Reunion Series-

THE NEW CHAPTER BOOK IS

Reunion Series Book Three Hell’s Fire Riders

 

Pappy and the boys are on alert. The Hell's Fire Riders are gearing up for a battle or an attack. They have had signs that it is coming. They had thought this particular threat was gone but they were wrong and now it's time to dig deeper and find who is after them.

 

Prologue….

The very beginning…

McKenna was probably the only one of them who’d never done anything wild and Lisa was more than daring her. They hadn’t known her long but she came across as the type that needed a little push to do something daring. In her mind, McKenna had never done anything risky and Lisa never understood her reluctance. She felt everyone needed to let loose and do something impulsive once in a while. She’d told McKenna before that it was long past time for her to do something she might regret later. She leaned toward McKenna and urged her, “You need to go get you some of that.”

McKenna stared at the man then turned to the girls with her. “Do you really think so?” she whispered.

Lisa nodded, as did the others.

McKenna grabbed her glass and drained it. Then she got to her feet and made her way over to the corner table. 

The man looked up at her the moment she got to her feet. His eyes narrowed as he watched her walk the short distance between them, then McKenna surprised him by sitting on his lap and pressing her lips to his. His eyes shot open.

A zing of electricity zapped her when their lips met. McKenna groaned as she opened her mouth to his. 

He grabbed her shoulders but instead of pushing her away, he dragged her closer to him. His mouth pressed to hers and when her lips parted, he plunged his tongue in.

McKenna melted into his embrace. He started a fire inside her that quickly grew out of control. Chest to chest, core to core she pressed against him. She couldn’t have moved away from him if her life depended on it.

 

~*~

Stone pushed his tongue into her mouth plunging it in and out, wishing it was more than what was acceptable in a bar. His cock went rock hard in two seconds flat. Straining against the jeans he wore, he wanted nothing between them. Then he heard her groan and his lips slipped down along her throat, nibbling and tasting her sweet skin. He remembered this feeling well from years ago, but he hadn't felt like this in a long time.

His eyes opened narrowly as he watched her through a haze of desire. Then his lips found hers again and he kissed her some more. He could feel her heat pressing against his cock and he felt a surge of want flow through him. 

Before he was done, she ripped herself out of his embrace. She paused briefly and they both stared at each other in shock. He hadn’t been able to see her eyes before now but the look in them was stunned. Her eyes widened and he was able to finally see their beautiful green color.

She stumbled back to her own table, grabbed her purse and ran out the door. 

Stone got up to follow her. He grabbed his jacket and made his way to the front. Before he could get out the door, the other three men he’d been waiting on came in. He told them to wait for him and followed her out to the parking lot. 

She got into a blue Camry and drove right out of the parking lot.

He got on his bike quickly to follow her. Dammit, he didn’t know why. He just followed like the damned. Like he had no will of his own. 

That kiss—that damn kiss. Stone felt more passion in those couple of minutes than he had in years.

 

Chapter One

McKenna opened her eyes and saw the sun was just coming up over the eastern horizon. She turned her head and found Stone lying beside in their big king size bed. She had been dreaming of their first kiss again. What had started out as a dare had turned into something more. Their first kiss happened five years ago today…

She remembered well the fire that lit in her belly as soon as her lips touched his. That along with everything that happened afterward set her life off course and onto a new path that led her here. A new path that got her a husband and two beautiful little girls. Melissa was four and Rainey was two but they, along with Stone, were her whole life.

Her hand lowered to her belly and she wondered if Stone would be happy with her news… McKenna closed her eyes and prayed he would be okay with the fact that they would need another bedroom soon.

When his hand covered hers, she turned her head to look at him and she found his eyes were open and then she saw his smile. McKenna closed her eyes slowly and whispered, “I’m pregnant.” 

Stone nodded. “I figured.” He took a moment to stare at the ceiling. Then he turned his head to her and smiled. “Another one huh? Well honey, it might be time to build our own house then.”

McKenna froze. “Our own house?” 

“Yeah, we can’t live here anymore. We keep getting more men and we just can’t take up all the rooms.” He turned to her and gently tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. “We can build our house here on the compound, so I know you and the babies are safe.”

“You’re very calm about this, how come?” she finally asked as she studied his face.

Stone closed his eyes then opened them again. “Baby, you put honey on your sliced apples last week. You only use honey when you’re pregnant. And honey on apples?” He shivered and then laughed. “That’s just too much sweetness any way you slice your apples.”

McKenna sighed and said, “I don’t know why I do that, but somewhere in my mind there’s a picture of a woman spreading a dab of honey on an apple slice. I’m not sure who the woman is or what she means to me but she looks at me with nothing but love in her eyes.”

Stone stared at her as he smoothed her hair with his hand. “Do you think this woman was your mother?” he asked softly.

McKenna shrugged. “I don’t know, do I? I went into the system when I was three years old. I don’t remember much of my life before that. Back then, my name was Susan Wright. Was that my real name? I have no clue. Then I was Susan Wright up until the time I saw Hades kill that woman. After that, I became Carla Womack, Jackie Carter, Kimber Cash and finally McKenna Harper. I still have no clue who I am. I know I’m a real person, I’m right here in front of you but I have no clue who I really am.” A lone tear rolled down along her cheek.

Stone gathered her into his arms and just held her tight. “Well, I know who you are, you’re my woman, my wife, and the mother of my children. You are the love of my life and I don’t give a damn what your name is, was or who your family was.”

McKenna laid her head on his chest. “I know you don’t care but I do.” 

“Maybe someday, you will find the answer. But your life is now and you are living it here. You’ve already found your true self. At least I hope so. With a home, me and the kids. The past cannot take that away, baby.”

They laid there quietly for a few more minutes then Stone whispered, “Are you ready for baby number three?”

“Yeah, I think so,” she admitted. “ I'd better be, cuase the baby will come, no matter what. I wasn’t sure about how you would feel about another baby but yeah, I’m happy.”

Stone held her close and said, “I may be getting older but I want everything I can get with you. I love my girls and I am happy about this.”

“And to think this relationship started on a dare.” She chuckled.

“A dare?” Stone quirked an eyebrow at her.

McKenna nodded. “My friend Lisa and I were sitting in that bar looking you over. She thought you were too old for her but she kept urging me to get me some. She dared me to go over to your table, then sit on your lap and kiss you.” She shrugged. “I took her dare and then you wouldn’t let me go.”

Stone laid back on his pillow and laughed. “Well, I’m glad you took that dare honey. And no, once i got a taste of you, I was done for.” He chuckled.

“Me too. I never wanted to let you go either.” She leaned over him and kissed him again. Stone held her tight and deepened the kiss and sure enough, they felt the same sparks they felt five years ago.

Suddenly, they both heard tiny footsteps running down the hall then their bedroom door was thrown open. Melissa and Rainey bounced into their room. 

“Mornin’ Mama, mornin’ Daddy,” Melissa called out as she scrambled up on the bed beside them.

Stone chuckled and gathered his daughters into his arms, “Mornin’, sweet girls.”

McKenna tossed the covers off and got out of bed. “Stone, can you keep them occupied while I get ready?”

“Sure, sweetness. I got a tickle fest waiting just for them.” He immediately grabbed them up and then kissed their cheeks. A bounty of giggles followed along with squeals as he did what he said. 

Grabbing her robe as she smiled at the usual funny game he played with them, she made her way to the bathroom.

Twenty minutes later, after her shower she went back to get dressed.  Stone and the girls were gone, so McKenna made the bed. Her eyes rose to the window. The sun was bright as it flooded the room. If she had made a different choice, she wouldn’t be here right at this moment. Happy with Stone and having their third child...

She remembered when it had started and how it had ended….

 

….Hades had found her and he had threatened her, tossing her around like a rag doll.

He suddenly stopped shaking her as he seemed to hear something, so he let go of her and ran out.

Collapsing to the floor, Mckenna was breathing heavily while wondering where she could go to hide from this madman. Someone grabbed her up and she screamed. Then she was trying to get away from him, screaming and beating at him.

“Shhh, it’s all right, no one is going to hurt you,” a man told her calmly. 

He had to repeat himself several times before she finally heard him. She kept fighting him until he finally got through to her. When she saw who was holding her, she wrapped her arms around him and held on tightly. The man she had kissed in the bar? She wondered how he suddenly came to be here.

After a few more minutes, she felt safe enough to let him go.

The man gasped when he saw what she held in her hand. Suddenly, he acted like he’d been stung by a nest of hornets as he pulled away. “Where the fuck did you get that feather?” he demanded harshly as he grabbed her by the shoulders and his hands bit into her skin.

“What?” she whispered while staring up at his face. Why was he so mad all of the sudden? By the look on his face, she might have gotten another crazy man to replace the one that had just left.

He shook her and growled while repeating his earlier question, “Where the fuck did you get that feather?”

She looked down at her hand. For a moment, the feather she held didn’t register then all of a sudden, tears rolled down her cheeks. It was a red hawk’s feather. “H-he left it for me,” she whispered brokenly. “He f-found me again.”

“Who found you again?” he demanded.

She shuddered. “A stone cold killer.”

He let her go and reached for his phone, then made a call, “Reaper. Get here…like now. We got problems.” He rattled off her address and ended the call. Helping her to her feet, he led her over to the sofa. Sitting down with her, he pulled her into his arms and held her for a moment…

 

…Standing at the bed, McKenna closed her eyes and shivered. She had been in that warm, comforting embrace many times since then. It should have made the fear go away. It hadn't though, not completely.

She had been so glad when that situation was done and she was free of the torment Hades had put her through. She certainly never thought about not pulling the trigger that ended his life. She couldn’t, it was him or her and if she hadn’t done what she did, she never would have had either of her girls or a chance to have this baby. She never would have had her life with Stone. She had taken a life to have her own life in exchange. There hadn’t been a choice at all.  No, she didn’t regret shooting Hades. 

She squared her shoulders and let out a long breath. She wondered why she had felt the need to rehash that old memory. Shaking her head, she knew why though. Hormones. The first stages of pregnancy always did that. She hoped she wouldn’t ride that same roller-coaster of joy, sorrow, then more joy. No wonder her stomach bothered her all the damn time. She pushed away the feelings of that old memory. She had a life to live today and she knew the girls would be hungry by now. 

Heading to the main room, there they all were. Her ‘Pappy’ and her girls and they were still laughing.

 

Chapter Two

 

After breakfast with Bear’s wife, Lacey and her sweet Melissa, McKenna agreed to let Lacey take Melissa out for a walk. It was a beautiful sunny day and little Melissa had wanted to go to pick some of the wildflowers along the front of the walkway to the parking area.

Things were going well and life couldn’t be better. Stone had to go over to New York a few times in the past months, but he was never gone long. Shay was here often with his brothers. McKenna shook her head. Now that was a comedy show made for television. Shay and his twin had met their long lost sibling right here at the compound. Their brother was smart and funny, though odd sometimes. So there had been lots of activity just a mile over as they were all busy helping to build the Montross compound.

Mckenna was happy about it though, it meant more protection for all of the Hell’s Fire Riders. Now that the local cartel had been scared off by the Bratva and Stone’s men, things seemed peaceful. Just the way she liked it.

 Standing in the kitchen while finishing up the dishes, McKenna smiled as she watched Melissa picking the flowers she wanted. 

Then Melissa rushed over to the gate. Suddenly, a man walked up to where she was gathering some purple flowers.

McKenna dropped a plate into the water as she sucked in a breath and stared.

 The man handed something small to Melissa through the fence. 

McKenna frowned and left the kitchen. She rushed to the front door but by the time she got there, Lacey had already grabbed Melissa’s hand and was leading her back to the clubhouse. 

McKenna waited for them to get closer before she scolded her daughter. “Melissa you know better than to talk to strangers, what were you thinking?”

“But Mom, he said he knew you…” Melissa shook her head. “Look, he gave me something. He said you used to collect them. He told me it would look pretty with my flowers.” She held out a red hawk’s feather.

McKenna froze and her mind went numb when she saw the feather in her daughter’s grip. She looked up at Lacey and opened her mouth to scream but in her mind all she saw was blood —red and crimson matching the feather in her daughter’s hand … then she passed out before she could make a sound.

*  *  *  *

 Lacey’s eyes went wide when she crumpled to the floor. 

Melissa began to cry and she ran to her mom begging her to wake up, “Mama, wake up, please wake up. I’m sorry. I’ll never talk to him again. Mama, I’m sorry, please wake up!”

Lacey shouted out for help.

 Bear came running from the back area. “What’s wrong?” he asked in a panic.

Lacey pointed at McKenna and said, “She just passed out.”

Bear saw Mckenna lying on the porch. “What the hell?” He took a deep breath and moved closer to gather her into his arms. Carrying her over to the sofa, he laid her down. He grabbed his phone and tapped Stone’s number. When Stone answered he told him, “You better get your ass home, your wife just took a nosedive and she’s out for the count.”

Melissa stood off to one side and cried while Lacey sat there patting McKenna’s hand, telling her it was time to come back to them now.

Bear glanced over at his wife Lacey and asked, “What the hell happened? Why did she faint like that?”

Lacey shook her head. “Honey, I have no idea. Melissa had a feather some man at the fence gave to her. Then McKenna was rushing out of the front doors toward us. She took one look at this feather and fainted to the floor.”

Stone came running into the clubhouse. He rushed over to the sofa where McKenna was and asked, “What the hell happened here?”

Bear shook his head. “Lacey said she saw a feather and just passed out.”

Stone froze where he stood as he stared at him. “A feather?”

“Daddy, I’m so sorry!” Melissa cried out. “A man gave it to me to give to Mama and when I showed it to her, she closed her eyes and fell asleep. I’m sorry, is she gonna be okay?”

Stone turned his head to look at his daughter and saw the red Hawk’s feather in her hand. “Sweet Jesus, not again,” he whispered under his breath. He scrambled to his feet, grabbed the feather from his daughter and glared at it like it offended him somehow. He looked up at Lacey and asked her to take his daughter out of the room.

After they left, he grabbed his phone and called Reaper, “Get over here. Grab Viper and Doc. Bring them to the clubhouse.” He ended the call.

“What’s going on, Pappy?” Bear asked as he looked utterly confused. 

Stone crushed the feather in his hand and growled, “The man that used to leave her these feathers was a stone cold killer and this was his calling card. We got him five years ago, or rather she got him five years ago. I thought we’d put this behind us but now someone doesn’t want to let it go. I damn near lost her back then and I don’t want to go through that again.”

Reaper and the others finally showed up and they all paused when they came into the room.

 “What’s happening here, Pappy?” Reaper asked. “What happened to McKenna?”

Stone held out the feather.

Staring down at it in Stone’s hand, Reaper and Doc took a step back as they gasped in shock. 

“What the hell?” Reaper whispered in disbelief. He looked up at Stone and whispered, “I thought we got rid of that fucker?”

Stone nodded. “So did I.” In his mind, he now remembered that day five years ago like it was yesterday…

 

Five years ago, in the Satan’s Spawn club house in New York….

 Stone faced the man that had made their lives a living hell.

McKenna stepped out from behind Stone. She was shaking even as she moved forward and she held a gun in her hand… Pointing it right at Hades.

 Hades laughed. “You gonna shoot me now, bitch? I bet you can’t hit the side of a barn.” He opened his arms. “Take careful aim, baby. Make it a good shot.” He paused, then asked in a snide voice, “Did you take the safety off?”

McKenna felt a rage flow through her. He was mocking her, telling her she wouldn’t be able to kill him. Well, he would be wrong and she was going to show him just how wrong he was. She carefully slid the top of the gun back and heard the bullet enter the chamber. Giving it a minute, she aimed the gun and fired.

Hades halted as the bullet slammed into his body. It ripped through him, leaving behind a path of fire. He peered down at his chest and saw his blood seeping through his shirt. He didn’t look as if he felt the pain yet. He raised his eyes to stare at McKenna just as a second and a third bullet ripped through him. Finally, he seemed to feel the pain as he fell to his knees and screamed.

Stone grabbed the gun from her hand. He’d been surprised by her actions. Looking around, he found he wasn’t the only one. The men in the room all stood there in shock.

Dewey picked Hades up and flopped him back into the chair. He swiftly tied Hades’ hands behind his back. 

Raine stepped closer to check out how badly Hades was hurt. He saw the three bullet holes in the other man’s belly. 

Hades was shaking now, his skin looked pale and his eyes were wild.

Raine pressed a towel into his belly to try and stop the bleeding but soon the towel was soaked. He threw the bloody one down on the floor and grabbed another one.  Raine knew he was going into shock. “I need him on his back,” he called out. 

Two men grabbed his shoulders and laid him on the floor. With his hands bound behind him Hades groaned as Raine pressed down on his wounds.

Stone watched the efforts Raine was performing to save a life. 

McKenna turned into him and wrapped her arms around his waist. 

Stone pulled her closer. He ran his hands up and down her back as he felt her trembling. “Are you okay?” he asked.

McKenna shrugged. “Did I kill him?”

“He’s still alive for the moment.”

McKenna raised her head and stared at him. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to kill him. I was just so scared and after this long, I didn’t want to be scared anymore.”

“I know baby, I know.” Stone rubbed her back. “Hades isn’t a good man and he hasn’t been for some time. This was going to happen anyway. It just happened before we got our answers.”

McKenna groaned and planted her face into Stone’s chest. Her tears soaked his shirt. 

Sam approached and nodded at Hades. “You might want to get whatever answers you need quick there, Pappy.”

Stone nodded.

Sam reached for McKenna. 

Stone loosened his grip. He hated to pass her off to anyone but he knew Hades wouldn’t live long. 

Sam wrapped his arms around her and held her. She cried out and reached for Stone but he took a step away from her reach. 

He needed to steel his heart as he walked toward Hades. Kneeling down beside the fallen man, he noted his pallor and the shaking. “Hades,” he called out. “Look at me Hades.”

Hades slowly turned his head and asked, “What the fuck do you want?” he began coughing.

When blood dribbled from the corner of his mouth Stone knew he wouldn’t last long. 

“You let the bitch shoot me, Pappy. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen. You let her kill me, you bastard!”

Stone scoffed at this. “And just how did you see this happening?”

“I was gonna get you, then kill her and after that I was going to disappear. Stay low for a few months and then I was going to start hunting again. That’s how it should have happened.” He grimaced as a wave of pain washed over him. “You let a bitch kill me,” he murmured. 

“How did you become this monster?” Stone asked him as he shook his head. “When did you lose your humanity?”

Hades sneered. “I had it beaten out of me before I was ten. My old man liked to drink then beat the hell out of my mother and me. He finally beat my mother to death when I was nine. I took it for another year before I got a set of balls and stopped him. He got drunk one night and started in but I was ready for him. I grabbed my baseball bat and let him have it. I hit him seven times and almost broke his leg that day but he never hit me again.”

“Do you have any idea how many women you’ve killed over the years?” Stone asked.

Hades' eyes began to glaze. Death was close and calling his name. He knew it and Stone knew it. “All I was looking for was someone who could love me. Someone who would look at me a certain way, someone who wouldn’t cringe when I touched her. When I couldn’t find that special someone, the women I met, betrayed me. They were whores, all of them.I killed seventeen people over the years. I don’t regret a single one of my kills. Those women didn’t deserve to live. Now I’m going to die at the hands of the one woman who might have given me a chance.” He glared at Stone. “But she betrayed me with you Pappy. You took her away from me. I should kill you for that.”

Stone shook his head. “You never had a chance with her. She kept running away from you.”

Hades grinned and his teeth were stained with blood. “Yeah, but I kept finding her, didn't I? I found her four times. Do you remember that dream I shared with you? I told you if I found a worthy woman, I would be able to find her three times and when I found her the last time she would be mine or I would kill her. I hadn’t met McKenna yet, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted. She was McKenna.” Hades gasped and closed his eyes against the pain. “When I found her in Boston, I almost stopped what I was doing. When her eyes met mine, I knew she was the one. I saw something in her eyes that night that gave me hope.”

“What you saw in her eyes was horror and revulsion. She was never going to be with you,” Stone told him.

Hades opened his eyes slowly. Death was closing in. He nodded slowly. “Yeah, but a man can hope. She gave me hope until the last few days. When that hope died, I knew she was just like all the rest. I knew then I would kill her.” He let out a weak snicker. “Instead, she killed me.” Hades’ eyes opened wide for a moment. “I didn’t think she would do it. I didn’t think she would actually shoot me. Damn Pappy. She was the one I was looking for all along. She gave me something no one else did.” His eyes closed slowly. His lungs rattled as he took his last breath. 

When he stopped breathing, the silence in the room was almost overbearing.

Stone got to his feet and went to McKenna. He pulled her out of Sam’s embrace and held her close to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and wept. Stone swept her up in his arms and walked down the hall to their bedroom. 

When he closed the door, shutting out the rest of the world, then carried her over to the bed. Carefully laying her down, he crawled in beside her. Wrapping his big arms around her, he held her tight and let her cry. 

After a while, he noticed the crying had stopped. When he looked down at her face, he noted she was sleeping. Tears were drying on her face and he brushed the wetness away with his thumbs. He leaned over and touched his lips to her forehead. He laid back down and closed his eyes. His heart felt heavy. Not so much at the death of Hades but at the fact that she’d pulled the trigger setting in motion his demise.

 

Chapter Three

 

McKenna groaned and came back to the land of the living slowly. When she opened her eyes, she found she was lying on  the sofa with a crowd of people standing around her. 

“Stone,” she whispered. Then he was next to her and she looked into his eyes. She read the truth in them. “He’s back? But how? Hades died in New York a long time ago, didn’t he?”

Stone nodded. “Yeah baby, he did. I was there when they buried him. I don’t know who this creep is but he won’t ever come around again, that I promise you.”

McKenna closed her eyes. “Melissa, is she okay?”

Stone shrugged. “ Lacey is still with her and she will be okay. I’ll talk to her in a few minutes, so don’t worry. Do you know what happened this morning?”

McKenna took a deep breath and recalled what had happened, “I was finishing the dishes and Melissa was outside by the gate. I saw her talking to someone on the other side of the fence but I couldn’t see who she was talking to. Then he handed her something through the fence. She said the man told her to give me something, that I collected them once upon a time. Then she showed me the feather and I guess I passed out.” She swallowed hard. Then looked at him in fear. “What the hell is going on here? Why did this happen five years after Hades died?” She paused, then had to ask, “Was it a red hawk feather? Or did I just imagine that part?”

He nodded. “Yeah baby, it was.”

“How would he know about that? How did he find us?” McKenna began to panic.

“Hush, honey.” He wrapped his arms around her. McKenna fought him for  a moment then settled down in his arms. He cupped her chin and brought her face up to his. “I don’t know what’s going on here baby, but we’ll find out, ok?” He leaned forward and brushed his lips over her forehead. “I don’t know who it was at the fence this morning or how he found out about the feather but I will hunt him down and I will stop this. You and our girls will be safe.”

McKenna’s heart was racing in her chest at the thought of reliving the past. She just couldn’t do this all again. Before, she had been on her own but now she had two little girls and an unborn baby in her belly.  She didn’t know why or who wanted her dead yet again but she had to pray Stone and his men would and could protect them against this person.  She looked up at him. “I know you will protect us but you have to promise me you’ll still be alive when this is over. I can’t do this alone. I love you too much to lose you now. Your daughters, me and this unborn baby need you to be there for us.”

Stone smiled and promised her, “You know me sweetheart, I ain’t going anywhere.”

McKenna closed her eyes briefly and then said, “I’d better go talk to Melissa. She must be scared something happened to me.”

~*~

Helping her to her feet, he held her close for a moment before he let her go. Feeling a rage he never showed to her, Stone stood there and watched her walk to the staircase then go upstairs. Turning to his men, he growled, “I want security at the front gate and I want this man’s face. I want to know the face of the man who did this.”

Trudy joined them and she nodded at Stone. “Is Kenna alright?”

“She will be,” Stone assured her. “ She is really shaken up over this. Someone shows up years after what happened and hands our daughter a red feather? It makes no sense. I’m going to need you and your magic to find the man who threatened her today, then I want to know everything about him from the day he was born until today.”

Trudy nodded. “You got it, big guy.” She turned away.

 Stone called her back and asked, “Trudy, have you ever looked into McKenna’s background?”

Trudy turned around to look at him as she paused and looked puzzled by this question. “What do you mean… her background?”

Stone pushed his fingers through his hair in frustration. “She doesn’t know the truth of where she actually came from. Who her parents were or anything. She told me she was three years old when she went into the system but now she can’t remember her mom anymore,” he explained. “She said her name was Susan Wright when she went into the system but she doesn’t think that was her real name. When she witnessed Hade’s attack, she had to change her name three times and the third time she kept the name McKenna Harper. That’s what she’s been known as since then. If this has something to do with her true identity, I think we need to know that too. This could have something to do with her childhood or her relatives. At least I wouldn’t count that out of the equation.” He paused and then said, “Maybe you should do a background on Jon Ronin too. I don’t imagine you’ll find many good things there but we need to know what he might have been hiding.”

Trudy nodded. “Whatever is out there I will find it, you can count on that, Pappy. I won’t leave any stone unturned.”

“You never have let us down yet Baby Girl and I don’t think you ever could.” He closed his eyes briefly then opened them and glanced at the staircase. “I don’t know how to fight what I can’t see. She is my life and those girls are my whole world. I need to protect them.”

Trudy patted his arm, “But you aren’t alone in this fight. You got us at your back and you know these guys will never let you down.”

“And a finer bunch of men I never knew,” he agreed. “I trust them with my life and the lives of my family. I know they got my back and they know I got their backs. We stand together for a reason and that reason is because no one can beat us as a team.”

Trudy nodded and headed over to start her work to find this stalker when Stone’s words stopped her cold. “She’s going to have another baby, Trudy, I can’t lose either of them.”

Trudy stared at him with determination in her eyes. “We’ll make it so. You won’t lose them. Trust in that, Pappy. We won’t let you down.”

 ~*~

A short while later, Trudy growled while typing commands on her keyboard. She had run into a problem and it was frustrating her. She glanced up at Dewey and found him looking back at her. 

“What’s wrong?” he asked her.

“Pappy asked me to try and track McKenna’s background and nothing I’ve found so far makes any sense,” she told him.

“What do you mean, it doesn’t make sense?” Dewey frowned.

“Well, we know when she entered the system but the information they have on her at that time just doesn’t pan out. There was no Susan Wright ever born where she was born. Then I tried to run her social security number and found it’s a fake number.”

“How can it be fake?” Dewey wanted to know.

“That’s what isn’t making sense,” Trudy explained. “But I’ve hit a wall. It's either  a fake number or it's been used before by someone else.”

Dewey shook his head. “Well, can you get in the back door somehow?”

Trudy sighed hard. “I can try but I don’t know, the government websites are hard to bust into. But for Pappy, I’ll try.” She cracked her knuckles and hit the keys again. Her eyes never left the monitor and she began zipping here and there.

 Dewey just shook his head. He watched her for a while then wandered away to see their IT guys were working on the footage of the security tapes showing the front gate this morning.

Swede looked up and growled, “The bastard knew we had eyes on him and he never looked into the camera. We can see his profile but we can’t get a full facial clear enough to use in recognition programs.”

Dewey sighed and said, “Just do the best you can, Pappy needs to know who this joker is and why he’s coming after McKenna now. Jon died five years ago and he should have been forgotten by now.”

 Swede snorted. “Yeah, he was a real bastard from what I heard about him. McKenna sure as hell didn’t deserve him in her life.”

“None of the women he butchered deserved him in their lives.” Stone growled as he joined them. 

“How is McKenna and the girls doing?” Dewey asked his friend.

“McKenna is scared out of her mind but she’s trying not to show it. Melissa is doing better,” Stone replied as he looked at Swede and asked, “You boys find anything we can use to identify this asshole?”

Swede shook his head. “Not much, he must have seen the cameras because we can’t get a good photo of his full face.”

Colton looked up at him and said, “But we might be able to put several photos together and see if we can come up with a full face.”

Stone nodded. “See if you can do that then. We need to know who this bastard is so we can figure out why he came looking for her.”

Just then, Trudy walked over to Stone and handed him several pieces of paper. “I don’t know what this means but it's what I found out.”

Stone looked confused as he began reading the papers. They were birth certificates from several women, beginning with Susan Wright. Except this Susan Wright would have been born twenty years before McKenna was born. Scowling at this mystery, he then went to the next page, it was another certificate for a child born to Susan Wright, a little girl she named Kennedy Pope. The baby’s father’s name was Kane Pope. He was clearly listed as the father but who the hell was he and where was he today?

He went back to the first certificate to see that Susan Wright’s parents were Joseph and Mary Wright. But when he looked at Susan’s daughter’s certificate her name was still Wright but her daughter’s last name was Pope. He had to wonder what all of this meant. When he looked at the next piece of paper, he found that it was a social security card made out to Susan Wright but the number on it matched the card McKenna was using as her own.  Looking up at Trudy, he shook his head. “This doesn’t make any sense. Why would she have Susan’s name and Social Security card?”

Trudy shrugged. “Maybe that’s all they found when they found her.”

“What do you mean when they found her?” Stone asked.

“Did she ever tell you why she went into the system when she was three?” Trudy asked.

Pausing, he thought for a moment then shook his head. “Not really. I don’t imagine she remembered much from that point in her life. She was only a baby at the time. Why? What did you find?”

“I found a lazy social worker and a bunch of newspaper articles in her file,” Trudy stated angrily. “Articles that were in the paper when she was found abandoned in a small one bedroom apartment that she shared with her mother, Susan. Her mother was found strangled in her bed and a small child, McKenna was found asleep next to her. At the time, her mom had been dead for three days already. The little girl hadn’t eaten anything or moved from her mother’s side in those three days either.”

“Holy shit,” Dewey swore under his breath. “No wonder she didn’t remember it. That would have traumatized any child.”

“And that fucking social worker didn’t do a damn thing to find out who she really was or who she belonged to.” Stone said as he looked furious. “They just gave her mother’s name and let her get lost in the system.”  

Trudy nodded and agreed, “Pretty much. McKenna has been living a lie every day since then.”

“Can you find out who her family is and if they are still alive at this point?” Stone asked Trudy.

“Sure thing, boss man.” Trudy nodded. “Do you think she’ll want to know?”

Stone nodded. “Yeah, I think she’ll want to know. Up until now, all she’s known are lies.” He looked troubled by all of this. “She’ll want to know who she belongs to finally.”

Chapter Four

 

“Do you remember where all she said he found her the first time to when he finally found her in Troy?” Dewey asked.

Stone nodded and thought back to five years ago. “In Boston, where she was in college, McKenna and her friends saw him stabbing a woman to death. Then she ran to Baltimore and he found her there the second time, then she said he found her in Trenton, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh. Then the last time he found her it was in Troy. He was shot to death in Troy.”

Dewey nodded. “I remember, she shot him when Hades was stupid enough to taunt her that she wouldn’t do it.” He shook his head. “What the hell did he expect? I mean really? He hunted her like a animal for four fucking years and he would have killed her. Did he really think she wouldn’t shoot him?”

Stone shook his head. “He thought all women were weak, that they wouldn’t defend themselves, the look on his face told everyone there he never expected her to do it.” He ran his hands over the back of his head and looked at his men. “Hell he even claimed as he breathed his last breath that she could have been the one woman on this earth he could have loved and he was convinced she would love him back.”

Dewey and the others just shook their heads. 

“He really was insane,” Dewey said.

“I think we need to run down his family tree and find out if they are still alive or if  they’re gone by his hands,” Stone stated. “No one knew where he went after he went AWOL. He had ten years between then and when we found him. Lord only knows how many people he killed in that amount of time. We don’t really know what set him off on his killing spree either. Maybe it's finally time to find the truth.”

“I know Trudy is busy tracking down McKenna’s family tree, so I can start tracking down Hades,” Colton said. 

As they spoke Shay, Drew and Arik walked in. 

Shay stepped forward to ask, “What’s going on here?”

Stone turned to glare at him. “McKenna just got a calling card of the man who damn near killed her five years ago.” He growled.

“Is she in danger?” Shay wanted to know. “From him?”

“It couldn’t have come from that jackass.” Stone shook his head. 

“Why not?” Drew frowned. 

“She killed him five years ago,” Dewey told them. 

Shay looked at Drew and Arik and shook his head. “Then who did she get this calling card from?”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out,” Stone explained.

“What was the calling card?” Drew asked.

“A red hawk feather,” Dewey told him. “The bastard actually passed it through the fence to Pappy’s four year old daughter and told her to give it to her mother.”

“Well, shit.” Arik shook his head.

“What do you know about it?” Stone turned his head and glared at him.

Arik shrugged. “I surf the dark net for fun and that case caught my eye years ago. Jon Ronin right? He’s the one who used the feathers as his calling card. Oh, he was good but at the end he got sloppy.” 

“Sloppy?” Stone growled. “You called him sloppy? He was insane and deadly, but never sloppy.”

Arik stared at him. “You’re taking what I said out of context. Yes, he was insane but he came by that naturally. His father was insane as well.”

“His father?” Dewey frowned. “What about his father?”

“Jack Ronin came from a family of three sons and all three grew up in a house of pain and abuse. Their father was a true bastard and he used to drink and abuse his family. He could barely hold a job and relied on his wife to work and keep a roof over their heads but he drank her whole paycheck up and there was never enough food in the house to feed three growing boys. They all grew up like animals and they all had to work to bring money into the house. Jon’s father Ryan left home at the age of fourteen. He finished growing up in the streets where he learned to survive. Ryan met his woman when he was twenty three. His relationship with her mimicked his own father’s relationship with his mother.” Arik shook his head. “What no one knew was that Jon had an older brother from his dad’s affair, well maybe not an affair, probably more of  act of kidnapping and rape, when he was sixteen. No one knows for sure what happened there. The woman who became his mother never went to the police once she was free but she never wanted the kid she had either.  Hell, I don’t think Jon’s dad knew about that kid, not until it was too late to make a difference. Jon’s brother killed a man when he was seventeen and Jon must have been about ten or so. His brother went to prison for twenty five to life. I don’t really know too much about his brother. But I don’t think the brothers ever found each other. Thank god, because those two could have went on a murdering spree of the likes this nation has never seen before.”

Stone narrowed his eyes at the information Arik just provided them with. He looked at Dewey and at the other man’s nod he turned to Arik and asked, “Do you think you could find this brother again? He may be the man we’re looking for.”

Arik shivered, “Fuck, I hope not. That man has spent the last thirty years in a hellhole there is no coming back from.” He shook his head. “But I can try to find him.”

“That’s all we can ask.” Dewey nodded at him. 

Arik reached for his bag and took out his laptop. He went over to the table and sat down. 

Stone looked at Shay and asked, “Does he carry that thing everywhere he goes?”

Shay shrugged. “I think so. He says he can use any computer but he knows this one is secure and it has all his programs on it. I imagine it's like Trudy’s laptop, she never goes anywhere without it either.”

Dewey shook his head. “That’s true boss. I think she loves that laptop more than she loves me.”

“No, I don’t big man, you protect me, my laptop protects the world,” Trudy called out.

“What she said,” Arik called out with a laugh.

“What was the brother’s name?” Colton asked Arik. 

Arik snorted, “Would you believe Justice Reeves?” He shook his head. “And believe me when I say his mother never wanted him. She often left him all alone when he was barely old enough to know what was happening. He grew up scrambling the streets for food and when she was home, she never showed that kid any kind of compassion. Worst mother of the year would have been her trophy. He left home at twelve and she disappeared two years later. Her neighbors came round one day and found the apartment empty but there was a lot of blood spatter everywhere. But Jenna Reeves was gone and no one ever saw her alive again, so you can only imagine what happened to her.” Arik shook his head. “Of course this is all speculation but it is marked in the official police report.  Her murder is still open and unsolved.”

Stone paused and glanced at Dewey and then at Shay before he looked back at Arik. “What’s this guys’ MO? His method of killing?”

Arik looked up at him and said, “He was only convinced of one murder and he liked using a blade, stabbed his victims 37 times and let them bleed out. He was caught because he walked the streets in blood soaked clothes. When he was picked up he was like crashing from a high and he was dopey. When he finally came back online he was combative but he was behind bars by that time. I read the police report and after he was convicted, because the blood matched the victim, he was sent to prison. I tapped into his prison records and it wasn’t good, gentlemen. To the guards, he followed the rules behind bars but to his other inmates he ruled that prison. They all walked on eggshells around him.”

Dewey looked puzzled as he asked, “How did you know to follow his life?”

Arik shrugged. “I didn’t. One night I was bored and I was looking for something to do, so I began searching the dark web for the most gruesome unsolved cases. Justice’s came up and I had to know more about the man, so I tracked his family line and that’s what I found.”

Shay just shook his head. “That’s just really whacked, brother.”

Arik looked at him and said, “I find it soothes my mind. I have trouble sleeping, so I look into unsolved murders just to see if I can figure out something new that the police missed. It’s a hobby.”

Drew slowly shook his head. “Brother, that is a strange and somewhat disturbing hobby.”

Arik shrugged. “Some men golf. I tackle murder cases.”

Shay scoffed. “I’ve been battling killers in real life all these years, so I prefer other hobbies. Like riding a cycle or hiking in the wilds.”

Booorrinng,” Arik singsonged. “Give me a ruthless killer with no name and I have so much fun tracking him down.”

Stone stared at him. “Then I got some real fun for you. We may have a ruthless killer, as you put it, right here in Sabine.”

Arik looked a bit rattled. “Nah, man I don’t like to see them that close up.”

“Well, you may not have to if you can help solve this with your little laptop buddy,” Drew said as he grinned at him.

“Ok, that I can do. I remember everything I read and you never know when the information will need to be shared. Sometimes, I know where the bad guys are when the police can’t find them. To know what a killer is thinking, you have to mentally sink down to his level.”

 Trudy looked up from  her laptop and growled, “And sometimes you don’t.”

Stone turned to look at her. “What the hell does that mean?”

Trudy looked disgusted as she replied, “You remember when I told you McKenna had a lazy social worker that let her slip through the system? Well I was wrong, what she did was criminal.”

“How so?” Stone wanted to know.

“Her social worker’s name was Dana Whitley. So imagine my surprise when I looked up Kane Pope’s family and who did I find? Dana Whitley Pope, wife of Kane…. And they have been married twenty six years. McKenna is twenty nine. She would have been about three when Dana married Kane, almost the same amount of time her mother’s been dead. Now I have to wonder if she ever told Kane he had a kid?”

Dewey snorted. “Maybe she didn’t know McKenna was Kane’s kid.”

“Oh, she knew, she had the birth certificates, remember?” Trudy reminded them. “They were in her files.”

Stone looked angry as he asked, “How did McKenna’s mom die again?”

“She was strangled in her own bed,” Trudy stated.

“Did they ever find her killer?” Stone asked.

“The reports don’t say.” Trudy shook her head. “The biggest worry is did McKenna see the murder? She was found sleeping next to her mom’s body.”

“We already know she was found in bed with her.” Stone looked a bit ashen. “But by what you’re saying, a three year old McKenna might have actually witnessed her mother’s death.”

“Oh, wow.” Dewey stared at Stone as he looked a bit stunned.

“What if McKenna was in the same bed as her mother, but she was hiding under the covers while her mom was being strangled?” Stone asked as everyone could see the picture he was describing in their mind.

Trudy began looking at the papers she’d printed out. When she found it, she looked at it and then looked up at Stone. “The police reports said they found a bloody knife in the bed with Susan. They tested the blood but couldn’t find a match. The knife is still in custody and with the strap that was used to strangle her with. Police found it was a purse strap that had been cut off.  They checked the strap for fingerprints but the ones they found were too smudged to produce a match from.”

“My bet is that McKenna was in bed with her mom and if she didn’t see the murderer… she could hear it happen.” Shay growled. 

Everyone else in the room went silent as they thought about  this gruesome possibility.

 

Chapter Five

 

“Well, dig deeper and see what the two of you masterminds can come up with.” Stone snarled, “I want to know everything you can find out about all the players in this rotten game. Justice Reeves, Dana Pope, Kane Pope and McKenna’s family. Why didn’t they step up and claim her as a child? Why did they let her go into the system? Something isn’t right here and I want answers.”

“And answers, you will get.” Trudy growled as she began typing commands into her laptop.

Arik was typing commands on his keyboard as well and he was frowning as record after record popped up on his laptop. “Hmmm, this is interesting…” he mumbled under his breath.

Stone looked over at him. “What is interesting?”

Arik glanced up and seemed dazed for  a moment. “What?” he asked.

“You said something was interesting and I asked you what it was.” Stone growled.

“Oh, sorry…” Arik muttered as he shook his head. “Sometimes I talk to myself when I’m researching something.”

“So what is so interesting?” Stone asked.

Arik studied the report on his laptop and then looked back at the men around him. “I found an autopsy report but it isn’t complete. At one point, they did find Jenna’s body, or at least a part of her body.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Shay gritted through his teeth at his brother’s statement.

Arik swung his gaze over to Shay and said quietly, “They found her hand, just her hand. Three days after she went missing. They were able to get her prints off of the fingertips so they were able to identify the hand.”

“They only found her hand?” Stone asked in shock. “Where was the rest of her?”

Arik shook his head. “That’s just it, they found different parts of her later on but there was never enough left of her body to identify it as hers. All they ever found was bones that had been hacked up and left to rot.” Shaking his head he added, “They found part of a leg, an upper arm bone, bits of a spine and a foot. That’s all the police found over the next thirty years.”

Stone felt a hollow in his stomach that was ever widening as more information was uncovered. Arik had been right, if Jon and his brother ever found each other in their lifetimes the two of them would have murdered a lot more people before they would have been stopped.

He stared at the stairs leading up to the second floor where his family was staying. He knew they weren’t safe, as long as Justice Reeves was free, they wouldn’t be safe.

“When the hell did this man get out of prison?” Dewey wanted to know.

Arik checked and grumbled, “He walked out of prison, two weeks ago.”

Stone looked confused. “How did he find her so fast?” He growled, “How the fuckin’ hell did he know about her in the first place? We buried Jon in the woods behind the Troy compound. The police never knew what happened that night.”

Drew nodded. “Yeah, you guys never bring in the locals unless you have no other choice.”

Stone stared at him. “Usually, when things go down like they did that night, the locals don’t need to know. Hades was our thing to deal with. The locals would have put the man in a hospital for the criminally insane and he would have learned to fool the doctors and gotten out one day. Then he would have tracked us down and put a knife in McKenna or me and he wouldn’t have cared about dying after that.” Shrugging he added, “The way things went down he found out the hard way that McKenna wasn’t afraid of dealing with him. Even after she shot him three times, he still thought she would have been the one if only he could convince her to try and love him.”

“What the hell?” Shay frowned. “He really thought she would have come to him after all he’d done to her in the past?”

Stone nodded. “Yeah, he really thought that. But then he also said that if she couldn’t love him, he would have killed her just like all the rest. They had all been whores and he thought McKenna was one too.”

Arik shook his head. “He really was insane, wasn’t he? I guess it ran in his family all right.”

“Well now, we have to find his half brother before he comes back here looking for McKenna,” Bear stated, then he looked over at Stone, “Or Pappy. You brought his brother down and set him up to die. That makes you as guilty as McKenna in his brother’s eyes.”

“Let him come then.” Stone growled. “If he thinks I won’t protect my wife and our family then he doesn’t know me very well.”

“He doesn’t know us either.” Dewey seethed. “If he thinks we’ll hide and just let him come in here and kill you then he doesn’t know us at all. We got your back in this, Pappy. We will protect both of you.”

“Then let’s find this bastard before he comes back here.” Stone growled. Turning, he went up the stairs to his wife and daughters.

Dewey looked around the room and shook his head. “I thought we put this nightmare behind us.  Now it's back, maybe a different S.O.B. but this one is unknown. Guess we’ll have to start all over from the beginning.” He looked over at his wife and then at Arik, “You two will have to find out what you can on this Justice Reeves and fill us in as we go.” He turned to Swede and said, “Can you get into the cameras around Sabine and try to track him. To see where he went when he left here?”

Swede nodded. “I can try.”

“Then try.” Dewey nodded at him.

Arik gasped as something flashed on his screen. “Son of a bitch.” He growled.

“What’s wrong?” Shay wanted to know.

Arik looked up at his brother and said, “I looked up his old police record and I found his mug shot.” He snarled. “I know this bastard. I just never knew his name before today.”

“What does that mean?” Dewey asked.

Arik sighed then shook his head. “For a while, I lived on the streets. It was a long time ago and I was just a kid at the time, but when you live on the streets, you learn who you can trust and who you can’t real quick.”

“Get to the point, will ya?” Dewey growled as he began to pace.

“I was a night owl back then because bad things happened after dark and I would rather have been awake than sleeping and get knifed in my sleep.” Arik shook his head. ‘One night I saw this guy walking down the road while the rest of the city slept. He was holding a knife in his hands and blood was dripping off the blade. He stopped and stared at me for a moment then just walked past me. I didn’t move for  a long time after that but when the sun came up a few hours later, I was moving to another side of the city. I found me a place with a little more protection than I had when I met him and I found myself a knife too.” He shivered then looked down at the photo on his screen. “What made me remember him was his eyes. They were so cold that night and there was nothing in them. No sign of life, only death.”

“What happened after that?” Drew asked.

“I heard rumors on the streets, you know? Someone told me the Grim Reaper was in town and that he was taking souls to hell with him. The night when I saw him, he’d just stabbed a young woman to death. She had 37 stab wounds on her body.”

Shay frowned. “Wait a minute back it up, you said 37 stab wounds?”

Arik nodded.

Shay looked over at Drew and Dewey. “That must be his MO. Stabbing his victim 37 times.”

“Jon’s MO was a red hawk’s feather left at the scene,” Dewey told them.

“Well, we got Jon and we’ll get his brother too.” Reaper growled.

“But first, we gotta find him,” Dewey said.

“Oh, we’ll find him,” Swede grumbled. “He can’t stay hidden for long. He has to stick his nose out into the air at some point.” He looked up at Dewey, “And that’s when we’ll find him.”

Shay looked over at Arik and asked, “Where did you see him all those years ago?”

“I was in New York City at the time. It's easier to get lost when there’s more people to hide among, you know.”

Shay looked over at Reaper and Dewey. “Do you know where Jon was from? Which park of the country his family lived.”

Reaper nodded. “The state of New York but he didn’t live in the city itself, he grew up in a small town near Albany, I think.”

Shay looked over at Drew and Arik. “That makes sense. If Ryan raped a woman it would have been close to his own home or stomping grounds. But it brings up a  question, did he know about the son he had out there in the world? Did he know about Justice’s existence? And did he even care about the boy?”

“I doubt it,” Stone’s voice called out from the staircase. He joined them again and shook his head. “Jon always said that his dad was a bastard in the first degree. He said he liked to drink and he was a mean drunk. Most nights at his house was just staying out of dad’s way, so he couldn’t hit him or his mother. Although his mom took lots of beatings before he finally couldn’t stop and he beat her to death. Jon was fourteen at the time but already on the police radar. His girlfriend disappeared by then and he was the number one suspect. But without a body, the police’s hands were tied. When he turned seventeen, he lied about his age and joined the Marines. He did well in the service but there were too many rules for him. He tried but after he learned everything he wanted to learn, he just skipped out. He made his way back to the states and that was when he started his killing spree.” Shaking his head, Stone admitted, “He never once mentioned having a brother. I would have remembered that."

"So the brothers didn’t know about the other?” Shay asked.

“Don’t forget Justice was already in prison when Jon joined the service,” Arik commented. “There’s no way he could have met him then.” 

“So if they never met, how did Justice know about the red hawk feather?” Trudy posed the question. “And that Jon gave McKenna enough of them that he could tell Melissa that her mother collected them?” She looked around at all the men there. “How would he know that?”

Arik was busy typing commands into his laptop as he would stop and stare at his screen then type some more. After several minutes, he stopped and looked up at Dewey and Shay then he turned to Stone. “I snuck into the prison’s visitor logs and Jon did indeed go there to visit his brother. And on more than one occasion too. But it wasn’t long before Jon died five years ago, so that tells me that they didn’t know each other very long.”

“Do you really think that matters right now?” Stone growled. “They found each other. Jon told him about McKenna and me. Big fucking deal. He showed his hand and now it's time for us to take him out. The world will never miss a man like him. It hasn’t missed Jon Ronin.”

“Why he ever got out of prison is a mystery,” Dewey grumbled under his breath. “If the police had done their jobs, they would have locked his cell door and thrown away the key.”

“Maybe they honestly thought he only did the one murder,” Arik suggested. “Maybe I should look into all the police records and see if I can find a pattern, hmmm?”

Dewey scoffed then shook his head as if he thought it was a waste of time. “Yeah, you do that.”

Drew glared at him but didn’t say a word. Then he looked over at Shay and shook his head. “He might just find out something we need and the man is doubting him. Fucker,” he whispered under his breath.

 

Chapter Six

 

The day dragged by slowly. 

Trudy, Arik and Swede were busy hunting for Justice. McKenna and the kids stayed upstairs, out of the way. Stone ran back and forth trying to be everywhere at once.

By late afternoon, Arik looked up from his laptop and sighed hard.

Raising his weary head, Stone glared at him. “What? What did you find?”

Arik snorted. “I found out that Justice Reeves was a very busy man before he got caught.”

“How busy?” Dewey asked as he got up and stretched his tired muscles.

“His mother disappeared when  he was fourteen and he was on his own for three years before he got caught and went to prison. He grew up in the streets of New York City where his mother moved to after she was raped by Ryan Ronin. She had her baby in the City and she raised him without actually caring about him. His childhood was raised as part of his defense in the trial.” Arik shook his head. “It didn’t make too much of a difference in the outcome but the defense still brought it up. In the end, he was charged as an adult and sentenced as an adult. He got 25 to life when the police caught him and he spent 30 years in prison. The only visitor he got in those thirty years was Jon. I also found seven more deaths that matched his MO. Being stabbed 37 times. Seven people in three years and now that bastard is free again. I looked into the cases and they seem random as not one of his victims had any connection to the others. But what was the connection in his mind? Now that is the real question.”

Shay shook his head. “Only in your mind brother, no one else cares.”

“Well maybe, you should care,” Arik grumbled back. “If we can find a connection between the two brothers it might explain a lot of things.”

“Or it could just open a can of worms that shouldn’t have been open,” McKenna voiced her option as she walked down the steps into the main room.

Stone swiftly turned his head and stared at her. “Why do you say that honey?”

“Things happened in the past for a reason.” She shook her head. “You can't change the past no matter how bad you want… you just can’t. They say everything has its own reason but what reason could make what happened to my mother right? What happened to me right? What happened with Jon Ronin right? What’s happening now with this bastard? What reason changes a life like that?”

Stone shook his head. “I don’t know, baby.”

“I don’t know either but I don’t want to die anytime soon. I don’t want that man anywhere near our daughter and I want to give birth to this new child without fear he’ll be snatched away from my arms as soon as he’s born. I couldn’t bear that thought.”

Trudy gasped. “You’re pregnant?”

McKenna nodded. 

Dewey walked over to her and carefully drew her into his arms. He kissed her forehead and whispered in her ear, “We can and will protect you and yours honey. We aren’t going to run and hide from this guy. We take care of our own here. Reeves will rue the day he messed with us and you’ll have this baby under our care and you won’t have to worry about him for long. I promise you that.” He then let her go and backed away. 

McKenna went over to Stone.

 Grabbing her up, he tugged her into his arms and just held her for a long moment. “Babe, we found out some things about your parents that I’m not sure you were ever told.”

McKenna frowned and asked, “What kind of things?”

“Did you ever know who your father was?” he asked her.

McKenna shook her head. “No, if I ever did I didn’t remember it. Why didn’t he step up after my mom died?”

“I don’t think he ever knew about you.” Stone told her. “We found your birth certificate in your social workers file. Only problem was she was your dad’s fiancée at the time and she let you go into the system without telling him about you.” Shrugging he said, “That’s what we think anyway. We can’t know for sure.”

“Who is he?” she asked.

“Your dad’s name is Kane Pope. You are Kennedy Pope according to your birth records.” 

McKenna gasped and sat down on his lap. “I have a real name. Not Susan Wright?”

“Your mom’s name was Susan Wright,” Stone explained. “When they found her dead, they gave you her name, not your own name. Dana Whitley was your social worker's name and she later became your dad’s new wife.”

Staring at him with tears in her eyes, McKenna asked, “I really have a dad? I have to wonder if he ever wanted me or did he walk away from my mom because of me?”

“I don’t know baby, but when this is over, we’ll find him and ask him,” he promised her.

“Did you find any other family sitting in the weeds?” She wanted to know.

“We found your grandparents,” Trudy informed her. “But we haven’t discovered if they are dead already or if they are still alive.” 

McKenna shook her head. “So I had grandparents too at one time? Why didn’t they come for me after mom died?”

“We don’t know, sweetheart,” Stone told her. “But maybe if they are still alive we can ask them, once this situation is finally over.”

Shay nodded. “We did find out that Jon Ronin was the only visitor Justice Reeves had when he was behind bars.”

McKenna pressed her forehead into Stone’s chest. “Then he knows what happened to his brother five years ago doesn’t he?”

“We don’t know that for sure.” 

McKenna stared at him. “He knows, how else would he know where to find me?”

“Baby, Jon died in New York and we live in Texas, how would he know that?” 

McKenna frowned and thought about this for a moment then she got an idea. “He’s known about us for a long time hasn’t he?”

Stone nodded. “He could have if Jon visited him after we ran into him in Boston. He would have known our cuts. We used the same name in the sandbox that our MC is named after. He would have known that.”

“And it wouldn’t have taken him long to find out where we call home,” Dewey added. “Jon would have known where we were and he could have told Justice if something happened to him where to start looking for us.”

McKenna hung her head. “Damn, I was hoping this would be over once he was dead.”

Stone reached for her and held her close. “Honey. I won’t let this bastard even get close to you and the girls,” he whispered in her ear.

McKenna looked at him  with tears in her eyes. “Oh, my darling man, I know you’ll try, but you can’t be with me 24/7. And I can’t expect you to be.” Shaking her head she said, “This man killed someone before he was even a grown man and went to prison. Then God only knows what happened to him inside those walls.”

“We also found more than one victim before he finally got caught,” Dewey informed her. “He was already a bad person and the stay in prison never should have ended. Now we’ll end him once and for all. He isn’t going to come here, hurt you and Stone then just walk away to kill again.”

McKenna nodded. “You got that right. He’s not going to walk away this time. I won’t let him.” She got mad. “I know I’m not nearly as good as you guys are but I got a gun and I will shoot him if he comes here to hurt our daughters. I’m all done being scared and living in fear. I did that when Jon Ronin came after me, but then I found I was more mad than I was scared of him. I knew you guys had my back then and you got it now too.”

Stone smiled and nodded. Then he looked at Dewey, Reaper and Bear. “There’s the mama bear I know and love.” He snickered. 

McKenna shook her head. “No honey, I just pushed the fear deep down and mother instinct is covering it. I’m just as scared but I’m determined not to let this bastard win or to hurt our girls.  You and those two babies you gave me mean the world to me and I’ll be damned if I fail them or you.”

“Same for me, baby.” Stone nodded. “We’ll track this bastard down and take care of him once and for all.”

McKenna smiled. “If anyone can, you and your men and women can. I have faith that we will succeed in this mission. You and yours are the best team this nation has and ever will have.” She looked around the room and said, “So get digging, people. That man has to be stopped and stopped hard and fast. The world will be a better place without him in it.” Then she walked to the staircase and began to climb the steps. “I’m gonna be up with the girls, honey.”

Stone nodded and watched her disappear around the corner. Then he looked back at his team. “Well people, you heard her, let’s find this bastard and take him out.”

Trudy shook her head.

 Dewey had to ask, “What’s wrong, woman?”

“McKenna just got her second breath and now she’s on the warpath. I wouldn’t want to be in Justice’s shoes if they ever meet face to face.” Trudy shook her head. “He won’t stand a chance.”

Dewey frowned and stared at his wife, “You really think she would shoot him?”

“Oh yeah babe, she would shoot him.” Trudy nodded. “The same as I would if he came after me or our kids.”

“Well, let's get our shit together and find this prick.” Stone growled. “I want this threat over before too long.”

Everyone got busy. 

Stone went over to where Trudy was sitting.

 She peered up at him with a question in her eyes. “What’s up, bossman?” she whispered quietly.

“I want you to research her dad. I need to know why he never stepped up for her after she lost her mom. I want to know everything you can find on both him and his wife.”

“You think Dana had something to do with her mom’s death?” Trudy frowned.

Stone nodded. “I’m not counting her out, especially since she married him when she knew full well he was McKenna’s dad. Why didn’t she tell him about his daughter?”

Trudy nodded. “Yeah, there’s just some things about what happened back then, that just doesn’t make any sense to me either.”

“See what you can find out for me, please.” Stone asked her.

Trudy nodded. “That will be my pleasure bossman. I can’t stand a man that walks away from his responsibility. The woman didn’t make the child on her own and she shouldn’t have to try and raise the child on her own either. If McKenna is his child, he needs to step up and acknowledge that anyway.”

 Stone shook his head, “I’ve got her covered that way, but I’m thinking Dana had something to do with her mom’s death. If that’s the case, she needs to pay for what she did. It was a purse strap that strangled her mom and I'm thinking her fingerprints might still be on the leather.” 

Trudy raised her eyebrows and just stared at him. Then she nodded. “You could be right about that. And there are no term limits for murder.”

Stone turned his head and looked at the staircase. “She sure didn’t help McKenna out when she should have done more. She was just a baby back then.”

Trudy snorted. “And why? Because she didn’t want to raise a kid that wasn’t hers. Women like that just turn my crank.” She shook her head slowly. Then she turned back to her keyboard and began to type.

 

Chapter Seven

 

When late afternoon rolled around, McKenna was in the kitchen staring out the window. She could see the main gate and the area around it. Her belly rolled as she stood there with her gun in the back of her jeans. Her shirt hid it from view. She didn’t want her daughters to know mama was packing but she wouldn’t hesitate to use the weapon either. 

Then in the late afternoon fading sunlight a man stepped out of the treeline and stared back at her. He could see her standing there and he wanted her to know he could see her. 

Justice Reeves stared at the woman he knew killed his brother and he sneered at her then he removed the big knife at his side and raised it to pass it across his throat. He didn’t cut his own skin but he let her know he wouldn’t hesitate to cut her throat. 

McKenna snapped her fingers. 

Trudy raised her head to see McKenna pointing toward the gate. Trudy switched on the camera and gasped when she saw him standing there as bold as brass. She texted Dewey and Stone then took a picture of the mother fucker while she could. 

A shot rang out and Justice ducked back into the trees as men ran toward the gate. The back door opened and several sets of heavy footsteps could be heard running down the hall into the main room.

Stone, Dewey, Shay, and Arik came into the main room.

 Trudy pointed toward the kitchen. 

Stone ran into the kitchen and found McKenna still standing there staring out the window. He gently grabbed her and turned her around. Her expression looked blank as he stared at her and he was afraid for her. “Baby, are you okay?”

McKenna closed her eyes slowly and took a deep breath. Then she opened her eyes and raised her gaze to his. “He knows who I am.”

“Honey, we know who he is too,” Stone told her. “And that’s as close as he’s ever gonna get to you.”

“He’s coming to cut my throat,” she whispered to him.

“Not if we get him first.” Shay growled. “And we will get him McKenna before he can get to you and yours. I promise you that.”

“Someone is helping him. I can feel it, someone close to me, but the men here are the only ones I’m close to and I know they would never betray you guys.” McKenna shook her head. “There’s someone out there that hates me enough to want me dead. Who could that be?”

“I don’t know baby but we’re going to find out.” Stone growled as he hugged her closer. He looked over her head to find Shay and Arik shaking their heads. How could they find someone they didn’t know?

Dewey, Colton, and several others came running inside.

 Dewey was pissed. “Damnit, he had a car waiting and drove off before we could get a shot off.”

Shay growled, “What do you mean he had a car waiting?”

“He had a fucking car waiting. By the time we reached the road, he dove in the passenger seat and the car hightailed it out of there.” 

Stone looked at Shay then back at Dewey. “He wasn’t driving? There was someone else in the car?”

Dewey paused then narrowed his eyes, “No, he had a driver. He has someone working with him.”

“And the license was from New York,” Colton told them. “I couldn’t get all the numbers but the first three were AKZ.”

“That might help.” Trudy growled under her breath as she got into the DMV site. After about five minutes, she gasped and glanced up. She looked at Dewey then Stone while shaking her head.

“What did you find Trudy?” Stone demanded.

“The car is one of four registered to Kane Pope,” Trudy stated. 

McKenna closed her eyes and laid her forehead on Stone’s chest. “Well shit,” she whispered. “I guess we know why he never stepped up before, don't we? He never wanted me in the first place.”

“Babe,” Stone growled in her ear. “We don’t know that. All we do know is that his wife let you get lost in the system. We don’t know if he ever knew about you.”

“Maybe but I guess it doesn’t make any difference now does it?” McKenna said.

“It might,” Shay remarked. “Let me get some men to go talk to him. We should have some answers soon.”

McKenna shook her head. “It doesn’t matter now, I guess I always knew he didn’t want me. If he had he wouldn’t let my mother and me live in a dingy apartment all alone. He would have been there with us.”

“Honey, you don’t know that.” Stone growled in her ear.

McKenna backed away for a moment with tears in her eyes. “If he wanted me, he would have stepped up after she was gone. That’s when I needed him. Not now, I’m full grown now. I don’t need my father now.”

“Maybe you don’t but I’d like to get my hands on that bastard.” Dewey growled softly. 

Others around him agreed with nods.

Shay stepped away and made a call as he walked down the hall.

McKenna moved from Stone’s arms and shook her head. “I’m going upstairs with the girls. I need to think.”

Stone growled under his breath as he watched her mount the steps to the second floor. Only when she was gone did he look at his men. “Find that lousy bastard and find out who his driver was. I want both of them broken and crushed under my boots.” He snarled.

“We all want that,” Dewey replied. 

Shay returned and nodded. “That’s for sure.” He looked at Stone and informed him, “I called Deke Tory and asked him to look for Kane Pope and have a little chat with the man. I explained what we were dealing with here and he said he would be happy to chat with Mr. Pope.”said 

“Well, that’s one way to get some answers.” Dewey commented with a grin. “Those boys just love to chat with others.”

Shay nodded. “They get the answers needed.”

Stone snorted, “I would give my left nut to be part of that conversation. I want to hear the answers for myself but I can’t leave her to go to New York anytime soon. Especially now with that bastard coming around.”

“How about if I stand in for you?” Shay asked softly. “I can go to New York and be there in person when they chat with Pope.”

Stone hesitated then nodded. “I can live with that.  Just call me when the chat begins ok? I want to hear his answers.”

Shay nodded. “I can do that.”

Trudy walked over to Shay and handed him two pieces of paper. 

Shay looked down and saw the results of a blood test taken twenty nine years ago. It proclaimed Kane Pope was indeed Kennedy Pope’s father. “Show that no good lowlife this and let him try to wiggle out of fatherhood.” She snarled. “That loser won’t be able to lie when you show him this.”

Shay folded the papers carefully and slipped them into his pocket. “I’ll be back after we have some answers.”

Drew stood next to his brother and snarled, “You ain’t going alone brother and between us we’ll find the answers we need to settle this and bury Reeves.”

Dewey looked at the brothers and reminded them, “If you all go into the City, you’re going to have to let the Bratva know you’re there. Nikoli or Sergi will want to be there for the questioning as well. They like to keep their pulse on the doings in the city. We have to follow protocol.”

Shay nodded. “Yeah, Sergi will definitely want to be there for this. I’ve noticed that he’s not the type of man that shies away from the responsibility of not taking care of a child and Pope hasn’t stepped up yet as far as we know.”  Shay turned to Arik and said, “You stay here at the compound and lend them whatever help you can. I know you like your privacy but with Reeves on the loose, I think you should stay here.”

Stone agreed, “Yeah, I don’t want him to stumble on you and you’re alone. He sure as hell wouldn’t care who you are, only that you could tell someone he was in the area.”

Arik growled but agreed to stay until his brothers returned. 

Then Shay tapped Drew on the shoulder and said, “Let’s go, I’ll have the plane ready by the time we get to the airport.” Both men walked out of the clubhouse

  Stone felt a little better. He hoped they would finally start getting some answers.

~*~

Four hours later, the plane touched down in New York. Shay and Drew waited for the plane to pull up and stop and then they began walking down the steps. There were several men waiting for them when their feet finally stood on the tarmac.

Shay looked up and saw Deke and Sam Tory along with several of the others in his MC. He strode forward and held out his hand and as they shook hands, another vehicle drove up and several men got out as one of them opened the back door and two men stepped out.

Nikoli and Sergi walked over and they looked at Shay carefully.  

“Mr. Montross, it's good to see you again,” Sergi broke the silence. “May I know what brings you to New York?”

“We came here to get some answers. A friend of ours is being hunted by a ruthless killer and we need some help to find him and put him down like the dog he is.”

“I see.” Sergi shook his head. 

Drew growled. “No sir, you don’t see. This woman was found at the age of three lying in bed beside her dead mother. Someone had strangled the woman in her own bed. We don’t know if she heard or saw her mother’s killer but that child was pushed into the system and left to get lost in the paperwork. All while she had a father who may or may not have known about her. Then years later, when she was all grown up she witnessed a murder by a serial killer and then had to run for her life. A friend found her on the run four years later. He helped her and they are still together.”

“Are you speaking of Stone Masterson?” Sergi interrupted him.

“Yes sir, I am,” Shay nodded.

“He is a good man.” Sergi nodded. “Please continue.”

Shay did so, “She killed the man in Troy five years ago and now his brother is coming for her. He’s as bad as his brother, if not worse. He’s spent the last thirty years in prison and now he’s out and he’s hunting her.  She deserves much better than what she’s had and now she’s got a husband and two little girls along with a baby in belly waiting to be born. Her father is right here in New York and we’re going to find him and ask him why he didn’t step up twenty six years ago.”

Sergi frowned. He looked at Nikoli and nodded. Turning to Deke he asked, “And you are part of this?”

Deke and Sam nodded. “Yeah, we’re part of this. The first killer that was tracking this woman was caught at our compound Pappy…Um Stone was there at the time. This killer died there but not by us. McKenna faced him and shot him herself. When we heard what he’d done to her over the time he hunted her we wanted our own piece of the scum. After he was dead we let the wolves have his body.”

Sam shook his head and added, “The man was rotten to the core and with his calling card he wasn’t about to stop killing. We had to stop him and we did.”

“What was his calling card?” Nikoli wanted to know.

“He always left a red Hawk’s feather when he found her,” Shay told them.

Nikoli paled and he quickly looked at Sergi. 

The Bratva leader looked a bit ashen and then he growled, “A red Hawk’s feather? You are sure that was his calling card?”

Shay nodded. “Yes, his brother brought one to Pappy’s compound where they currently live and handed it through the fence to her four year old daughter. He told her to take it to her mother as she used to collect them in the past. Understandably, she freaked out.”

Sergi stepped forward and growled in Shay’s face. “You will come with us and tell me about these brother killers.”

Shay shook his head. “We don’t have time. We need to speak to someone right away and then we need to get back to Texas.”

Nikoli stepped forward now. “You don’t seem to understand, we need to know about the first killer as one of our own was one of his victims. We have a right to help you find him.”

Shay looked from Nikoli to Sergi and grumbled, “Well, shit.”

 

Chapter Eight

 

Shay paused then glanced at his brother before he looked at Sergi and Nikoli.  “What does that mean? One of your own?”

“Several years ago, my niece was murdered in Boston,” Sergi explained. “Next to her body a red Hawk’s feather was found. This happened nine years ago.”

At his words, Shay looked angry and shook his head. 

Sergi stared at him and asked, “What?”

“McKenna witnessed a grisly murder nine years ago in Boston. The killer followed her for four years. He found her four times between the murder and each time he found her he let her know by leaving her a red hawk feather. That was about the time she met Stone Masterson or as he is better known, Pappy. They have been together since then. She’s the reason we’re here now to be exact. That killer had a half brother that now has her in his sights. We’re here to talk to her father Kane Pope.”

“Why her father?” Sergi wanted to know.

“He’s never once acknowledged her and he didn’t step up and take care of her after her mother was murdered and we’d like to know why.” Shay growled. “He also may have information on these murders as well.”

“Indeed, as would I,” Sergi grumbled. “A child is something you don’t just throw away.”

Drew shrugged. “Some men do.”

“And they are fools.” Nikoli growled.

Shay shrugged. “It might be possible that Pope never knew he had a daughter but his wife sure knew he did.”

“What does that mean?” Sergi asked while looking confused.

“She knew McKenna was his daughter because she was a social worker at the time and she took the case,” Shay explained. “She kept the proof in her files and hid certain things about the child and let her get lost in the system, then she married Pope and she never once tried to find the girl.” 

“This is not acceptable,” Sergi asked with a  growl.

“Oh hell no it isn't. And normally, we would leave it in the past, but Mckenna is an exception. The events she lived through when her father should have stepped up. It led to a lot of suffering on her part and now she has this killer's brother after her?” Shay gritted his jaw. “It is unacceptable, Mr. Constantine. We’ll be hunting this Social Worker down, but first we have to find Pope and get some answers.”

“We’ll go with you as I wish to speak to this woman as well and Mckenna at some point. I need to know what she saw that day in Boston nine years ago. He shrugged. “Besides we have safe houses here that we can take your Mr. Pope too and no one will ever know he is there.”

Shay nodded. “Good we might make use of that unless he can give us a reason not to cooperate.”

“Indeed.” Nikoli nodded. “Shall we go and find your Mr. Pope?”

“He’s at his office today,” Sam spoke up. “Maybe we can catch him before he leaves for the day.”

Sergi waved toward his vehicle and said, “We can take my car.” 

Deke nodded and said, “We’ll follow you on our bikes.”

Shay and Drew got into the vehicle.

 Sergi and Nikoli settled in as well.

 “This is a surprise to see that you indeed have an identical twin, Shay.”

“It came as a real surprise to me as well.”

“Ocharovatel'nyy…Fascinating. He looks exactly like you…except for…” Sergi studied them both.

“The eyebrow thing?” Drew asked him.

“No, no…”

The twin men looked curious as they stared at the Bratva leader.

“It is in your eyes,” Sergi commented.

Nikoli nodded as he readily agreed, “Yes, he is right.”

“What is in our eyes?” Drew asked.

Sergi smiled. “All men have or especially leaders of men…they have a look in their eyes. One that shows they are used to being in charge. Used to taking a situation on, face to face. Shay, you have this look. Drew has another look entirely. His is questioning everything he sees, a more penetrating look. More like he needs all the answers right away.”

“And that’s the differences you see?” Shay asked as he looked mystified.

“Not entirely,” Sergi replied. “So what is your plan?” he asked him as he dismissed the twin subject. 

Shay and Drew glanced at each other and let it go.

“We need answers as to whether or not there is a connection between the Pope’s and the Ronin family,” Shay replied. “Jon Ronin was the killer who followed McKenna. But I have a feeling there is more to why Dana Whitley Pope didn’t do anything to help Pope’s daughter.” He shrugged. “It's possible she never told him about the little girl but she did keep her true birth certificate in her files for anyone to find.”

“If she never told him about the child when she knew the poor  girl was suffering,Nikoli growled under his breath. “Then she sounds like a egoistichnaya, nekhoroshaya shlyukha.”

Sergi shook his head  as he smirked.

Shay studied Nikoli and then laughed.

Drew looked at the two Russian men then at his brother.

Shay smiled at Drew and translated it, “A selfish no good skank.”

Then Drew snorted. “You got that right.”

When the car stopped in front of a huge building in the middle of the city, Shay studied at the building and said, “We’re about to find out which it is.”

The door opened and all four men along with Deke and Sam went into the building. Sam found the floor Pope was on and they rode the elevator up to the sixteenth floor.

As they stepped off the elevator, they found Pope’s office to the right. They went inside and Shay asked to speak to Mr. Pope. 

The woman waiting there paused and looked at the men in front of her and then said, “Mr. Pope should be here soon. He had a meeting on the third floor that should be wrapping up any minute.”

“Then we will wait in his office,” Sergi told her with a smile. He walked over to the office and opened the door. 

All six of them walked inside and Sam closed the door behind them. They looked around the office. A simple office with a desk, bookcase and a coffee maker. Everyone wandered around for a moment then sat down to wait. 

They didn’t wait long as the door opened again and Kane Pope walked inside. He paused to look at the six men waiting for him and finally closed the door behind him. “Gentlemen, I don't know you, so to find you inside my office is unacceptable. Please leave.”

“Oh, I don’t think so, Mr. Pope,” Shay replied with a hard edge to his voice.

“And why not?” Pope asked as he leaned against the door.

“You have a lot to answer for and we’re here to listen to you tell us why you have ignored your own daughter for her whole life,” Shay told him with a growl in his voice.

Pope tucked his head back in surprise. “I don’t have a daughter. In fact, I can’t have children.”

“Oh, really?’ Shay grumbled as he got to his feet. “Then what the hell is this?” He took the blood test paperwork out of his pocket and shoved it in his face. “Explain this.”

Kane Pope took the paperwork and studied it for a moment then slumped against the wall. “This can’t be right. Who is this girl’s mother?”

“Do you know the name Susan Wright?” Drew asked in a hard voice.

Pope paled as he shook his head. “Susan? Yes, I know her, I met her in college. I thought I was in love with her and wanted to marry her but she disappeared from my life just before we graduated and I never saw her again. How did you find her?”

“We believe your wife Dana found her then she found her daughter, your daughter,” Shay told him.

“But I was told I couldn’t have children. Both Dana and I had the tests done and she showed me the results. Mine were negative.”

“Well, we believe she has lied to you,” Deke told him. “By then, you already had a child.”

Pope stumbled over to his desk and sat down. “Where is Susan?” He looked up at the men around him.

“Susan was murdered, strangled by a purse strap when McKenna was three years old.” Shay growled. “Your wife, Dana Whitley was assigned as her case worker and she put the child in the foster system and let her get lost in a series of foster homes, all the while she knew the child was yours. Would you care to explain that?” 

Pope looked lost. “I never knew, I swear I never knew Susan had my child.” He raised his hands and rubbed his face in frustration. “I never would have let her go if I had known about her. I had just gotten started in business when I met Dana. Then before I knew it, we were engaged and married all within about four months I think. People told me she was just after the money I had in the bank and at first I didn’t believe them. What the hell did I know? I was young and in love but after a few years, I realized they were right. The more money there was, the better she liked me. Until I wanted her to have a baby. Suddenly, she changed and after a few months of trying, she insisted we have tests done. That's when she told me I couldn’t have kids.” He paused, then sat there thinking for a moment. This news had him in a state of shock to say the least. 

“Has Dana changed at all?” Drew asked.

“Yeah, over the years we’ve been together…” Pope sighed heavily. “She's changed a lot. She agreed to stay with me but now she doesn’t even try to hide her greed any more. Or the fact that she really doesn’t care for me like she made me believe years ago.” He shook his head in awe. “I have a daughter?”

Sam scoffed. “A daughter your wife knew about since she was three years old.”

Staring at Shay, Pope asked, “What happened again to Susan?”

“She was attacked and strangled in her own bed with a purse strap. Then she was found three days later with her daughter lying next to her in the bed. The police think the child was there in the same bed someone killed her mother in days before.”

“Oh, dear God!” Pope exclaimed as he paled. “What that child must have gone through.”

“You have no idea what that child has gone through mister.” Drew growled. “She grew up and went to college in Boston and one night she was out with friends and they stumbled upon a murder in progress. They all fled but the killer hunted them down and murdered most of them. He found McKenna four times and he would leave a red hawk’s feather every time. She would have run yet again. After Boston, she fled to Baltimore, then Trenton and Pittsburg then finally to Troy where she met up with the Sin’s Bastards MC and the man that would become her husband.”

Deke nodded. “When Pappy brought her to us the killer came for her at our compound and we got him. He was coming to kill her and Pappy but he fucked up and got caught instead. She ended up being the one to kill him.”

“How did she kill him?” Pope looked upset by all of this. 

“She shot him three times and he died from gunshot wounds,” Deke told him brutally. 

“Who was this Killer?” Pope asked.

“His name was Jon Ronin,” Shay told him. 

Starting at the name, Pope looked even more upset.

 Sergi stared at him and asked,.“You know this man?”

Pope shook his head. “Not me personally but Dana has shirttail cousins named Ronin. Although she hasn’t seen them in years.”

“Would she know a man named Justice Reeves then?” Shay wanted to know.

“I have no idea who she knows anymore.” Pope shrugged. “My marriage broke down years ago but she won’t even consider divorce even though we barely live together  anymore. In fact, she’s off again somewhere right now but I have no idea where that might be.”

Shay grabbed his cell and sent a text to Stone. A few minutes later, he got a text with a photo. He turned the phone to Pope and said, “Do you know this vehicle?”

Pope stared at the phone and nodded. “That looks like Dana’s car. Where is that from?”

Shay growled and texted Stone back. Then he looked at Pope and informed him, “This is Jon Ronin’s half brother. He just spent the last thirty years behind bars and now he’s out. He’s a serial killer who likes to stab people 37 times before they bleed to death. So far, by the age of 17, he’d killed eight people, including the one murder they sent him to prison for. He’s out now and he’s hunting McKenna, your daughter. He handed her four year old daughter a red hawk’s feather and told her to take it to her mother as she used to collect them in the past.”

Pope paled at his words and asked in a stunned whisper, “Is she safe where she’s at? Will my daughter be safe from this killer?”

“The MC she lives with will keep her and her daughters safe,” Shay replied. “But she’s pregnant again and this bastard might cause her to lose the baby. Stone will not be happy and he’s going to track this motherfucker down and enjoy killing him.” 

Pope frowned. “She has kids? Really? That’s wonderful.” He smiled. 

“It's good for her, not so much for you.” Deke growled. “You’ve ignored her for her whole life. You allowed your wife to condemn her to get lost in the system and then be out on her own once she aged out of the system. You never even looked for her or her mother. That doesn’t say too much about you now does it?”

Glaring at him, Pope exclaimed, “Are you insane? I had no idea she even existed. I looked everywhere for Susan when she disappeared on me. I was devastated that she had just up and left me when we were so in love. Don’t be condemning me for things I never knew about, mister.”

Sam sneered, “If it were me, I’d tear the city apart looking for her. I wouldn’t just sit on my fuckin hands and let her go. If it were me I’d at least make an attempt to look for her, which you never did, did you? You never even tried to find her. But your wife found her alright. But you? You never even tried.”

Pope slowly shook his head. “You know nothing about it, whoever you are.”

Shay got to his feet and glared at Pope. “Just how shirttail are these Ronin’s on your wife’s side?”

Pope shrugged. “How the hell am I supposed to know that? All she ever told me was they were related second or third cousins once removed I think. I don’t know. I wasn’t listening to her. I simply didn’t care as it didn’t matter to me at the time.”

Sergi got to his feet and shook his head. “And that gentlemen, is why he never deserved a daughter and still doesn’t today. If it isn’t relevant to him, he simply doesn’t care. I think I would have kept my daughter a secret from you too. My men will escort you to where we will hold you until this situation is over.  You will come with us now. My men are waiting downstairs for you.”

Pope stood from his desk chair and stared at him. “You cannot hold me. You cannot just come in here and demand this!”

Sergi leaned in close and said, “I can. I am unsure if you are aware of what men stand in your office today. We are not your average men.”

Deke, Sam, Nikoli, Shay and Drew all stood from where they sat to ease their shirt vests or bike cuts aside to show their weapons in their prospective holsters.

Pope's eyes rounded as he sucked a deep breath in while staring at the weapons.

“So, Mr. Pope.” Shay motioned to the door. “I suggest you do what Mr. Constantine has ordered you to do.” 

Everyone walked out of the office and to the elevator. 

When they hit the street, Sam escorted Pope to the second vehicle and Pope got inside. The vehicle then took off.

Shay held out his hand to Deke and Sam. “I’ll let Pappy know you boys did everything you could. We’re going to fly back tonight and let them know what we’ve found out today.”

Deke shook his head. “It's too bad we couldn’t find out more.”

Shay nodded but replied, “But it's not a total bust, we did find the connection. Now Arik and Trudy can search out the answers we need.”

“You let us know how it ends,” Sam grumbled.

Shay nodded then got into Sergi’s Limo. 

When the vehicle left the curb Sergi said, “We’re going with you back to wherever this Mckenna woman is. I have to speak to her. I have to know what she witnessed.”
 

Chapter Nine

The plane touched down on the private airstrip the Hell’s Fire Riders owned. Drew, Shay, Sergi and Nikoli and four of Sergi’s security squad, stepped off the plane.

 They were met by Stone and Dewey.

Stone raised an eyebrow at the sight of the extra passengers as they stepped forward to greet Shay and the others. “I see you brought them back with you.” He gave Sergi a nod.

Sergi nodded back. The two men knew each other from brief meetings before.

Shay looked back and forth at the men and announced, “Sergi wants to speak to McKenna. It seems the murder she witnessed in Boston was his niece. He wants to know what happened to her.”

“Did you speak to Pope?” Dewey wanted to know as he semi ignored the statement about Sergi’s request.

Shay nodded. “Yeah, we did but there’s something about that man that sets off my BS alarms. He said the right words but I don’t think he meant them, I think that man has been playing games for a long time and he just can’t quit and get real.”

Drew snorted. “Yeah, like his girlfriend just disappears on him and he never even looked for her? Who the hell lets shit like that pass?”

Dewey shrugged, “Unless he wanted her gone, that way he wouldn’t have to pay for the kid. Who knows, maybe Dana did tell him about the child and he told her to lose it in the system?”

Drew nodded then growled. “Then he claimed he was told he couldn’t have kids. What a crock of shit.” 

“We’ll have Trudy look into that and see if she can find his medical records,” Stone suggested.

“We have the man himself on ice until we find some answers,” Sergi told them.

“We also found out that Dana is a second or third cousin once removed from the Ronin boys,” Shay added. 

“What the fuck?” Dewey snarled at this latest development as he clenched his hands into fists. 

Drew nodded. “And Pope told us that the car Reeves got away in belongs to Dana, or so he claims.”

Stone shook his head and stated, “Seems she wasn’t happy with getting her mom out of the picture, now she has to try and take out her too?”

 Sergi looked at Stone with narrowed eyes and asked, “This woman killed your wife’s mother?”

“We believe so at this point.” Stone growled. “But we haven’t really asked her yet. We have to find her first.”

“Bud' oni proklyaty,” Nikoli swore under his breath in Russian. 

Sergi looked around and suggested, “Maybe we should take this little talk somewhere a little more private, what do you think?”

Stone shrugged and they moved over to the cars. Once on their way, Stone looked into the rear view mirror and stated, “I’m not sure how much McKenna can talk about  the night your niece died. In fact, she still has nightmares about that murder.”

Sergi shrugged. “I can understand that, my friend but you have to understand something as well. When the police notified her family, they were not able to view her body. They never got to say their goodbyes and they weren’t told how their daughter died. The police had to use only her DNA to identify her. The only thing they got was her ashes and they didn’t appreciate the state cremating her. That wasn’t what they wanted. I have to know if she saw what this killer did to my niece and what the reasons behind the cremation were.”

“We did some research into what Jon Ronin did to his victims and are you sure you want to know?” Dewey asked the other man.

“Da, I want to know.” Sergi let out a heavy sigh. “I have seen many atrocities in my life and I doubt anything she has to say will surprise me.” 

They came to the compound and parked by the double doors past the gate.

When everyone got out of the vehicle, McKenna, Lacey and Trudy were waiting for them by the front door.

They all joined them on the front porch.

 McKenna stared at Sergi and Nikoli as she trembled. She knew who they were and she could only guess why they were here. 

Stone came over to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “Honey, this is Sergi Constantine and Nikoli Silvonic. They want to talk to you about the murder you saw in Boston nine years ago.”

McKenna nodded. “I know who they are,” she whispered.

Nikoli frowned. “And how do you know that?”

McKenna shook her head. “I’ve seen you both before, in the City. How did you find me?”

Sergi gave her a polite nod. “I understand that you witnessed a murder in Boston nine years ago. Is that correct?”

McKenna nodded. 

“We found out a few weeks later that the victim of that grisly murder was a relative of mine,” Sergi explained. “Her family were never allowed to see her before the police had her cremated and they also were not told how she died, just that she was the victim of  a serial killer. I was hoping you could tell me what you saw that night." 

McKenna shook her head and her trembling increased. “No, I don't think you really want to know what he did to her. It's best you remember her how she was before that night.”

Sergi frowned and wondered what the hell she’d seen that night that the family was never told. “My dear, her family wants to know, I want to know. I can not let this go.”

McKenna shook badly now.

 Stone held her even tighter as he glared at Sergi.“She just can't, ok? Why would you ask her something she doesn’t want to remember? Something that has given her nightmares for years.”

“Her family needs to know,” Sergi insisted. “All they got was a box of her ashes after she died. They only know that she was a victim but they don’t know the details of how she died. Don't you think they deserve to know the manner of her death?" 

McKenna shook her head as she looked a bit green in the face. Then she covered her mouth and ran inside to throw up. 

Stone followed her into the bathroom to offer her any support he could. When she was finished, he helped her to her feet and over to the sink. He offered her a glass of water to rinse her mouth. Finally, he pulled her close and just held her while she wept

McKenna finally stopped crying as she looked up at Stone and whispered brokenly, “I can’t talk about that night. I know he came here for answers but I can’t give them to him.”

“Then don’t, sweetheart.” Stone gently smoothed her hair with his hand. “Sergi will just have to go home unsatisfied.”

McKenna shook her head. “But you know as well as I do that man is  the kind that doesn’t quit. We know of him and his Bratva. He will find a way to know. He will find out what he came here to find out.”

 Stone shook his head. “Babe, I’ve seen the haunted look in your eyes after you have these nightmares. You’re jumpy for days and I’d rather not have that happen any more. Especially now that you’re pregnant again.”

McKenna wrapped her arms around him and breathed in his scent. It seemed to calm her stomach and she felt safe in his arms. “We better go out there again.”

“Are you okay?” He wanted to know.

McKenna took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “No but I can’t stay hidden in here forever, now can I? His questions aren’t going to go away. No matter how hard I try to avoid it.”

“Don’t let him bully you.” Stone growled. “Like you said, the man doesn’t like to be told no.”

McKenna chuckled, “Now where have I heard that about another Alpha male before?” she teased him.

Stone had the good sense to not deny it. He leaned down and kissed her lips gently. McKenna sighed and fell into his touch. When they broke the kiss, she moaned, “God, I love you.”

“I love you too,” Stone whispered. 

Taking another deep breath, she stared at the door and shook her head. “We have to face them, so let’s go.”

When they rejoined everyone, Sergi looked up at her and saw her pale face. “My dear, I am sorry if my words upset you.”

McKenna took a deep breath as she sat down at the table with him and said, “I shut that night out of my mind a long time ago, so I’m not sure I can give you any answers. I can only remember it in my nightmares. What he did to her was barbaric but I have a feeling there’s someone else out there that knows what he did to her. If the police won’t tell you what you want to know why should I?”

Sergi slowly shook his head. “The police encouraged my family to, as you said, remember her like she was, not after what he did to her. I need to know the details before I finally tell them to do that.”

McKenna shook her head as she again looked pale and sickly. “I don’t want to remember, don’t you get that? What I saw that night was so horrific my mind shut it down. I don’t want to remember it. That door is shut.”

Sergi shook his head. “My dear, I don’t want to cause you pain but my family needs to put this to bed as well. Right now, they are in a limbo and it's been that way for nine years. They are lost and they can’t really move on until they know what happened to her.”

McKenna felt pain inside her head and she cried out as the memory slammed through her. It was cold that night and the six of them were walking home for a night on the town when they passed an alley. Then the sound of insane laughter filled the alley and they stopped to see what was going on. 

Gasping, McKenna grabbed her head with her hands and slipped to the floor on her knees.

 Stone growled and glared at Sergi before he reached for her. She fought him but he finally got his arms around her and held her. He was whispering in her ear.

 She didn’t hear his words. She was tumbling back in time to that alley and the insane laughter she was hearing. “Oh my God, he was there kneeling over her body. There was so much blood, he was covered in it and so was she.” She whispered.  Her eyes were closed and her voice was barely there. She was shaking in her terror.

 Stone growled but he knew she had to do this. He’d never felt so helpless in his life. He knew she was caught up in her nightmare again. He wanted to stop it but he knew he couldn’t.

Mckenna went on, “She was naked and the knife in his hand was bloody as he continued to slice her flesh off. He had a small pile of blood soaked skin next to him and her body was missing several pieces. He was mutilating her.” McKenna shivered in horror. “I looked at her face but it wasn’t there. I couldn’t see who she was and then I began screaming. I shouldn’t have done that but the sight of her head scared me. ”

Sergi frowned as he glanced over at Nikoli, he looked pale and slightly green himself now. Then he swiveled his gaze to McKenna and asked, “What do you mean? Her face wasn’t there?”

McKenna shook her head and struggled to get herself free of the arms that held her. Hysterical now, she fell back on her butt and opened her eyes to peer up at Stone. But it wasn’t Stone’s face she saw it was Jon’s face. “Oh my God, he was insane. He had blood splattered all over his face. And his eyes…they were black and empty. Like a demon. His lips were curled in disdain and his mouth was bloody too. Then he held up a piece of flesh and I could see it plain as day. It was a mask, an empty mask. The eyes were missing and the mouth was open in terror. He had cut her face from her head! I screamed and the other girls started running away. My screams caught his attention and he turned his head to see us there. Someone grabbed me and pulled me down the street. I could barely move but I felt hands dragging me away from the scene of her butchered body.” McKenna collapsed on the floor in a heap.

“Mckenna, baby?” Stone called her name but she didn’t respond. He wept as he gathered her in his arms. Getting to his feet, he glared at Sergi and said, “I think you’ve overstayed your welcome.” Then he carried his wife across the room and disappeared down a hallway.

Dewey grunted angrily as he glared at Sergi.

Looking pained, Shay cleared his throat. 

Trudy looked ashen as she got up and rushed to the bathroom, they could all hear her losing her lunch.

Quietly, Lacey sobbed in Bear’s arms.

The room then went silent.