Reunion Series-

THE NEW CHAPTER BOOK IS

 

From Hawkins-Book Six...

Wren stood over by the windows, looking outside toward the backyard.

Cat joined her. “Do you feel it too?”

“The waiting?” Wren asked as she nodded. “The tension is building, yet the waiting remains, doesn’t it?”

Cat shivered. “That’s it exactly. The waiting. I can’t quite make out if it’s a good waiting or a bad waiting. That’s what has me on edge.”

Wren looked over at her sister and patted her arm. “I don’t sense any danger but…I don’t think I feel things and warnings as strongly as you…my senses aren't as fine-tuned as yours. I feel this is all about more than just the unfinished business the Merans left behind.”

“You mean you?” Cat stared at her.

Wren nodded. “Yeah, me. Isn’t that a kick in the head?”

Cat wrapped her arms around her and hugged her.

Wren hugged her back. “I like that I finally have answers. Goodness, I waited my life for them but geeze, to find out I’m the granddaughter of a cartel on the east coast? That's just a little bit more than I needed to know.”

Cat snorted. “I hear you, sister. I found out I’m the daughter of a notorious killer. She had no conscience and she never regretted killing anyone. But she didn’t think one little girl, her little girl would be so hard to kill. Then in the end…she got what she deserved.”

“Don’t forget she was my mother too,” Wren reminded her. “So we both come from a lineage that is suspect at best.” She rolled her eyes.

Cat smiled at her. “True enough but neither of us deserved what she had in mind. Neither of us deserved to be stalked or marked for death. My God, we were children. Our only mistake was being born to her and when she thought her time was up with our fathers, she killed them but missed killing us.”

Wren shook her head. “Like some black widow…Now she’s dead and soon the man who ordered her to do so many evil deeds will die as well.” She paused. “What happens to us, you and me? Do we go or do we stay here with our men?”

Cat smiled. “Oh honey, you can do what you want, but this is my home. I found out that home isn’t just four walls and a roof, home is where you are loved, and Titan loves me. I know that and he knows I love him back. Every time he comes into the room, my heart beats a little faster. Every time he kisses me, he takes my breath away. Titan is my home and I know it.”

Wren smiled. “I feel the same way about Wanderer. I finally feel safe in his arms and I don’t want to leave. I know this place isn’t what Hondo wants for me but I am home here.”

“Then you need to tell him that,” Cat urged.



Chapter One

Boots quietly sat on a bench along the wall. He spotted Cat and Titan coming in with the babies. The little twins were each in a carry-seat.

Titan seemed to be almost a different man from the one he was before Cat had come to Granite Falls. Now a father of twins and a husband, he looked happier than Boots ever remembered him being. 

Wren then came in to join them. Very pregnant and very happy too. She was cooing and talking to the twin babies.

 Boots watched the lively happenings and concluded that maybe this falling in love bit wasn’t such a bad thing.

Then he shook his head. In all of his forty years, he had never felt for anyone what these two women felt for his brothers. Yes, he’d had women in his bed but that was more for the release than any sense of feelings for her. He had already come to the conclusion that he’d never fall in love with a woman. At the moment, he just felt plain old.  

He sighed and looked around as he couldn’t stop himself from thinking about how the MC had grown in the last year. When Cat showed up that started the ball rolling then one by one, his brothers fell in love and brought new blood into the MC. He looked over at the two women and smiled. Now they had babies in the mix and he knew this meant that the MC had come full circle.

He had to admit, Cat and Titan had two of the sweetest babies he’d ever seen. He’d helped to deliver them. That was one thing he never thought he would be doing in this MC. Delivering babies. Hawkins finally got to see his great grandchildren every day. What he missed watching Cat grow up, he got to be there with her children growing up. Those babies might not know it but their great grandpa wasn’t going to fail them like he felt he failed their mother. That lesson had been well learned by Hawkins as he'd paid little attention to Cat when she was a child then she disappeared.

It had taken a lot of self-seeking on his part when Cat told him how she felt growing up with a father who was too busy trying to get the club together and a mother that was using the club for her own gains. Hawkins tried and failed to reason with her about what was going on back then. Finally, it took her telling him that she'd gotten more attention from her own dog than she did from her parents. This news had hit him hard.

Then Boots thought about what all Wren had given up to stay here with Wanderer. A whole other life, her family, something she hadn’t ever had before. Also something she never knew she had before. 

He remembered when the Meran family had shown up that day… it had been an emotional upheaval for Wren and the Merans.


Five months ago…

Hawkins' cell buzzed and he answered with, “Yeah. Ok, we’ll let them in.”

 Titan went to the doors and unlocked them.

The main doors then opened.

 Hondo Meran and his sons walked inside.

Hondo stopped in front of the table where Hawkins and a few people were sitting. He nodded at them and said, “We flew to Waco and found Ben’s body. All the police reports backed up what you told us.”

 Hawkins shrugged. “We had no reason to lie about something like that. We just told you what we knew.”

“Si you did and I thank you for that.” Hondo nodded his head. “We also found out the Alvarez family took back their compound after a great battle and that Montoya ran away like a coward with his sons running right behind him. I hear they are in this area. Have you seen them?”

Hawkins nodded. “Yeah, we have. In fact, they tried coming at us and found out we weren’t afraid of them. Montoya lost two sons and almost lost his own life because he wouldn’t give up. I hear he lost his third son in a skirmish in Waco.”

Hondo looked over at his sons and then back at Hawkins. “How did you hear this?”

“We caught a little worm that carried Montoya’s kid’s hand all the way back here. Montoya took a couple of bullets from our side and when we showed him the hand, he recognized it as Enrique’s, his son.” Shaking his head he growled, “Now all he can do is whine about how bad his life is.”

Hondo froze. “He is here? In this building?”

Hawkins nodded.

“I’d like five minutes alone with that bastard.” Hondo snarled.

“You, Joel Greenaway and Manual Alvarez I would imagine. You all want that five minutes.” Hawkins snorted.

“Manual Alvarez is still alive?” Hondo asked.

Hawkins nodded. “I’m sure you know that already. He’s the one who took his compound back and he’s Luna’s grandfather as well.”

“Si, I had heard something of the kind when we were in Mexico.” Hondo nodded. “It will be a pleasure to do business again with a man I can trust.”

“Well, as glad as I am that you found your son in Waco,” Hawkins told him. “Maybe you should get him home to his mother.”

“Si, I plan to as soon as my Solana can pack her things and come back with us. I thank you for taking care of her. It is time for her to take her place with the family now.”

Cameron leaned closer to his father and whispered, “Papa, I think this place is her home now.”

Hondo ignored Cameron’s words and stared at Hawkins.

Wren reached out and held Wanderer’s hand. Then she turned to Hondo and her uncles. “Grandfather, Cameron is right, this is my home now and I have no desire to leave here.”

“You are a Meran and will learn to take your father’s place in our family,” Hondo informed her.

“No grandfather, I will not,” Wren told him firmly. “I didn’t know him and I don’t know you, but here I have a sister and a man that I find I cannot live without. In fact, I don’t want to live without him. I hope you can accept that and still be part of my family because I want to know you and my grandmother and I hope, my uncles, but this is the place I will call home.”

Hondo smiled slightly. “You are so like her, your grandmother.” He hung his head. “Now I am beginning to understand what her parents went through when they didn’t want us to be together. I couldn’t let her go, not then, and not now. She told her papa that I was her home and that she would always love only me. Forty two years and six grown sons later, I still love that woman, she is my world.” Then he looked at his five sons and nodded. “Very well, I will accept this for now, but I will be back and I will be bringing your grandmother with me because she will insist on coming to meet you.”


   Present day…

Boots leaned his head back against the wall. She had chosen to stay where she had found someone to love her completely. Wanderer was a great guy. He mentally shrugged. Hell, I’m a great guy. He smiled to himself. While it was true that he had a good life here, could it be better with a woman who loved him like his brothers were loved? 

Looking around the room, he realized a startling fact. He was the last single man among them. Other than a few confirmed bachelors who were mainly newcomers to the group. Well, if this was his life, it wasn’t so bad. He had plenty to do here, for the most part. Being an MC doctor could get hectic sometimes.

Just then, he noticed something about Cat.

 Her body had stiffened as she nervously gazed around the room. Putting her fingers to her temples, she rubbed them as if she were in pain.

Titan wasn't sitting with her as he had gone across the room to talk with Hawkins.

Standing from the bench, Boots went over to her. “Are you okay?”

Cat looked up at him. Her eyes were clouded over with fear and pain. “I am but someone close to us isn’t. I just can’t get a fix on where or who.” 

“Don’t force it so hard,” he whispered. “Let it come to you. Just take a deep breath and breathe.” 

Cat had a rare gift that allowed her to reach out to those who were dying or in trouble. She called it a curse but most here believed it was a gift. She’d had this gift since she was seven years old when her mother tried to kill her and missed. She awoke from a coma with the gift being a strong power really. After a few years, it grew so stong that she could no longer shrug it off or ignore it.

While here, she had used her gift to protect the MC over and over again. Each time that it happened, it brought someone new into their fold.

Would this feeling she had just now do the same?

Boots had to admit that he had always been highly fascinated by her special gifts, they were part of her psyche, her soul. If he were a different kind of doctor, he would research the hell out of it.

Closing her eyes, Cat just breathed for a moment, inhaling and exhaling as she calmed herself. Then her eyes snapped open and she gasped. “Oh, my God…” 

“What?” Boots asked her. “What do you see?”

“Someone is in the caves,” she whispered. “He woke up there and now he’s lost. He’s going deeper into the caverns, not coming out of them. Somehow, he got turned around and went too far into the tunnels.”

Boots stood and called for Hawkins. 

He and Titan came over to them

 “What in tarnation is going on here?” Hawkins demanded.

“Cat sees someone lost in the cave system where we found Isobel’s bank,” Boots hurried to explain. “She says he got turned around and is going deeper in instead of coming out. ”

Cat nodded as she looked panicked. "We have to save him."

Titan sat down next to her and put his arm around her shoulders.

 “We’ll find him." Hawkins nodded. "But stay calm, will ya? Cuz I know what we aren’t gonna do. Go running nilly-willy into those caves then get caught inside when the walls come crashing down.” He turned to Cat and asked, “So where exactly did you see this person?”

“He was left inside the tunnel system just beyond the room Isobel used as her bank. He was carried there and laid on the floor of the tunnel, they simply left him there.” Cat sobbed as she shook her head.  “From what I can see, he’s just a kid and now he’s lost in the tunnels.”

“Honey, don’t fret so.” Hawkins patted her shoulder. “If he’s still there, we’ll find him and bring him back here.”

Cat sobbed as she said, “Grandpa, he’s so lost and he’s terrified.”

“I know Caterina and it's dark in those tunnels. He must be scared to death.” Hawkins shook his head. He looked around and met his son Kota’s gaze. “We don’t know who he is but he’s lost and scared. Find this kid and bring him back here.

Kota gave him a nod and chose a couple of men that he knew were familiar with the tunnels on the back forty. “Brute and Wanderer. You boys come with me. We need to go in and bring this kid back.”

The two men nodded then left to get some equipment and flashlights. One of the items they collected was a rope. If they were going deep into the tunnels, they would need to find their way back. For all three men, this wouldn’t be the first time they navigated this cavern.

Hawkins suggested that Boots go with them, saying that the kid might need a doctor.

Boots had already planned to go, so he patted Cat’s hand to reassure her.

After Boots moved away,Titan leaned down and kissed her cheek. "We got this lil Cat. Try not to worry."

When the small rescue team left, Boots and Titan went along with them. 

~*~

Cat sat at the table with her seven month old twins, Aaron and Katie. The babies were now napping again, so the room was quiet.

 Luna sat beside her as did Wren and Tatum. Wren was very pregnant just now and she kept rubbing her belly while they waited. Rosabel brought some tea in and they all sipped at it.

Luna asked her best friend, Cat, “Did you see anything else?” 

“No, it was all sort of blurry. I don’t know why. Usually, I can see whatever it is plainly and clearly. But I saw it through the boy’s eyes and he was weeping. His surroundings just kept getting darker and darker too.”

Wren stopped rubbing her belly and reached over to pat Cat’s hand. “The men will bring him back, sis. You’ll see.”

Cat nodded and took another sip of her tea. “I just don’t want anyone hurt. I hate it when I see things.”

Luna reached out and patted her other hand. "Your sight helps people, Cat. We are grateful that you have it."

Time stretched out and tension grew as they all waited for the men to come back. They say watched clocks move slowly and this one sure did. Minutes stretched out and seemed like hours.

They all then played with the twins as they had woken up in their little carryalls. This helped to ease the stress of waiting as they all took care of feeding the babies. Giggles and gurgles filled the air.

Finally, they heard footsteps coming toward the front door.

Boots came through first and he carried a young boy in his arms. 

The women gasped when they first saw him.

The boy had passed out and he looked dirty. And he had been bleeding as well.

Cat got up as Boots hurried down the hall with the boy in hs arms.

Luna glanced at her and said, “Go, he might need you. Wren and I can watch the kids.”

Cat nodded and rushed down the hall after them. Quietly, she entered the infirmary.

 The boy woke up and began to fight with Boots. Kota and Titan moved in to hold him down. 

Cat stepped up and motioned the men away from him. She cupped the boy’s face and softly said, “No one here is going to hurt you. Boots is our doctor and he just wants to see if you are hurt. Please don’t fight this.”

The boy calmed down and was still shaking but he wouldn’t take his eyes off Cat. 

~ *~

Boots went through his examination. When he was done, he looked over at Hawkins and said, “He’s got some bumps and bruises and some contusions but overall, he’s okay.”

“What the hell happened in those tunnels anyway?” Hawkins growled.

Titan shook his head. “We could hear him crying and we shouted for him to stay where he was and we would find him, but he must not have heard us."

Kota nodded and added, "He only stopped when we got close enough to him so he could see our lights but even then, he couldn’t or wouldn’t let us get too close to him. He acted like a wild child, kicking and screaming at us.”

Cat remained eye locked with the child and shook her head. “He didn’t hear you coming.”

Hawkins snapped his gaze up to her and asked, “How the hell do you know that?”

Cat gazed into the boy’s eyes and said, “I don’t think he can hear but he can read lips.” 

The boy stared at her face as he sighed and then nodded slowly.

“Well, that’s just fuckin’ great, isn’t it?” Hawkins swore. “How are we gonna find out where he belongs?”

“Dad, hush.” Kota growled.

“Why? The kid can’t hear me anyway,” Hawkins grumbled.

Cat raised her gaze to glare at her grandfather as she sternly chastised him, “No, he can’t hear you but he can feel your rage and it's scaring him. He can feel your disgust and so can everyone else in this room.”

“I didn’t mean it like it sounded, Caterina. Honest, I didn’t.” Hawkins tried to backtrack.

Cat shook her head at him. “You need to learn more patience, grandpa.”

He let out a sigh as he looked away.

Titan and Kota bit at their lips to not show their smiles. Only Cat could advise or correct Hawkins and get away with it.

 “Maybe you should all leave for now,” Boots suggested. “We gotta get him cleaned up and settled down again. He’s terrified of us.” 

Cat nodded. “He’s very afraid of someone and us being strangers isn’t helping. For now, see if you can get him to shower and give him a shirt to wear. I can wash his clothes and we’ll see how he’s feeling after that.”

Boots nodded. “Yeah, we  need to know who he is and how he got into those damn caves. Where is his family anyway?”

Cat shook her head. “I don’t know but by now, they must be missing him. He was in that cave for some time.”

“Well, I’m gonna try to get him in the shower,” Boots told her. “He can wear a t-shirt of mine until his clothes are clean.”. 

“Ok, just make sure you look at him when you speak, so he can read your lips,” Cat reminded him. “Just set his clothes outside the door. I’ll collect them and wash them.”

Boots nodded.

Cat and the men then left the infirmary.

 Boots looked back over at the boy and motioned for the kid to follow him into the bathroom. 

The boy stepped into the small room and saw that Boots already had the water running. Nodding his head in understanding, the kid stripped down. He then winced as he took off his shirt.

Boots growled when he saw the boy’s back had bruises all over it. Some were older and they had already begun to fade but some were also fresh. Boots tamped his rage down so the little guy wouldn't know how upset this made him. He gathered up his clothes and set them outside the door. Grabbing the kid a fresh towel and some soap, he motioned for him to get inside and clean himself up.

 

Chapter Two

 

 After the kid stepped into the shower, Boots closed the bathroom door. The bruises bothered him but all he could do was tighten his lips. Then a knock sounded on his door and he opened it, 

Hawkins and Titan were standing there.

 “Well, how is the boy?” Hawkins asked.

“He’s in the shower now and Cat is washing his clothes.” Boots shook his head in disgust. “That boy is bruised from head to toe.”

“Do you know who he is or where he came from?” Titan asked.

Boots just shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t have any idea. I don’t know that many kids. I’ve delivered babies but kids are a different matter altogether. Besides, he is not speaking at all. Not sure if he can actually.”

“So we can’t ask him any questions?” Hawkins asked. “Like where he belongs or even what his name is.”

“Sure we can, Grandpa,” Cat assured him as she joined them in the Infirmary.

“How the hell are we gonna ask him if he can’t hear us, girl?” Hawkins reasoned.

“He’s deaf grandpa, not stupid.” Cat smirked. “He can sign, I think. And maybe he can even read and write.”

Just then, the boy came out of the bathroom. When he saw everyone standing there, he stiffened in fear. 

Cat smiled as she walked over to him and patted him on the shoulder. Looking straight at him, she chuckled and said, “Don’t worry, they don’t usually bite kids.”

The boy nodded. 

Cat turned and asked Boots if he had any paper.

Boots went over to the dresser then dug around for a tablet and a pen. He brought them over to her. 

She took the boy’s hand then led him back to the bed. Inviting him to sit down, she handed him the tablet and pen. Then she looked at him again and asked him, “Do you have a name?”

The boy nodded. Then looked down at the paper and wrote down his name, well his first name anyway. He showed it to her.

She smiled at him and asked, “So, your name is Chris?”

The boy nodded.

Do you have family in the area?” Cat asked by signing, hoping he knew how. “Is there anyone we can call to let them know you are okay?”

Chris frowned then nodded reluctantly. Then he smiled and wrote down another name and a phone number. He turned the page toward Cat.

 She read it out loud, “He says his sister’s name is London and he gave us her phone number.”

“Well, hallelujah,” Hawkins stated. “I woulda never thought it, but…we’re making progress.”

“Grandpa.” Cat shook her head as she smiled. Then she turned and stared at Chris. “Can we call London and ask her to come for you?”

Chris shook his head. His hand was shaking as he wrote on the paper. When he finished, he turned the notebook toward her.

 Cat’s heart broke when she read his response aloud, “She might get mad and tell my dad off and that wouldn’t do her any good. He’s been drinking again and that’s never a good thing. Can I stay here tonight and call her in the morning?” Cat looked at Chris and nodded. “Yes, you can stay here and we’ll call your sister tomorrow.”

Chris then wrote something else down and handed the tablet to her. 

Cat read it and smiled. “Yes, your clothes. I’m washing them, so you have something clean to wear tomorrow. I hope that’s okay.”

Chris nodded then he pressed his small hand on his belly.

 “Are you hungry?” Cat asked him in sign this time.

Chris looked a little scared for a moment and he wouldn’t look at her.

Cat shook her head. She gently cupped his cheek and brought his face back to hers. “I’ll make you a sandwich, ok?”

Chris nodded slowly then sat back on the bed. He brought his knees to his chest and looked down.   

Cat got up and left the room.

The men just stared at the boy. 

Hawkins looked over at Titan then he nodded his head at Boots. “Why does the kid want us to wait until tomorrow to call his sister? That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Boots shrugged and took his best guesses, “Maybe she lives at home and if her dad is drinking, he might get mean if she starts yelling at him for her brother being gone. We don’t know enough about his family yet. Hell, we don't even know the kid’s last name.”

Titan went over and took the pen to paper. He wrote a sentence then handed it to Chris. 

The kid looked up and despite how large and maybe scary Titan looked, he grinned at him. 

Titan reached over to playfully ruffle the kid’s hair.

Hawkins scrunched his brows and asked his son n law and MC Captain, “What was that about?”

“I told him I would get him an Ipad and he could watch toons with subtitles.”

Hawkins gave him a nod. “Good idea, Daddy,” he teased the new father.

“Hey, it’s good practice.” Titan grinned at him then left the room.

A few minutes later, Cat returned with a sandwich and a glass of juice. She also set his clean clothes at the end of the bed.

The boy nodded his head at the clean clothing and then he ate hungrily. When he finished, he grabbed the notebook again and thanked Cat for the food.

Titan came back in and handed the small Ipad to Chris. Looking over at his wife Cat, he said, “The kid needs a good distraction. He can also use it to communicate, if he can use a keyboard.”

Hawkins snorted. “What kid today doesn’t know how to do that?” 

Cat smiled at Titan. “So sweet of you to do.”

He shook his head. “I’m gonna head to the babies, I’ll see you in a bit.” He paused and kissed her cheek. Then he waved at Hawkins and Boots while leaving the room.

Chris patted Cat’s arm then wrote with the Ipad keyboard and asked if they could leave a light on because he didn’t like the dark. 

Cat smiled and nodded. She looked over at Boots and informed him of what he’d said, “He doesn’t like the dark.”

Nodding at her, Boots said, “I’ll leave the bathroom light on. It's late and everyone needs some sleep, so we’ll see you in the morning.” 

~*~

When everyone left, Chris went into the bathroom and put his clean clothes on. When he came back, he settled down in bed but he didn’t close his eyes. He watched as the man who said his name was Boots moved around the room. 

Who had a name that was for a pair of shoes? Chris had thought he’d read that name wrong on their lips earlier, but they had all said that name. He shook his head. It did kinda fit him though and he did wear an old pair of cowboy boots.

The nice lady who’d made him feel better had an animal name… Cat. Only she didn’t make him think of a cat. She was so nice that she made him feel better. Kitten maybe? Or her name should be like Honey or Sugar Bell. Then the man she smiled at was named Titan…Yes, he was as big as a monster, but he didn’t act like one and he had a nice smile. His name should be Harvey. Chris had watched that old movie with subtitles and the name would fit the big man.

Then the grumpy looking older man, he didn’t catch his name, but he would be like the Grinch maybe? Chris wasn’t sure if he just looked mean or if he was mean like another man he knew.

Boots turned on the bathroom light and partially shut the door. Then he went to another door and opened it. 

Chris could see another room beyond there. This place sure had lots of rooms.

Boots partially turned toward him and snapped off the lights. The room darkened but because the light was on in the bathroom, the room wasn’t pitch black. 

Chris laid there shivering in the semi dark. He didn’t want to break any rules by staying up and watching the Ipad. He hoped he could watch it tomorrow though. He’d never had one before but a kid at the park had shown him all about it. He got to play on that for almost an hour one day.

He winced when he moved in the bed. His body still hurt but he tried to ignore it. The caverns had been awfully scary though and he wanted to forget that he had ever been there. He just got more and more lost in those tunnels. Then it had finally gotten so dark that he couldn’t even move around anymore.

This place was so nice and he kinda felt safe here. He didn’t know what would happen to him now but he hoped London would come for him in the morning. The fear he lived with every day was still there but these guys didn’t seem so bad. At least, they hadn’t hurt him…yet. 

Chris finally closed his eyes and when he fell asleep, he didn’t fear being woken up with a slap on the head.

~*~

Boots stood at his door for a few minutes and watched as Chris fell asleep. He was curious about the boy and how he ended up in the caves. Then there was his family and where he came from. He also wondered about the sister they were going to call in the morning, this London? What was she like and why wait to call her? The boy Chris was afraid she would go off on their dad but why? Too many questions and no answers yet.

Boots left his door open a little ways and went to get ready for bed. He finally shut off the lights in his room. Lying down with a sigh, he brought his arms up under his head. He stared at the ceiling for a long time. 

Like he’d said, he knew nothing about kids, but he did know that this one didn’t have a good life. Maybe Chris shouldn’t be returned to a place where he had gotten all those bruises. 

Then again, the only alternative would be social services and foster care. From the stories Luna and Cat told. Those places weren't any good either.

 Finally, he closed his eyes and went to sleep.

~*~

It was barely dawn and something woke Boots from a deep sleep. He opened his eyes and laid there for a moment to isolate what sound had woken him up. He heard a child crying. 

Getting out of bed, he went to the door between his room and the infirmary. Pausing, he watched through the crack as Chris struggled while tossing this way and that in his bed. Boots opened the door wider then went over to the bed and sat down on the edge. He gently shook the boy awake.

Chris threw his arms up to cover his head before he opened his eyes. Looking around cautiously, he saw Boots sitting there. His eyes filled with fear at the sight of him being so close.

Boots didn’t move as he waited until the kid breathed slower and looked less pale.

Finally, Chris calmed down and openly stared at him. 

Boots faced the boy knowing he could read lips and he asked, “Are you alright?” 

Chris nodded… yes. Then he grabbed the Ipad up, handing it to Boots.

Taking it, Boots nodded as he typed on it and asked if he needed anything. 

Chris reached over to tap some keys, asking for something to drink.

Boots got up, went over to the mini fridge and opened it to get a bottle of water. He walked back to the bed and sat down then handed it to Chris.

Chris took the water and drank thirstily. When he had enough, he capped the water and set it on the table next to the bed. 

Boots patted his leg then typed to him to try and sleep again. He added that it was too early to get up. He stood and went back to his room.

Chris turned the Ipad off then he got up, and went to the bathroom. When he came back, he laid back down and pulled the covers up. He tried to go back to sleep but sleep eluded him, instead he spent the next few hours just staring at the room. Taking the blanket from the bed, he went over to the corner of the room and sat down. Pulling the blanket over his shoulder he stared at the room beyond where he was sitting.

Boots had gone back to his room and had gotten dressed. It was too early to wake up, yet he was wide awake. He decided to get moving for the day. He checked on Chris again and found him all curled up in the corner. Boots motioned for the boy to come with him.

Chris slowly got up and followed him out and down the hall. 

Boots went to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. When he heard Chris’ belly grumble, he smiled and moved around the kitchen to make them both breakfast.

Chris just watched as he made eggs and toast and bacon. Then when Boots put the plate in front of him Chris stared at the plate then up at Boots. 

Boots handed the boy a fork and motioned at him to eat. 

Chris slowly started eating and soon, he was wolfing down the food. 

Boots just watched and had to shake his head. The kid acted like he was starving. It dawned on him that maybe the kid was starving. With this thought, he growled under his breath then finished his own breakfast. 

About that time, Cat and Titan joined him.

Chris looked happy to see the both of them as he waved excitedly at the couple.

With smiles on their faces, they were glad to see Chris as well. 

Chris signed to Cat about calling his sister.

Cat nodded then pulled the paper he had written the phone number on out of her pocket. She took a deep breath and tapped the number into her screen.

 A woman answered the call and she sounded weary and worried, “Hello?” Her tone was low, almost a whisper.

“Hello, my name is Cat Gannon, am I speaking with London?”

“Yes, I’m London but how did you get this number?” London asked.

“I got it from your brother, Chris,” Cat told her.

The woman gasped loudly. “Chris?” Her voice picked up. “You know where he is? Oh, my God…Is he alright? Is he safe?”

“Whoa, slow down,” Cat urged. “He’s completely safe and he’s fine. He asked me to wait until this morning to call you.”

“That little stinker.” London growled. “I was so worried. I can come to him if you tell me where he is. I need to see him. I have to see with my own eyes that he’s okay.”

“I understand but you need to understand something too,”Cat explained. “Your little brother was placed in  some cavern-tunnels not far from where we are. I don’t know who put him there but he got turned around and went deeper in the tunnels than was safe. Some of my friends found him and they had to fight him to get him out. He didn’t understand who they were or why they were there. They didn’t hurt him but someone put him in danger.”

“I’m gonna kill him for this…” London’s voice broke. There was a pause on her end then she asked, “W-where is he?”

“He’s with us at the Rogue of Hell's MC clubhouse.” 

London gasped and asked her in a fearful tone, “Can you repeat that? He’s with the MC in their clubhouse?”

Cat sighed hard and told her, “We’re just people like you and your brother, you know.” She hesitated then said, “Do you know where we are?”

“Yeah, everyone that lives around here knows where the Rogues’ MC is at. I’m sorry I just never expected this. I’ll be out to get him right away. I never thought you would hurt him but everything I know of bikers tells me they aren’t always good people.”

“I know,” Cat agreed. “But these guys are not the Sons of Anarchy. They’re just people.”

“I am sorry…I’ll be there soon.” London ended the call.

Cat looked over at Chris. 

He wore a look of fear on his face and he shivered. 

She leaned over close and signed to him, “London said she would be here soon.”

Chris signed back to her, “Thank you, Sugar Bell.” He then released a shaky sigh and nodded. 

Cat paused at the odd name and stared at the boy. “I must have read that one wrong?”

Boots looked over at her and asked, “What do you mean?”

Cat chuckled as she shook her head. “Never mind.”

Chris smiled at her as he grabbed his glass and finished his juice.

 

Chapter Three

 

London drove up the hill that would take her to the Rogues of Hell clubhouse. She shook her head and wondered how the hell Chris ended up in the tunnels, let alone who put him there. No that wasn't true she did know who did it and when she could prove it, her dad would be in so much damn trouble. She was gonna make sure his world and name were both dragged through the mud.

She would see to it that the stains of shame he wore would never come out.

When she got home last night, the first thing she noticed was her dad looked drunk again. Not that it surprised her much but when she couldn’t find Chris anywhere in the house, she felt panic. But she knew better than to ask her dad where Chris was. So instead, she stayed in her room and fretted all night. 

After she got the call from the MC this morning, she left her room and searched the house for her father. It didn’t take her long to find him passed out on the living room sofa. 

She didn’t bother waking him up, instead she went back to her room and packed her bag. She had saved up enough money for this very escape. Next, she grabbed the evidence she had been gathering for the last year or so and tucked it into her pack. Her dad had no idea she had found his secret out a long time ago. But she had a feeling he would know it soon enough. Then she went to Chris’ room and packed his bag. No way would Chris or her be staying here anymore.

When she left the house, it was still early. But London knew she had to be gone before her dad woke up and started making demands. Well, he could take a flying leap as she was concerned. All that mattered was Chris.

Now as she drove up the hill, she couldn’t help but wonder what was waiting for her at this clubhouse. She had never met anyone in a motorcycle club before, so she prayed for these guys to be decent people. 

When she got to the top of the hill, she found herself driving past a place that looked like some kind of burnt out monument. It seemed to be dedicated to an MC member, but she wasn’t sure. 

Then she saw a parking area in front of a much bigger place. Navigating to the front, she parked.

The doors of the large building opened as several bikers came out and stood there on the huge front porch, seemingly to wait for her. Then more came out as well.

London swallowed hard and stared at the big men standing there. There were men of all ages but what commanded her attention were the three older men who stood in front of the main doors. All three had their arms folded across their chests.

Feeling nervous, she reached for the car door handle and opened it. She got out of her vehicle and closed the door behind her. Taking a deep breath, London moved forward. She needed to not show any fear. It was like the wilds, show fear and lose your life? She almost smirked but knew that was a very bad idea at the moment. 

There were younger men there too and they were freaking huge. She kept her eyes on the older guys as she came up to the porch. Then she looked at who she assumed was the main man and said, “I’m London and I was told my brother Chris was here.”

The man’s patch said he was Hawkins. He nodded his head slowly and said, “Yeah, we found him in the tunnels last night. He gave us your number and begged us not to call you until this morning. We also found he was beaten, is that your doing or someone else’s?” He looked angry.

London shook her head. “Not mine. I would never hurt Chris.”

“But you don’t seem too surprised about it,” one of the older men with the patch that said, Cash mentioned.

London let out a heavy sigh. “I guess it fits in with what my dad is doing. You see, he could never accept the fact that Chris is deaf. The poor kid couldn’t help it, he was born that way.”

“What about your mother?” Hawkins asked. “Does she just stand there and let this happen?”

London shook her head. “My mom died four years ago. And believe me when I say, he never did it before she passed away.”

Suddenly, one of the other men spoke up, “Hey, I know who you are. More importantly, I know who your dad is too.”

London looked for his patch on his vest and finally saw it. Nash.

 Nash turned to the others and said, “Her old man is Nathan Dalton. The mayor’s fucking first officer for the city of Granite Falls.”

London nodded. “Yeah, big fucking deal. Nathan Dalton is a drunkard and a monster when it comes to his children. In the four years since our mother died, my father has changed for the worst. Now I don’t even know him anymore.”

“Is he likely to come after his son?” one of the older men with a patch of Wilder wanted to know.

London shook her head. “I doubt it. He probably won’t even know Chris isn’t at home for a few more days.”

Hawkins glared at her. “How can the man not even know his kids aren’t there?”

London sneered as she explained, in pure disgust, “Because the man is a bastard and he turned his back on us when Chris was born deaf.” She paused, then asked, “Can I see my brother?”

Hawkins nodded then turned and opened the door. He led the way inside.

When London stepped into the main room, she was looking around and finally caught sight of Chris. She called out his name then shook her head as she knew he couldn’t actually hear her. She was just so glad to see him safe, she acted out before she thought first.

Suddenly, Chris looked up and caught sight of her. Rushing to get up, he ran to her.

London gulped heavily with tears in her eyes as she stood there with her arms spread wide. When he crashed into her, she quickly wrapped her arms around him and held him tight. Both brother and sister had tears on their cheeks as they hugged.

London ran her hands over his shoulders protectively. Then she held his head away from her and checked him over carefully. Finally, she asked him, “Are you okay?”

Chris nodded and embraced her again. They both walked over to the table.

 A beautiful smiling woman joined them. “Hi, I’m Cat Gannon, I’m the one who called you this morning.”

“London Dalton and thank you for taking care of Chris for me.” London looked at her brother and shook her head. “When I got home last night and couldn’t find him, I panicked. I hardly slept at all, wondering where he went and praying he was okay when you called.”

Chris patted her arm to get her attention then he began to sign.  

London’s expression showed her shock at first then she looked very pissed off. 

He told her of the dark, of how he was so sore and how he thought he might fall into the deep darkness of those caves. to never see light again.

 She signed back. Telling him she was glad to see him safe. She was sorry she had been at work and couldn’t help him.

 Chris shook his head sadly. After a long, fluent conversion, he pointed at a man he called Boots. Telling her of how he had helped him. But he wondered who would be named after a pair of shoes. Then he told her about the sweet Cat doing nice things for him but that she should be called Kitten or Sugar Bell.

London cracked a smile and shook her head. Chris had his own way of viewing the world.

“Well, what did he say?” Hawkins barked out. “Does he know who carried him into the tunnels?”

London had heard that part too from Chris. She turned to the group as a whole and told them, “Yeah, he just said that he was knocked out yesterday and when he woke up, he was already in the tunnels. He panicked and started going the wrong way. That he was so scared and then he saw the lights and he feared someone was going to hurt him. That's why he fought with you guys last night. He said you helped him.” She glanced at Boots.

“So he doesn’t know who knocked him out?” Boots asked.

“Oh yes, he knows and so do I and I’m gonna kill the bastard,” London vowed. Now, she had tears welling in her eyes but she refused to let them stream down her face in front of all these strangers. She wiped her eyes as she seethed. “This is the last time he hurts Chris. I’m done.”

“Woah girl, settle down.” Hawkins growled.  “What’s going on here? Is this something big enough that we need to know about or what?”

“Yes, most don’t know about it. There’s an element in town that’s been here for a while already,” London told them. “But nobody knows because they aren’t making a big fuss yet. My dad got mixed up in something that could wreck this town. It could hurt a lot of people and he’s too dumb to even know what these bastards are really doing here.”

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

“This group got here seven years ago. They’ve been watching us and how we do things for a reason.” 

“Who the hell are they watching and what on earth for?” Wilder wanted to know.

“They need some land to process the drugs they’re bringing up the river,” London explained. “They bring up the raw product then they refine the process in their labs and ship it back down river again. My dad is helping them and my mom found out and they killed her for it. That was four years ago now and dad is drinking himself to death just to clear his own conscience.” She shrugged as the men around the room growled. “I guess his new friends want to keep their secret. My mom threatened them and they took care of her for good. Now dad is starting to get belligerent and this was their way of making him behave. Hiding Chris in those caves. Dad doesn’t even know he’s missing yet.”

“Who gave Chris all the bruises?” Boots finally spoke up.

“Probably my dad.” London shrugged. “When he drinks he’s not always nice. Hell, who am I kidding? He’s not a nice man any way you fucking slice it. It's his fault that Chris is even deaf. He would hit my mom when she was pregnant all the time. He beat her once so bad she thought she would lose the baby. I was just a kid at the time so I couldn’t help her much either. After we buried mom Dad made me stay at home to take care of Chris. He wouldn’t let me take custody of him if I wasn’t living there but dad doesn’t even look at Chris anymore. I am so over that. Chris won’t be going home anymore.”

“So who are these guys that are running the drug lab here?” Titan asked her.

London shook her head. “They run the local garage and call themselves The Car Guys. There are five of them and they only run the garage as a cover for their real jobs. They live out on the old Rucker farm. That’s where they make all the money.”

Titan looked around the room and he could see that everyone knew these men. He looked at London and said, “The Car Guys repair shop is all but closed now.”

London nodded. “It's five guys, Ronnie, Luther, Johnny, Abe and Sonny. Ronnie and Abe always stayed mostly out at the farm getting things set up. Once they got going, they stayed out there all the time. Now they spend most of the time there anyway, that's why the garage is mostly shut down.”

“So why the old Rucker place?” Hawkins asked. “That’s mostly wetland anyway.”

London shook her head. “Have you been out there lately? If you haven’t, then you don’t know they cleaned up the wetland and opened a path to the river. They now have twenty four seven access to the river and the path opened is big enough for a small boat to get through anytime they need it to. The people around here haven’t seen the traffic because they come in the back door and leave the same way.”

“And your dad?” Hawkins asked, “What does he get out of this arrangement?”

“Money.” London sighed in disgust. “He found them the farm and helped with the paperwork to clear the wetlands and get the path open for their boats. And dad? He gets the money he needs to soothe his conscience.”

Kota shook his head. “Dad, you know we got to check this out. This is going on right under our noses. If it's true, we have to stop it.”

London shook her head. “These guys are dangerous. If they were aware that you guys know what they’re doing, they will declare war on your club and they won’t stop until they take you all out. They might even have some help using the cops and the city officials against you.”

“You think they got the city council in their pocket?” Hawkins asked with a growl.

London shrugged. “I’m sure my dad isn’t the only one in their pockets. Right now, they are keeping everything on the down-low but if people start looking too hard at them that could start something that could turn this city on its head and that is never a good thing.” She looked around the room and warned them all, “If you check this out, please be careful. They aren’t fooling around here and they are the type to shoot and ask questions like never.”

 

Chapter Four

 

London looked over at Hawkins and suggested, “You need to speak to Mrs. Rucker. She can tell you better than I can what happened when the five guys wanted to buy their farm. Joe Rucker ended up in the hospital, all beat to hell. The old man damn near died and suddenly, they lost half their herd of cattle before they finally sold it for pennies on the dollar. Being forced to sell their farm broke that old man’s heart and he’s never gotten over it. I see her every day and she just looks so lost.”

Hawkins just shook his head. “If these guys are as powerful as you seem to think, what are you and Chris going to do? You won’t be able to stay here anymore.”

London nodded. “I know. I’ll have to find a place we can stay at while this gets sorted out. I have enough proof to get the state police involved but things are going to get pretty hot around here until this all gets sorted out. Me and Chris will probably have to move around some but hopefully in the end, it will all work out. Either that or I’ll be dead and that won’t mean much in the long run.”

“Can I see your phone?’ Juju the Rogue’s IT asked her. 

London handed over her cell phone.

Juju opened it up and checked the GPS. He looked up at her and asked, “Can I disable your tracking unit?”

London looked stunned as she nodded. “I never thought about that but yeah, disable it.” 

“So who do you think brought your brother all the way up here and just left him?” Cash asked. “Not many people know about those tunnels.”

“Well, let’s find out.” London nodded. "I know in my gut who did it, but let's hear it from my baby brother." Turning to Chris, she signed to ask him what happened and how he ended up so far from home.

Chris shrugged and looked reluctant to sign back.

 She asked him again, but this time, she reached out to turn his face to hers.

Chris looked extremely sad and he began to speak with his hands.

 London’s voice was strong as she repeated what he was saying in actual words, “Me and dad were home the other night when we got a visit from Ronnie and Abe. My dad was already drinking and when he answered the door, Ronnie started yelling at him. I read his lips and it was something about not keeping his end of their deal and dad asked him how long he had to keep his end. Dad told him that it had been seven years now and he was tired of it. Ronnie laughed and told him he had to be their slave for as long as they needed him to be. Dad tried to tell them he'd had enough but Ronnie began pushing him around and said it would never be enough. They forced him to sit down and then they poured beer down his throat until he couldn’t drink anymore. Then they pushed him over on the floor and just left him.” She stopped speaking.

Chris lowered his hands and head. Tears dripped down from his eyes.

“He needs to rest for a minute,” London explained as she sniffled and wiped at the tears in her eyes.

Everyone in the room waited quietly.

Boots, who sat next to him, reached over and patted him on the shoulder.

Chris slowly raised his head to stare at him. He then swiftly swiped at his tears as if he felt embarrassed to be crying.

Boots nodded his head at him and spoke clearly while facing the kid, "You can do this."

With a sigh, Chris raised his hands again to tell the rest of it.

London stared at Boots while looking a bit surprised, but then began translating, “Ronnie came looking for him when he went to hide but Ronnie tore his room apart and he finally found him. He hit Chris then picked him up and carried him out of the house. It was dark out by that time, so our neighbors wouldn’t see him.” London paused then looked up at the others. “Chris didn’t know anything after that until he woke up in the tunnels. Being deaf has its disadvantages sometimes, so he didn’t hear your shouts and when he saw your lights, he panicked.” London growled, “It doesn’t surprise me that Ronnie was the one that did this. Someday, I’m gonna hurt that man.”

“You didn’t notice anything wrong with your dad that night when you got home?” Cash asked London.

She shrugged. “I saw him on the floor when I came home after work but that's nothing new. He usually drinks himself into a stupor most nights. I went to check on Chris and when I saw the state of his room I panicked but I knew better than to disturb dad. He didn’t care. I kept hoping Chris would contact me or if he was somewhere in the house, he would come to me. He often hid from Dad. Then I got the call this morning. I packed our bags. Because no matter what… we won’t be staying here anymore.” Shaking her head she said, “Dad made his bed seven years ago and now he can lie in it. Before Chris and I leave, I will bring all this out in the open and he’ll have to finally face the music.” 

“Why don’t you let us see what we can find out about this before you leave,” Hawkins asked her. “If this is going on around here right under our nose, we can take care of it.”

Cash nodded his head. “This club has long stood on the rules and we vowed a long time ago that we wouldn’t let drugs come into our town and now we find them right under our nose. This is something we have to do, but we’re gonna need your help. We will clean this mess up but we need to know all the players. You can help us with that.”

 London nodded. “I can do that but you have to be careful, these men aren’t fooling around. They will come here and try to take you out.” She made sure to sign everything she said to them the whole time. She wanted Chris to know what was happening.

“Do you have any idea who they work for?” Wilder asked. “I mean it's not like they would do this on their own. Even they have to have money and the backing to cover their asses.”

London looked at Chris and kept signing to him…Telling him what the others were saying. 

Chris looked at her and nodded. Then he signed something back to her.

 London sighed hard and nodded. She looked over at the others and said, “This is what we know from some evidence I’ve seen. They work for the Braza cartel. These guys run their labs here in the states and after the drugs are shipped out, they take them by river and connect up with another boat in the Mississippi river to carry the finished drugs somewhere south. I’ve heard they have an MC somewhere south of Kansas City to deliver the drugs to the dealers.”

“So they got an MC working with them as well?” Kota growled. “Do you know who they are?”

London shook her head. 

Chris signed something.

London sighed. 

He signed and she shook her head again.

“What did he say?” Hawkins asked. 

London glared at him and said, “He said Dad would know, but I don’t want our no-good father to know anything about this. All he’ll do is scream and yell at us about minding our own business and that we don’t know what we’re talking about.” She snorted. “As if we’re dumb or something. We know what the hell he’s  doing.”

Hawkins agreed with her. “Plus, if he knew, he might tell this group about us and that wouldn’t be good until we know exactly what’s going on here.”

Kota looked around the room and said, “Ok, so right now, we have to hide any trace of London and Chris. Nash, bring their stuff inside and hide the car. We can’t leave it out in case Ronnie and his friends come looking for them.” He gave London a nod. “If you will give Nash the keys, we can move this along.”

She took them out of her jean’s pocket and handed her car keys to Nash.

Nash left the room and a few minutes later he brought in the bags London packed this morning. Then he went back outside.

They all heard the car start up and drive away. 

London almost asked where he was taking it but she didn’t. Looking over at Hawkins, she said, “I can’t ask you guys to do this. It's not your business really.”

Hawkins shook his head. “It isn’t like that, girl. When we started this club thirty years ago, we all decided we weren’t gonna deal drugs. Yeah, the money was nice but we didn’t want to end up in jail or dead along the way. We lost a few members because of it but we started out legit and we’ve been that way ever since.

“They also vowed not to let drugs near this town,” Kota said. “We live here, we shop here, our kids will go to school here and we own businesses here. We’ve been up against drug dealers before and we’ve always run them out of town. This isn’t any different.”

Wilder spoke now, “We do need to know that if this goes viral and I have no doubt that it will, your dad is going to face the music along with his friends. Are you gonna be ok with that?”

“As long as the whole truth comes out, yeah, I can live with that. When everything is said and done, me and Chris can go somewhere where no one knows us to start over with a clean slate. But everything has to come out and the guilty have to pay for what they did. That’s all I ask.” 

“So be it.” Kota growled. 

  “So who besides your dad is getting money under the table to help these guys?” Titan asked.

“I know of at least two, Deputy Hal Roark and Mayor Trey Ritcher. But that’s all I know of,” London told him.

Wilder shook his head. “I can’t believe either Chief Allen Lemmer or Sheriff Mark Carter would put up with that shit.”

“No, they wouldn’t.” London shook her head. “Hal has to keep his cover or risk everything. He’s lied so many times I’m surprised no one has caught on yet.”

“And Mayor Trey?” Cash asked.

“Yes, Trey likes the benefits that come his way. He gets a kickback every month or so.” London stated in disgust.

“Such as?” Kota asked.

“Such as that spanking brand new Mercedes parked in his garage. I saw Sonny delivering it last week.” 

Hawkins growled. “He’s been telling everyone that his father died and that he was getting the Mercedes from his dad’s estate.”

London rolled her eyes and said, “Trevor Ritcher died  couple of years ago and he never had a Mercedes. And even if he did, where did the other expensive cars come from? Or his Rolex. What about his wife's diamonds and all her Gucci bags and shoes? I could list a lot of it, but really, there so much even I don't know about. They took a two week cruise to the Caribbean last month and that is not cheap either.”

“How do you know all this?” Boots finally asked.

“Four years ago, my mom was still alive and she and my dad were fighting one night. She told him he had to stop with all the lies and stop taking the money from them. She had just found out his secret and he told her he couldn’t and she better shut up about what was going on or the five boys wouldn’t be happy. She told him she didn’t care if they were happy or not. She was gonna bust up this ring. My dad told her she couldn’t. It was bigger than just him and the boys. Granite Falls was now one of the biggest distribution points and no one could stop it now. She said she would see about that. Two days later, she was dead. She’d gotten mugged and her purse was missing but the robber had broken her neck.” She paused and gazed down at the table as tears dripped down her cheeks. Taking a deep breath, she told them, “My dad got the message. Then Ronnie brought her purse back and told him he took care of the leak and he’d better watch it from now on or he would be the next one.” Her words were low and heartbreaking. “How did I know all of this? I was in the kitchen when Ronnie came that night. I wanted to rush out there and start screaming at him but I knew I couldn’t. That’s when I started keeping track of what was going on around town.” She looked up at Hawkins and stated, “I can tell you right here and right now that I lost whatever respect I ever had for my father that night. He had to have told Ronnie and his group what my mom was saying. He made sure they knew their gig was up and they didn’t want to let it go, so they took her out. Ronnie didn’t even look sorry she was gone.” tears rolled down her cheeks again as she looked angry. “Lord, I hate that man and what he’s doing with every breath in my body.”

Hawkins reached out and patted her arm. “Don’t you worry, girl. We’ll make them pay, we’ll make all of them pay the full price.”

 

Chapter Five

 

Cat, Wren and Luna were talking softly at a table, while Hawkins and the others were standing off to one side, talking about the new situation they found themselves in.

“How the hell did Isabel not know the Brazo Cartel was in the area?” Hawkins asked.

“London said these five guys kept a tight lid on their operation,” Titan suggested with a shrug. “Maybe they didn’t know she was here either. That would have caused some fireworks if they knew about the other one for sure.”

“Yeah, and if they have been here for seven years already, they damn well knew what she was up to.” Boots shook his head. “I don’t think they would have kept quiet about that.”

“They kept quiet only because they had to,” Kota reasoned. “I mean if they made too much noise, they might have gotten caught. No, they kept their nose out of things. All they had to do was keep making their drugs then get them in and out… all on the QT.”

Hawkins shook his head as he looked disgusted. “Well, whatever deal they had going is gonna come to an end and soon. To think this has been going on for the last seven years and we didn’t know it? That’s unacceptable.”

“But how can we stop them if we don’t have all the information we need?” Cash wanted to know.

“We’re gonna have to do some recon and find out, aren’t we?” Nash said.

“We just have to not get caught, that's all,” Brute said. “If they catch us, they’ll kill us and no one will ever find our bodies.” 

“We all have to be careful we don’t get caught checking things out,” Wilder agreed. “They catch wind that we’re looking into their little operation and they will come at us with everything they got. They’ll have to if they want to stay here and not get caught.”

Hawkins looked around at them all. “We have to button this place down and be careful they don’t find out who’s watching them. But the first thing we have to do is verify everything London is saying.”

“And just how do we do that?” Nash wanted to know.

“We watch the river,” JuJu told them. “We put a remote camera out there and we can watch it for traffic. If they are shipping shit in and out, we’ll catch them.”

Wilder nodded. “That’s an idea and we wouldn’t need to be there all the time. Can you get a camera and get that set up?”

“Yep, we can,” JuJu replied. “I think we need to check out this farm too and see what these guys are doing. We should check and double check her information and come to our own conclusion.”

“I hope you do.” London’s voice came from behind them. 

Hawkins and Boots turned to see her standing there. 

She looked pissed but resigned.

“You understand that we have to check this out, right?” Hawkins asked her.

London nodded. “Yeah, like I said, I hope you check things out. These guys are killing people. It hasn’t been just my mom either. I know of three people that have died by their hands and to protect themselves they will continue to kill anyone who stands in their way.”

Hawkins frowned, then asked, “Who were the other three?”

“Georgie Kelper, Harriet and Barnaby Oness.”

Hawkins shook his head. “The Oness’ ran off the road. The ME said old Barnaby had a heart attack and they died because they hit a tree. And Georgie missed the corner and flew off the ridge. Him and his bike were found all torn up.”

“No sir," London argued. "Georgie was trying to get away when they shot his tire out. He lost control and he flew off that ridge because they forced him off. Poor Barnaby and Harriet were out for a drive and they saw something they shouldn’t have. I saw their car after the accident and there was red paint on their bumper in several places. They were pushed off that road.”

“How the hell do you know all that?” Titan asked.

“I work for the police department in the impound lot. I saw the damage of both vehicles,” London told them.

Hawkins just raised his brows and didn’t say anything. What was there to say? She saw the damage for herself and he didn’t. “Did you tell anyone?”

London snorted. “Who was I gonna tell? My dad? I’d end up like my mom, no thank you. I had to keep quiet for my brother’s sake. I wasn’t gonna leave him alone in the world. The police? No way, Hal would tell his buddies and I’d still end up dead.”

“What were you going to do when you packed your bags this morning?” Cash asked her.

“Like I already told you…. I intended to leave, find a place that was safe for me and Chris. Then I was going to contact a friend of mine who works for the police in another town and tell him everything. Everything except where I was, that is.” London shook her head. “I’m not taking anything for granted anymore, not even my friends.”

“Does Chris know what’s going on here?” Wilder asked.

London shrugged. “I’m sure he knows something is wrong but I’m not really sure if he knows what’s actually going on.”

“Did you ever talk to him about it?” Boots wanted to know.

London shook her head. “No, I didn’t. He’s so young, ya know? He was only eight when Ronnie killed our mom and for the longest time, he was afraid. He would hide in his room all day. He didn’t even come out for breakfast or lunch, if Dad was home. Even now if Dad is home Chris is in his room. Like I said before, Dad is a mean drunk. I don’t know how many times I’ve come home and Chris would be all bruised up.”

“He’s bruised right now and some of them are fresh and some are not so fresh,” Boots told her. 

London growled and her hands curled into fists. “That man deserves more than just a beating. I guess when the chips fall and they will fall, Chris and I will finally be free of him.”

“But before that happens,” Titan spoke up. “We have to get evidence of what those guys are doing and a list of their cohorts, one that will stand up in court and nail their asses to the wall.”

“I have some evidence,” London admitted reluctantly. “Working for the police does have some advantages after all.”

“Would Chris have maybe seen anything?” Wilder asked.

London shrugged. “He might but he might not know exactly what it meant.” She shook her head. “I never asked him as he’s just a kid but yeah he might know something. You can ask him, but I doubt he’ll protect our dad. He’s been afraid of him most of his life. Which is sad because the old man is supposed to be our parent. But when mom died, something inside dad just shattered. I think up until that point, he tried to care but after that he didn’t, and his actions showed it.”

“Well, let’s talk to the boy,” Kota suggested.

London walked back to the table and sat down next to her brother. She began to sign, asking him if he knew anything about what their dad had been doing. Chris got scared and pursed his lips together and that told London he knew something. She glanced over at Hawkins and for some reason, she looked at Boots. She turned to Chris and began signing again.

 Chris stubbornly shook his head and he refused to answer her. 

Cat got up and walked over to the boy. She knelt down and cupped the side of his face, then sighed to him, “Chris, I know you’re scared but we need your help. We have to stop whatever is going on with your dad and these nasty men. They are breaking the law and hurting people. We can’t let them do that anymore. The truth needs to come out. Please help us. Everyone here will protect you and your sister but we need your help to do that.”

Chris had tears welling in his eyes and he gazed down at his lap for a moment. Then he turned and signed his answer.

London gasped and signed something back at him. 

Chris nodded.

London looked angry as she nearly growled. “Damn him.”

Cat shook her head sadly.

Hawkins grunted. “Who are you talking about honey?”

“My  father. Chris just told me he heard a recent argument Dad had with Ronnie.”

Chris then reached for his phone. He tapped London’s arm and played a recording of the exchange as he showed her the screen. 

London watched in horror as the argument played out. 

No one else could see it but they heard the voices and the men began to grumble at the threats they heard. When it was over, they could all see London was very upset.

“And just what was that conversation all about that’s got you so upset?” Cash wanted to know.

“Ronnie began making more and more demands from Dad," she explained. "And he said he wouldn’t do it. Then Ronnie said he could force the old man to do what he wanted and Dad said no. So Ronnie told him maybe they would just take me hostage and hold me until my dad changed his mind. Dad told him he couldn’t do that and Ronnie said it would be legal as he fully intended to pay for me and that if he had paid my dad he could and would do everything he could to make Dad regret being stubborn. Then he punched my dad and took Chris. Before he punched my dad though, he threw some money on the floor and told Dad I was now his… if Dad changed his mind he could call him and negotiate a new contract.” Shaking her head she said, “Chris ran for his room and Ronnie caught him there and that’s when Ronnie hit him and then he woke up in the tunnels.”

“So it was Ronnie that carried him up there?” Hawkins asked.

London nodded as she wiped her tears away. “And he thinks he just bought me. He’s gonna come looking for me either way to keep my dad in line.”

“But he doesn’t have you,” Boots pointed out. “You are here of your own free will.”

London shook her head. “But right now, my dad doesn’t know it.”

“And you think he’s gonna do what Ronnie wants, just to get you back?” Hawkins asked.

London shrugged. “I don’t know, he might but then again, he might not. If he goes looking for Chris and can’t find him… either he might figure we’re together and he might think Ronnie has both of us.”

“And what would he do about that?” Hawkins wanted to know.

London shrugged. “I don’t know. On one hand, I don’t think he cares about his family, while on the other hand, I would hope he cares a little, but I don’t know if he cares enough.”

Hawkins ran his hands down his face. “What a fucking shitshow,” he muttered.

Kota snorted. “You got that right, Pops.” He paused then looked at the brothers. “So what are we gonna do about it?”

“Well, if you guys aren’t going to do anything about this mess, we women are.” Luna snarled. “We aren’t going to leave London or Chris out there twisting in the wind. They need our help and by God, we’re gonna help them.”

“You hush your mouth girl, we never said we wouldn’t help them.” Hawkins growled at her. “But we got to verify all this shit and come up with a plan that won’t get us all killed.”

Rosabel walked down the hall and when she got back she had her shotgun in her hands. She cocked the slide and growled as she looked at each and every man in the room. “You boys can do whatever you want but if any of those varmints come looking for London or Chris, they’ll get their big asses full of buckshot.”

“Now Rosie…” Hawkins tried to calm her down.

 Rosie wasn’t having any of it. “Don’t you, Now Rosie me. These kids need our help and I’m gonna help them. Any of you get in my way, and you might catch some buckshot too.”

A giggle came from Chris.

Surprised, the group looked over at him.

He signed to his sister.

London shook her head and said with a smile, “Chris likes her.  He says she makes him feel safe.”

 

Chapter Six

 

Roseabel gave the kid a wink. 

Hawkins shook his head and crossed his arms over his chest. “I never said we weren’t gonna help them, Rosie Girl. I just said we have to verify what she has told us and come up with a plan.”

Rosie nodded. “Well, then get on with verifying and come up with a defense soon because I meant what I said. Those varmints come here looking for London or Chris and they will get an ass full of birdseed. Won’t hurt nothing more than their pride but it will give them a reminder about respecting other people's boundaries.”

London looked worried. “Maybe Chris and I should just leave and not pull you into this mess.”

“No, London,” Boots spoke up. “When we found Chris and he looked abused and in trouble? It was too late for us not to be involved even then. This is now our issue as well.” He glanced over at Hawkins and Kota.

They both nodded their heads in agreement.

 Hawkins now stared at London and told her firmly, “We can’t protect you two if you ain’t here and if I let you go off, unprotected…what kind of man does that make me? What kind of men would any of us be? No siree, you and Chris are staying here and we’re gonna get to cleaning out this nest of rats in our town.”

“We just need a place to start looking,” Boots told her.

London nodded then walked over to her bag. Rummaging through it, she found her laptop. She brought it out and opened it up. She looked up at the men. “I have a file that you need to see. Who do I send it to?”

JuJu sat down and gave her the address and then they waited for the file to be sent. When he got it, he opened it and began to read. After a few moments he looked up at her and asked, “Is this for real?”

London nodded. “Yeah, sadly it's real.”

“What did you find, boy?” Hawkins wanted to know.

JuJu looked at Hawkins and the others and said, “Ronnie Dunlap only paid Joe Rucker one dollar for his land six years ago.”

“What the hell?” Wilder exclaimed in surprise.  

London nodded and explained, “Yeah and now, those people are on the dole. Can you imagine how awful it is for Joe and Eliose who are living with that shame? They are older and they worked hard to make a good life. They raised their kids on that farm and now they literally got nothing to show for it. Joe is all but giving up and Eloise just sits there watching her husband waste away. The Mayor made the deal and while my dad protested, he did nothing to stop it from happening. That’s what got my mom’s dander up. She pushed my dad to stop it but he couldn’t. And when she tried, well we all know how Ronnie handled that, don’t we?”

Just then, London’s phone rang. 

Pausing, she studied it and then she looked up to announce, “It's my dad.”

“Answer it but put it on speaker,”Hawkins told her. “So we can all hear him.” 

London answered the call and put it on speaker. “Hello.”

“Where the fuck are you, girl?” Jenson Dalton asked his daughter. “You ain’t here and you ain’t at work, where are you?”

She looked up.

Boots put his finger up to his lips in a hushing movement. 

Nodding, London replied, “I’m out, Dad. What do you care?”

“Well girl, you need to get back here, someone wants to talk to you,” Jenson told her.

“Who wants to talk to me and why?” London asked.

“Just get home,” Jenson said gruffly.

“That’s not my home anymore, old man,” she replied with anger in her voice. “It hasn’t been my home since Mom died, you’ve seen to that.”

“Yeah? Oh… poor you, are you gonna leave your poor little brother here all alone?” he asked. 

Everyone in the room could hear the disdain in his voice.

“No I’m not. That's why Chris is with me. I’d never leave him there with a drunk and an abuser like you.”

“What the hell do you mean he’s with you?” Jenson growled.

 Everyone could now hear footsteps rushing across the floor. Next, a door slammed against the wall and Jenson yelled, “Where is he, you little bitch? Where are you?”

London didn’t answer him for a minute as she sadly shook her head in disgust. Finally she replied, “Chris and I are safe, that’s all you need to know. Now you can live your life anyway you want to.”

“No, don’t you hang up, you don’t understand something here, girl.” Jenson growled. “You need to come back.”

“Why? I got nothing there. Chris and I can start a new life.”

“No, you don’t understand. You belong to Ronnie now.”

London scoffed. “No dad, I don’t. And I never will. That man is nothing but a thug and I don’t associate with thugs. You might but I don’t.”

“You don’t understand….” Jenson yelled through the phone. “He paid for you and I have to turn you over to him.”

“Give him his fucking money back, Dad,” London replied harshly. “You can’t buy and sell people. Not even your own daughter. That is just sick.”

“I can’t give him his money back,” Jenson admitted. “I don’t have the money anymore.”

“Aww, it sucks to be you then doesn't it?” London spat. “You made the wrong choices again, Dad.” Swiping the cell phone screen, she ended the call. She hung her head as tears dripped down her face. 

Hawkins cleared his throat and shook his head.

 She turned around and sat down next to Chris. Chris put his arms around her and the brother /sister team just held each other for  a moment.  

Rosie finally came over to her and pulled her up into her arms. “Don’t you waste your tears on a man like that, little girl. I understand he’s your dad but he’s just no good. Some fathers are the best but you and I? We got the worst ones ever. My dad was a hippy and he was all into free love and shit like that. I had to grow up watching that play out all my life. He didn’t have any morals and I heard that sort of thing finally got him killed. I had already left home by that time and you know what? I didn’t miss that life one little bit. I saw thousands of the same type of man my father was and I knew I didn’t want that in my life. It just wasn’t worth the heartache. I wanted a man who would respect me, that would stay with me and only me and one I wanted to grow old with.  People just called me crazy or picky, but I didn’t care. I knew the kind of man I wanted and I wasn’t gonna settle for anything less. I finally found my man and I’m proud that I waited for the right man.  Hawkins has more honor in his pinky finger than my dad or yours ever had. So you just dry your tears and get ready for the show that’s coming. I’ll make some popcorn and we’ll watch this mess they made go down in flames. But know one thing, you and your brother ain’t going back to him. You’re staying right here.”

London  shook her head at Rosie’s statements as she giggled then swiped at her tears. “I hear ya, I really do. He just put the nail in his own coffin, you know? Admitting that he took money from Ronnie and was going to turn me over to a man like him? That was just so low. And as soon as he said it, I lost all and any respect I ever had for him. He’s no longer my dad, you know?”

Rosie nodded. “Yeah girl, I know. I think I lost any respect for my dad long before I left home. It's hard to respect a man when you see him doing wrong and he doesn’t even know it's wrong.” She gazed into London's eyes and said, “And I mean what I say. If Ronnie or his friends come here looking for you, I will shoot them full of birdseed. I’m told it hurts like hell.”

London smiled and gave the older woman a hug. “Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you for believing in me.” 

Rosie patted her shoulder, “When you’ve watched people for as long as I have, you learn to pick out the good people and the not so good people. You are good people.” Shaking her head she went on to say, “Your dad however is not a good man but I have a feeling karma's gonna let him know that and very soon. But he made his bed and now he has to lay in it. He lost the most important thing a man can lose, his family and that’s on his shoulders, no one else's.”

London’s phone began to ring again and when she checked it she declined he call. Looking up she said, “It was my dad and I don’t think we have anything more to talk about.”

Her phone rang again and she declined the call. This one went to voicemail and Jenson left her a hate filled message, When they all listened to it, they heard, “Answer your phone, you little bitch. You better bring Chris back home or you’ll have the police on your ass. I know there are some cops that would love to arrest you, girl. I know of one that would gladly turn you over to Ronnie. Hell, he might even stick around and watch. Next time I call, you better answer or hell will rain down on you. Then  you’ll still have to deal with Ronnie and he won’t be happy.”

London paled then shook her head. 

Hawkins looked angry now as he said, “How bout we turn the tables on that bastard?”

“How are we gonna do that without giving the game away?” Kota asked his father.

“Didn’t I hear somewhere along the line that these guys work for the Brazo Cartel?” Hawkins asked.

Kota and Titan nodded.

“Well, let’s find out what ole Hondo knows about them,” Hawkins suggested. “Maybe he knows more about them than we do.” He reached for his phone as he walked over to get some coffee. He called his neighbor at the Malverde Ranch. They spoke for a few minutes as he filled his mug up and sipped at his coffee.

London sat at the table next to Chris and Boots… waiting.

Boots reached over and patted her hand.

Looking up in surprise, she smiled at him.

“It will be okay, London,” he whispered. "The Rogue's are more than just a club, we are a family. We have all been through worse and we made it through. ”

She stared at him and asked, "Worse? How can that be?”

He sighed. “Well, I cannot think of anything worse than child abuse, but we had some dangerous things to face for a while there. Maybe I’ll tell you the story sometime.”

Chris watched them both as he seemed to read their lips. Reaching over, he patted Boot’s arm and gave him a nod.

London took note of this action and commented, “He really trusts you.”

Boots simply smiled at her.

After several minutes, Hawkins ended the call. Coming back over to the main table, he looked around the room and announced, “Hondo seemed to be very interested in the fact that the Brazo Cartel is this far north. He said he would check on some things and let us know what he finds out.” He shook his head. “He couldn’t believe they’ve been here for seven years already and no one knew about it.”

“What does that mean?” Luna asked.

“Heaven only knows, babe,” Kota told her. “But don’t underestimate Hondo’s reach. He knows all kinds of people, some good, some not so good. I’m almost afraid to hear what he comes up with in the end.”

London paused to ask, “What do you mean? Comes up with?”

“He’s my grandfather and he knows a lot of people, that’s all,” Luna explained briefly.

Hawkins glanced over at her but Luna shook her head slightly. 

Hawkins and Kota both pursed their lips but they didn’t say anything. 

Hondo Meran was so much more than just Luna’s grandfather. Yet, Luna felt like London didn’t need to know all about him. Hawkins hated keeping secrets but he guessed that since London had worked at the police station...maybe he and the Rogues should keep this one.

London gazed around and saw there was more to the story than they were telling her. She then looked over at Luna. “If your grandfather is Hondo Meran then I know why you're trying to hide information about him from me but you don’t have to. As soon as he moved here, I checked him out. His files came back clean. But I do think you should know that I wasn’t the only one who checked him out. Hal did too. I think he was doing that for Ronnie, seeing as Meran brought trouble here a while back when his own guys came here to kill him. Mark Carter checked him out as well but there was nothing for any of us to find, really. Your grandfather may have worked for the cartel in New York but he kept his hands clean all that time as well. I would be more worried about Hal checking him out and Ronnie knowing that he was here than worry about me knowing.” 

“What does that mean?” Hawkins asked her.

“I wouldn’t put anything past Ronnie. He might need a distraction soon and what better way than to set up an innocent man for something he didn’t do?” London suggested. “I overheard his name spoken by Ronnie to my dad. So I have a feeling something big is about to happen around here and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Ronnie set it all up. The fact that Hondo Meran is in the area would suit his purpose really well. If you know what I mean.”