listening in silence.

“I asked her what was wrong and she told me a good friend wanted her to keep something. And it was something so big, it might be the difference between life and death someday. She said that she didn’t want to do it but I told her what she always told me …if her friend trusted her enough to give it to her, she had to honor that. My mom looked at me like I’d said something crazy but she agreed with me. She said some secrets needed to be hidden until the time was right to reveal them. So that’s what she did. I just figured this out after we left the church today. She hid the package your brother sent her, right here under Dale’s nose and he never even knew it.”

Jackal narrowed his eyes and stared at her. “Do you remember where she hid it?”

“I think so.” Jolene nodded slightly. “Please remember I was only five or six when all this happened, so forgive me if I don’t remember everything.” She turned to the left and began to pace off her steps as she started softly singing a little ditty, “One, two, tie your shoes, three, four look at the front door. Five, six, seven, and eight. Time will tell and you will get it straight. Nine, ten, and you will know when.” She whirled around in a circle and faced the corner of the room where the clock had once been. “It’s there under the ground as you swing around.” She walked carefully toward that wall. Her mom had placed a rug and a chair in front of the clock.

The men all stared at her with wide eyes or furrowed brows as she sang and turned in the small room.

Vance held his hands clasped in front of him as he watched her every move.

Then she spoke again, “For all these years, the clock may have been gone but the rug and chair was still in place.” She moved the chair out of the way and lifted the rug. Finally, she looked over her shoulder at Vance.

Under the rug, one of the boards in the floor was slightly unaligned.

Vance moved her out of the way and pried the loose board up. The ground there had been disturbed at some point and the big man began digging in the soft ground. He dug down about four inches before he found something.

Grabbing something with his fingers, he pulled it out of the hole. Brushing the dirt off the plastic bag, he found himself looking at an old bread bag. Inside the bag was a small notebook and a letter. He got up and handed everything over to Jackal.

Jackal opened the bag then lifted the notebook and letter from inside. Jackal looked up at Boomer. “We need to get back to the compound before we open it. If someone is watching us, I don’t want to let them know we found anything.”

Boomer looked around and said, “Let’s ride brothers.”

Ten minutes later, they were parking their bikes in front of the clubhouse. That’s when they saw more bikes were parked there as well. 

Boomer looked around and met Jackal’s gaze. “The boys who went to Pointe a la Hache are back.”

Jackal snarled and got off his bike. He thundered inside with everyone following behind him. He found the men that left the day before, sitting there looking like they lost the battle.

“What happened Tank? Did you find the place?” Jackal asked.

Tank nodded. “Yeah, we found it. But what we didn’t find was Richard Keller.”

“What the fuck?” Beast swore. “He escaped?”

Tank nodded. “He escaped but before he left, he killed everyone in that house. We found four bodies, all of them shot.”

Jenny pushed her way to the front and asked, “Four? You only found four? There should have been five. There were always five. Four women and one man on guard, those were the rules.”

Tank shook his head. “I’m sorry, but all we found were four women. We didn’t find any man there.”

She sat down in the chair hard.

Shadow Hunter came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders. “Who’s missing, baby? Who was the guard Richard had there?”

“His name was Randy and he’s a real bastard. I remember before I left, I was looking out the window of my room and I saw him at the back gate with one of his friends. They were talking when all of a sudden Randy turned and pointed out my window and then made the sign like he was holding a gun. He made a motion like he was shooting it and he was pointing right at my room.” She looked up at him. “That was the day I left. I wasn’t waiting around for him or his friends to shoot me.”

Then a rather large man wearing a Tide cut got to his feet. He slammed his hand down on the table while growling and said loudly, “Come on boys, we got some hunting to do. We’re gonna hunt down this bastard and make him sorry he was ever born and then we’re gonna hunt down this mother fucker Richard Keller and bring him to justice…MC style.”

Boomer just shook his head. “Damnit Tether, you need to settle your ass down.”

Tether slowly turned his head to glare at Boomer. “Like hell I do. We got work to do here, boss. You and the others can sift through the papers and take care of the bad guys but I’m going hunting. Me and anyone that wants to join me. We gotta be moving quick or lose the trail altogether. I for one am not gonna do that. Keller has a lot to pay back as far as karma is concerned and I’m gonna be there to make sure he pays it all back.”

Jenny frowned. “I think I should also tell you that Randy has a tattoo on his wrist. I never understood it because it didn’t seem to jive with the man I knew. It was a five pointed star with five lines outlining one side. Have you ever seen one like that?”

Jackal slowly looked at Beast and a few of his other men then turned to his niece. He nodded slowly, “Yeah honey, we’ve seen the likes of it.” He looked up at Boomer and said, “We have to find this man.”