Gypsy-Savaged Souls MC



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 THE NEW CHAPTER BOOK IS

THE END OF THOR>>>

Gypsy and Jett got out of the truck and went around to open the back door.

Skeeter joined them and shook his head. “What the hell have you been up to now, Gunner?” the Texas Ranger asked.

“Well, damn.” Gypsy glared at him. “Where the hell did you come from? Are you here to take this one away from us too

Skeeter raised both eyebrows at his friend's question. “I have no idea what you’re talking about?” He looked over at the bound man. Frowning, he asked, “Isn’t that Hellspawn from the Satan’s Fury MC? What the hell is he doing here?”

“Well, in case you don’t know it yet,” Gypsy scowled. “He’s here to get his hands on some gemstones that he thought to get when he sold out his MC seventeen years ago. When they were stolen from him around the same time he had to wait this long to find them. Then when he got them back, he began murdering his own men to get his hands on them. So far, he’s wanted for about a dozen murders, including his own nephew and he attempted to murder one of our own. A young woman by the name of Dani Rowlett.”

“She’s still alive?” Skeeter asked.

“She is,” Boone acknowledged.

“And him?” Skeeter asked as he nodded at Hellspawn. “Does he face MC justice or Ranger justice?”

“That will be up to Dani and Thor,” Gunner stated.

Skeeter nodded.

Gypsy growled. Then he turned and stomped inside the clubhouse.

Skeeter turned and watched the man called Gypsy go inside then turned to Gunner and asked, “He hasn’t forgiven me yet has he?”

Gunner shook his head. “Would you be able to forgive the man who helped a murderer get off? Especially, if that murderer helped your woman’s killer get away with killing her?”

 

 

Chapter One

 

Cyrus Ferguson a.k.a. Gypsy sat at a table outside the bar. The echoes of the music from inside was muted out here but that was okay. He was in no mood to have his ears assaulted by drums and guitars. He just wanted a few minutes of peace.

There was a war going on in his mind and the rage was winning. He missed his woman. In the past seven years since she was ripped out of his arms, there were times like tonight when he couldn’t stand the loneliness anymore. But he couldn’t bring himself to cheat on her memory. So at times like these, he’d sit out here and drink.

Now on top of all of that, he had to deal with Skeeter being back as well. In the two weeks since he returned, he’d avoided the other man for the most part but that didn’t help. Tension was rising in the club and that was the last thing Gunner wanted.

Gypsy didn’t want it either. He had to come to grips with the situation or leave and Gypsy didn’t want to leave. So, he was sitting here alone in the dark trying to think of a way to get along with the man who allowed his woman’s killer to get away to kill again.

It didn’t matter that Skeeter was the one who tracked the bastard down and eventually got justice for Gwen. Gypsy still felt the sting of betrayal at his brother’s hands. It was fine when Skeeter was gone but now, he wanted to come back. Gypsy knew he would be an asset to the bounty hunting part of the MC and he couldn’t stand in the way of that.

They called him Gypsy for a reason, he had a restless spirit, and maybe now, it was time to move on for everyone’s sake. He thought this was a place he could call home and for the longest time, it was, even without her.

He didn’t see it at first but now he felt lost, like he had no purpose anymore. Maybe it was time for him to find a new home. He frowned and cocked his head to one side. In the quiet, he thought he heard footsteps running toward him. But how could that be? He was sitting alone in the dark. No one knew he was here.

Silently, he drew his weapon and waited with baited breath to see what would happen next. Laying the weapon on his thigh, he listened carefully. The footsteps were coming down the alley but hesitating almost as if the runner was unfamiliar with the area.

Then he saw a head bobbing in the lot next door. It was only when the person ? broke through the edge that he saw them stop and take a deep breath. Then the person cocked their head to one side as if listening for any sounds. When it seemed they didn’t hear anything, they moved away from the hedge. Keeping to the shadows the form moved toward where Gypsy had parked his bike.

He watched her for another minute just to see what this shadow would do. The hooded sweatshirt she was wearing hid most of her small body but he knew she was a female now, as she was close enough for him to see. No boy ever had an ass like that one. She moved over to his bike and bent over the engine. She began fiddling with the wiring and Gypsy knew she was trying to hotwire it.

He didn’t want to rewire the system, so he got up and walked over to where she was squatting.  “Lady, if you wreck that wiring, I’ll wreck your little ass.” He growled in her ear. He laid the barrel of his weapon onto her shoulder.

The woman gasped and froze then turned her head slowly to stare at him. The bright moon allowed her to see his face and she didn’t even breathe as she looked him over. She didn’t dare take her eyes off his and she slowly lifted her hands away from the bike. “Please don’t hurt me. I wasn’t going to hurt your bike.” Her voice was whisper soft.

“Now darlin’ I know that’s a lie. You were looking for a way to steal my ride,” he drawled. He couldn’t see her face clearly but what he could see was a fair amount. Her skin was creamy and smooth.

“But you don’t understand. I’m sorry but I need to get out of here,” she whispered desperately. “I don’t want to end up dead.”

Gypsy shook his head. “I don’t know what your problem is but I want no part of it. Just go back to the shadows where you came from.”

She hung her head for a moment. “I can’t, don’t you understand. I just can’t. I don’t have anything left for me there. He took everything I had. I can’t go back and I’m too tired and scared to go forward. I’ve been running so damn long. So, I guess I’ll just wait here and let that fucking bastard come—for me.” Her voice broke while she whispered.

Gypsy frowned, as he had to strain to hear her words.

“I’m sorry daddy. I couldn’t do it.” Tears ran down her cheeks. She sat there and sobbed quietly for a moment then slowly got to her feet. She turned to face the biker.

She had to raise her head up to look at him, as he was so much taller than she was. She could see every plane of his face and upper body. His long dark hair and pale blue eyes. He might have sparked her interest as a man but she was just so tired she wouldn’t let herself feel anything. She had come a long way from home in the last four months but she had a feeling her journey was just about over.

She reached out her hand and made contact with his chest, she just had to. She wanted one last contact with someone before that man finally got her. She knew he was out there waiting and watching. When her hand met the biker’s chest, she felt a spark of electricity arch between them. Her eyes widened.

She gasped and her eyes snapped up to look into his. His eyes were wide as well. Then her ears caught the sound of a soft footstep in the alley. The fear inside her was real and her fight or flight reaction kicked in. She turned to run but didn’t get far before a gunshot broke the silence—she staggered for a moment and ducked into the shadows.

Gypsy halted but when he heard the sound of a bullet whizzing past him he turned and lifted his weapon. Shooting back in the general direction the bullet came from, he heard footsteps running away.

He turned to look in the general direction the girl had run off to but he couldn’t see her anywhere. He couldn’t even hear her footsteps anymore either. He tucked his weapon into his cut and swung his leg over his ride. Turning the engine over, he took off in the general direction he saw her go in. He didn’t know what kind of trouble she was in but he couldn’t just leave her out here for whoever was after her.

He drove slowly down the alley. His eyes were searching for any sign of her but he couldn’t find her. A little further he stopped again, but didn’t see her. Instead, he found droplets of blood glistening in the moonlight.

His breath froze in his lungs and for a moment, he couldn’t breathe. Blood meant she’d been hit by the bullet. His mind flipped back in time to when his own woman had been hit by a bullet. There had been droplets of blood then too. When he had followed those blood droplets and found her, there had been so much more than mere droplets. He found her laying in a large pool of blood. When he'd gathered her into his arms, she was still alive. She was able to tell him she tried to hang on long enough for him to find her but now she was so tired, so lost. She said she had to go but that she would never forget him, that she would love him forever.

He had begged her to stay with him. She looked up at him and told him she couldn’t stay. That as much as she wanted to, she couldn’t. Now his mind went blank, he couldn’t force himself to remember her last words before she went to her eternal sleep. He never could remember them—it just hurt too much.

Now, from the corner of his eye, he caught a movement in the shadows. He kicked his stand down and rushed toward the movement. It was the girl. He did a quick survey but in the dark, it was hard to see. Instead of looking her over any further, he gathered her in his arms and lifted her.

She groaned as he stood up and carried her back to his bike. “Hang on sweetheart, I got you,” he whispered quietly. He swung his leg over the bike and let out a frustrated breath. He looked down and saw her eyes open. “I can’t drive holding you. You’re gonna have to hold on.”

 She nodded and struggled to face him with both her legs over the top of his. She laid her face on his chest and wrapped her arms around his waist. “Best I can do, big guy.”

“It’ll do.” He started his engine again. Slowly rolling to the end of the driveway then seeing no one coming, he took off slowly. When he was sure she had a hold on him, he opened up the engine a little and drove to the edge of town. Then holding her loosely in his arms he punched the gate code in and drove to the compound as quickly as he could get there.

When he turned to go into the driveway, he felt her grip tighten slightly but she stayed with him and when he pulled up in front of the clubhouse he balanced them as he kicked the stand down.

 He attempted to turn her around again but she cried out, “No please don’t move me. It hurts too bad!”

“Well hell, how am I going to get you inside then?” he wanted to know.

“Just let me be. I can breathe in this position.” She faded out.

Gypsy lifted her ass and snuggled her closer, her legs were hooked around his waist as he got up and carried her into the clubhouse that way. Kicking the door open, he saw some of the brothers staring at him.

He found Patriot in the crowd and told him, “She needs you man.”

Patriot nodded and got to his feet. He hurried down the hall to the infirmary and opened the door.

Then Gypsy arrived with the girl still in his arms.

He tried to lay her on the bed but she wouldn’t let him go. She wriggled her arms tighter around his waist and refused to unhook her legs. Finally, Gypsy just turned around and sat down. Looking up at Patriot, he told him, “I think she took a bullet in the back.”

Patriot nodded and grabbed a pair of scissors. He cut the bottom hem of her sweatshirt and grabbing both sides, he ripped the material all the way to the top of the hood.

She screamed then and finally passed out as the pain got the better of her.

Going limp in his arms, Gypsy just held her. When Patriot separated the two halves of her shirt and pushed it open, Gypsy could finally see his little bike thief.

She was just a little bitty thing with her dark hair pulled back into a long thick braid. The braid went all the way down to her very round ass.

He tightened his hold on her.

Patriot flipped the braid over her shoulder and it hit Gypsy in the face.

Then Patriot grumbled at the amount of blood he found on her shoulder. He gripped her shoulder and tipped her back to see if the bullet had come out the other side and there was blood there as well. “Well, I don’t think the bullet is still in her. It looks like a through and through.”

Gunner and Boone walked in.

“What’s all this about Gypsy? Who is she and why is she bleeding all over the floor?” Gunner wanted to know.

“That’s a very good question boss.” Gypsy nodded. “I wish I could tell you what you want to know but unfortunately, I don’t have any answers for you.”

“What the fuck?” Boone growled. “What have you got yourself into now?”

“I’m not sure Boone, but I couldn’t just leave her out there to bleed out, now could I?”

 

 Chapter Two

 Patriot poked and prodded until he was satisfied there was no bullet still in her, then he packed the wound. He gave her some sutures front and back then bandaged her up.

Gunner watched for a moment then turned to Gypsy and asked, “How did you become involved with her?”

“I was sitting behind Scruffy’s, minding my own business when she came out of nowhere. I watched her go over to my ride and she was kneeling there trying to fiddle with the wiring. I walked over to her and told her not to mess with the wiring and she told me she wasn’t doing anything but that she had to get away from somebody.” He shrugged and went on, “Next thing we knew, there were footsteps behind is. She turned to run and a shot rang out. I returned fire but when I turned back to her, she was gone. I couldn’t leave her out there, so I hunted her down and found her, then I brought her here.”

“Do you know her name?” Boone asked.

Gypsy shook his head. “No… I don’t know her at all, but I couldn’t just leave her bleeding on the ground.”

Gunner shook his head. “I’m not saying you could. You did the right thing bringing her in. I guess we’ll have to wait until she wakes up to get any answers from her.” Looking over at Patriot he asked, “How bad is she hurt?”

“Straight up through and through,” Patriot told them. “But he’s right about one thing, whoever shot her put the bullet through her back. What the hell kind of person shoots an unarmed woman in the fucking back?”

“We’d better lock this place down in case he followed you guys back here,” Gunner suggested. “Or at least until we know what’s going on and what kind of trouble she’s bringing with her.” Looking down at Gypsy he said, “She’s your problem now. You brought her in, you’re responsible for her.”

Gypsy nodded and gazed down at the girl in his arms. For some reason, she fit him. He didn’t understand why but he just couldn’t let her go. He could lay her down anytime and just walk away from her but he didn’t want to. Not because Gunner just made him responsible for her either.

Something was going on here and he needed to see this through. She was running from something or someone who wanted her dead and he didn’t think that was the right thing to let happen. Only time would tell but until she woke and could answer their questions, she wasn’t going anywhere. For now, wherever she was, he would be too.

~*~

Inez opened her eyes and took a deep breath. She was still alive. And warm, oh so warm. She’d been so cold the last four months she wondered if she’d ever feel warm again. She exhaled softly and breathed in again. This time, she was assailed by the scent of dogwood and like musk along with diesel? Diesel? It was then she noticed she could hear a heartbeat that wasn’t hers. Cracking her eyes open just enough, she could see where she was, she frowned when all she could see was black. Black cotton under black leather.

What the hell? She opened her eyes wider and stared at the chest under her head. She slowly lifted her head and looked around the room. The room was all in shadows but she could make out a few things.   

She knew they were on a bed and someone was holding her tightly. The only question was who was he? She peeked into his face and relaxed a bit. It was the biker she tried to steal the bike from. She thought she had dreamed that part. But he had come after her and he had brought her here to safety.  At least, it wasn’t the man trying to kill her. His eyes were closed and she could only assume it was still nighttime. There was no hurry and for the moment, she felt safe enough to sleep, something she hadn’t done in a while.

Then she realized her shoulder was killing her, but she ignored it. Laying her head back down on his hard chest Inez closed her eyes again. She snuggled in his arms and allowed sleep to take her.

A few hours later, a groan woke her from her slumber. She frowned as he seemed to be in great pain but he hadn’t been wounded had he? She leaned up on her elbow and stared down at his face. Then she realized he was caught in a nightmare.

His arms were crushing her and he was whispering another woman’s name. “Gwen, please don’t leave me sweetheart. I can’t make it without you,” he whispered over and over.

The pain in his voice broke her heart. She knew that kind of pain. She had lived with it for four months now. “Hush now, I got you,” she whispered and cupped his jaw. “It’s gonna be okay. I got you.” She leaned into the crook of his neck and pressed her lips against his sweaty skin.

He froze and his eyes snapped open. He grabbed the hair at the back of her head and tipped it back, so he could see her face. “What the fuck are you doing?” he whispered harshly.

“You were having a nightmare.” She shrugged. “I know what those are like, so I was trying to wake you up.”

“By kissing my neck?” He raised an eyebrow.

“I didn’t want to startle you awake.” Her face flushed with heat by this time. “Sorry, next time I’ll let you suffer through it.” She struggled to get away from him but he wasn’t having it. She stopped to look at him. “Let me go!”

Smiling, he shook his head. “Not a chance darlin. Gunner put me in charge of you and I have to watch you. You are stuck with me or one of the other guys but personally, I’d rather it was me.”

“Why?” she wanted to know.

“Cuz, I found you first. And I’ve decided I’m going to keep you.”

 Inez shook her head “You are huh? Like I’m some bright penny you put in your pocket?” She smiled and shook her head. “Well Mister, sometimes that bright penny can lose its luster, ya know. And what if I can’t stay here?”

“Where else you got to go?” He frowned.

Inez bit her lip. She didn’t know if she could trust him or not but tonight had been too close. Dino had almost killed her and she was getting tired. “I’m trying to find a US Marshall named John Crowly. Do you know him?”

“What do you want with him?” he asked slowly, guardedly.

“I can’t tell you that but I do need to find him.”

He nodded. “Ok, well at least tell me why somebody took a shot at you last night.”

Inez hung her head and shook it slightly. “I can’t.”

“But you can tell John Crowly right?” he growled.

Inez laid her hand on his chest. Looking him directly in the eye she said, “My father trusted John. I’ve never met the man, so I don’t know him. All I do know about the man is he works out of Fort Worth, Texas and I made it this far, I have to see this through. It was the last thing my father asked me to do before he died four months ago.”

He stared at her for a moment then must have read the truth in her eyes because he relaxed and stayed where he was. “So you don’t know John at all?”

Inez shook her head.

“And where exactly are you coming from?”

“West Burke, Vermont.”

Looking surprised, he shook his head. “You are a long way from home, aren’t you? How long have you been on the road?”

Inez bit her lip and tried to look away.

He snagged her chin and brought her face back to his. “I asked how long you’ve been on the road darlin?”

“I heard you.” She sighed. “Too long really. I left home four months ago. It was the night my father died.” She hung her head. “I didn’t even get to bury him. He told me with his dying breath to run and I’ve been running ever since. I tried calling Mr. Crowly but I kept getting the runaround. I even tried online once at a library and never got an answer from that Marshall’s office. So, I kept on traveling towards Texas. I have to get in touch with this man before the bastard who shot me can find me again, and I have a feeling he won’t stop coming for me.”

“What does this man want with you?”

Inez felt tears building in her eyes. “He wants to kill me before I can meet up with John Crowly.”

He frowned. “What the fuck does Grizzly have to do with all of this?” he growled.

“Who?” She frowned and looked at him lost.

“John is a member of our MC, or he was a member of this MC.”

She reared back in fear. “He’s not a US Marshall?”

He nodded. “He is but he was also a member here too.”

“Oh, dear.” She tried to get herself free of him. He wasn’t letting her go however. “I have to go. I can’t stay here anymore!”

“Why not?” he asked. “You’re safer here than you would be out there.”

 “I don’t know that.” She tried to reason with him. She stopped struggling, as she knew it was making no difference, he wouldn’t let her go. She stared at him and begged him with a whisper, “Please let me go. I have to find this John person. I have to fulfill my father’s last wish. It’s the last thing I can do for him, don’t you understand?”

“Would it help if you talked to the others here?” he finally asked. “We’ll get John to come here and meet up with you but before we do that, we need to know more about the situation.” He tipped up her head and looked her in the eyes. “I need to know you’re safe.”

“Why?” she finally asked. “You only met me a few hours ago. I mean I don’t even know your name. Why would I matter to you?”

He smiled slightly. “They call me Gypsy and normally, you wouldn’t matter, but I know you felt it too, didn’t you? When you first touched me. You felt it too, I know you did.”

She nodded then let out a deep sigh. It couldn’t matter though. She wished she could just stay and see if this man could be the one for her, but she had no time for that. She could be dead any day now. If only… She shook her head. No use in thinking like that. She was stuck on this path her father put her on. The one where she had to find the man he spoke of before she was dead by Dino’s hand.

“I had a woman once upon a time,” he admitted quietly. “I loved her with everything I had. When I lost her, I almost lost my damn mind. She was my whole world. But as much as I loved her, I never felt that spark between us.” He paused then looked at her. ‘Then there’s the fact that you seem to fit me.”

“Fit you?” She was confused.

“You fit like you were made for me. I don’t know how to explain it. It just…somehow, it felt like I was supposed to hold you in my arms last night.”

Inez nodded. She knew what he was saying. He had been her lifeline the night before. She hadn’t been able to let him go either. For the first time in a long time, she had felt safe. For the first time in a long time, she felt there was a light at the end of the tunnel. “Ok… I’ll meet your friends but I’m not sure how much I can tell them. I really need to speak to this man John Crowly.”

Gypsy smiled. He was about to say something when they both heard her stomach growling. Instead, he chuckled and asked, “How long since you ate anything?”

Inez frowned. “It's been a good long time ago, I guess.”

“How long is a good long time?”

Inez just shrugged. She wasn’t about to tell him it had been over twenty four hours since she ate anything. She didn’t think he would exactly understand her situation.

“Well, come on. We’ll get some coffee and something decent to eat.” He got off the bed. “You can also meet everyone else.”

Inez nodded. “Ok and you promise to call John for me?”

Gypsy glared at her insistence for this man. He didn’t understand what the hell was with her. “Yeah, yeah, we’ll get in touch with John for you.”

She nodded. “I’m sorry but this is all I can do for my dad.” Shaking her head she admitted, “It's all I got left. I have to see this through. Don’t you understand?  I have to .”

With his expression softening, Gypsy gathered her into his arms and tried to soothe her. “Ok baby girl, we’ll get you together with Grizzly. No more worries.”

 

 

Chapter Three

 

Gypsy led her down the hall and into the main room. A few of the others were awake but as it was still early, there weren’t too many brothers in there just yet.

The scents of breakfast being prepared made Inez’s belly growl loudly and she flushed at the sounds coming from her stomach.

Gypsy just chuckled and steered her toward the table. Some of the food had already been brought out and he quickly made her a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. He took her to one of the many tables and sat her down then set the plate in front of her.

He went back to the serving table and poured two cups of Winona’s special coffee and brought them back to the table, then went back and got himself a plate of eggs, bacon and toast. They sat quietly eating and he couldn’t help but notice how quickly her eggs disappeared. Or how quickly she turned green and was looking for a bathroom. He pointed out the way and she bolted for the bathroom to puke up the eggs she’d just inhaled.

Gypsy gripped his fork and growled in frustration.

Patriot came over to him and gave him a look.

Gypsy motioned his head toward the john.

Patriot nodded. “I guess that answers that question.”

Gypsy turned his head and glared at the man. “What question?”

The other man nodded at the bathroom door. “How long has she been running?”

Gypsy frowned. “She said she left Vermont four months ago, why?”

“Because last night I thought it was just the lights but that girl hasn’t been eating well in the last four months,” Patriot told him. “In fact, I’ll bet she hasn’t been eating much at all.” He looked down at her plate and could see she still had some food left. Looking back at Gypsy he asked, “How much did she eat before she had to puke?”

“Not quite half of what I put on her plate.”

“How long since she’s eaten?” Patriot wanted to know.

Gypsy looked over at the door and shrugged. “She said it's been a long time ago but no time frame.”

Patriot laid his hand on the other man’s shoulder. “Then have her take it slow. Small meals about six times a day or as often as she needs to eat. She needs to build herself up again. Make her eat something even if she tells you she isn’t hungry. Her body needs nutrition make sure she drinks some OJ too.”

“I’ll make sure.” Gypsy stated. He got up and took away her plate. When he came back with just toast Inez was coming out of the bathroom.

She walked slowly back to the table and sat down. “I’m sorry. I guess I ate too much,” she told him.

“No problem, sweetheart. I got you some toast to nibble on and some orange juice too. You need something in your belly.”

~*~

Inez nodded and reached out a shaky hand to take a slice of toast.  The food she had eaten before had tasted so good but because it had been so long her stomach couldn’t handle it. She began nibbling on the toast and looking around the clubhouse.

The tables were filling up quickly and everyone seemed to be enjoying their meal. Inez had been enjoying the eggs too until she got sick to her stomach that is. Then she locked eyes with three men sitting at a table nearby.

They didn’t seem hostile but they were curious. They all three got up when they noticed her staring at them and moved over to the table she was sharing with Gypsy. When they sat down, Inez carefully laid her toast down. She folded her hands on her lap and looked down.

Gypsy scooted his chair closer to hers and laid his arm across the back of her chair. “Inez, meet our President Gunner, our VP Boone and a friend of the club, Cobra,” he introduced the newcomers.

Inez lifted her head and nodded at the men. “Hello.”

Gunner leaned forward and took a good hard look at her. “What’s your name sweet girl?”

Gypsy growled at the endearment but didn’t say anything.

“Inez,” she whispered. “My name is Inez.”

“Ok Inez, I’m Gunner. We need to ask some questions, are you okay with that?”

Gypsy interjected, “Let me tell you something before you start in. She’s here in Texas to meet up with a US Marshal, precisely one John Crowly.”

Gunner frowned. “Grizzly? What does he have to do with any of this?”

Gypsy shook his head. “It has to do with why she’s here in the first place.”

Inez turned her head to glare at him and her eyes flared in anger. “I am sitting right here you know and I do have a voice. Believe it or not, I can speak for myself too.”

Gypsy held up his hands in surrender. “Ok darlin, ok. Just wanted to get that out there.”

“Well then Inez, what does John have to do with this?” Gunner asked her outright.

“I need to get something to him. That’s really all I can tell you.” She shrugged.

“We’re gonna need more than that Inez.” Cobra glared at her. He ignored Gypsy’s growl but continued to stare at her.

“I can’t tell you any more than that until after I speak to this John Crowly person,” Inez insisted stubbornly. Then she felt the phone in her bra vibrate. Since she couldn’t answer it here, she got to her feet and walked toward the bathroom again.

Gypsy began to follow.

 Inez turned and held up a hand to stop him. “I’ll be okay. I just need a few minutes alone.”

Then she turned and hurried into the bathroom. Locking the door behind her, she reached for the small burner phone she’d tucked in her bra. She looked at the caller ID and noted it was Shay. She fumbled with the phone and finally answered the call, “Shay? Oh thank god, you called.”

“Are you all right, Mallory?” Shay asked.

“I’m alive, that’s all that matters,” She replied. “I’m with some bikers at the moment. They claim to know John Crowly. Only they know him as Grizzly.”

“Grizzly?” Shay asked quietly. “Are you with the Savaged Souls MC?”

“I think that’s who they are. Why? Are they okay to be with? Do I need to run again?”

“No honey, you stay right where you are. These guys can and will protect you.”

Inez sagged against the sink. “Thank goodness, cuz I don’t think I can run anymore. Dino almost got me last night. I made it as far as Jasper before he found me.”

“Damn it,” Shay swore. “Let me call in some people. You stay with the Souls and I’ll get there as soon as I can.”

“Shay, I have to ask,” she whispered. “Did dad get a decent funeral at least? I couldn’t be there for him when he needed me the most.”

“Yeah, about that…” Shay began. “I didn’t want the world to know what happened to him. I did take care of his body but no one knows he’s dead yet. I wanted to give you time to get away.”

Inez gasped as tears ran down her face. “Oh Shay, dad deserved so much better than this.” She broke down and sobbed for a moment. “I feel I let him down as a daughter.”

“Honey, you did nothing of the kind,” Shay insisted. “He understood what he was asking of you that night. I need to call in some friends and if you don’t get through to John before they get there, give the drive to Pappy Masterson. He’ll know what to do with the information.”

“But Shay,” she interrupted. “The formula on the drive isn’t complete. Dad didn’t finish it because he didn’t want it used.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can get there, but Pappy and John are closer. Wait until I get there before you do anything.”

“Alright, but please hurry,” she pleaded. “These guys are asking questions and I may not be able to hold them off for much longer.” She hung up the phone and wiped the tears away from her face. She tucked the phone back in her bra and opened the door and stopped in shock.

Gypsy stood there looking madder than anyone she’d ever seen before. He grabbed her arm and dragged her back to the table. Pushing her down in her chair, he turned to the others. “I think we’re being played.”

Inez knew that all the blood had drained from her face. She snapped her head up to look at him.

He wouldn’t look at her instead, he was looking at Gunner and Cobra. “I just overheard part of an interesting phone call.”

“Indeed.” Gunner stared at her as he asked, “What did you hear?”

“She’s looking to meet John only to turn over a drive to him, but the drive isn’t complete. Her dad never put the whole formula on it because he didn’t want it to be used. Her contact was a man she called Shay.”

Gunner looked over at Inez. “Ok lady, what the fuck is going on here?”

“I need to speak to John Crowly before I can say much of anything,” she insisted. “Or a man named Pappy Masterson. He’s being called in as we speak.”

Cobra slowly leaned in toward her. “You called in Pappy? What the fuck you got going on here girl?”

“I can’t tell you.” She brushed her cheeks, wiping away the moisture leaking from her eyes.

Gunner nodded. “We know Pappy, we also know John. You need to give us more information than you are. Such as who is this Shay person? And you better tell us the truth.”

Inez stayed quiet for a long time.

Finally, Gypsy laid his hand on her shoulder and squeezed it a bit. “You have to tell them something.”

Inez looked up at him. “I can’t. I don’t want to put their lives in danger and I may already have, just by being here.”

“So who was the bastard that took a shot at you last night?” Boone asked.

She turned to look at him and her eyes suddenly turned hard with disgust. “He’s the same man who shot my father four months ago. My dad lived long enough to tell me to run. I hated leaving him there but I had no choice. The bastard was pilfering my dad’s lab and when he didn’t find what he was looking for, he set fire to the place.” She paused and new tears ran down her face. “I had to leave him there. I-I ran away and when I looked back—the house was on fire.”

“What was your dad working on when he was murdered?” Gunner wanted to know.

Inez couldn’t tell them, so she stayed silent.

“Ok fine, we can wait until everyone’s here before you talk but you will tell us what we want to know,” Gunner assured her. He looked over at Gypsy and ordered, “Take her to the cells. She’ll be safe there and we’ll know she can’t go anywhere.”

~*~

Gypsy’s fingers curled into fists. “You can’t be serious? The cells? Is she under arrest then?”

Gunner shook his head. “No, she isn’t under arrest. We just need to know she isn’t planning to sneak off before we can get some answers. We don’t know who’s after her or why and she won’t tell us, so we don’t really have a choice in the matter.”

Gypsy looked down at her and something caught his eye. There was a brief flash of red on her chest and he pulled her down under the table just seconds before the window shattered and a bullet embedded in the floor, just behind where she had been sitting moments ago.

Someone screamed but Inez didn’t even seem to notice it. Gypsy had completely covered her with his own body and he didn’t seem to be in any hurry to get up.

She tried to turn around and Gypsy growled. “Stay still. The shooter could still be out there.”

“Are you okay?” she whispered.

“Right now, I don’t know whether I’m more pissed at Gunner or you but yeah, I’m fine.”

Inez whispered, “Thank god.”

When no other shots were fired, Gunner and Boone crawled toward the window and looked outside.

When Rigger joined them, he called out, “He’s gone. The bastard took one shot then took off.”

Gunner and Cobra snapped their heads around to glare at her.

Gunner snarled. “Because you won’t tell us anything about what’s going on here, you just put our lives in danger and we can’t have that. I can’t have some lousy bastard taking pot shots at you under our roof and not try to stop it. I suggest you tell us everything we need to know.”

Gypsy got up off the top of her and held out a hand to assist her to her feet.

Inez looked at all the big men standing there. “Ok, I’ll tell you. I can’t and won’t put your lives in any more danger. Enough blood has been spilled. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before.”

 

 

Chapter Four

 

 Tucking a strand of curly black hair behind her ear, Inez gazed at the men on the other side of the table. “The Shay you asked about is Shay Montross. He and my father were very good friends all through my childhood. He would stop by for a visit anytime he was back in the states.”

“He travel a lot did he?” Cobra wanted to know.

“He was in the military, secret intelligence.” Inez frowned. “Although I probably shouldn’t have told you that. Not very many people know that.”

“Don’t worry, we can keep his secret.” Gunner smiled at her. “Go on.”

“Not much more I can tell you.” She shrugged.

“Do you know who just took a shot at you?” Gunner growled. “And why?”

She looked at them and nodded. “His name is Dino but that’s really all I know about him.” She paused then added, “Well, that and the fact he wants me dead. He also shot my dad four months ago after he agreed to fight him like a man. He was losing that fight, so he pulled out a gun and shot my dad in the fucking back.”

Gunner and the others were quiet for the next few minutes, then Cobra asked, “Was your dad running away?”

Inez shook her head. “No, he wasn’t running away. I interrupted the fight. My dad turned toward me to tell me to get the hell out of the house when Dino shot him. If I hadn’t come into the room, my dad might still be alive.”

“No sweetheart, he’d still be dead,” Gunner told her. “This man Dino was going to kill him either way. He was too much of a coward to let him live. Or you either it seems.”

“That’s what Shay said too.” She hung her head. “I didn’t even get to bury him,” stated quietly and began sobbing.

Gypsy wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “You may not have gotten to bury him but you did even better. You are here and almost to the end game, he needed you to play. You survived long enough to complete his final mission.”

“But it isn’t complete until I get the flash drive to John or Shay.” She pointed out. “And I don’t know this Pappy person either. Who is he and why would Shay call him in?”

Boone looked up at her. “Pappy Masterson is our own home-grown defense against another 9/11 ever happening again on American soil. We’ve worked with him and his group before. They run an MC down in Sabine Pass but they also set up a nationwide watch group to make sure we never have to go through what we did when they drove their fucking planes into the twin towers. He’s one of the good guys.”

“How did you get here from Vermont?” Gunner asked her.

Inez shrugged. “Mostly on foot. I didn’t have time the night of the shooting to grab my car. I wasn’t sure it was safe anyway. I moved from place to place mostly at night, so I wouldn’t be seen.”

“How often has Dino almost found you along the way?” Cobra frowned.

“About a dozen times.” She frowned. “Which is weird now that I think of it.”

Gunner shook his head. “Honey, he’s tracking you.”

“How can that be?” She cried out.

“Do you still have your phone?” Cobra asked.

She shook her head. “I had to replace it in New York. The battery died on me and I couldn’t find a replacement cord. I picked up a new phone but I haven’t used it much since then. I’m not exactly in a position to call any of my friends.”

“Did you have the data transferred to the new phone?” Rigger asked.

Inez nodded.

Rigger looked over at Gunner. “He’s been tracking her.”

“Damn it. I never thought about that.” She sighed. “I may have led him straight here.”

Gypsy growled as he looked over at his men. “Which means he has no time left. He has to finish the job before she can transfer the drive to Grizzly or Pappy.”

“Thus taking the shot while she’s inside the clubhouse,” Gunner stated the obvious.

Cobra held out his hand and snapped his fingers. “Hand over the phone.”

Inez reached inside her shirt and pulled the phone from her bra then handed it to him.

Cobra flipped it over and took out the battery. Then he reached behind him pulled his weapon out of his back holster and smashed the battery with the butt of his gun. Putting the weapon back into his waistband, he shrugged. “Problem solved.”

“Except for the fact Dino is well aware of the fact that she’s sitting right here.” Gunner shook his head. “Your actions are a little too late my friend.”

“Well then, we better pray Grizzly or Pappy get here before that bastard returns huh?” Cobra growled.

“Oh, I think we can do better than that.” Gunner smiled a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. Turning to Rigger he said, “I’ll give Grizzly a call and get him here but I need you to get info on this bastard. We’ll turn the tables on him and hunt his dumb ass down. We know he’s here in town, all we have to do is find the bastard and make him sorry he was ever born.” He growled. “No one disrespects us in our own house. That bastard has a lot to learn about the Savaged Souls.”

Rigger grinned and turned to Inez. “I need to know everything you know about this guy.”

~*~

A little while later, Inez was standing by the window looking out into the parking lot.

“Please stand to the side of the window, Inez,” Gypsy called to her. “It isn’t safe.”

 Letting out a sigh, she stepped to the side. She could still see outside but at an angle only. She had told Rigger everything she knew about Dino and the men he worked for. Gypsy still sat at a table staring at her and it was beginning to bother her a little.

He kept offering her food but the current situation had taken away whatever appetite she had. Then Patriot began offering her something to eat. When she decided she needed some space, she got up and walked over to the window.

She walked back to the table and sat down.

Gypsy didn’t say anything to her but he did push a glass of orange juice toward her.

Inez rolled her eyes, picked up the glass and began sipping the drink.

“How are you doing?” he finally asked.

Inez nodded. “I’m doing.”

“Patriot thinks you need to start eating.”

Inez shrugged. “I know I do, but it's been so long since I’ve even been hungry.”

Gypsy nodded. “Patriot said if you don’t eat something soon your body will start to shut down.” Leaning forward, he brushed a strand of hair out of her face. “I don’t want to see that happen so please eat something. You can start small but you should eat.”

Inez took another sip of her juice and nodded. “Yeah, I get that. The last four months have been a nightmare. I ate when I could but it wasn’t often enough I know that, then I just got used to not eating at all. I can’t change the past but I can alter my future. Meaning I will try.”

Gunner and Cobra entered the main room and announced, “Grizzly is here and Pappy isn’t far behind. He’ll be here in about half an hour.” He turned to Inez and said, “As much as I’d like to wait for Shay to get here, I think as soon as Pappy arrives you should tell us what the hell is going on here.”

Inez stared at him. “Ok, I guess I don’t have a choice.”

“No you really don’t,” Gunner agreed.

The clubhouse door opened and in walked, a huge man. Inez was stunned by his sheer size alone. Then he turned to stare at her and asked, “Are you Shay’s Mallory?”

Inez nodded but didn’t speak.

Grizzly glared at her. “I’ve been waiting for some word on you for a long time. Where the hell have you been for the last few months?”

“Been trying to outrun a killer to get to you.” She stared back at him.

Grizzly frowned. He looked over at Gunner who nodded then he growled, “What the hell?”

“We’re waiting on Pappy Masterson to arrive then she’s going to tell us what the fuck this situation is all about.”

“Why did you call her Mallory?” Gypsy wanted to know.

“Because that’s her name,” Grizzly told them.

“Actually my name is Mallory Inez and Shay is the only one that really calls me that. I was named after my mom,” Inez explained. “Everyone else has always called me Inez.”

“Then why would Shay call you Mallory?” Grizzly asked.

“I suppose he does it to keep her memory alive.” Inez shrugged.

Grizzly looked over at Gunner and asked, “So when will Pappy get here?”

“Anytime in the next half hour.”

Grizzly nodded and moved to pour himself a cup of coffee. After he got one, he sat down at the table with Gypsy and Inez to carefully studied her. “I’m sorry about your dad,” he said finally.

Inez nodded. “Thank you. I miss him.”

They didn’t have to wait long for Pappy to arrive.

 He, Dewey and Gage came in a few minutes later. Introductions were made and everyone was waiting for Inez to begin.

“Now seems that all the players are here, so why don’t you begin telling all of us what this is about?” Gunner asked her.

“My name is Mallory Inez Black. My father was Doctor Michael Black. He was a leading scientist in the field of biology.”

“Shay didn’t really tell us much about what you’ve been through,” Pappy told her. “He said you would fill us in.”

Inez nodded. “My father has worked on many secret projects with and for the military over his career, as well as private projects for institutions. About a year ago, someone approached him with a sample and asked him to analyze it. They told him it was something like red tide, indigenous to freshwater lakes and rivers. They needed a way to kill it without poisoning the water supply. They were hoping to offer it to countries the red tide pops up in.”

She shook her head. “My father was a great man in his field and this was a project he could really get behind. He investigated and found it was not what the man told him but was actually a deadly form of red tide, a rather nasty biologic. But then he found this particular form had already been altered. It’d been altered and rated twice as strong as the normal red tide. Red tide can be lethal and most people avoid it but this strain was deadly. When he called the people who wanted it neutralized, they said they already knew it had been altered and that’s when they told him they wanted him to actually supersize the sample.”

The men all stared at her then at each other.

She went on, “They also told him they would need a way to neutralize it and wanted him to create an antidote. They could sell the supersized version for a price but they could also sell the neutralizer for a better price.” She shook her head. “Anyone who knows my father, knows he would never do something like that but these people didn’t care. They offered him more money, more funding and whatever equipment he wanted. So, when that didn’t work, they threatened my life. They knew my mother had passed a long time ago and it was just the two of us. Dad tried to get me to leave, to go away from him but I wouldn’t go. I wasn’t going to lose him the same way we lost mom, but Dad wanted a safety switch, so he told his friend Shay about the demands from this private organization. Shay did a background check on them and found several connections to different terrorist groups. He told my father to go ahead and supersize the formula and the antidote but he to delete the one thing that would do both. The one ingredient that would cause it to be so dangerous.”

The men at the table looked a bit stunned by her story.

Pappy nodded at what Shay had advised.

“So my dad did just that. Then he turned over the formulas for both and he waited because he knew they would be calling. They called him back about a week later and they were very angry. They threatened him with ruin and my dad told them he didn’t care. He would rather face prison than assist them in making a terrible biologic that would kill millions of people. They told him only two people would die and they would still get their biologic. They would come after me and dad and then find another scientist to help them.” She paused as her tears overcame her, running down her face.

Gypsy held her close to him until she regained her composure.

“They told him they would make him watch as someone put a bullet in my head before they killed him. They sent in a man named Dino.” She turned to look at Gypsy. “Last night, I spotted Dino before he could see me. I’m sorry I tried to steal your ride as you put it but I needed to get away before he found me.”

“What happened to your dad?” Cobra wanted to know.

“He stood up to Dino and Dino killed him for it,” Inez told them as she sniffled through her tears. “He challenged the bastard to a fist fight and Dino agreed. Dad thought he had at least a little honor but it seems he didn’t. Their fight was vicious but dad got the upper hand then I stepped into the room and dad turned to tell me to run...” She sighed sadly and added, “And when he did, Dino shot him in the back. The coward cheated rather than fight him like a man. But dad hadn’t known I was there watching the whole time and I-I don’t know what happened that caused me to step out of the shadows, but it gave Dino the opportunity to shoot him. I shot at Dino.” As she spoke of that night with horror in her eyes a cold tone came into her voice, “He took a bullet in his arm, I’m not a great shot, but as he ran away he lit a fire. Apparently, he had set everything up ahead of time to burn the house down, to hide his crime before he faced my dad.” She shuddered and took a deep breath as she swiped away more tears

The men all sat and waited for the rest as she tried to get a hold of herself.

“I went to my father as the fire began to burn around us. That’s when he told me he put a call into Shay before Dino arrived and he was on his way. He gave me a flash drive and said to head for Jasper Texas to get to John Crowly and give him the drive. He’d said that no matter what, I had to get the drive to John. Then he told me he left out one important ingredient in his formulas on purpose. I begged him not to leave me but he knew he was going to die. Then he told me to survive by running. That I needed to get this information into the hands of the US Marshals, so they could go after the ones responsible for developing the biologic in the first place. He didn’t want this plague released on an unsuspecting world where it could cost millions of people their lives.”

She stopped talking and everyone took a moment to digest her words.

Gypsy stared at her as she sort of slumped with exhaustion after finally telling her story. He realized why she was in the pitiful state she was in and why she had skirted around the truth all day. This had been far more than just her trying to steal his bike.

 

 

Chapter Five

 

Pappy nodded. “Shay told me he’s been tracking down the company that hired your dad but he’s been unable to find them. They lied to him from the very first day about who they were. The phone number they gave your dad was a burn phone and is no longer in service. “We have our girl looking for them. If anyone can find them she can.” He looked over at Inez. “Shay was able to tie this group to a few terrorist organizations but he could never pin them down to any one place. These people evidently have unlimited funds but Shay couldn’t find them. He tried to follow the money but could never find out where the trail began or ended. The more he looked into this group the more he found that this group has done this before. They move around a lot, so the authorities can’t find them. They are an underground group, no one knows who they really are. Once we started looking for them, we found out they change their names with everyone they deal with. Our computer person has had a hard time tracking them down because their computer presents pings all over the world whenever she tries to find them.”

“Do you or Shay know anything about the man who killed her dad, the one who has been tracking her all the way here?” Gunner asked.

Pappy nodded. “His name is Dino March. Doesn’t really matter what you call him, he’s a hired killer and the only reason he goes after someone is for the money he earns for it.” He looked over at Inez and said, “We’ve been able to determine you and your dad were supposedly his targets. He got your dad four months ago but he hasn’t gotten you yet, so we don’t think he’s been paid yet. At least, we haven’t seen any big deposits in his account.”

“You have access to his accounts?” Cobra looked surprised.

Pappy nodded. “Our computer wizard can get in anywhere she wants to go. Why?”

 Cobra looked over at Gunner and smiled. “Let’s throw ole Dino off his game, shall we?”

“What do you have in mind?” Gunner wanted to know.

“What do you suppose ole Dino would do if his account was suddenly empty? Who would he blame? His bosses or someone else? His bosses might be a little on the edge with the job taking so long, don’t you think?”

Pappy smiled. “They might at that. Since they’re an underground organization, he might just figure out they’re the only ones that might have his banking information.” He turned to Inez and told her, “Once we knew where to look we were able to follow your journey all the way here from West Burke.” Turning to Gunner, he informed him, “He used his bank card a lot. If his account suddenly had no money and his credit cards were frozen that might throw him into a panic.”

“He might even make a serious mistake.” Grizzly reasoned. “We might even be able to smoke the sonofabitch out of hiding and bring him in for questioning.”

Pappy and the men he rode in with snickered. Then Pappy looked over at Inez. “Do you still have the information your dad gave you?”

Inez nodded. “I have a little more than that. I have a sample of the supersized biologic and the antidote.”

Pappy whistled. “Wow… that’s. Well, dangerous, but so fitting. You hang on to that until Shay gets here. I want nothing to do with it. All I need is the flash drive I was told about.”

Inez nodded then got to her feet. She unbuckled her belt and pulled it out of the loops.

Then men all sat and watched her.

 Next, she unzipped a hidden zipper in the back of the belt and took out a small red flash drive. She handed it to him then proceeded to take out another flash drive, this one was blue. “This is the true formula for both the supersize red tide and the antidote.”

Pappy nodded and took the red flash drive. Nodding at the blue one, he told her, “Turn that one over to Shay. Did the people your dad worked with tell him what they planned to use the biologic for?”

Inez shook her head. “No, but I heard Dino tell dad how they were going to test it the night he killed dad.”

“And what is that for?” Gunner wanted to know.

“This particular variety is for freshwater not salt water. They need to test it in a large freshwater lake. Dino told my dad they were going to test it in Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. That way, they could see just how far the poison went to all the towns on or near the lake.”

Pappy looked over at the men sitting around the table with him. “Fucking hell.” He swore softly. “That would kill thousands of people, depending on how strong it was. Pontchartrain feeds right into New Orleans.”

“That’s exactly what my father said.” Tears welled in her eyes when she told them, “Dino just laughed and said he didn’t care. He and his bosses would be far enough away that it wouldn’t touch them.” She shook her head. “The loss of human lives didn’t mean a thing to him. Not just one but thousands of lives.”

Pappy got up and moved away from the table to place a call. He called Trudy and let her know the situation. “Hey darlin, we got major problems up here.”

Trudy chuckled. “You’ll have bigger problems if Dewey hears you call me darlin.” Then she paused and asked, “How bad?”

“Real bad. A Biologic that could kill thousands dumped in Lake Pontchartrain. That lake feeds into a lot of places in, around, and including New Orleans.”

“Holy fucking shit,” Trudy swore.

“Dino March killed the scientist that created it four months ago because he handed over a dummy sample and they wanted the real one. Now the bastard is after the man’s daughter thinking she has the supersized version, along with the true antidote. She’s been on the run since the night her father died.”

“And does she have the true samples?” she asked.

“She claims she does,” Pappy replied. “But I told her to wait and turn it over to Shay when he arrives. Which hopefully will be sooner rather than later. I want nothing to do with that shit.”

“I don’t blame you,” Trudy whispered. “What do you want me to do?”

“I need Dino’s money to disappear, his credit cards frozen and I want that bastard left without a dime to his name. Make it seem like his employers did everything. Can you do that?”

Trudy chuckled. “Yeah, I can do that. Piece of cake. Been digging into the organization a bit more and they are not nice people. Mostly moving weapons of mass destruction to our enemies. They have also been selling stolen secrets, mostly military, but from many private industries as well. They have made billions from the Chinese, Saudis and Afghanies. They even have some Russian contacts.”

“Ok, keep looking and hopefully you can find us something, somewhere we can use to track this group down and take these bastards out.” He paused then added, “And get me some background on Michael Black. I need to know who he was.”

“Ok,” Trudy agreed. “You guys be careful and watch your backs. You better bring Dewey back home in one piece mister.”

Pappy smiled. “I have every intention of doing just that honey. I never leave a man behind, you know that.”

When he finished that call, he put another call into Shay. When Shay answered he growled, “Just what the hell did you get us into you old bastard?”

“I take it you got in touch with Mallory?” Shay asked.

“Yeah, I got in touch with Inez as she calls herself.” Pappy growled. “She just told us what was going on. Did you know these bastards were going to put the biologics in Lake Pontchartrain? Sort of a test run to see how many would die.”

Shay was silent for a moment. “How did you find that out?”

“Dino told your boy Michael that just before he killed him. Inez overheard them talking,” Pappy told him.

“Is she all right?” Shay asked.

“She’s a little on the thin side and looks like she could use more than a few good fattening meals but she seems to be okay otherwise.”

“I’ll leave here before dawn and be down there before breakfast in the morning. You tell her that I’m on my way.”

“Ok, but you make sure you’re safe as hell either way,” Pappy warned him. “Your girl seems a bit shattered at the moment, as in barely hanging on. If she lost you too, after all of this, she might go off the deep end.”

He heard Shay exhale hard. “You know, don’t you?”

“That she’s your niece?” Pappy asked. “Yeah, I know. Not sure anyone else has it figured out, but I know.”

“We have to keep it that way. You of all people know what I do and I don’t want her being used as a pawn against me if someone makes the connection. Tell her, I’ll be there before breakfast.” Shay promised then ended the call.

Pappy grumbled to himself about this can of the worst worms, he’d seen in a while as he went back to tell the group. He sat down and looked at Gunner and the others, “I got Trudy looking deeper into the group. She can connect them to espionage, weapons dealings, and other shit so far but we need more if we’re going to shut them down for good. She’s going to freeze Dino’s money and make it look like his employers took it all.” He shook his head. “I also put a call into Shay and he said he’d be here by breakfast.”

“Does he know about the test these people wanted Dad to do?” Inez asked.

Pappy nodded. “That’s why he’s coming right away.” Looking over at the others he said, “All we have to do is keep her undercover until he gets here.”

“Dino already knows she’s here,” Gunner told him. “He’s already taken a pot shot at her.”

“I don’t understand.” Pappy frowned. “How did she come to be here in the first place, if I can ask?”

Gypsy chuckled. “She tried to hijack my ride.”

“What the hell?” Pappy growled. “Explain.”

Inez tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and nodded. “I was running from Dino. I’d seen him earlier, so I knew he was here. Staying in the shadows, I made my way around behind a bar on the edge of town. I was hoping to find a safe place to hide when I saw this bike. I thought if I could get it started, I could escape, but…” She turned to stare at Gypsy. “…he caught me attempting to hot wire it. Since I didn’t know what I was doing, it didn’t take much to stop me.” She shrugged. “Anyway, when he confronted me, Dino found us and took a shot. Gypsy shot back and I tried to hide.”

Gypsy stared at her while she spoke and shook his head again.

She motioned at Gypsy. “He found me and brought me here. They took care of the wound and allowed me to stay. Then I told them I had to get in touch with John and I was surprised to find out they knew him. I didn’t want to drag them into this mess but Shay called and then things kinda went crazy. Someone took a shot at me. I had to tell them what was going on.” She looked over at Gunner. “He said to wait until you guys got here, so they are only hearing this now as well.” She spread her hands out. “Now, everyone knows what they need to know.”

Pappy nodded. “Then why do I have a feeling this is only the beginning? That there is so much more to this story that you have yet to tell us about?”

Inez looked straight into his eyes and informed him, “I have no clue what you’re talking about.”

Gypsy continued to study her face and he could read in it that there were secrets she was trying hard to hide. She not only was bad at hotwiring, she was a bad liar as well. He knew, as did every man sitting at this table. There was more she wasn’t saying. He looked over at Gunner and saw his slight nod.

 

Chapter Six

 

Inez glared at the plate of food Gypsy set down in front of her. It was way too much. After barely eating for the last four months, she agreed to start eating again, but smaller amounts would have been better than a full plate. What were these men thinking? That she could eat like them? Like a big biker? She shook her head.

 She pushed the plate in front of him, smiling at his stunned look and went to the buffet table to make her own plate. She came back with half a plate  full and began to eat. He pushed a glass of juice in her direction but all she could do was roll her eyes and take a sip. “So what happens now?” she asked him after a couple of bites.

“Now, we try and stop this group and we hunt this Dino character then take him out of the equation. Plus, when Shay gets here in the morning, we give him the evidence and he can help to figure out what our next steps will be from there.”

“We have to stop whoever this is from putting that poison into Lake Pontchartrain.” She growled. “If even one person loses their life over this…its murder plain and simple.”

Gypsy scoffed as he sat back in his seat. “Honey, there are people out there that just don’t care. It sounds like this group are those kinds of people. They threatened your life and your dad’s life to make their point. Dino killed your dad and doesn’t plan to stop until he kills you too.”

Inez sighed. “I know. I may have been sheltered in life after we lost my mom, but I’m not stupid. I traveled with my dad all over the world when I was a kid. I used to watch him work all hours of the day and night and he taught me to fight the good fight and never give up on anything I truly believed in. He showed me if I couldn’t get in one way, to go around and get in another way. He taught me to pick my own battles and to take a stand for what I thought was right. That I should never back down when the going got tough and that one day, I might have to dig in my heels and stand tall, even if the stand I was taking wasn’t the easiest or most popular. Well, I never forgot his words and when he told me to bring his stuff here, I did just that. Dino almost got me several times on the road here but I was determined to do what my dad taught me to do and by god, I got here.”

Gypsy stared at her for a long moment then had to ask, “Is there anything else you know that might help us track these people down?”

She paused then looked away without answering. Suddenly, she felt tired. Looking down at her plate, she was surprised to see it was almost cleared. She had finally gotten a full belly and now, she needed to sleep. She felt safe enough to sleep.

Gypsy had been watching her closely. “Come on, you look about ready to keel over where you’re sitting. I’ll show you to a room.” He got up and took her hand. Leading her down the main hall, he stopped at one of the rooms. Opening a door, he motioned her inside.

It was a nice room, the walls were painted blue and grey and the massive bed looked so comfortable. She walked over to it and sat down. Looking around, she began to notice the small details of occupation. She turned her head toward him and asked, “Does this room belong to you?”

Gypsy nodded. “Yeah, it does. I brought you here as Gunner said I am to watch over you until we get this mess sorted out. Our suites come with a huge bathroom and a semi smaller room we use as a closet but a rollaway bed can be put in there, you can sleep in there if you want. I’m not going to attack you if you choose to sleep in here though. You’ll be perfectly safe either way.”

“Why would I ever think otherwise?” she asked him quietly. “Maybe I just don’t want to be alone right now.” She lowered her head with fatigue and let out a sigh.

Gypsy knelt at her feet. He tipped her face up to him. “You're not alone anymore sweetheart. I got your back. We all got your back.”

Inez nodded and closed her eyes. “I’m just so tired. I never felt safe enough to sleep very long, you know?”

Gypsy leaned forward and brushed his lips over her forehead. “Go to sleep then. I’ll watch over you tonight and every night that it's needed. I swear to you.”

Inez nodded and unbuckled her belt. Pulling off her jeans, she laid down. Her whole body relaxed and she groaned with satisfaction as she felt that letting down feeling.

~*~

Inez was asleep before Gypsy even lifted her bare legs and covered her up. He couldn’t help but look down at her and wonder how she’d even survived the last four months.

She didn’t appear strong enough to walk thousands of miles but she had. Using the shadows and darkness of the night to hide her path she had endured so much to get here, to keep to her late father’s request. She could have called Grizzly to meet her anywhere along the way and he would have.

But she didn’t. She came all this way because her dad told her to. He never met anyone else quite like her. For the first time since he lost Gwen, he was beginning to care again. Shaking his head to dismiss his thoughts of his dead wife, he peered down at her again.

He would always love his wife no matter what else happened. It had taken seven years since she had been ripped away to even care again. Now, he’d made a promise to watch over another woman. What was he thinking?

He turned and went back to the main room. A few of the brothers were still there. He grabbed a beer from the bar and went over to sit alone at a table in the corner. It was his coping method. He always had a moment alone just before he went to bed. But tonight, he felt restless. Maybe he was ready for a change, or maybe he was just finally tired of being alone.

He’d even surprised himself when he'd ended up taking her to his bedroom. Only Gwen had ever shared his bed. Before and since Gwen, he never let women stay with him. When they did the deed, he always asked them to leave. Only Gwen had ever slept the night with him or woke up with him in the morning. Then after she was gone, he hadn’t made love to any other woman, it had just been sex and not even that often. He couldn’t bring himself to cheat on his wife. She was still deep in his heart and she always would be.

Now, he had another woman waiting for him. He knew she wouldn’t expect him to make love to her. That was probably the last thing she wanted. It was the last thing he wanted right now too. Maybe he should have taken her to the other bedroom. But it was too late now.

 Gunner came over to his table and sat down. For a few minutes, he didn’t say anything then he spoke quietly, “What’s going on with you?”

Gypsy took a sip of his beer. “I was in that back alley earlier, thinking maybe it was time for me to be taking off. I didn’t think I could stay here if Skeeter is planning to come back. Was thinking there are too many memories here, memories that hurt too much .”

“We don’t want you to leave man,” Gunner told him. “You’ve got a home here.”

“I know,” Gypsy admitted. “This is the first place that I’ve felt at home too. But everywhere I turn, I’m reminded of her and what I lost. The MC should never have allowed that bastard to be arrested. We should have gotten justice for what he did to my woman and it would have been over.”

“But Skeeter had a job to do too,” Gunner reminded him. “That man was wanted for more than just Gwen’s death. He had other victims out there that needed closure too.”

“I know. I just couldn’t see it back then. I wanted justice for Gwen. I didn’t care about anything else but my own pain. Then when the Rangers lost him? I thought I would go insane. I actually wanted to track him down myself and if I found him, he was going to die by my hands. The place in my chest where my heart and soul used to be demanded that much.”

Gunner waited for him to get it all out. He’d known Gypsy for a long time..

“Then Skeeter called. It took him three fucking months to find that bastard but he never gave up. He tracked him down and the man refused to submit to the law. Skeeter got to do what I wanted to do. He got to end that man’s life. He got to watch him die. I missed that part, so I never got my closure.” He took a sip of his beer. “Maybe that’s why I’m so mad at him. He did what I wanted. It didn’t matter that the man was dead. If he had faced a tribunal, he would have been dead already but we had to follow the law. And because we did, that bastard was able to live long enough to kill another woman.” Gypsy let out a deep breath. “I know in my heart, we did the right thing when Skeeter took him away. I know it, but I’ll be damned, he got to do what I needed to do.”

“You know Skeeter wants to come back don’t you?” Gunner asked.

Gypsy nodded.

“He won’t come back if you can’t forgive him.” Gunner shifted in his chair. “You and he were once like blood brothers should be. You don’t think he died a little the day your Gwen died? He did, we all did. You think for one moment it was an easy decision for us to turn that bastard over to the Rangers? Like hell it was. We wanted to see the bastard die by our hands too. None of us got closure that day.”

Gypsy felt a moment of clarity when he heard Gunner saying the words he needed to hear. Then fuck, if he realized he’d needed to hear those words seven years ago. He shook his head. “I’ve been a damned idiot haven’t I? I put the blame for her death on Skeeter’s shoulder this whole fucking time, when it wasn’t his fault at all.”

“No, it was never his fault.” Gunner sighed. “We knew you needed time to come to that conclusion on your own. And I’m glad you finally did.”

“Question is how do I tell Skeeter?” Gypsy added.

Gunner chuckled looking behind Gypsy. “I think you just did.”

Gypsy turned around and found the man in question standing behind him.

Tears glittered in Skeeter’s eyes but they never escaped.

Gypsy slowly got to his feet and faced the man he once called his brother. He slowly reached out his hand to the other man. “I want to thank you for killing that bastard. As much as I wanted it to be me, I’m glad at least it was you man.”

“We all loved your Gwen. She belonged here with us and so do you. I want to come home again, but I won’t if you object.”

Gypsy shook his head and surprised everyone there by pulling the other man into a man hug. When he released the other man he said, “You’d better come home again. We need you here.”

“And you’ll stay if I do?” Skeeter asked.

“I’m staying right here.” Gypsy nodded. “I thought about leaving but I realized I couldn’t go anyplace where I wouldn’t remember her. I’m getting used to life without her and I know it won’t ever be the same again but maybe, it's time to get on with life again.”

“She would have wanted you to live a full life. Even if it wasn’t with her beside you,” Skeeter reminded him.

Gypsy nodded. “I’m sure she is pissed as hell with me wallowing in self pity all this damn time.” He smiled briefly. “She would have kicked my ass several times over by now if she could have.” He sighed heavily and said, “I need to let her go and rest in peace and until now, I haven’t wanted to do that. I think I’ve found the reason I needed but until now, I just couldn’t get on with it.”

“When did you come to that conclusion?” Gunner wanted to know.

“I was sitting in the back of Scruffy’s last night. Thinking about leaving, when I swore I heard Gwen’s voice in my head. She was giving me hell for even thinking about that shit. I looked around like she was really there and I expected to see her, but instead I saw shadows moving and then I found Inez trying to steal my ride.” He shook his head. “Then I thought I heard Gwen telling me to help this girl. That’s when I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. I had to make sure that little girl was safe.” He shrugged. “What else could I do? I got up and bam! Got us involved in some nasty shit.”

“You saved that young girl’s life last night.” Gunner nodded his head with certainty in his eyes. “She would have died if you hadn’t been exactly where you were. You got her to where you needed to get her. Now, we can stop thousands of people from dying a horrible death.”

“This is what we do man.” Gypsy agreed. He looked over at Skeeter. “We need all hands on deck to get this done brother. Are you with us?”

“I’m with you. I’m always with you.”

Gypsy turned and grabbed his beer bottle. Draining it, he put it back on the table and told them both, “I’m going to bed now. It’s going to be a circus around here tomorrow when Shay gets here.”

He left both men standing there and made his way to his bedroom. When he walked into the room, he closed the door behind him and stared at the slight figure on his bed. He got through one obstacle with Skeeter, now he faced another one with her.

He stripped off his clothes and crawled under the sheets. It felt different with someone else in bed with him, not bad… just different. She was laying with her back to him as Gypsy closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep. He must have fallen into a light doze because when she turned toward him his eyes snapped open at once. He was laying on his back with his arm above his head. When she moved closer to him, he relaxed again and was able to fall asleep.

A few hours later, the moonlight found them, bathing them both in its light. It showed Inez lying on his chest and Gypsy’s arms were wrapped around her snugly.

As the moonlight began to fade, neither of them moved away from the other and by the time the sun began rising in the eastern horizon, Inez was snuggled safely in his arms.

Neither of them seemed to mind.

 

Chapter Seven

 

Gypsy opened his eyes and for a moment, he didn’t know where he was. He felt a warm body practically lying— yet snuggled up on top of him and he’d thought for a moment it was Gwen. Then he remembered Gwen was gone. He peered down and saw a head of black curly hair resting on his broad chest.  Inez.

He slowly turned his head and noticed the sun was up. He felt the weight leave his chest so when he looked down again he noticed a pair of confused light green eyes staring back at him.

Then she realized where she was. Or rather, who she was almost on top of. Her cheeks flushed and she went to push herself away from him.

Gypsy stopped her and simply held her in place. “Please don’t run away,” he told her quietly. “Neither of us did anything to be ashamed of.”

Inez hung her head. “I-I know.”

He lifted her chin and looked into her eyes. “Then don’t be ashamed of something that didn’t happen ok?”

She nodded. “Ok, but I would like to thank you.”

“For what?” he frowned.

“I slept last night.” She let out a sigh. “I haven’t slept in so long…I almost forgot how good it feels. I didn’t have to watch my back last night because you said you were there for me. I want you to know…I appreciate that.”

He grunted and shrugged then thought about it for a moment as he paused. “You know something, so did I. Usually, I have nightmares but I didn’t last night.”

Inez smiled and shrugged. “Maybe sleeping together helped us both then.”

Gypsy glanced over at the window which was bathed in full sunlight by now. “We’d better get up, Shay will be here soon.”

Inez nodded and grabbed her jeans off the floor. As she pulled them on, she realized it would be good to see Shay again.  She went to the bathroom and glanced into the mirror. Grimacing at her own reflection, she cleaned up the best she could.

Her hair looked wild and tangled, so she tried to brush it the best she could. She finally ended up putting it into a braid. When she came back out Gypsy was waiting for her. She flushed as he motioned for her to join him. He grasped her hand and led the way to the main room.

Everyone was there already by the time they arrived, well everyone but Shay.

She followed Gypsy over to the breakfast table and made a plate. For the first time in a long time she actually felt hungry. She began eating and watched the group around her. They all seemed to be good men.

She noticed the President, Gunner was sitting with his VP Boone and a man they called Cobra. They seemed to be in the middle of a very heated discussion. She wondered what was going on then she noticed another man had rushed over to them and whispered something in Gunner’s ear.

~*~

“We got visitors in town and I don’t think it's going to be good,” Rigger told Gunner.

“Who are they?” Gunner asked with a growl in his voice.

“I’m not sure but one of them is wearing colors of the Hade’s Demons.”

Gunner snapped his eyes over to Cobra.

The other man was watching them carefully.

“Do you know anything about the Hade’s Demons MC?” Gunner asked.

Cobra scowled. “Yeah, I know them.”

“What the hell are they doing in our city?” Gunner wanted to know.

Cobra frowned. “Damned if I know but I’m gonna find out. They shouldn’t be this far east. They come from around Odessa.”

“Well, find out then, we really don’t need any more trouble around here. I think we got enough,” Gunner told him.

Cobra got up and nodded. “I’ll take Jett with me.”

“Take Gypsy along too. It won’t hurt to have another pair of eyes on the target.”

Cobra nodded. He looked over at his man, Jett and motioned toward the door, he caught Gypsy’s eyes and did the same.

Gypsy wiped his mouth and looked over at Inez. “Stay here, Shay should be here soon. I’ve got to go but I’ll be back. I promise.”

Inez looked a little panicked, then she nodded slowly. She let out a shaky breath.

Before he left, Cobra looked over at Rigger and asked, “Where did you spot them?”

Rigger replied, “At Blacky’s warehouse by the river. They seem to be watching the place, so there could be someone else inside. We haven’t seen anyone from inside but they wouldn’t be watching the place otherwise.”

Cobra nodded. “We’ll check it out.”

“Be careful out there,” Boone told the men. “If they’re watching someone in the warehouse, they might not want to be caught.”

Cobra nodded then turned to leave. When he joined the other two outside, he noted they had collected their weapons and they were ready for whatever they might find.

Jett pulled him aside. “We can’t take the bikes, they’ll hear them and know we’re coming.”

Cobra nodded. “Yeah… We have to take the damned truck then but this better not be something stupid or someone is going to die.”

Gypsy drove the truck out toward the river. He parked far enough away, so they could go forward on foot. Both he and Jett grabbed their weapons and they took off. They weren’t exactly sure where the Hade’s Demon men were but they knew they must be out there somewhere.

 Keeping to the tree line, they moved forward carefully.

When the warehouse came into view, Cobra motioned for Gypsy to go up and scout out the area.

Gypsy hung his rifle across his back and began to climb the tree. When he was high enough to search the area, he grabbed his binoculars and began searching for not only the bikers but whoever was in the warehouse.

Gypsy spotted the Demon first. He whistled a bird call down at Cobra and motioned to where the man was hiding. Then he looked back at the warehouse. There was no movement for the longest time then he saw a face appear in one of the second story windows. Gypsy frowned as he focused his binoculars on the face. Then he growled. He knew that face.

Putting his binoculars away, he slid down the tree and landed silently on the ground beside Cobra and Jett. “I saw only one man watching the warehouse and yeah, he’s wearing a Demon’s cut.”

“Did you see anyone in the warehouse?” Jett wanted to know.

“Yeah.” Gypsy growled.

“Did you know him?” Cobra asked.

“Yeah, I fucking know the bastard,” Gypsy swore. “They call him Odin and he runs the Blood Vikings MC down in San Antonio.”

Cobra snorted. “He might have at one time but he doesn’t anymore. The cartel all but wiped them out the other day.” He shook his head. “It figures, Odin is here and not lying dead with the rest of his fucking MC. The cowardly bastard probably ran out the back way as the cartel was coming through the front gates.” He sighed. “Let’s go see who the visitor is.”

“Boss, who are the Hade’s Demons?” Jett wanted to know.

“They are an Odessa MC led by a man named Tiberius “Python” Valin. My glorious fucking dear old dad.” Cobra dropped his bombshell then turned and took off in the direction of where Gypsy had seen the Demon.

Gypsy looked over at Jett in shock. “The fuck?”

Jett just shook his head and took off after his President.

Gypsy followed after him.

When they got close, they paused when Cobra motioned for them to wait as he snuck up on the lone watcher.

Cobra stepped silently up to the man, watching the warehouse. He’d been taught to walk softly and those were lessons he never forgot. Quietly, he grabbed the blade at his waist and drew it out of the sheath. He got maybe two steps away from the man.

Then the other man turned and grabbed Cobra.

Cobra was older and stronger but he still had a good fight on his hands.

The other man struggled to keep the blade away from his body and in the process, his rich red head of hair was revealed when his beanie went sideways.

Cobra halted the fight. “What the fuck?” He growled as he jumped back. He then stared at the face of the man he’d pretty much intended to injure until a few seconds ago. “Cottonmouth?”

Then it was the other man’s turn to freeze. Looking up, he looked into Cobra’s stunned eyes. “Cobra? What the hell are you doing here of all places? I thought your place was down by Hondo?”

Cobra growled. As he stepped back, he frowned at Cotton. “It is in Hondo. I’m just here visiting. What the fuck are you doing here? Of all the people in the world, I never expected to find you here.”

Cottonmouth, a.k.a. Micah got to his feet.  He studied Cobra intently. Then he held out his hand.

Cobra stared at it for a moment then reached out and took it. He didn’t shake it however but instead used it to haul the other man in for a hug. “Damned man, it's good to see you kid.”

Cotton snorted. “Not so much of a kid anymore, old man.”

Cobra grinned. “Not as old as you think.” He looked over at Jett and Gypsy. He motioned them over. When they joined him, Cobra cocked his head toward Cottonmouth. “Guys, meet my baby brother, Cottonmouth.”

Jett looked surprised. He hadn’t known Cobra had any family until now. “Your brother, boss?”

Cobra made a face. “Yeah, he was just a kid when King and I left my dad’s MC to start our own.” He studied the cut Cotton wore and shook his head. “It suits you.” Then he turned and looked at the warehouse. “What the fucking hell is Odin doing here of all places?”

“Him, Burr and four of his riders took off out the backdoor as the cartel was coming in the front door about six days ago,” Cotton told them.

Cobra snorted and nodded. “We watched the news coverage of what they did to his men and compound. They must have been really pissed.” Shaking his head he commented, “I knew that fucker was a coward but he has no loyalty to his own men either. There’s a special place in hell waiting for him.”

Cotton snorted, as his disgust was there to see on his face. “I guess that’s what happens when you skim millions off the cartel payments and think you can get away with that shit.” He shrugged then told them, “Two of his men left him about four days ago and the other two are dead. Odin fucking shot them himself. I’ve been following them from San Antonio. Best conclusion is that he’s on his way to hook up with another MC in Louisiana.”

Gypsy narrowed his eyes. “Odin shot his own men? Why the fuck would he do that? Seeing he had none really left?”

Cotton nodded. “Yeah, that’s a good question. He’s losing it big time. He always was a dickhead before but since he lost his compound, he has definitely gone over the deep end.”

“So why is he headed to Louisiana?” Jett wanted to know.

“He wants to hook up with an MC over there and then he was planning to head for New Mexico and take care of a small MC over that way.” Cotton explained. “He’s hoping to boost his numbers.”

“What the hell does he hope to accomplish from that?” Cobra wanted to know.

“He’s going after another MC called the Brothers of Chaos. It’s a hell of a long story and I’m not sure of why but he really hates their President. Shit, I think he hates all of them really. All I ever heard were rumors and you know how they are. You never know if they’re true or not. I’m hoping to get the drop on him then drag his ass that way to finally bring that bastard to justice. He’s got a lot of wrongs to answer for.”

“Such as?” Cobra raised a brow.

“Well, kidnapping and possibly a few murders to start with,” Cotton explained. “Like I said, all I ever heard were rumors but Odin is as bad as they come.”

Cobra sneered. “Well then, let's go get the fucking piece of shit and ask him some questions.” He turned to the warehouse and after a moment, he located the entrances and the exits. He’d learned the lessons his dad and others had taught him and he used that to teach his own men. The Soldiers were feared and respected in their town for a reason.

Gypsy grabbed his phone and brought up a program Rigger had sent him. It was the plans for the warehouse and he tapped Cobra’s arm to show him.

 Cobra mapped out a way in.

Gypsy pointed out where he’d spotted Odin and the men quickly formed a plan.

“As much as I’d like for us to just slit their throats and let them rot, we can’t. So try not to hurt them too bad.” Cobra chuckled.

“Brother,” Cotton interrupted. “I sent Scarlet and my baby girl to the protection of the Brothers of Chaos. Odin and the cartel made it impossible for them to stay in San Antonio. I have to take this crackhead and his killer brother back for justice.”

Cobra glared at his brother. “What? You mean this piece of shit intends head to that MC?”

Cotton nodded. “I think so. There’s more to this story than either of us knows and I think we need answers. Something went down between Odin and the Chaos MC some years ago. I don’t normally stick my nose into things that aren’t my business but Scarlet made friends with someone caught in the middle and she was almost beat to death helping the woman. I want someone to pay for that.” He shook his head. “She never told me who or why but nobody hurts my family and gets away with it.”

“Then let’s go get these fuckers.” Cobra was enraged to hear this shit. “This Odin will be alive when we take him back, he doesn’t have to be happy about it, but he’ll be breathing.” He turned and took the knife from the sheath at his waist again.

The others took out their weapons and they all began their advance on the warehouse.

 

 

Chapter Eight

 

Inez had waited for over an hour before they got back. When she saw Gypsy walk through the door, the stress inside her melted away. She didn’t realize it mattered so much until she saw him again. Shay still wasn’t here and she was worried about that as well.

She jumped up to rush over to where he was standing and threw herself into his arms.

Gypsy was stunned as he wrapped his arms around her. Lifting her up, he held her close. This was a new wrinkle and he wasn’t sure if he should like it or not but right now, he was just happy she'd missed him.

Inez leaned back and looked at him. “I’m glad you made it back okay,” she told him quietly.

Gunner, Boone and several of the others went out to see what the guys brought back with them.

When Gunner saw Cotton standing next to Cobra while wearing a Hade's Demons MC cut, he paused then frowned as he stared at the two men. “What the hell is all this?”

“Gunner, I want you to meet my little brother, Micah.” Cobra turned to face them. “His handle is Cottonmouth as our dad insisted on giving us names after snakes.”

“And what is your brother doing in our town?” Boone wanted to know.

“Chasing vermin.” Cobra's smile fell away. He nodded at the back of the truck.

Gunner and the others walked to the back of the truck and viewed what the men had found.

 Odin and Burr we hogtied and gagged as they could only glare and mumble. Both men looked bruised and battered but they were still breathing.

“What are you going to do with them?” Gunner asked.

“Cotton wants to take them to New Mexico to face MC justice.” Cobra squinted at Gunner.

“Why New Mexico?” Boone asked.

Cotton looked over at them and narrowed his eyes. “This story goes back many years. Can we talk about this inside and I’ll tell you what I know.”

“What do you want done with these two?” Boone motioned his head at the men in the truck bed.

“Do you have some cells?” Cotton asked.

Boone nodded.

“I don’t know if I would untie them if I were you though,” Cotton remarked. “Odin doesn’t have much sense when it comes to being beat. And he fights dirty too.”

Boone turned to order a few of his own men to take both prisoners to the cells.

Cobra led his brother inside and took a couple of beers Ivy Blue handed him. He grinned at her, then introduced her to Cotton, “Brother, this is Ivy Blue, she belongs to me.”

Cotton looked a bit stunned, but he nodded then grabbed Ivy Blue and hugged her tight.

Cobra glared at him.

Ivy Blue lifted her knee to nail him in the balls.

She would have hurt him if Cotton hadn’t deflected the blow and released her while laughing. “Now Ivy Blue, that wasn’t nice,” Cotton drawled.

“Mind your manners then, buster.” She growled. Walking over to Cobra, she let him wrap his arms around her and from the safety of his hold, she stated, “You heard the man, I belong to him, not you. I don’t care if you are his brother.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Cotton chuckled and lifted his beer in a salute to his brother. “I can plainly see she is the woman for you.”

Cobra smiled and shook his head.

Gunner, Boone and some of the others sat down at a table behind them.

Ivy Blue moved from Cobra's embrace then Cobra turned to sit himself down.

Cotton pulled up a chair and sat down beside him. He looked at the group. “From what I’ve been able to understand, this story goes back twenty years or so. Odin, of the Vikings MC grabbed a woman off the street and took her to his compound under protest. Thunder, the president of Brothers of Chaos MC watched him do it and went after her. He didn’t know her but he didn’t like what Odin had done either. He challenged Odin for the woman and Odin fought him but like I said before, Odin fights dirty and so he cheated.” Cotton shrugged. “Odin still lost and Thunder rode away with the woman. Apparently, Thunder was heading home that day after a run when he saw this go down. Someone filled me in just yesterday, as to why he took this particular woman in the first place. She was one of two that knew where a missing shipment of nuclear rods were and Odin was hoping to get his grubby hands on them, so he could make a sale to whoever had the most money. He’d heard through the grapevine about one particular group that had been looking for those rods for a few years back then. But he never found the rods.”

The men raised their brows at this part.

Cobra nodded at him to go on

Cotton took a sip of his beer and continued, “In the meantime, Odin’s group got hooked up with the cartel and he began running cartel drugs and guns. He couldn’t find the woman until twelve years later when someone called him and told him exactly where the woman was staying. He sent his brother to get her and bring her back to him. Burr found her but she had a nine year old kid with her. Well, he shot the guard, killing him there in the street then threw the woman and the kid in his car and got away.” He shook his head. “On his way back home, he stopped and left the kid in the desert with a fucking rope wrapped around her throat. Thunder's woman somehow got her hands on a gun, took out the driver and got away. Odin has been hunting her down since that time… well, I should say, it's been a race between Odin, the cartel and the group who stole the rods in the first place.”

The men all sipped at their beers as some shook their heads.

Gunner spoke up, "So this is what caused the bad blood between The Vikings and the Brothers of Chaos. I’d heard about it. Hell, many MCs have. We all hear rumors about it mostly, the hate they have for each other.”

Cotton nodded as he leaned back in his seat and looked around the room. “Thunder’s daughter finally made her way home again, though she's an adult now. She survived, amazingly. Thunder’s been looking for his woman. But he knows she won’t feel safe until he takes care of Odin and his group. The cartel took care of the MC but Odin was still out there. From what we know, the Brothers of Chaos are trying to make it safe for Thunder's woman to come home again. I followed Odin and Burr and now, we got them.”

“I can take them off her hands,” a voice called out quietly from just inside the doorway.

Everyone turned to the doorway.

Pappy and Dewey smiled as they recognized the man.

Inez whispered, “Shay.”

The man’s eyes snapped in her direction and when he found her, he opened his arms and she ran toward him. He gathered her to him and just held her tight for a moment. When he let her go, he studied her carefully. “Are you okay, baby girl?”

Inez nodded. “I’m better now. Gypsy saved me the other night when Dino caught up to me.”

He hugged her again, then released her. He walked her over to the table to nod at Pappy and Dewey. Then he looked at the men sitting there. He acknowledged Gunner with a nod. “Hello gentlemen. I am Shay Montross. I work for the military. I’ve worked with Pappy and Dewey and his bunch for more years than I care to remember.”

Gunner got to his feet and held out his hand. “I heard you were coming and why. Inez told us her story last night. We were more than happy to help her.”

Shay shook hands with him then looked over at Inez and smiled. “And I am very happy that you took her in. What she carried all this way is very important to the safety of our nation and we are trying to hunt these people down.”

Inez hung her head and tears rolled down her cheeks. Then she looked up at him. “That bastard Dino shot my dad. Then before he took off, he set our house on fire. I tried Shay, I really tried to get him out, but I couldn’t. He told me to run to get his reports to you, or to John. He died in my arms and I couldn’t get his body out of the fire.”

Shay held her close for a moment, then told her, “I got him out, sweetheart. We must have just missed each other that night. I was already on my way. Your dad called me earlier and he said, Dino was coming. He told me what he planned to ask you to do if I didn’t make it there in time to stop it. I arrived and ran in the fire to get him out. I called for you but you didn’t answer.”

Tears ran down her face. “Did you bury him next to my mom?”

Shay shook his head. “No, I didn’t. I had him cremated and I thought, maybe you and I could do that when the time was better. I couldn’t just bury him without you.”

Inez nodded. “Ok, thank you.” She looked around the room for a moment then she found Gypsy’s eyes.

She had a plea in her eyes and he could see it. Gypsy got up and walked over to them. He gently drew her into his arms and held her while he looked at the other man. She sobbed her heart out in his embrace.

Shay read the situation and nodded. He turned to face Pappy.

 Pappy narrowed his eyes at him. “I know you have your reasons, but you need to tell them.”

Shay paused to glance at Inez then he turned back to Pappy.

 Inez cried harder as she broke away from Gypsy’s arms and ran down the hall to his bedroom, then slammed the door behind her.

Gypsy glared at the man called Shay and growled at him.

“Because of my job, we felt it was essential to keep our relationship a secret," Shay attempted to explain. "For her safety and for mine. Her mother Mallory was my younger sister. Inez is my niece.”

Gypsy sneered at him. “What the hell kind of uncle are you then? Do you know what you put her through? Do you have any idea?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Shay frowned.

“You had her number! You called her the other day.” Gypsy glared at him. “Why didn’t you have her meet you somewhere and take her under your wing months ago?”

“It wasn’t possible, it was never safe,” Shay argued.

“You fucking bastard,” Gypsy swore. “You left her out there on her own, thinking her dad was burned in the fire. She had no one to talk to, no one to ask for help and on top of all that, she was being chased by the man who killed her father. You call her Mallory to remember your sister but did you ever stop to think how that was hurting her? She knows you loved her mother but did you ever show her you loved her for who she is?” He let out an exasperated breath. “My god man, she was alone, scared shitless for four months, trying to stay alive so she could turn over her dad’s work to you when you could have stopped it anytime you wanted. You should have given her John’s phone number and he would have met her anywhere and gotten her to safety.”

“He’s right and you know it,” Grizzly agreed as he too glared at Shay. “I know you have to keep your life a secret but she’s your family. Fuck man, you were all she had left.”

Shay looked unmovable though there was empathy in his eyes as he let out a heavy sigh, but he stared right back at Grizzly.

~*~

Disgusted, Gypsy turned and walked away. He followed her footsteps down the hall and disappeared into his bedroom. He found her huddled up in a fetal position on the bed, sobbing. He went over to her and gathered her into his arms and when he sat down, she was in his lap.

He just held her for the longest time.

When she stopped crying, neither of them said a word.

Then she whispered, “Shay is my mom’s brother.”

“I know, he told us.”

“Did he also tell you that he hated my dad? He believes it’s because of my dad that my mom died. Dad used to take mom and me all over the world with him when he would go to investigate new biologics. When he was in Africa she caught what we thought was the flu. Turns out, it wasn’t just the flu. It was a slow kind of cancer that was fatal and there was no cure for it. My dad worked day and night to understand what the disease was, so he could find a cure but it didn’t help mom. She died too quickly. Dad found a cure for it just a few months after she died. I don’t think Shay ever forgave him. So when he says we would bury my dad together, I have to question that.”

Gypsy tightened his hold on her but didn’t say anything. Finally, he asked her, “Why didn’t he come for you and get you to safety sooner?”

She shrugged. “The other day was only the second time he’s called me since before dad died.”

“When was the first time?” Gypsy frowned.

“About two months ago. I was in Ohio and I begged him for help but he told me I should do what my dad asked me to do. He said he didn’t have much time but that he wanted to know how close I was till I could get to John. Then before I could answer, the call got cut off.”

“Why didn’t you just call the US Marshals office and have them get in touch with Grizzly?”

“I didn’t know who I could trust and who I couldn’t. My dad told me to only give the serum to John Crowly.”

“I think your uncle has a lot of explaining to do, not only to us but to you as well,” Gypsy growled in her ear.

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

Inez got up and walked over to the window. She wrapped her arms around her tummy and stared out at the back yard. “You know as long as my dad was alive, I never wanted to admit it, but you could be right about Shay. I mean I know he’s one of the good guys and in that respect, I do trust him. He would never betray this country. But I remember how I used to watch him when we got together as a family. The way he acted around my dad. I think he hated him. I never knew why and never crossed my mind to ask, but they were never close. Then after we lost mom, he didn’t come around again for many years.”

Gypsy sat and watched her as he listened.

She paused for the longest time then said, “I don’t think Shay actually knows what this is all about. He thinks this stuff dad helped to create will just make some people sick but it won’t. It will actually kill thousands of people before it's done.”

Gypsy stared at her. “Why would your dad agree to make something like that?”

Inez shook her head. “That’s just it, my dad didn’t make the supersized red tide. When he got it, it had already been altered. My dad only made the antidote. He tried to tell Shay… he did try, but Shay didn’t want to hear it. He went off on my dad about how if he did this… he would be a serial killer, murdering thousands like he murdered my mom.” She shook her head. “That was the biggest fight I ever heard. I kind of felt caught in the middle of two superpowers. I love them both but in the end, I guess I sided with my dad. Shay was blinded to the fact that no matter what dad did to try and save my mom in the end it didn’t matter. She was gone but my dad finished his work and found a cure. At least, it will help others. He did that, so no more people would lose their loved ones to that disease. I don’t believe Shay ever forgave him for that. I think that’s why he didn’t bury my dad with my mom. But I know something about my parents that Shay never understood, not really.”

“And what would that be?” He wanted to know.

“They loved each other with a passion I can only hope to find one day.” She gazed out the window. “Dad was almost broken after she died. I think the only thing that kept him from following her then was the fact that she asked him to promise he would finish his work. She told him he had so much to offer the world but he had to be there to see it through.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. “I hope wherever they are, they are finally together again. And when this is over, I will bury him next to her… whether Shay likes it or not.”

Gypsy got up and walked over to her. Wrapping his arms around her, he held her for the longest time.

Then she broke away and wiped her tears. “Come on I want to get this done, so we can move forward. I still have to turn over the vials and my dad’s research.”

Before she could walk away from him, Gypsy grabbed her and hauled her into his arms again. This time when she looked up at him, he did something so out of character it surprised them both. He crushed her mouth with his own and when their lips touched…sparks flew.

Inez groaned and wrapped her arms around his neck drawing him in closer. The kiss deepened when his tongue breached her lips and they began kissing in earnest. They finally broke away and both were panting for air. She hadn’t noticed but during the kiss, Gypsy had backed her up against the wall and when the kiss ended, her knees felt weak. She leaned against the wall and looked up at him in awe. “Wow. I never knew…”

Gypsy took a step away and the look in his eyes suggested he was stunned. He just stared at her. His eyes fastened on her lips which were swollen just then. He never felt anything close to what he’d just felt when he kissed her.

He shook his head as if to clear it then whispered, “What the fuck are you doing to me woman?”

Pain cut through her at his thinly veiled question. She pushed him away and went to the door. Without a word, she walked through it and joined the others. She went outside and over to Gypsy’s bike.

She didn’t see Gunner, Boone and Grizzly follow her to the door. They all frowned as they watched her.

 She knelt down beside his bike and reached behind the saddlebag to collect something she’d put there the night Dino shot at her. It was a small container. She stood up and took off her belt. Taking the small blue flash drive from a special pouch in the back of the belt, she then put the belt back around her waist. Then she turned and walked back to the clubhouse. She handed both items to the man they called Grizzly. “This is what those people murdered my father for. He never supersized the red tide but he did make the antidote. This is only a sample of what they sent to him. My dad considered this a major threat.”

She handed the items over to him and was about to walk away when Grizzly asked, “Shouldn’t you be giving this stuff to your uncle?”

“My dad wanted me to give it to you. What you do with it is up to you.” She glanced over at Gunner, “My dad and Shay had a love/hate relationship, mostly hate but that was between them. Shay never thought my dad was good enough for his sister. Especially since, he found a cure shortly after she died of the disease that killed her. I never understood his reasoning and I suppose now, it doesn’t matter at all.”

Gunner nodded. “We figured that out. I’m just sorry he left you out there on your own for four months when he didn’t have to.”

Inez shrugged. “He did what he did, can’t change any of that now. We can only move on with life.” She closed her eyes and then opened them again. “I’m hoping I can unite them again, in the afterlife but I doubt he’ll allow that. That will hurt but it won’t kill me. I’ve always known how he felt.” She turned to see her uncle standing there watching her.

Neither of them said anything then Inez walked the other way.

Inez found a spot that offered her shade and a place to think. Someone had formed an alcove or a bower in a small garden like area here. It looked new but right then she didn’t care, she just needed a place to think. She sat down on the bench. As early as it was in the day the weather was hot and the sky offered no natural remedy for the heat. But that was Texas. She just needed a place to stop and think. Just for a moment.

~*~

Shay turned to the men gathered nearby and began to say something.

 All the men turned, heading back inside the clubhouse, without giving him a chance to explain himself.

Gypsy went in and joined the others, but he sat as far away from Shay as he could get. He looked around for Inez. Lunch came and went and still she didn’t return and Gypsy needed to find her.

When he didn’t see, her he looked over at Gunner.

Gunner caught his gaze and motioned his head toward the outside.

Gypsy nodded.

He slipped out the back door to search for her. Checking the most obvious areas and not finding her Gypsy began to get worried. He looked up at the Texas sun and wiped a bead of sweat off his face. He lived here. He was used to this sweltering heat but she was from Vermont. She’d been out here for a good couple of hours by this time… he had to find her.

He suddenly turned and rushed toward the only place he could think of she might have taken refuge. DeeDee and Winona’s little garden area. Gunner had just finished it not even two days ago. He prayed he would find her there.

 He spotted the pergola garden and when he saw her sitting there, he exhaled in relief. Approaching slowly, he studied her carefully for heat exhaustion. When he didn’t find any, he still knew she had to be overheated.

He sat down next to her and asked softly, “Are you okay? You’ve been out here a long time.”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just don’t know what I’m going to do now.”

“What do you mean, what you’re going to do now?” He frowned.

She turned to look at him. “I mean what do I do now? Dino burned my home to the ground, I got no family anymore. I don’t have a job, as I haven’t been there in over four months. I did what my dad asked me to do and now, it's all over.”

 “No my sweet girl it’s not over.” He shook his head. “Dino is still out there looking for you. So you can’t go anywhere until we stop him and find out who is responsible for this travesty. Shay is still your uncle even if he doesn’t want to be. He’s still family.” He paused then added, “And for what’s it worth, you got me now.”

She half smiled at his statement but didn’t say anything.

“Come on, let’s get you out of this heat,” he insisted. “You missed breakfast and lunch and you have to eat something too.” Standing up, he reached his hand out and she slowly put her hand in his.

He led her back to the clubhouse and into the kitchen via the back door.

Winona and DeeDee were in there clearing away lunch and when they walked in DeeDee smiled.

“Can we make a sandwich or something?” Gypsy asked. “Inez missed lunch.”

“Sure thing,” DeeDee said. “Help yourselves to whatever you want.”

Inez spotted some bananas and asked, “Do you have any peanut butter?”

DeeDee grinned. “Sure do. Creamy or crunchy?”

“Creamy please.” Inez grabbed a couple slices of bread. She spread the peanut butter on thick and then placed a sliced banana on top and put on the second slice of peanut butter bread.

Gypsy shook his head as he scowled. “You are going to actually eat that?”

“Been eating it all my life. My mom loved it too.” She grabbed a bottle of water, sat down at the counter and devoured her sandwich.

Shay came into the kitchen as she picked up the second half of her sandwich and gasped when he saw her. When Inez looked up at him, she saw him swallow hard. She took another bite as she watched him.

“I’m leaving soon and I wanted to give you this.” He stepped forward and put a small wooden box in front of her.

~*~

Inez laid her sandwich on the plate and stared at the box for a moment. She could see a silver plate on the side of the box with her dad’s name on it and she knew what it was. She lifted dry eyes and stared at her uncle. She nodded slowly at him and he turned to leave.

Gypsy growled. “That’s just cold, you fucking bastard.”

Shay looked up at him. “I have my reasons for hating her father. But I did my duty. I brought him to her and now, I’m done.”

“She is a person in her own right, not just her father’s daughter. She is your sister’s flesh and blood as well. She deserves better than you that’s for damn sure. You are one cold hearted sonofabitch.” Gypsy glared as he grabbed the other man by the arm.

“Let him go Gypsy. Please?” Inez called out. “We may share a bloodline but I don’t think he ever saw it that way, he’ll never see it. He could never see anything past my mom dying before my dad found a cure. He didn’t care that he worked twenty hours a day from the day she got sick until the day she died. He couldn’t see how hard he worked after she died so that no one would ever have to die from that horrible disease. No matter what he thinks, my dad loved my mom and she loved him back, right up until the day she died. That’s what burns him the most, my mother wouldn’t leave her husband and child because she loved us, she chose us over him and the rest of her family. Let him go, he’s the one missing out.”

Shay stiffened and then growled as he walked out of the kitchen.

Inez didn’t say anymore but instead, she picked up her sandwich and took another bite. She tried to chew and swallow it she really did but she couldn’t. She laid her sandwich on her plate, went over to the garbage can, spit out her food and dumped the rest. She put the plate in the sink. Then she picked up the box, her water and disappeared from the room.

~*~

“Oh Gypsy,” DeeDee called out softly. “That poor girl.”

Gypsy nodded. “Yeah, I was always told Shay was a fair man but now?”

“She needs you to hold her, and just listen to her,” Winona told him. “She may not know it but she needs to know someone is in her corner.”

“I’ll be there for her and she won’t be alone. She’s been alone most of her life from what little she has shared but she isn’t going to be alone anymore.” He went after her.

When he joined the others in the main room, he noticed Pappy gathering his stuff. He looked over at Gunner.

 Gunner told him, “Pappy and his men are on their way to touch base with the Brothers of Chaos in New Mexico. Cottonmouth and Cobra are leaving soon as well. They will haul Odin and Burr to them for MC justice.”

“I’m going with them as a rep for the Savaged Souls,” Boone announced.

Pappy looked over at Gypsy and asked, “Is Inez all right?”

Gypsy shook his head. “Shay just blew her off. She might be used to that but it doesn’t sit right with me.”

Pappy shook his head. “Most of us didn’t even know he had a family before this. He never talked about her but I knew his sister had a child.”

“He dismissed her,” Gypsy stated flatly. “Because her dad couldn’t save her mom by finding a cure for the disease that was killing her. Instead, he found the cure a few months after her mom died. Shay never forgave him for that.”

Pappy just shook his head. “Shay always was a stubborn man.”

“This goes beyond being a stubborn Pappy.” Gypsy glared at him. “He was cold hearted to her just now, when she needs family love and support, the most.”

“Keep her here and keep her safe.” Pappy shook his head. “We got people looking into Dino and the men he works for. I know Shay has his people looking too. We’ll find out who they are and then we’ll bury them.”

“She isn’t going anywhere,” Gypsy stated.

“Good.” Pappy nodded. “I’ll be in touch in a few days.” Looking over at Cobra he added, “I’ll see you when you get to New Mexico.”

Gypsy walked to his room. He didn’t know if she would be there or not but he had to know. He opened the door and found her sitting in a corner sobbing, still holding the box Shay had given her.

He closed his door and walked over to her. He squatted down in front of her and gathered her into his arms. Picking her up, he carried her over to the bed and sat down on the edge of it. “I got you darlin,” he whispered in her ear. “I got you.”

Inez nodded. “I don’t want to be alone. Can I stay with you, please?”

“Yeah, you can stay with me.”

She put the box she held on the night table beside the bed. Then she turned back to him. Looking in his eyes she asked, “Will you kiss me again?”

He stared back at her. “I can do more than just kiss you, but you need know something first. If we do this, I’m claiming you and you aren’t ever leaving if I do.”

She stared in his eyes and read the truth of his statement. She licked her dry lips and whispered, “Ok. I think I’m ready for that.” She leaned forward and brushed her lips on his.

Gypsy groaned and grabbed her and wrapped his arms around her crushing her to him. He deepened the kiss and they both lost control.

He tore her clothes off and she moaned when he touched her bare skin. She groaned when they were both skin to skin. Then she was on her back and he positioned himself in her cradle. He froze for a moment then asked her again, “Are you sure this is what you want?”

She nodded. “Oh god, yes I want this….”

Gypsy nudged himself inside her then surged in.

Inez gasped then cried out. With each stroke, she climbed higher and higher.

Gypsy pounded into her and when he felt the familiar tingle at the base of his spine, he ramped up his strokes and then he held on tight when she exploded in his arms. He roared and flooded her with his seed.

He hadn’t come this hard or this much in years and when he finished, he collapsed on top of her. He groaned when he slid off of her and settled beside her. He leaned over top of her and looked down into her eyes. “Are you okay?”

Inez nodded. “Better than okay. That was crazy wild, yet so wonderful.”

“You’re mine now. Remember that because that means something to me.”

“Are you sure about this?” she whispered.

“I’m as sure as I am that some days are hotter than hell.” He smiled at her.

“Ok then.” She smiled back then pulled him towards her and crushed his mouth with her own. This time, she led the kiss. When the kiss broke she asked, “Can we do that again?”

Gypsy bit at his lip as he smiled.

 

Chapter Ten

 

Gypsy smiled down at her and said, “Yeah, we’ll do that again, but right now we have to join the others if you feel up to it. We need to ask you some questions, so we can track down this Dino bastard.”

Inez sighed hard. “Yeah, I suppose. But I don’t know how much more I know about the man.” She paused, then asked, “Did Shay leave?”

Gypsy looked away but nodded. “Yeah, the fucker left.”

Inez sighed and closed her eyes. “I didn’t think he’d stick around.”

“Well, he should have treated you better. You’re part of his family.” Gypsy growled.

Inez looked at him. “I think I was only really part of his family until my mom died, then he turned his back on Dad and I. I didn’t mean anything to him after mom died.”

“That’s harsh. But I think there’s more going on here than meets the eye. Shay doesn’t seem the type of man that we've been shown. Pappy thinks a lot of him and Pappy is usually right on the mark.”

Inez shrugged. “I grew up and those two men, dad and Shay I mean, were forever at each other’s throats. I always thought it was because Shay didn’t want my mom to marry my dad. She had a huge fight with her entire family when they got married. Her family told her they would shut her out if she stayed with dad. She loved him and she wasn’t going anywhere. Shay was the only one of her family who kept in touch with her over the years. They were so much in love with each other and Dad never made a move without her. They were so happy together. Mom homeschooled me, so we could travel the world with him. I was fourteen when she died. I watched the man I called Dad crumble into nothing. When my mom was dying, she begged him to finish his work. They both knew it wouldn’t help her but she wanted him to make sure the disease wouldn’t take anyone else. Dad promised her that he wouldn’t let her down.”

Gypsy laced her fingers with his as he listened.

 “Shay was the only one that showed up for her funeral. Her parents declared that they wouldn’t show up if Dad was going to be there. I have no idea what they had against him.” She looked at him, “I’ve never even met my grandparents, and I don’t even know why.”

Gypsy shook his head. “Well, you got us now. We’ll be your family.”

She paused. “That…” Then shook her head, “…is like the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me.”

He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it. “I never say anything I don’t mean, Baby Girl.”

She stared at him. “Um…could we go into town today? When I left my home, I took a backpack my dad had packed. He told me about the pack the night before he was killed. I haven’t even looked in it.”

Gypsy frowned. “How could you not look in the pack when you had it for months?”

“I guess I just didn’t want to look. I mean for the first month I was on the road I was still in shock from seeing him shot right in front of me and then him dying in my arms. I ran into Dino twice in that first month. When he shot at me the second time I guess I came out of my stupor. I knew if I didn’t he would end up killing me and no one would ever know I was alive or dead. I had to get here and I made up my mind that I would see my dad’s last wish completed. After that it just didn’t seem to matter what was in the pack.  But…” she paused, “I had to stash the pack when I ran last night. I couldn’t take it with me.”

“Ok, well let’s go get your backpack.” He got up and got dressed and she did the same.

When they reached the main room everyone was there including Pappy and his group.

Gunner looked up and noticed Gypsy heading over to his table.

Gypsy nodded at him. “Inez had to stash a backpack the night she ran from Dino. She’d like to get it back. It was one her dad had ready for her in case she had to bug out.”

Pappy glanced over at Gunner. “Mind if we stay long enough to see what’s in it? There might be more to this than we know at the moment.”

Gunner nodded. “Take someone with you as backup in case Dino finds you.”

Skeeter got to his feet. “I’ll ride with them.”

Gunner nodded, then looked back at Inez. “Go get your pack and get back here. I don’t want my men put in the line of danger any longer than necessary.”

She shook her head. “I don’t want that either.”

A few minutes later, two bikes rode out of the compound.

 Inez hung on to Gypsy as they drove back into town. She told them she’d stashed the pack near the bar where they met and where Dino shot her.

After Gypsy parked in the alley behind Scruffy’s, she got off the bike and walked down the alley to a wooden fence.

 Gypsy and Skeeter followed her and observed her searching the long grass around the back of the shed on Scruffy’s land.

She finally plucked a backpack out from the underbrush. She dusted it off and carried it back to where they were standing. “It was still there. I wasn’t sure if he’d seen me hide it or not.”

“Do you have any idea what’s in there?” Skeeter asked.

She shook her head. “I didn’t even know dad packed it. When he told me to run, he told me where the pack was. He insisted I run and I take this pack.”

“Well, let’s get it back to the clubhouse,” Skeeter said.

They got back on the bikes and began their way back.

When they stopped at a red light Inez happened to turn her head and when she did she saw the working end of a gun pointed at them. She patted Gypsy’s arm and screamed in his ear. “Move, he’s got his sights on us.”

Gypsy didn’t even bother to look; he gunned his engine and tore away from the light. Skeeter followed suit and as they moved out of the way, they heard the pinging of bullets  bouncing off a traffic sign across from where they’d been stopped at a few seconds earlier.

Gypsy gripped the hand controls of his bike as he raced away. Weaving in and out of traffic both he and Skeeter sped back to the compound. When they got there, Gypsy hit the code that would open the gate and it was barely open when he gunned his bike through it.

Gunner and Pappy showed up at the front door as the men were pulling up to park.

Skeeter hit the code again and the gates swung shut before they were even half way open.

 Hurriedly, Gypsy kicked the stand down on his bike and dragged Inez off the bike and inside immediately.

Once they were inside, Gypsy turned to her and saw how pale she was. “Are you all right?” he asked as he searched her over to see if she had been shot.

Inez trembled and nodded. She swung the bag off her back and looked it over carefully. When she’d taken it from the house one of the reasons she never looked inside it was because there was a combination lock on it and she didn’t know the combination.

The lock was still in place and she sighed in relief. Looking at Gypsy, she asked him the same question. “Are you guys all right?”

Gypsy nodded and looked over at Skeeter. “You good?”

Skeeter had a streak of blood on his shoulder but other than that, he looked okay. “It’s a scratch man. Could have been a lot worse.”

Gunner and Pappy joined them.

“Will someone tell me what the hell is going on here?” Gunner growled the words out. “Why did you guys rush back here like someone was burning your ass with a torch?”

Gypsy turned to his president. “We collected the pack and stopped at a red light when Inez told us to move. We did and seconds later, we heard a street sign pinging with bullets being sprayed. Someone was shooting at us.”

“Was it Dino?” Pappy wanted to know.

“I don’t know. She told us there was a gun trained on us, so we hauled ass,” Gypsy told them. “He must have been waiting for us.”

“How the fucking hell did he know where we’d be?” Skeeter asked, not really asking anyone in particular.

Gunner turned to Inez. “Just what the hell is in that backpack?”

Inez held it out to him. “I have no clue. It’s been locked for the last four months. I never opened it.”

“Do you mind if we open it?” He had to ask, but he was going to open it whether she agreed or not. Whatever was in this pack had almost cost him two of his men and he wanted answers.

 Inez shook her head. “I don’t care if you do. We all need to now more about this, especially me.”

 Gunner took the pack over to the table and checked the lock. He looked over at Boone and said something about a lock cutter.

Boone disappeared briefly and when he came back, he had a set of pliers that looked like metal cutters.

Gunner took that from him, snapped the lock off and unzipped the zipper. Pulling the items out one by one, he laid them out on the table. There was a small lockbox and a file folder. He pulled out a small bag filled with flash drives and a small packet of letters. Then he pulled out several stacks of cash.

Inez walked over and stared at the stash her father had packed for her. She shook her head. None of this was worth his life. She looked over at the letters to see they were handwritten and were addressed to her. She picked them up and took the rubber band off them. Going through the small stack, she found dates on the envelopes and they had been written over the years since her mom died. She came to the last letter and found Shay’s name on the envelope. She shook her head, then looked over at Pappy. “Will you be seeing Shay anytime soon?”

Pappy nodded. “He should be in New Mexico in the next few days, why?”

“Can you give him this? He may not read it because it’s from my dad but he wanted him to get it.” She handed him the thick letter.

“And if he doesn’t read it?” Pappy asked.

She shrugged. “Can’t do nothing about that. There is always a good possibility he won’t, but that’s on him not me.”

“He’s your uncle.” Pappy pushed her a little.

Inez just stared at him. “If he was my uncle he would be here when I need him. If he were my uncle, he wouldn’t have left me out there with a killer on my back. He would have cared when I lost my last parent, but he didn’t. I really thought he might. I had a hope that he cared what happened to me when he showed up here but his actions showed he didn’t fucking care. We may share a bloodline but he hated my father more than he loved me. Family doesn’t treat you like that. So no. He is not really my anything, now is he?” She took the letters and walked out of the room.

Heading outside, she wanted some privacy to read her father’s last thoughts. She went back to the garden spot and when she sat down, she took a deep breath and opened the first of the letters. Going by dates, she went back to when the first letter was written. It would have been shortly after her mother died.

Tears ran freely down her cheeks as she read her dad’s words. He spoke of the great pain in his heart from losing her mother and how much he hated burying her in Maine. He said she told him how much she hated it there, and how glad she was when they made their home in Vermont. He spoke of how at the time of her death he caved into Shay’s insistence that she be buried near her family. Her dad spoke of how rather than fight with her family, he gave her back to them but later he regretted his decision and how much he wanted her with him when he passed. He told her that Shay and his family would never allow that to happen and how much that hurt his heart.

She kept reading the letters and she learned so much about her dad that she hadn’t known before. The letters showed another side of him. She got to know him as a man, not just her dad.

She made it to the last letter and it had a date just a few days before he died. Her fingers trembled as she opened it and tears ran down her cheeks as she read his words. This letter was longer than the others, and it took her longer to get through it.

When she finally got through it, she laid the letter on top of all the rest and just sobbed. She finally knew the truth about her mom’s death and it hurt. She hadn’t died of cancer like Inez thought she had. She had been murdered. But not by something her dad did.

No, someone after Shay got to her and poisoned her. He wanted Shay to know he could be got to anytime, anywhere and his sister paid the price. The bastard wanted Shay to know he could get to him any time, any place. Her dad had told her in the letter that was one of the reasons Shay wasn’t around too much after her mom died. He hadn’t wanted to bring their connection to the eyes of his enemies.

Her dad told her he kept her mom alive as long as he could but the poison she’d been given had done too much damage internally and he couldn’t stop it from ending her life.  He’d found the antidote just a few weeks after her death so no one would be able to use the poison again but it was at the cost of a woman who had nothing to gain and everything to lose. He told her it was an illness, because the less Inez knew the better off she would be.

Gypsy joined her and for a few minutes, he just stared at her. “Are you okay?” he finally asked.

Inez shook her head. She slid the letters in his direction but Gypsy didn’t take his eyes off her. “When this is over can we please go get my mother and move her, so she can be buried with my dad? It won’t be a pleasant thing to do and I may have to fight to get it done but they need to be together.”

“We can do whatever you want,” he promised her. He paused then said, “Come on, we found something you need to know about.” He held out his hand and waited while she gathered the letters together and then holding her hand tightly, he led her back into the clubhouse.

 

 

Chapter Eleven

 

When they joined the others, Inez saw the lock box that came from the backpack, sitting on the table.

Pappy glanced over at her and nodded at the box. “Can you open it?”

She shrugged. “I can try.” She picked up the box and gazed at the combination lock. Knowing her father, it could be any combo of numbers, so she began with the most obvious one. His birthday. Whirling the numbers she tried she was disappointed when the box didn’t open. Then she tried her mother’s birthday, but again the box didn’t open. Then she tried her own birthday. Again…disappointed.

Then she tried her parents’ anniversary.

Everyone in the room gasped when the box clicked open.

She carefully opened the box and then frowned. It held a bunch of folded paperwork as well as a book. Inez recognized the book as one of her father’s medical diaries. Like the one he used whenever he started a new project. It would hold every step he took when researching a new element or biologic.

She picked up the book and set the box back down on the table. The she took up the bundle of papers and handed them to Pappy. She began thumbing through the book and as she did, she realized something. This was about the poison that killed her mother.

Gypsy saw her turning pale, so he rushed over to her and helped her to sit down. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

She looked up at him in a daze. “This is what killed my mom.” She pushed the book toward him.

Gypsy stared at her, not the book. “How do you know? You thought she died of cancer.”

“Because he listed her symptoms every step of the way….” She swallowed heavily and went on, “w-what she went through each and every day.” She closed her eyes.

Gypsy hauled her over onto his lap and just held her. “Do you know what they are looking at?” He motioned his head at Pappy, Dewey and Gunner across the room.

Inez shook her head. “I have no idea. Notes, I would imagine. My dad always kept copious notes when he was working.”

Pappy got up from the table and came over to her. Kneeling down in front of her, he asked, “Do you know who contacted your dad to ask him to work on the antidote for the red tide biologic he was working on?”

She shook her head. “Dad was very careful about what he told me and he never ever told me who contacted him. He respected the confidentiality of his work. Why?”

Pappy frowned then held up the papers in his hand. “Because these papers site names and tell us exactly who contacted him.” He looked over at Gypsy. “And if this list is accurate, it isn’t good.” He got to his feet and gazed down Inez. “We’re going to have to get your uncle back here.”

Inez shrugged. “You can always ask but he probably won’t come back. Makes no difference to me though.”

Pappy glared at her. “It might make a difference to him.”

Inez sighed as she peered up at him. with no emotion in her eyes or on her face. “I doubt my welfare will be a concern to him at all. He didn’t seem to care when I was out in the wind for those four months with a killer hunting me down, did he? It didn’t seem to make a difference between the time my mom died or when my dad was killed, either. For my whole life, he barely came around. Oh, I know he had his reasons, he always did. You can have him  come back but I don’t have to see him. Tell him I’ll steer clear, so he doesn’t have to see me.” She picked up the book she’d been looking at and handed it to him. “These are my father’s notes about the biologic that poisoned my mom. It chronicles all that happened at the time she got sick and what the poison did to her body as it ravaged her. His antidote should be in the back and instructions as to how to fight it.”

“Why are you giving it to me?” Pappy wanted to know.

“Because I’m hoping you are a decent human being and that you’ll make sure it gets into the right person’s hands. If that’s Shay’s hands, then so be it. Just don’t give it up to the wrong person. They will use it to their own advantage and more people will die a horrible death. My mom was a strong woman and she tried so hard to hang on, but she just couldn’t. I don’t want anyone else to be taken by this poison like she was.”

~*~

Pappy turned and went back over to where the other men had gathered .

Gunner looked at him and asked, “How did she take it?”

“Shay has a lot to answer for.” He wiped his hand down his face and commented, “She also pointed out that he might not return as long as she’s here.” He sighed. “And she might be right on the mark about that. I never knew what he had against her father but he sure had a hatred for Michael.”

Gunner leaned forward and placed his hands firmly on the table. “I don’t give a shit if he hated her father or not.” He growled. “She isn’t her father. She’s part of the sister he supposedly loved. He shouldn’t have left her out there on her own either. Grizzly would have gone to her anywhere she was if he had given her his number. I know that and so do you.”

Pappy nodded.

“Pappy,” Dewey called out as he was still looking at the papers they found in Michael’s lock box. He looked up at his VP. “Did you read this list of names Michael collected?”

“I glanced over them. What about it?” Pappy frowned.

Dewey pushed the papers over to him and then pointed out one particular name. Owen Evers.

Pappy felt his blood run cold. He stared at Dewey then turned around to stare at Inez. “How the hell did his name get on that list?” he wondered out loud.

“I don’t know but we have to check this out.” Dewey reached for his phone to call his wife.

Pappy ran his hands over the back of his head.

Gunner just stared at the man. “What does this man mean to you guys? Who is he?”

“He’s the man directly under Shay in his department,” Pappy dropped his bomb. “Shay has worked with him every single day.”

Gunner sat down quickly and turned his head to stare at Inez. When he turned back to Pappy he said, “He’s been informed every step of the way on this investigation then hasn’t he? He knows everything Shay knows. He would know how and when to hide where this group was wouldn’t he?”

Cobra nodded in agreement. “And the bastard would know where the players are every fucking step of the way too. Every time Inez checked in with her uncle, he would have been in the position to let Dino know where she was.”

Gunner frowned and looked over at him. “But she said he never called her after Ohio, not until she got here.”

Cobra shrugged, “If Shay had a way to track her phone he would have already known where she was. How else would that fucker, Dino know exactly where she was when he took that shot at her while she was sitting in this clubhouse? There is no way he would have known exactly her position if he had no way to track her. She could have been anywhere in town but he found her right here.”

“Shay called her earlier that day,” Boone pointed out. “He would have gotten a fix on her from that phone call.”

Cobra nodded then tapped his temple in response.

Pappy grabbed his phone and called Shay. He moved away from the group briefly when Shay picked up the call.  The two men argued but Pappy got his point across and then he hung up. He took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. He moved back to the group and shook his head. “That man is so damn stubborn at times.”

Cobra snorted but didn’t say anything.

Gunner finally asked, “Is he on his way back?”

Pappy nodded. “Reluctantly, but he is coming back.” Shaking his head he admitted, “He doesn’t believe Owen’s name is really included in these papers but he’s willing to hear the evidence.”

Dewey nodded. “I’ve got Trudy working to connect the names. If anyone can find a connection, my woman can.” He shuffled through the rest of the papers Michael had gathered and something caught his eye. “Oh fucking hell,” he swore softly. Looking up at Pappy he pushed the paper at his president.

The paper he was looking at was a change of name application. Owen Evers name at birth was Barry Severs. Pappy grabbed the list of names he’d found earlier and searched Michael’s list of the people who hired him. The top name was Jared Severs. He was the man that financed the whole operation. “Owen changed his name when he was eighteen years old, before he joined the service under his new name. Then under his new identity, he worked his butt off to get as high in the military as he could. Now he’s in a position to be the perfect block to anyone finding his father. If Michael hadn’t recorded this information, we would never have known how he was connected.”

“We need confirmation though,” Dewey suggested. “I’ll let Trudy know what to look for.”

“We also need to know more about the names on that list.” Pappy nodded.

“She’s already working on that Captain,” Dewey assured him.

 “I guess we aren’t leaving just yet,” Pappy said. We need answers first.”

“Can’t be too long though. I know the Brothers want Odin as soon as they can get him,” Cobra let them know.

Pappy nodded. “I know but this is top priority at the moment. We need this info before we can move. All Owen would have had to do was keep his nose clean while giving his family vital information they needed to get around the law and avoid being picked up by the military.”

“Think of all the foreign contacts he’s made over the years,” Cobra pointed out. “He’s had access to all the files in the Pentagon. That could be how his dad and his friends got those unlimited funds.”

Pappy’s hands curled into fists. “But before we can even bring this up, we have to build our case cause fucking speculation won’t do it. No one will believe us without proper evidence and if we show our hand too soon, we’ll tip them off and we’ll never find them. They could go underground, leave Owen out to dry and never worry about it.”

“You have to wonder if Owen is aware of that.” Cobra snorted. “Does he know that after all he’s done for dear old daddy, his family would turn on him, and he would take the blame for everything?”

Pappy shook his head. “I met the man once and I didn’t think too much of him then and now, I think even less of him.”

“What did you think of him when you met him?” Gunner wanted to know.

“He was an ass. He looked down his nose at what Shay was trying to do but he wouldn’t leave the room. It was almost as if he didn’t want to miss any detail. When I wouldn’t continue because I think he knew I didn’t trust him, he acted all insulted and shit.”

Moose walked over and joined the group. “You do realize something here don’t you?”

Everyone looked at him.

He nodded, “You’re going to have to go back his whole military career and follow the money his family has made over the years. He’s the one link to this whole mess.”

“Dammit, we’d have to go back to the first day of his military career.” Pappy growled.

Moose nodded. “You may have to do just that but once you find where they started, you’ll find a pattern to follow. Along the way, you’ll find every time they broke the law. It isn’t going to be easy and you probably won’t find every deal but you’ll find enough to hang the whole fucking lot with. Question is will you even start?”

Pappy glared at him. “Ok, we’ll start and when we’re done, we’ll let the chips fall where they may. We’ll root this motherfucker out and expose his family to the very people he deals with. They will put a bullet in his head just to stop themselves from being exposed.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Shay growled from his position at the door.

Pappy turned to face him. “We found some damning evidence from Michael’s paperwork. Evidence that could uncover our worst nightmare coming true.”

Shay stomped his way forward. “Don’t you fucking believe anything that bastard says. Even after he’s dead, he’s still a liar and a cheat.”

“He’s my father.” Inez shouted at him. “He was an honorable man, you stinking prick.”

Shay turned to glare at her. “Honorable? You call a man that lied and deceived your mother honorable? How dare you, you spoiled rotten child.”

“He didn’t cheat and he never lied to her.” Inez growled.

“He had an affair with another woman,” Shay told her. “While she waited at home for him to remember he had a wife at home.”

“He never did that. You’re lying now!” she insisted.

“Do you want to know her name?” Shay snapped back.

Inez crossed her arms over her chest and nodded. “Yeah, you tell me her name if you can.”

“Her name was Ginger. Four years before your mother died, he had an affair with her for six months. Hell, your mom even knew it and yet, she still stayed with his sorry cheating ass.”

Inez froze and then started laughing. “Are you sure her name was Ginger?” she sputtered between laughter.

Shay looked incensed. “Yeah, her name was Ginger.”

Inez walked over to the table and grabbed the bag of flash drives on the table. She opened it and began looking at the names on the many drives. When she found the one drive she was looking for she turned to her uncle. “This is Ginger.” She handed the drive to Gunner’s IT guy, Rigger. “Plug this in and tell this idiot who Ginger is.” She turned to her uncle and glared at him. “And you can go to hell. My father loved my mother and he would never hurt her that way. Never. She loved him until the day she died too.” She went back to Gypsy and sat down in his lap.

He wrapped his arms around her.

Everyone in the room waited for Rigger to tell them what was on the drive.

Rigger opened the file and began to read Michael’s notes. After a few minutes he looked up at Gunner then he looked over at Shay. “Ginger is the name of a nasty biologic that was ravishing the small African village of Gingera, in Nairobi. Michael found it was a mutated poison from chemicals buried underground that leaked into the underground water shelves. There was something in the ground that mutated the poison so whatever medicine they had wouldn’t work to alleviate the damage being done to those suffering from the poisoning. Thousands of people died before he found the answers they needed but his serum worked once he got it done. He saved thousands of lives in the end.”

“Ginger wasn’t a woman?” Shay whispered in shock.

“No, Ginger wasn’t a woman.” Rigger shook his head. He turned the laptop around, so Shay could see what was on the screen.

Shay shook his head. He turned his head and looked at his niece. “So why was your mom so heartbroken then?”

“She hated that Ginger cost so many innocent people their lives, you fool.” Inez huffed angrily. “We went with dad to investigate the breakout but we couldn’t leave the hotel while he gathered his samples. From the windows of our room, we could see the dead bodies being piled up everywhere. She cried as they brought the dead forward. They would load them onto trucks to take them out to the desert and burn their bodies. That was all they could do and Ginger didn’t care if you were rich or poor, if you were a man, woman or child. It just killed you.” She glared at her uncle. “But I don’t expect you to believe me, after all… according to you I only had one parent and that was Michael.” She got up and walked out of the room.

Shay watched her and then looked around the room.

Each and every man standing there was glaring at him.

Pappy shook his head. “Shay, you are a damn fool.”

Shay straightened his shoulders and glared at the other men. “Never mind that now, what the hell did you call me back here for? What’s this all about?”

Pappy let out a heavy sigh. “You may have one hell of a leak in your department and that leak has a name, Owen Evers.”

 

Chapter Twelve

 

“What about Owen Evers?” Shay asked angrily.

“Did you know he changed his name when he was eighteen?” Pappy asked him. “At birth, he was Barry Severs, son of Jared Severs the money man behind hiring Michael to supersize the red tide and make the antidote.” 

“Only according to his research he found the red tide biologic was already altered,” Grizzly added. “All Michael had to do was make the antidote and give it back to them. Inez told us Dino told her dad the night he was killed they were going to run a test in Lake Pontchartrain. They wanted to see how many would die from it before they offered an antidote for a price.”

Shay didn’t say a word but his lips tightened.

“The only problem was Michael never gave them the altered red tide or the real antidote,” Grizzly went on. “Inez gave those to me earlier today.”

“I was here at the time, remember?” Shay stared at him.

Grizzly nodded.

“What proof do you have that Jared Severs is mixed up in this?” Shay wanted to know. “He’s been on the radar for a while now. But every time his name comes up, we’re steered another way.”

“We found his name in Michael’s notes and before you tell us not to believe his notes, just don’t,” Pappy warned. “He’d know more about who he dealt with than you would.”

“Let me see what he had for evidence,” Shay snapped.

Cobra handed him the paperwork and Shay went it over carefully. Then he read it again. He looked at Gunner and asked, “Can you have your IT man look into the name John Reed?”

“Who is John Reed?” Gunner wanted to know.

“Just look into the name please?” Shay asked. Looking over at Dewey he said, “Can you get Trudy to look into it as well?”

Dewey nodded.

Shay looked over to Gunner. “John Reed is another name Jared Revers goes by. I’ve been quietly researching him without telling anyone in my office. I’ve been wondering if there was a leak for some time now but I never would have thought to look in Owen’s direction. I mean his record is so clean it squeaks.” He nodded toward the papers Michael uncovered. “But that was before I knew he changed his name.” He rubbed his hands over his face. “Maybe it's time to get out of this rat race.”

Cobra snorted but didn’t say anything.

“Before you do anything else, you have to clean up this mess,” Pappy told his friend.

Shay nodded. “But before I can, I need rock solid evidence he assisted his family in breaking the laws.”

“It's all fucking right here and you know it.” Cobra growled.

Shay turned to glare at the other man. “I need someone else to prove it. It can’t be just Michael’s word.”

“His word isn’t good enough?” Gypsy grumbled.

“It has to be independently verified,” Shay insisted.

“That’s horseshit and you fucking know it.” Gypsy growled.

“Maybe, but it needs to happen. In the government, we cannot go on witch hunts unless the evidence is verified,” Shay admitted. “Owen’s career goes back twenty four years and every day of those twenty four years will come into question if this goes forward.”

“If?” Gunner questioned. “If this goes forward? It has to go forward and to hell with Owen Evers. He signed up for this when he changed his name and helped his family get the connections they needed to sell their shit too.”

“We don’t know that’s what happened yet.” Shay shook his head.

“Follow the money,” Inez’s voice called out from the doorway. She turned to Dewey and asked, “Can your wife follow the group’s money to find out where it came from?”

“She can try, but I have a feeling it was mostly cash transactions and that is harder to follow,” Dewey told her.

“It’s a place to start.” She shrugged. Looking over at Shay, she took note of his frown. “Of course, you would know better than I would where to start. As well as what to do. Me, I’m a nobody.” She turned and walked to the kitchen.

“Ok, you told him and now, he needs to leave here.” Gunner got to his feet. “He’s just outstayed his welcome and doesn’t need to be here.”

“We’ll verify what we can and work with Trudy on the other end,” Rigger agreed with Gunner. “All we can do is send you the information and let you know what we find.”

Shay just shook his head. “I can’t just go back to DC now. I need something more than just this.”

“And we’ll get it to you as soon as we know and whatever we find can be verified by a second source.” Rigger glared at him.  

“That wasn’t what I meant and you know it,” Shay grumbled.

“It's what you said, word for word man.” Gunner shook his head.

Pappy reached into his back pocket and pulled out the letter to Shay they found in Michael’s stuff. He tossed it to Shay. “I think this is for you.”

Shay caught the letter and froze when he saw the handwriting on the outside of the envelope. “Mallory.” He tore open the letter and he began reading the words his sister put on paper before she died.

Moments later, the letter slid from his fingers and fell to the floor. He hadn’t even read the second and third pages of the letter yet. He looked utterly devastated. He looked over at Pappy and whispered, “She named John Reed as the man who poisoned her. She knew him through our parent’s political parties. She told me she’d seen him lunching with two of his friends and he sent her a drink. She didn’t want it but he wouldn’t let her refuse it. She said he wouldn’t quit watching her until she finished the drink. Later, that same evening, she began feeling sick. She said Michael ran some tests and found she was poisoned. They kept it from Inez until they couldn’t anymore, then they told her it was cancer as they didn’t want her to be afraid. But she told me who poisoned her and why.”

“Why would Reed poison her?” Pappy wanted to know.

“Because I was getting suspicious of Owen even back then. He wanted to divert me from getting too close to discovering him and his group. Owen made a big mistake at the time and he was busy trying to get me not to look into a shipment of rockets going to a place they had no business being shipped to. And to a man that was on a list of known terrorists.” Shay bent over and picked up her letter. He straightened it out and shook his head. “Reed gave her the poison which would divert my attention and allow Owen time to get the shipment off. Damn it. I need to get to Michael’s house. He always kept notebooks with the notes on his work. Maybe if I can find the one he kept about this poison I can use the notes to nail Owen and his father with her murder.”

Pappy picked up a small notebook and held it out to him.

Shay took the notebook and stared at him.

“This is the notebook with his notes about his wife’s poisoning. It lists her symptoms and what he did to combat them,” Pappy told him. “In the end, nothing helped but the man did a hell of a job trying.”

“How the hell did you get all this?” Shay wanted to know.

“He included it with the paperwork about Jared Revers and Owen Evers,” Pappy explained.

Shay looked down at the book in his hands. This was Michael’s account of what his wife went through after she was poisoned. He’d been so wrong all this time. He treated Mallory’s daughter like she didn’t matter. All because he thought Michael had betrayed his sister. Shay had listened to his parents back then, they never liked Michael because he wouldn’t kowtow to them and become a real doctor. He preferred to work in research where he believed he could do the most good and not go into plastic surgery to make more money than he needed. They wanted bragging rights but Michael wouldn’t cooperate with that. He stuck to his guns and went into research. That made him an enemy in his parents eyes and to his great shame… his very own eyes as well.

He reread his sister’s letter and felt such sadness and shame for what she had suffered. She recalled how she went to pick up the phone so many times to call him, sometimes just to hear his voice but then she remembered the conversation they had the last time they spoke. Shay had tried to get her to come back to the family, to leave Michael and Inez and come home. But Mallory would never do that. She loved her family and she would never leave them behind. Not even for him.

That broke his heart. She reminded him that he wasn’t there for her when she needed him and she could forgive him for that but then she reminded him he was never there for her daughter and that she wouldn’t forgive him for. Inez was innocent of any sin and she wrote that Inez was her daughter too. Then she told him she wanted to be buried in Vermont next to her husband.

Dewey’s phone pinged. He read the text from his wife then looked over at Pappy and Gunner. “She found a trail that leads directly from the money to John Reed and his cronies, including Owen Evers. It goes back fifteen years and brings up several names on the terrorist list.”

“Is there a transaction of ballistic missiles sent to a man named Rashid Luna by Owen Evers?” Shay asked quietly.

“No but there is one that was sent by Barry Severs,” Dewey told him. “a deposit transaction in an account under that same name for fifteen million two days later.”

Shay looked over at Rigger. “Can you move the money they made all this time?”

“I could but it wouldn’t be legal, man.” Rigger admitted.

“I don’t care. I’m done at the Pentagon anyway, but I want to take those bastards down before I’m done.” Shay growled. “I’m going to hang them all out to dry and I don’t want them to have anything left. I’m looking to disgrace them publicly. I want them all behind bars and broke.”

“If you’re serious, you need to have someone in the know backing you up that’s above and over Owen’s position,” Pappy advised.

Shay nodded. “I have just the man in mind. Peter Howe. He’s been working behind Owen’s back. He’s thinking like me that Owen has something to do with arming our enemies and he’s been trying to track down who’s behind this. If I give him a head’s up on that list of names Michael sent, he’ll be able to gather the evidence we need to take them down. But I want them broke before we do it. I don’t want them to be able to hide behind their money anymore. They think they can do anything because they have a big fucking bank account. I want to take that away from them.”

 “You can get that setup from anywhere,” Gunner reminded him. “We will keep you informed of everything we learn from now on, but you can’t stay here. Inez needs our protection but you don’t.”

Shay glanced at the kitchen door. “Can I at least try to make amends?” he asked.

“I won’t let you hurt her anymore.” Gypsy growled as he got to his feet.

“I’m not trying to hurt her.” Shay shook his head. “I’ve had very little to do with her most of her life and I just don’t know how to talk to her.”

“She knows how much you hated her dad and so, she thinks you hate her too.” Pappy raised a brow at him.

Shay shook his head. “When Mallory fell in love with Michael Black, my parents were ready to groom him for their society level but Michael was his own man, fully capable of taking care of his family without taking a dime from them. He didn’t want to be a plastic surgeon, he wanted to do research. Mallory believed in him enough that she finally stood up to our parents. They didn’t care for that much and they turned their backs on her. I was busy trying to get my career going, so I wasn’t home much. But I heard everything my parents said and well, I guess I turned my back on my sister too. Much to my own shame, I wasn’t there for her when she needed me to be. Then after I thought Michael had betrayed her and then Mallory died, I turned my back on both Inez and him.” He sighed heavily as he paused. “Then came the night four months ago when I got a call from Michael. He told me what was going on and that he and Inez were in real trouble. When he told me about the formula he’d been working on I was more interested in that than I was saving either of them. When I got to the house that night, I could see it was on fire. I pulled Michael’s body from the house and I went looking for Inez. When I didn’t find her, I called the number Michael had given me and she answered it. I told her to make her way to Texas and to give the items to a man named John Crowly. I didn’t know she was on foot or that Dino March was trailing her. I just didn’t think about it. I called her a few months later and found she hadn’t reached Texas yet and I got a little pissed. I decided to just let it go. Then I called again a few days ago. She told me about Dino and I got here right away. I really had no idea she’d been out alone on the road this whole time.”

“That’s no excuse man.” Pappy shook his head. “You took an oath to protect the innocent and you failed big time.”

“We got her now.” Gypsy glared at him. “I’m claiming her and I’ll be damned if anyone, even you will ever hurt her again.”

“There is only one thing I want from you.” Inez stood in the open doorway of the kitchen and glared at her uncle.

“What is that?” Shay asked.

“I want to bury my parents together. But I don’t want my mom in Maine. I want to bring my mom down here, so they can be together in death like they were in life.”

Shay exhaled hard and shook his head. “That’s going to be hard to do. My parents, your grandparents will never allow it.”

“You mean the grandparents I’ve never even seen? The ones who have never seen me, won’t allow it?” Inez stared at her uncle. “Tough shit, she was my mother.”

“She was their daughter first,” he argued foolishly.

Inez clenched her fists for a moment, as a single tear rolled down her face. “You and them can go to hell.” She turned and went back into the kitchen. As the door swung shut, they all heard the sound of breaking glass. Then a loud thud as if something or someone had landed on the floor.

Gypsy looked stricken as he rushed toward the kitchen.

 Gunner pulled him back just before he reached the door. Grabbing his arm, Gunner growled in his ear, “You aren’t going to be any use to her if you go in there halfcocked and get yourself killed.”

Turning his head slowly to look at Gunner, he seethed at him, “Fucking. Let. Me. Go.” When Gunner released him, he reached for his weapon and eased the door open.

They all could see her lying on the floor with her eyes open, and she was writhing in pain. She was holding her shoulder and her hand looked bloody.

Gypsy pushed the door open a bit more and they could see the back door glass had been shattered where the bullet had come through it. Glass was scattered all over the floor. “Baby, I’m going to crawl over to you, then you need to take my hand.”

Whimpering in pain, Inez nodded.

He crawled over on his belly while keeping his head low, then he dragged her closer to him. When she was close enough, he gathered her in his arms and hauled her into the main room.

Patriot was there to check her over and he motioned for Gypsy to carry her into the Infirmary.

Pappy and Gunner followed.

 Shaking his head at the man, Boone held Shay back by placing his hand onto Shay’s chest. He slowly shook his head, his eyes hard. Then he motioned for several of the men to hit the roof to see if they could find the shooter.

Rigger switched on the security camera feed, trying spot the shooter. He looked up at Boone as he went toward the roof stairway after getting his sniper rifle from the lockup. He called out to the VP, “Southeast corner. He’s sitting in a tree four posts out from the fence line.”

A few minutes later, a single rifle shot was heard.

Savaged Soul Brothers poured out of the clubhouse and not ten minutes later, they all came back, with two of them dragging a wounded Dino March into the clubhouse.

Dino was cursing and swearing at them, calling out for medical attention.

They slammed him down onto a chair and tied him to it, then the waiting game began.

 

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

Gypsy held her, as Patriot cleaned her shoulder so he could see where to dig the bullet out.

Inez tried not to cry out as she instead, bit at her lip until it almost bled.

“Hey you,” Gypsy called out softly. “Don’t bite your lips. I plan to use them later and I hate the taste of blood.” He teased her.

Inez half chuckled and half sobbed as she rested her forehead on his. She looked over at Patriot and asked, “Am I gonna lose my shoulder doc?”

“Well, getting shot in the same shoulder within days certainly doesn’t help,” Patriot replied while not looking at her. “So you may never be able to play the piano again." He chuckled a bit. "But the fact it was a long shot and the window slowed down the speed, it didn’t do too much damage. But you are going to be sore for a while and I really suggest that you take things easy and eat some decent food, so you can get your strength back faster.”

Inez nodded. “I hear you doc.” She lowered her head. Then raised it again and looked at both men. “I think it was the letdown I was feeling before and I didn’t have much of an appetite.”

“Let down?” Patriot asked.

She nodded. “I finally finished my dad’s last request. I was feeling lost and alone and then Shay called. I mean the man is my uncle but I don’t really know him. My mom told me when I was little that her parents were still alive but when I asked why they didn’t come around she told me they had had a big fight and her parents were mad at her over something stupid. She would never tell me what though. We were a happy family. I guess I didn’t miss what I didn’t have.” She dropped her head and fiddled with the edges of the sheet that covered her lap. “Having now met my mom’s brother, I see I didn’t miss out on all that much, did I? I can only imagine what my grandparents are like. But I’d rather not. I’ll just remember my mom and my dad and to hell with the rest of them.”

Gypsy tenderly brushed a strand of hair out of her face and said, “Well honey, you got me now, you don’t need them.”

Patriot snorted, “You also got the club too, sweetheart.” He ignored Gypsy’s growl at the endearment. “You found a new home and a new family with us.” He was just finishing up dressing the new wound when Gunner knocked on the door and opened it.

“Is she okay?” Gunner wanted to know. When Patriot nodded, he came further into the room to see for himself. “We got the shooter. It’s Dino March.”

Patriot shook his head. “Is he wounded?”

“Yeah, he took a bullet to the leg but there’s no need for you to hurry. He ain’t going anywhere.” Gunner scoffed. “It’s not like he doesn’t deserve the pain.”

Inez shook her head. “Maybe he does, but that isn’t for you to determine is it?”

“You would show mercy to a man that for the four months has hunted you with the objective to kill you?” Gypsy grumbled under his breath.

“One of the lessons my parents taught me from a very young age was to never judge a person, as only God can do that.” She shrugged. “Maybe Dino March does deserve the pain of being shot, he certainly deserves to go to jail for what he did to my dad and tried to do to me. I’m sure a man like him has done many terrible things and maybe you did the world a favor by stopping him. But he isn’t the only one that needs to be stopped now we know there are more than just him isn’t there?”

“You leave that mess in our hands and your uncle's,” Gunner told her. “Owen Evers won’t see us coming until it's too late for him‒ much less the others‒ to hide.”

“I’m going to take her to my room for some rest while we deal with Dino.” Gypsy gathered her up into his arms and took her down the hall to the bedroom they shared. Once inside, he helped her change her shirt and tucked her into bed. “You get some rest. You’ll be safe in here.”

She looked deep into his eyes and knew what he was going to do. “You can’t kill him. Not in cold blood. He may deserve it but you can’t do it.”

“I thought you just said it wasn’t up to us to judge people.” He teased her.

“I did but after I remembered what he did to my dad, I changed my mind just a little. The man has no honor. He deserves some pain, ok… maybe a lot of pain. He certainly caused me enough to last my lifetime.”

Gypsy’s lips crushed hers for a moment then he ripped himself away from her. “You get some rest. I’m going to see what’s going on.”

Inez nodded then laid her head on the pillow and closed her eyes. She had no more energy to fight sleep anymore and she was sleeping before Gypsy went out the door.

When he got to the main room, he noticed the wall of men staring into the semicircle. Dino March was tied to a chair in the center… the man was screaming and swearing his head off.

Gunner and Patriot were the closest to him and Gunner growled at him, “Shut the fuck up. You demanded medical care, you’re getting medical care.”

“Where the fuck did he get his medical license? A fucking cracker jack box?” Dino yelled as Patriot dug into his wound to get the bullet out. “Can’t you give me something for the pain?”

Patriot didn’t even look at him as he replied, “Yeah I could, but I just don’t want to. You shot an unarmed woman twice in three days. Why should I give you anything but basic care?”

“You motherfucker.” Dino swore as the other man dug deeper into his flesh.

“What a fucking baby. I got the bullet.” Patriot shook his head as he dropped the piece of lead into a dish. Then he reached down, grabbed a bottle of whiskey and poured a good sum of the liquid over the wound.

Dino screamed bloody murder.

 Patriot began cleaning the blood from his wound. It was probably a good thing he was tied down to the chair when he passed out due to the extreme pain the whiskey had left him in.

Gunner looked over at Patriot and asked, “Why the whiskey? You’ve never used it before on a wound.”

“He deserved it,” Patriot told him softly. “Don’t worry, it won’t hurt him, it just causes one hell of a burning sensation. The whiskey will kill the germs but it is downright sinful to use it on anyone.” Patriot then put a large bandage on the wound left by the bullet’s entrance. When he finished, Dino was still out for the count.

They moved him out of the way, so they could clean up the blood on the floor. They didn’t want the women to have to see it again. 

About the time they finished cleaning everything up Dino was coming around again. “Fucking hell.” He grumbled as he shook his head to clear it. “What the fuck did you people do to me?” He looked down at his leg and saw the fresh bandage.

“You asked for medical care and I gave it to you.” Patriot raised a brow at him.

“Why did you come back here?” Gunner demanded.

Dino turned his glare to him. “What the hell do you think I came back for? I had to finish the contract on the girl.” Shaking his head, he muttered under his breath, “Are you that fucking stupid?”

Gunner stepped forward and smacked him upside the head.” Watch what you say motherfucker. You’re the stupid one here. Look at you. Caught and down. Now, tell us why you are back here being so fucking stupid.”

Dino shook his head from the smacking and grunted. “I don’t get paid until I finish a job, not with these bastards.” He explained. “All I had to do was kill the old man, get his research and any samples he had then burn the house with his body in it. But the girl showed up and I had to cover my tracks. The men I work for wanted her dead too.”

“Well, you missed out then, because the girl is still alive and she delivered her samples to the US Marshals,” Gunner told him. “She handed over the samples and the true formulas to both the biologic and the antidote.”

“She had the samples on her this whole time?” Dino frowned. “Well fuck, that ain’t going to make the men I work for happy.”

“Tell us about the men you work for,” Pappy demanded.

“Why should I do that?” Dino wanted to know. “You can’t touch them anyway. They are so beyond the laws, you can’t even see them.”

“Do you know the names John Reed, Harry Brown and Owen Evers?” Shay finally asked him.

“Who are those guys?” Dino tried to act nonchalant at hearing the names as he denied knowing them.

Everyone in the room knew he was lying.

“How many of them are there?” Pappy asked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Dino insisted as sweat began beading on his forehead. His belly was rolling and his leg throbbing. “I need something for the pain.”

“Not until you give us their names.” Gunner growled.

“I can’t give you their names, they’ll kill me!” Dino exclaimed.

“Do you have any idea what is going to happen over the next three days?” Patriot asked no one in particular.  He shrugged as if he didn’t really care but kept speaking as if someone might listen to him, “Unless he gets an antibiotic shot the wound could fester. I mean I think I cleaned it well enough, but whiskey just isn’t the same as alcohol. It's just not as refined, I guess. Anyway, if his wound festers, an infection could set in and cause a raging fever that could go so high he would become delirious. He’ll lose his leg first. Then if sepsis sets in...” He shrugged. “Anyway, when the fever starts, the pus will flow and he’ll be a nasty mess if we leave him on his own. The tissue around the wound will start dying and it will turn black while spreading all over his body.”

Dino gulped and stared at Patriot as his face paled.

Gunner lifted a brow and crossed his arms over his huge chest. “Do go on, Doc.” Amusement danced in his eyes.

Patriot nodded. “Well, then the strep infection reaches his heart and his lungs. So, he’ll start coughing up blood and finding it hard to breathe, the sac around his heart will fill with his own bodily fluids until there’s no more room for the heart to beat properly. But by that time, his lungs will be so full of fluid they can’t take in enough air for him to breathe properly either. I wonder which will kill him first, his heart not being able to beat or his lungs not being able to take in enough air?” Shaking his head, he said all of this, so casually, “But since I got my degree from Mister Cracker Jack, what the fuck do I know?” Patriot gathered his stuff and headed down the hall toward the Infirmary.

“You can’t leave me to die like that!” Dino yelled. “You took an oath not to do any harm.”

Patriot turned to glare at him. “I'm a field medic. The only oath I ever took was in the marines, to help the fallen and injured. Anything else I could have done for you, I won’t do, because you shot an unarmed woman. Maybe I just don’t want to save your life when her life means so much more to us.”

“If I tell you what I know… will you help me?” Dino finally asked.

“If we find out what you told us is bullshit you’ll spend the rest of your time on this earth living out what he just explained,” Gunner assured the man.

“I’m a dead man either way,” Dino claimed. “Why shouldn’t I tell you what you want to know? I’m not protecting those bastards anymore.”

So, he told them everything he knew. He gave them six names, three more than they had before.

 Rigger got to work, hunting down the names and Dewey got the list of names to Trudy. 

Gunner wouldn’t let him get the shot he needed until they could verify some of the information he gave them.

Dino was sweating freely when the information they sought started coming back in.

Gunner finally allowed the shot.

Patriot then seemed to really enjoy sticking him with the needle.

 Gunner turned and ordered his men to take him to a cell.

When Dino was gone, Shay and Pappy as well as Gunner and Boone began going over the reports they were getting from Trudy.

“I’ll forward this information to Peter and he can verify it on his end. My god,” Shay shook his head. “These guys have made billions on this shit and have contacts all over the world.”

“Can you imagine what would have happened had they gotten their hands on that red tide biologic?” Pappy whispered. “They would have unleashed a plague that couldn’t be stopped.”

“But Michael worked on the antidote,” Shay commented.

“For freshwater, not salt water,” Pappy informed him. “If they had put that shit in any ocean fed lakes, it would have adjusted to its new environment and mutated then nothing would have stopped it. I read some of the notes Michael left and he was worried about that very thing happening.”

“Then we really don’t know anything do we?” Shay asked. “They only gave him a sample of that shit. How do we know they don’t already have a warehouse full of it? How do we know they haven’t already sold it to our enemies?”

“We don’t,” came a voice from the hallway. “That’s what drove my father to find an antidote to both varieties.” Inez came into the room. She picked up her dad’s notebook and thumbed her way to the back. She found the entry she was looking for then handed it back to Pappy. “This is as far as he got to the saltwater variety. He was almost done with that, so it can be finished by someone else.”

Gypsy came up behind her and pulled her into his arms. “Let’s get you something to eat.” He pulled her away from the four men.

Shay watched her leave.

Pappy gave the book to Gunner and said, “We need a copy of this before we hand it off to anyone else. We have to save his research, so it doesn’t just disappear. If these men could get one scientist to work on it, they can get more than one to do it.”

“But Michael was the best in his field,” Shay told them. “His work is legendary in the medical research field. Others can do good work but Michael went the extra mile. So if anyone could find, it he did.”

“Is that why you hated him?” Boone asked.

Shay looked over at the other man. “No, it was because he took my sister out of the life she was born to.”

“She loved him, you fool!” Inez shouted. “That’s why she stayed, he never took her from anything. We had more money than we knew what to do with. She had more than her family could offer. We had each other and they had me. We didn’t live in poverty. My dad provided her with everything she ever wanted. You and your parents never came to visit, but maybe if you ever had, you would have known that. We had enough and that was all we needed.”

Shay just stared at her in shock. He looked sorry, as he let out a heavy sigh. “Our parents won’t ever ask for forgiveness, as they never thought they did anything wrong. But someday, I will be asking you for just that. Not today, as you have been through so much, it would be impossible for you to give a fuck really. I can see that it will take time for me to heal this rift between you and I. But I will try dammed hard.”

 

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

Gypsy sat across from Inez and ignored Shay as much as he could. He was pissed at the other man but he did notice that his woman was getting better. Maybe she was just getting used to the fact her uncle was an ass. He hoped not because she deserved so much more than she was getting from him.           

When the chair next to him was pulled out Pappy sat down and pushed the book toward Inez.

She took a bite of her food and looked down at the book, then she gazed up at Pappy.

Pappy waited a moment then had to ask, “Can you tell us what this says?”

Inez nodded at the page in her father’s book that had been written in a code only they knew. She wiped her mouth and looked down at the page. She frowned at the words her father had written there. She cleared her throat then began transcribing the page,

“To whoever reads these words and can understand them,

 The biologic red tide I was given was not supersized here in the United States. I found some components in the compound that tell me that much. It is also flawed but I doubt the men who hired me know enough about the thing to know this. This biologic will be feared because it will kill whoever it touches. This will be another Ginger, it won’t care about your status or race or whether you’re a man, woman or child. It will kill you regardless.

But there is a way to render it harmless. Other than the antidote. The antidote should only be used after the biologic has been exposed to water and air. The moment it is exposed to air and water the biologic will begin mutating. That’s the way this thing is set up. That’s what you have to stop at all costs. At the moment it is being stored in a warehouse in Virginia. I know this because I analyzed some samples of the dirt encrusted in the tires of the vehicle that brought it to me.  The man I dealt with was a man who called himself John Reed but I’m sure that wasn’t his real name. I’ve seen him in the papers and I know he’s as dirty as the men he deals with.

He thinks he can control this biologic but he can’t. This is bigger than he is and all his money won’t save him if he gets near it. Please tell Shay to stop him by any and all means. He may hate me and mine but this is bigger than the hate he feels toward us. This would be a disaster in the making. I hope you can make him see that.”

Inez closed the book and pushed it over to Pappy but wouldn’t look beyond him to her uncle.

“Why would your dad write that message in code?” Pappy asked.

“Because he couldn’t be sure I would reach my goal,” Inez explained. “He knew I would try but he needed to be certain his work was safe from those that would use it against the people.”

“Does he mention how to neutralize the biologic?” Gunner wanted to know.

Inez reached for the book again, and turned the last page. There was a formula written there and when she read it, she frowned. Then she looked up at Pappy and Gunner and pushed the book back to them. “There is the formula you need to neutralize it before it's released.”

“Ummm boss,” Rigger called out. “I just went through the box again and found this.” He held up a small sat card. It appeared to be a phone card.

Can you plug it in and see what’s on it?” Gunner asked.

Rigger plugged it in to his computer and it brought up a load of pictures. Pictures of the men involved with this biologic.

They were telescopic pictures and when one came up Inez gasped. “That’s John Reed.”

“As well as Harry Brown, Kale Lawson, George Wilks, Adam Hyde and Walter Dawson,” Shay identified the rest of the elite group. “Those are the names we’re looking into.”

Inez looked back at Pappy. “He never told me he found them.”

“He didn’t want to put you in danger baby,” Gypsy told her. 

She nodded then looked up at her uncle finally. “Despite what you may think of my father, he was trying to do the right thing. He trusted that this information would reach you. I guess now this is your fight. I’d ask you not to let him down but that might be too much to ask.”

“Despite what you think about me.” Shay stared at her as he spoke, “I don’t want this biologic out there anymore than you do. I will do whatever has to be done to find it and get it off the streets. And I will get those men and put them in jail for the rest of their miserable lives. They will pay for their treasonous acts.”

Inez nodded, turning to Gypsy, he wrapped his arms around her. She cried in his arms.

Gypsy gathered her up and carried her down the hall to their bedroom. He shut the door behind them and carried her over to the bed. He laid her down.

She looked him in the eyes and whispered, “I just want this to be over. I’m so glad you are here for me. I was just so lonely all these months. There were times when I almost gave up. I want to be with you. I-I know that maybe you don’t want a girl who’s so messed up, but I just wanted to tell you how I feel.”

Gypsy sighed. “I haven’t been close to a woman for a long time. But you are not messed up. You’ve been through hell. I do want you. I in fact have claimed you. I’m not sure if you understand what that means. But I will show you that you aren’t alone anymore. I don’t want you to think at all. Just feel.” He raised her shirt and pulled it over her head, taking special care not to disturb her bandages. Then he undid her bra and pulled it off, releasing her generous breasts. Reaching down, he pulled off her jeans and underwear. Once she was laying there in all her beautiful feminine glory, his eyes feasted upon her.

 Quickly, he stripped off his own clothes and when he joined her on the bed, she wrapped her arms around his neck and refused to let him go. He crushed her lips under his, taking every breath as if it were their last. His hands roamed along her body and he squeezed her breasts caressing the nipples until they were hard little nubbins. He finally broke the kiss only to spread tiny kisses down her jaw and neck. He bit and nipped her skin while she groaned and arched her back.

Needy for all he had to give, Inez pushed her chest into his. She loved the feeling of his warm satiny skin on hers. He lowered his mouth to her breasts to gently take nips on her nipples then laved them with his tongue. The pain was small but it reminded her he was in control. He then suckled her breast into his mouth and she moaned as she felt his pull.

His hand dropped down to her core and he found her soaked. Now it was his turn to groan and he thrust two fingers deep into her core. Inez opened her legs a bit wider and his thrusts got deeper and harder. He wanted her to explode in his arms and then he would make sure she did it all over again.

His cock was hard and almost weeping as he pushed his fingers deep inside her. Then he began to thumb her clit and it wasn’t long before she did just that. She arched her back and cried out his name.

He moved over her and slammed his cock deep into her. They both were relieved and he slammed into her again and again. It didn’t take long before they were both on the edge of the abyss again and this time, they soared together. At the last minute, Gypsy covered her lips with his own as he thrust his tongue into her mouth, thus muffling her screams of passion as well as his own.

As she tightened around him Gypsy felt his cock explode inside her. His hot cum painted her walls and he knew he’d never come so hard before. She drained him and left him weak as he tried to move off her, he found her legs wrapped around his waist.

She wouldn’t let him move for a moment then he tapped her ass and she groaned as she unlocked her ankles and released him. As he slid off the top of her and snuggled down to her good side, he kissed and nibbled on her shoulder.

She groaned and he paused, “Did I hurt you?” he worried.

“God no, you didn’t hurt me,” she stated breathlessly. “All I could feel was you, you taking possession of me.  All I could smell, all I could taste, all I wanted was you.” She gently leaned over and kissed him. ‘Thank you.”

Gypsy reached out and placed his hands on either side of her face. “Don’t ever thank me for loving you. When you need me, all you have to do is ask. You belong to me woman, that means all of you belongs to me, not just the good parts but the bad parts, the sad parts, the joyful parts too. If you need me all you have to do is reach out because I’ll be the one sleeping in your bed.”

“Wow,” she whispered as she looked stunned. “I could get used to that.”

“You got no choice woman, you’re mine now, same as I’m yours.”

“Oh I do want that so much,” she agreed, “but I don’t share. I know bikers are bad and all that but I don’t share with anyone else.”

Gypsy rolled to lay flat on his back in the bed and stared at the ceiling. “I don’t share either. I have never played well with others and have never shared my women. In fact, I’m a one woman sort of man. I had me a wife seven years ago. Her name was Gwen and I loved her like no other man loved a woman. She was my whole life back then…” His voice trailed off.

Inez waited patiently for him to continue. She could hear it in his voice, he didn’t want to tell her about this as it was painful for him but he forced himself to continue.

“One day we had some trouble in the form of a home invasion only instead of a home, this bastard broke into the clubhouse. He was higher than a kite and thought he was invincible. Only he wasn’t. The only ones here were me and Skeeter and we had to almost beat him down to the ground. He was out of his mind and high as hell. Then he grabbed Gwen hostage and backed his way to the back door with her as a shield. When he heard the rest of the MC coming home, he panicked and slit Gwen’s throat using the action to skip out the back door. I grabbed my wife and Skeeter followed him but lost him in the woods beyond the perimeter. I held my wife in my arms as she breathed her last breath. We were both soaked in her blood when the guys hit the woods to hunt the bastard down.”

Inez trembled at the story and tears filled her eyes.

“They found him and brought him back to face MC justice but Skeeter told us it would be better for him to face a judge and jury. Gunner didn’t want to do it but Skeeter was a US Marshal and he had to take the bastard in.” Gypsy shook his head. “There was only one problem, on his way into town the bastard knocked Skeeter out and got away. I don’t think I ever forgave him for that.”

Inez felt the tears fall down her face as she asked, “What happened to him? Did you guys ever find him?”

Gypsy nodded. “I didn’t know it but Skeeter hunted the bastard down. It took him three and a half months to find him but during that time, that fucking bastard had killed another woman. When he finally did find him that fucker challenged Skeeter. He thought he could get the upper hand because the man knew he would cheat to win but he didn’t know Skeeter at all. Skeeter knew he would cheat too and that pissed him off. He brought the man down hard. Now Skeeter is a big guy but one thing you never want to do is piss that big bastard off. He will eat you alive. This fucker thought he could beat Skeeter and I guess he found out the hard way he couldn’t.” His voice faded into silence for a few minutes.

Inez had to ask, “Have you forgiven Skeeter yet?”

Gypsy ran his hands over his face and turned his head to look at her. “I had already come to the conclusion that maybe I was still so mad at him because he did what I wanted to do. He killed the man that took her away from me. I was thinking about going on a walkabout the night we met. Thinking maybe it was time to find another place I could call home. But sitting in the backyard of that bar that night I heard Gwen’s voice, inside my head, telling me to get over it.” He smiled. “She told me I needed to move on with my life and forgive the man.” His smile got wider. “Then I met you and my life hasn’t been the same since.”

She could see this was the truth and see the laughter in his eyes. Reaching over Inez cupped his face with her hand. “Well, I for one am very glad it was you that night.” Then she crawled over top of him and ground her wet core over his semi hard cock. She closed her eyes and felt him growing firm and oh so very rigid under her.

He grabbed her breasts hanging down into his face to lick and suck on her nipples.

She threw her head back and groaned as she felt him slip inside her. She began to move up and down on him and it was his turn to groan. Having her on him felt too good.

Then she leaned over his chest and licked his nipples. Gypsy grabbed her hips and slammed her down on his cock. Lifting her up forcefully, he pulled her down again and again. Then he began to shout as he spilled into her. His explosion triggered her own and they came together.

She collapsed on top of him and Gypsy wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. His heart felt full again for the first time in seven years. Closing his eyes, he thought he saw his Gwen behind his eyelids. She was fading but as she left his sight, she blew him a final kiss goodbye.

A single tear rolled down his cheek and he wasn’t sure if he could ever tell her the words he needed to but his heart was full of feeling for another woman now. He only hoped Inez would understand. He couldn’t help himself and he whispered Gwen’s name softly.

~*~

Inez heard the whisper but for some reason, she didn’t feel threatened. She understood how he was feeling and she hoped he was finally able to let go of all that pain and say goodbye.

Raising her head, she saw the tear on his cheek. She reached up and swiped it away. Gypsy tried to look away from her with guilt in his heart but she reached out and gently brought his face back to hers. “I know it's hard to let go of the past. I get that. I also know there’s a place in your heart that Gwen will always have. I saw that same feeling in my parent’s eyes. My dad never got over losing my mom and in some ways, you’ll never let her go either. I’m just hoping that you can come to care for me in the same way.” She looked down at his chest and admitted. “I know you may not want to hear this but I’m in love with you. I know some might think it’s too soon but I know what I want. I want you, warts and all.” She licked her lips and asked, “I know you say I belong to you but do you think someday you might love me too?”

Gypsy smiled at her. “Honey I am so in love with you I can’t think straight right now.”

Her eyes widened as she stared at him in total surprise. “Really?”

“You better believe it woman.” He growled as he nipped her ear lobe.

She giggled then sobered as she smoothed his face with her fingers. “I suppose I have to deal with my uncle, don’t I?”

“Hmph, I like nothing more than to shove my fist in his mouth. Maybe shove a few teeth down his throat,” Gypsy grumbled.

Her brows rose at his anger. “You can’t do that. He’s entitled to his own opinion the same as my grandparents are entitled to theirs. I don’t have to like it. I know it hurt my mom and that in turn hurt my dad but one thing I will never do, is apologize for something I didn’t do.”

Gypsy smiled. “Then you have to tell him that. Make him understand how you feel.”

“Thank you for believing in me.” Inez leaned down and pressed her lips against his gently.

 

 

FINAL CHAPTER

Chapter Fifteen

 

When the couple came back to the main room and joined the others, they found the group vigorously studying papers.

Gypsy went to Gunner to find out what was happening. “What is all this?”

Gunner looked at him and Inez and shook his head. “Once we knew their names, it wasn’t hard to follow the connection. Most of them didn’t even try to hide it. They’re all extremely wealthy and all they all seem to believe because of their wealth, they can’t be touched. Shay is trying to freeze their assets but we have found enough to take them down.” He shook his head. “It all has to be verified of course, as Trudy hacked some pretty secret accounts to find what she did.” He looked over at Inez. “You and your dad opened a Pandora’s box that’s for sure.”

“Is that a good thing or not such a good thing?” she asked nervously.

“It’s a very good thing,” Pappy stated as he joined them. “It's one that needed to be stopped. Those bastards have been making money hand over fist and putting American lives in danger every step of the way to do it. Plus, they have been getting bolder and bolder about what they’re doing. This Red Tide biologic is the latest effort and it would have murdered hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people worldwide. Not to mention it would have been used against the people here.” Shaking his head, he said, “As long as they got paid they didn’t even fucking care.”

“Well, they are going to care now.” Shay growled. “Even if it’s the last thing I do in service of my country, I’m going to make them care. I’m going to strip them of every penny they made, then I’m going to send them to jail for treason where they can all wait to be hung. They think they can hide behind their money? Not this time.” He looked over at Inez and said, “And yes Owen is in neck deep in it all. He was the middleman between the group and the government. He introduced his dad’s group to the men who wanted the weapons and whatever else they could make a deal on the black market for.”

“Why are you telling me? I don’t even know who Owen is.” Inez frowned.

“Because we found the link between your dad and the group. Owen is the only link we could find to connect them. John Reed was very careful about that. Jared Severs or John Reed, it doesn’t matter what you call the bastard, he’s one in the same person. He set everything up. Under the John Reed name, he committed treason against the United States. My family has known the man for a number of years, but they know him as John Reed not Jared Severs. They have no idea that Owen is his son either. They have known John for twenty-five years. He’s eaten at their table, he drank their booze, he’s slept in their house. And all this time, they never even fucking knew.”

“Is this going to spill over onto your family?” Pappy asked.

Shay shrugged his shoulders. “It might, I have no idea yet, but the chips have to fall where they do. I can’t stop it now. I don’t want to even try. John Reed, aka Jared Severs has to be stopped by any means. This is going to hit that circle of friends very hard.”

“Are you going to warn them?” Gunner had to ask.

“I can’t now, can I?” Shay growled. “At this point, I’m not even sure I would want to. They might know him but I don’t think they ever did business with him. And if they did then they guilty by association.” He glared at them including Inez. “I stand for the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. If my parents fall into the domestic part of that then I can’t and won’t protect them. Family means something to me but I can’t and won’t allow them to escape punishment for their actions.”

Inez glared at her uncle when he said family meant something to him. She didn’t say anything but instead looked up into Gypsy’s eyes, squeezed his hand then turned her back and walked over to get a cup of coffee.

Shay’s eyes followed her but he didn’t say anything. He knew she had every reason to doubt him when he said family meant something to him. He should have been there for her and his sister and he hadn’t been. He’d been too busy with his own career in the military and he had listened to his parents, instead of making up his own mind. He found out too late what should really matter.

He had work to do at the moment and he just prayed he would get the chance to make it up to her.

“When are you going back to Washington?” Pappy wanted to know.

“I want to get as much information as I can get before I go back. I want to be able to move on each and every one of them, all at the same time. I don’t want them to know ahead of time, so they have the chance to run or disappear. We have to track down all their accounts, so they don’t have a dime left to their names. Inez was right when she said follow the money. We need to find every single dime they ever made and take it away from them.”

“What about their families?” Gunner asked.

Shay shrugged. “I can’t help them. I know these men and their families. Their wives come from wealthy families, so they’ll be all right. They just won’t have access to their husband’s wealth.”

“That’s pretty cold,” Gypsy finally spoke.

Shay turned his head and glared at him. “What their husbands did was archaic. They didn’t seem to care about family when they got paid to put guns into terrorists’ hands, they didn’t care when their husbands sold bombs, they knew would blow  up women and kids in another country. So no, forgive the shit outta me if I seem cold hearted. I don’t care what happens to them. They aren’t going without food or a place to live. They don’t have to live in squalor or steal and fight for bread to feed their families. These people waste more money than most people earn in a year or a lifetime.”

“Will my father have charges laid upon his name?” Inez dared to ask. “After all he dealt with the Red Tide virus directly.”

“No he won’t.” Shay shook his head. “His last act on this earth was to send you to the US Marshal’s with the evidence that would uncover the plot against this nation. That gave him the Whistleblower status. He tried to stop this and was killed because of it.”

“And if your parents knew about this? What will you do?” she asked as she met his gaze.

“If my parents knew about this and did nothing to stop it then I’ll  have other agents arrest them. If they were mixed up in this group then they have to pay the same price as the others do. I love this country and will not stand for anyone to hurt it.”

Inez stared at him for a moment then turned to go to a table and sit down.

Gypsy went over to the bar and grabbed a beer then joined her, leaving Shay with Pappy and Gunner.

“What the hell do I have to do to get through to her?” Shay grumbled as he ran his hands over his head in frustration.

“This is on you man,” Pappy told him. “You and your family ignored her. For her whole damn life. Whether it was because of her father or not, you had nothing to do with her at all. She’s never even met her grandparents. After her mom died, you just cut her out of your lives. It was just her and her dad. Then on top of all that, you leave her out in the wind right after she witnessed her dad being killed in front of her eyes. She was out there alone with a killer hounding her every step for four fucking months, Shay and you did nothing to help her.”

“I’d say she had reason to hate you man,” Gunner added. “Even after she got here, all you did was show her she didn’t matter to you. You did that on your own. Then on top of all of that, you tell her that her parents can’t be together in death because her mother was your sister first. That your parents have more to say over where her mom is buried than she does when you know damn well, her mom wanted to be buried with Michael.”

Shay looked over at the table where she and Gypsy were sitting and his heart felt heavy. He realized and understood everything the other men were saying. What he didn’t know was how he could make up for a lifetime of neglect. Mallory would have been very disappointed in him, just as she was disappointed in her parent’s actions when they turned their backs on her. All because Michael had different plans for his life than they did. They were wrong then and they were wrong now.

~*~

Inez took a sip of her now cold coffee. She had sat there in silence longer than she realized. Then she suddenly smiled. When she left her father’s house all those months ago, she forgot she was wearing a necklace. A special necklace her father had given her the night they buried her mom.

The necklace was a special kind of locket and it held a small portion of her mom’s ashes. He wanted her to have something of her mom forever. She looked over at Gypsy and smiled. “No matter what, my dad is taking care of me and my mom.”

“What the fuck does that mean?” He frowned.

“When she died, she wanted to be cremated. She never wanted her body buried in the ground, so my dad had her cremated against her parent’s wishes. Before he handed over her box of ashes to her family, he took out a small portion and had them put into a locket. Then after the service, he gave me the locket. I may not have all of her to bury with him but I have a small part of her.” She hung her head. “Maybe the best part of her because that’s all I’ll ever have.”

“But honey, if you bury that part of her, you won’t have anything left.” Gypsy reached out and grabbed her hand. “Your dad wanted you to have that to remind you of her.”

“I don’t need her ashes to remember her. She’s still alive in my heart. She’s still alive in my memories the same as your Gwen still lives in yours. I know you’ll always love her. That won’t ever change no matter how hard you try. That’s part and partial of loving someone. I can live with that. I can also live with giving up this small piece of my mom. It will be hard but they loved each other too. They wanted to be together in death the same as in life. I can’t deny them that.” She looked over at him before she admitted, “I think maybe dad knew her family would never let them be together and maybe this was his way of making sure they could be. Maybe it was selfish on his part but they really do belong together. He knew I would keep her close to my heart and I did. This is better than nothing.”

~*~

Shay, Pappy and Gunner stood there and heard her words. Pappy turned to glare at Shay but he didn’t say anything.

Gunner turned his back and walked over to the bar. He poured himself a stiff drink and slammed it down his throat, then he poured another one.

The silence was building and every man there could feel it. Shay hardened his face and moved slowly toward the door. As soon as he hit the outside, tears ran down his face. He couldn’t stand her pain because it reminded him just how selfish Mallory’s family, including himself, had been.

Shay squared his shoulders and turned back to the clubhouse. It was big brother time now.

He entered the clubhouse and walked directly to the table where Inez and Gypsy sat. He looked at her until her gaze met his. Placing his hands on the table, he leaned in and said. “Young lady, don’t even think about doing what you are thinking of. You hold onto those ashes. After I’m done with putting away all this trash, we’ll make this right. I can’t change the past, but I can change what happens from this day forward.”

Gypsy took her hand and squeezed it as they all waited for her to say something.

Shay waited for her to say anything at all.

Inez stared up at him with tears in her eyes. “We’ll see what happens then, won’t we?”

 

 Grizzly

I’ve seen the worst of the worst and I’m sick of fighting a battle that I can’t win. I’m a US Marshal. I’m also a member of an MC and a biker, I love being both, but it’s time to finally choose my path. I want to be alive and breathe, so I walked away from being a Marshal.

I went back to the Savaged Souls MC. I didn’t know it but a small piece of my past followed me there. The son of a man I put on death row is trying to intimidate me but he should know better. I’m six foot six and 325 pounds of mean and stubborn. He should have known better than to try.

He made a mistake in coming after me in the first place. Now, I’m coming after him and there isn’t a rock big enough for him to hide under.

Now the man is going to learn the hard way, how and why they call me Grizzly and he’d better run. As a Marshal, I worked alone but now I got the MC behind me, yeah he better run because the Savaged Souls are coming for him.

Teddy

My world crashed and burned the day my mom betrayed her family. Now, her boyfriend tells me he’ll kill my dad if I don’t do what he tells me to do.

I know what my dad would want me to do, but I can’t just walk away from this. His family was proud in the fact that they proudly served their country and I was next to follow their dream. I couldn’t turn my back on my dad.

But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go through with what I was told to do. I tried but I failed. I got hurt then I got caught. It wasn’t like I didn’t deserve it but I knew in that moment my dad was a dead man.

Next thing I know, this giant of a man is rescuing me. He wants to help but can I trust him? Do I dare try?